EE-Con

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Economic and Ethical Consequences of Natural Hazards in Alpine Valleys

Key data:
Project duration: 1.02.2015 – 31.01.2018
Funding: Austrian Academy of Sciences (OAW)
Amount of funding: 307.577 Euros 

Staff:

Department of Geography and Regional Science, University of Graz

  • Prof. Dr. Oliver Sass (principal investigator)
  • Mag. Florian Ortner, Bakk. (PhD student)

Department of Economics & Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change, University of Graz

  • Prof. Mag. Dr. Karl Steininger
  • Vincent Heß, MSc (PhD student)

Department of Philosophy, University of Graz

  • Prof. Dr. Lukas Meyer
  • Dr. Dirk Brantl (Postdoc)

Cooperation scientist:

  • Prof. Mag. Dr. Gerhard K. Lieb (Department of Geography and Regional Science, University of Graz)
  • Prof. Dr. Ulrich Ermann (Department of Geography and Regional Science, University of Graz)
  • Prof. Mag. Dr. Alfred Posch (Institute for System Sciences, Innovation and Sustainability Research, University of Graz)
  • Prof. Dr. Thomas Glade  (Department of Geography and Regional Research, University of Vienna)
  • Dr. Ronald Pöppl  (Department of Geography and Regional Research, University of Vienna)
  • Gabriel Wagner, PhD  (Environmental Defense Fund, Washington D.C.)

Contact:

Prof. Dr. Oliver Sass 

Abstract: <link>

Due to steep topographical reliefs, high population density and the economic importance of summer and winter tourism, the Alps and their population are particularly vulnerable to geomorphological and hydrological hazards. This problem might be amplified by rising temperatures and more pronounced precipitation events due to climate change. Natural disasters cause severe monetary damage which often leads to the difficult question whether it socially pays to protect settlements at high costs or whether alternatively settlement areas should better be abandoned. By investigations in two alpine valleys in Styria, the Johnsbachtal and the Kleinsölktal, we will address the following questions within an interdisciplinary cooperation between geography, economics and philosophy:

(1) Are natural hazards and associated damages in fact increasing, and is this attributed to increasing meteorological triggers, to anthropogenic factors or to a cyclicity in internal process dynamics? How will these factors evolve in the future? (2) What is the perception and knowledge of local people on natural hazards in "their" valleys, how is risk and risk prevention communicated? (3) What is the respective cost ratio between protection infrastructure, soft measures of adaptation and other options (e.g. reduction of settlement area)? How does this ratio evolve over time, what are the implications for intertemporal adaptation decisions? (4) If losses cannot be avoided, what legitimate claims to compensation do people have both as individuals and as members of groups? How far does societal responsibility reach and where does individual responsibility start, if parts of the settlement area had to be abandoned?

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