The thing about natural disasters is that they’re rarely as natural as they seem. Of course, earthquakes, landslides, and wildfires stem from natural causes, but the disasters they wreak often have as much to do with the response and preparation of those nearby as they do with the event itself.
On the last episode of our Skylines podcast, we discussed the fact that what may seem like a natural disaster can also be a failure in city governance. Nepal’s 2015 earthquake was so devastating partly because many buildings in Kathmandu, the capital, were not built to withstand earthquakes, despite the fact that they’re common in the region. While authorities knew an earthquake was likely, they did little about it in advance.
This brings us to a map that landed in my inbox today from the University of Leicester. Researchers there have been studying areas of wildland which lie close to urban centres. It turns out this combination of landscape factors leads to a “serious risk” of wildfires.
You’re more likely to have tourists tending barbeques in wild areas around cities, and temperatures tend to be higher in general near urban centres thanks to the Urban Heat Island effect. Meanwhile, if a fire does occur, it’s more likely to reach people and their homes.