In September of last year the Chinese top political advisor, Jia Qinglin, pleaded for more efforts to build “ecological screens,” to contribute to the nation’s endeavor to combat floods and landslides.
His point was not lost on many people familiar with the devastating impacts of these disasters. Understanding more about the nature of these events and even predicting them is not magic, it is a reasonable outcome when time, effort and the focus of tools and technologies are directed at and applied to the problem.
Qinglin was forming the argument for the construction of a suitable constellation of technologies and approaches that might render disaster potentials more visible – which then sets in a motion a series of endeavors that could take place to reduce and mitigate these events.
In his particular case he was pointing directly at the need to monitor vegetation and to ensure adequate forest lands to hold soil in place and to promote biodiversity. Yet, we might also point to better building legislation, improved infrastructure and more continuous monitoring of important structures like dams, bridges and other structures.
Perhaps new models for providing the investment atmosphere are needed. If a ‘Geospatial-Geomatic Screens’ or something similar in nature can be developed and proven reliable, then the cost in savings as compared to full and wide ranging disaster relief might seem minimal, creating interest for the business community. The mitigation of disasters has important long-term economic impacts related to economic growth. Gauging these efforts based solely on relief costs is small compared to long-term economic loss to economy, long-term health, unemployment and other costs.
One might reasonably argue that the development of a integrated geospatial-geomatic screening network on regional and national levels could have many benefits.