Curbing Catastrophe: Relative Risk and Terrorism
Written by: Timothy H. Dixon
Tim Dixon, author of Curbing Catastrophe is a Professor of Geology and Geophysics at the University of South Florida, In his second blog Tim considers the relative risk of Terrorist attacks
Relative Risk and Terrorism
US government response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 has cost more than $1 Trillion
Failure to appreciate relative risk permeates many aspects of modern society. In both Europe and America, politicians are responding to recent terrorist attacks with increased police surveillance, increased airport security, and stricter immigration limits. In Europe, the free movement of people and goods within the Schengen zone, an economic cornerstone of the European Union, is threatened. In the US, government response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 has cost more than $1 Trillion dollars, including the cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The 2001 attacks killed approximately 3,000 people. The various investments in security since then have made the US safer: the annual number of Americans dying in terrorist attacks since 2001 has been reduced by more than a factor of ten. But government efforts would likely fail a rigorous cost-benefit analysis. Consider that approximately 30,000 Americans are killed every year by guns, from a combination of homicides, suicides, and accidental shootings. Most homicide victims know their killer. Most accidental shootings involve a family member, or result in the death of the gun owner. In a very real sense, Americans have more to fear from friends, neighbors, family members, and themselves, than from terrorists.
Americans have more to fear from friends, neighbors, family members, and themselves, than from terrorists