From the Editors


  • Michael Greenberg,

  • Karen Lowrie

Robert Cumming, the first editor of this journal and interim first president of the SRA, remarked to us recently that both the journal and SRA were created to foster interdisciplinary considerations of risk. Dr. Cumming would be pleased with this last issue of the 30th volume of the journal. It contains 11 papers about eight subjects written by authors from four different countries, contributions from biology, engineering, mathematics, and social sciences, and the joint efforts of academic, government, not-for-profit, and for-profit organizations.

From the days of Lloyd Bridges as an ex-navy frogman in the popular late 1950s television show Sea Hunt to modern day versions of underground rescue, underwater rescues and explorations are known to be risky. But how risky? Mario Paulo Brito, Gwyn Griffiths, and Peter Challenor interviewed eight experts in autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) design and operation in order to obtain estimates of the probability of vehicle loss given various events. They test their analytical approach with a hypothetical use of an AUV under a glacier in Antarctica.

Our journal has a long history of publishing about insurance and other risk management financial instruments. Ivan Damnjanovic, Zafer Aslan, and John Mander develop a four-step model that shows loss of function and financial losses in the case of a seismically designed bridge. Using their model, they evaluate the effectiveness of a number of alternative risk transfer financial instruments that may be used in the event of an earthquake, focusing specifically on catastrophe (CAT) bonds.

Around the globe, scientists are learning more about the potential risks associated with global climate change. Miguel Esteban and Gorka Longarte-Galnares examine the impact of increasing tropical cyclone intensity on economic productivity in Japan. The authors’ simulations suggest a reduction in GDP by between 6% and 13% by 2085.

Kenneth Lachlan and Patric Robert Spence examine Peter Sandman's “risk = hazard + outrage” model in experimental and field settings. The statistical analyses show general, but not total, agreement with the construct. The authors point to gender and race/ethnicity as factors influencing the extent of outrage responses, and the authors emphasize the need to tailor messages for specific audiences.

Food safety has become a major issue in this journal. Supported by the Food Safety Commission of Japan, Jun’ichiro Iwahori and colleagues examined the life cycle of the bacterium Vibrio parahaemolyticus (V. parahaemolyticus) in horse mackerel (Trachurus japonicus), a common Japanese seafood. Washing during preparation and keeping the fish cold during transport were key steps to control the 1,000–3,000 annual infections attributed to this bacterium. Accurate consumption data are essential for estimating the risks of seafood consumption. These risks are notable among Native Americans who disproportionately consume seafood. Funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and informed by a Pacific Northwest Native American seafood consumption survey, Lon Kissinger and a team of researchers developed a computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) seafood consumption survey tool. The authors describe the software and assert its advantages compared to paper surveys.

Stem cell research has become a major new scientific and therapeutic endeavor, and these imply some risks. Fabio Lopez et al. examine risk management requirements for clinical cell therapy manufacturing. The authors describe the lack of consistency in risk management and approaches that would both standardize and reduce the risk.

Seth Guikema, Seung-Ryong Han, and Steven Quiring use utility data to assess the all too predictable damage caused by hurricanes to electric power systems in United States. Using utility pole and transformer replacement as indicators of damage, rather than customer loss of service, the authors use regression and data mining techniques to assess the need for prestorm planning by utilities.

Historically, nations set their environmental protection agenda without comparative risk analysis. This has led to obvious inconsistencies between risks and resource allocations. The United Arab Emirates organized a deliberative comparative risk analysis for a strategic planning exercise. Henry Willis and colleagues from the University of North Carolina and from RAND Corporation applied a deliberative method consisting of five stages that included consideration of a wide range of possible priorities. Notably, the collaborative process found outdoor and indoor air pollution to be the highest priorities.

Finally, two papers focus on a now common theme in the journal: terrorism-related events. Gregory Keeney and Detlof von Winterfeldt offer an interesting addition to our portfolio of terrorism papers by trying to understand terrorist values. Funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, they examine the verbal statements and writings of Al-Qaeda. The authors provide a list of Al-Qaeda's strategic objectives and relate these to military outcomes and the growth of the organization. Jun Zhuang and Vicki Bier's perspective considers why defenders of strategic assets would use both secrecy and deception about their resource allocations rather than disclose the information. The authors discuss existing approaches, such as game theory, and describe future research directions.