Earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, and volcanoes—they all stem from the very same forces that give our planet life. It is only when these forces exceed our ability to withstand them that they become disasters. Science and engineering can be used to understand extreme events and to design our cities to be resilient, but we must overcome the psychological drive to normalization that keeps humanity from believing that we could experience anything worse than what we have already survived. As climate change increases the intensity of extreme storms and and urban population growth increases the complexity of our life-sustaining systems, we must examine the history of natural disasters to understand how we can make our society more resilient.

Dr. Lucy Jones: Founder and Chief Scientist, Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society