Risk is defined as ‘The possibility of meeting danger or suffering harm or loss’. When we look at animals we always seem to view them as if, like us, they had a choice in what they do. When fish school to spawn or caribou migrate it’s because they evolved that way. It’s not a conscious choice. When their environmental or physiological cues are altered or removed they have a difficult time and are at risk. There is usually massive mortality associated with these events. Some individuals survive due to the diversity in the species’ gene pool. These individuals are ‘fit’ for the altered environment. They establish a balance with it and over time repopulate.Taking risks is what sentient species do – we’re the only species on the planet that we know about doing this. Whether these risks we take are well thought out and done for the best of reasons or are done as a reaction to sudden events with little thought for their consequences, risk taking is how we evolved.Historically, one way people dealt with risk is to avoid it in the first place or in other words do nothing. If this method had been applied as a general rule over the evolution of our species we most probably would have gone extinct. Taking a risk can run from something non-life threatening like wearing ‘that dress’ to a party to building a summer home on the slopes of Mount St. Helens. Even though we know there are risks we still do things like build our homes in flood zones, on earthquake faults and in areas where hurricanes regularly visit.As modern humans we assess and deal with risk in a variety of ways, which includes insuring our homes, cars and lives from some future event by paying an organization that is willing to assume that risk for a fee. We also are starting to regularly exercise, stop using tobacco and alter our diet to help lower the risk of cardiac problems and cancer. If we were like the rest of the species on the planet these actions would have evolved because those who didn’t do them died off before they were able to breed. Humans learn from the actions of others of their kind whether those actions are for good or bad.If this is how we learn then why do we still risk building homes, businesses and condos in hurricane surge zones? We let others assume the risk for us by paying them insurance premiums. But, like any ‘organism’ those organizations that assume our risk will either stop doing it or raise our costs if they continue to lose money.Is it the beauty of the coast, individually accepted risk or just plain old ‘duhh’ that’s why we come here and run the risk?
Think Global – Act Local!