60th Fazlur R Khan Distinguished Lecture

Thursday, May 2, 2024 - 12:30pm to 2:00pm
*Lecture will be live streamed only, registration is required. Fazlur R Khan Distinguished Lecture--Mark G Stewart “Risk-Based Thinking for Extreme Events: What Do Terrorism and Climate Change Have in Common?” Mark G. Stewart is a Distinguished Professor of Civil Engineering, and Director of the Centre for Built Infrastructure Resilience at the University of Technology Sydney. He is an international leader in risk assessment, public policy decision making, and protective infrastructure for extreme hazards. He has applied risk assessment and probabilistic methods to a wide range of infrastructure/engineering systems, including terrorism and climate change. His ideas have been presented in four seminal books and many scientific and engineering papers, and has brought engineering and scientific expertise into the public policy domain. He is Editor-in-Chief of Structural Safety, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, and President of the International Association of Protective Structures. Risk-Based Thinking for Extreme Events: What Do Terrorism and Climate Change Have in Common? Terrorism and climate change debates are often characterised by worst-case thinking, cost neglect, probability neglect, and avoidance of the notion of acceptable risk. This is not unexpected when dealing with extreme events. However, it can result in a frightened public, costly policy outcomes, and wasteful expenditures. The presentation will describe how risk-based approaches are well suited to infrastructure decision-making in these uncertain environments. The concepts will be illustrated with current research of risk-based assessment of climate adaptation engineering strategies including designing new houses in Australia subject to cyclones and extreme wind events. It will be shown that small improvements to house designs at a one-off cost of several thousand dollars per house can reduce damage risks by 80-90% and achieve billions of dollars of net benefit for community resilience – this helps offset some the predicted adverse effects of climate change for a very modest cost. The presentation will also highlight that there is much to be optimistic about the future, and in the ability of risk-based thinking to meet many challenges. _________________________________________________________________________________

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