Planners, designers, governmental organizations, and citizens are interested in creating enduring safe buildable environments. Landscape hazards such as earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, tornados, flooding, volcanoes, radon, air pollution, sinkholes, avalanche, landslides, and blizzards create a complex set of destructive forces that form disturbances obliterating life and structures. In our study, we examined these forces across the lower 48 states of the United States of America. We applied geographic information system (GIS) technology to identify areas of extreme hazard and areas of low risk. Our investigation indicated that most of our study area (approximately 83%) was exposed to highly reoccurring destructive forces and that only relatively small patches (Upper Midwest-portions of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota) and thin stretches (Rocky Mountain Front Range—eastern Montana, Wyoming, and eastern Colorado) of land were relatively secure from these forces. This means that in the long term, much of the study area is not safe from disturbances that will destroy much of the built environment, challenging notions of sustainability for numerous metropolitan areas, United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Biosphere Reserves, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, National Parks, other noted historic sites.
Part of the book: Landscape Architecture