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Ripple Effects: How Regional Natural Disasters Can Be Felt Around the World

May 22, 2020 Leave a comment DRI Admin

Natural disasters don’t only have an impact on their immediate area. They can also affect distant cities and regions, due to global trade networks, according to recent research at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

The study found that local environmental impacts, including damage to factories and other facilities, can trigger secondary damage to production and trade networks. In large disasters, this can account for as much as 75% of the total damage.

The extent of the costs depends more on the production and supply networks than the geographic location. For instance, Cities dependent on their urban network for industrial supplies are most vulnerable to secondary impacts, while larger global cities like New York or Beijing are more insulated from risk.

A simulation showed how disasters in one area can create a domino effect. Because of their major role in global trade networks, purchasers/suppliers in North American and East Asian cities were particularly susceptible to major weather events such as hurricanes and cyclones, resulting in material price spikes, and production losses.