PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2010, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (1): 23-30.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2010.01.004

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Acceptable Risk and Disaster Research

SHANG Zhihai1,2, LIU Xilin1,3   

  1. 1. School of Geographic Sciences and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China;
    2. School of Geography and Tourism, Jiaying University, Meizhou 514105, Guangdong, China;
    3. Natural Disaster Research Center, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
  • Online:2010-01-25 Published:2010-01-25


The purpose of disaster risk assessment is to assess “how safe is safe enough?” Acceptable risk is the common method to answer the question which is defined as the level of potential losses that people considers acceptable given existing social, economic, political and environmental conditions. Many countries and regions had a number of explorations on life acceptable risk, but only a few of them were about disaster acceptable risk, and they focused on three types of disaster of landslide, earthquake and flood. According to the risk or its consequence, many countries established quantitative criteria of acceptable risk and most of them were similar. At present the methodology of acceptable risk included risk matrix, cost-benefit analysis, life quality index and FN curves. Risk matrix was based on qualitative analysis and commonly used in the countries lack of data and technology. The three others were based on quantitative analysis, of which cost-benefit analysis was the most commonly used as early as 1969. Life quality index sovled the economical value of life by the combination of GDP, life expectancy and the ratio of work and leisure. And the advantage of FN curves was its expression of graph, howerver its disadvantage was how to calculate the frequency. Now the challenges are uncertainty evaluation, probability assignment, rational value of life, distinction between objective and subjective value and environmental damage. On the basis of a summary of acceptable risk researches home and abroad, this paper prospects that the basic problem of disaster acceptable risk are theory, criteria and methodology of acceptable risk. By three different expressions of life risk, economical risk and environmental risk, this paper proposes that it is necessary to establish the principles and criteria of acceptable risk conformed to our national conditions, and promotes the integrated study on acceptable risk, so as to provide scientific bases for disaster control and risk management.

Key words: acceptable risk, criteria, disaster, methodology