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Making Experts more Accountable for their advice?

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New York didn’t expect a severe storm like Sandy. We can’t rule out the possibility of these catastrophic events happening to our major cities.

Very limited research and development funding is available to come up with innovative methods to prevent loss of life. The extent of damage and how they spread and propagate is difficult to estimate accurately. However if properly supported and funded engineers and scientists, can come up with better predictions of these events.
Despite this, we did hear of the news of six Italian scientists charged for manslaughter and gaoled for six years each for failing to predict the intensity of a 2009 earthquake that killed over 300 people. Allegations were made against the Engineers of Wivenhoe Dam in Queensland. They were forced to defend themselves, although they had mentioned the difficulty of predicting these extreme events. We also do not want our scientists to no longer provide advice to us in the future. We have already seen how many Scientists have been heavily criticised for daring to relate Climate Change to these severe weather events.
Well the global insurance industry does believe it and are concerned that there will be much more frequent and more severe weather related events in the future costing billions. Better to reduce these potential costs with pre-event planning. However, we need all the help we can get and making experts afraid to provide advice is not the way.

But this is why we have Professional Indemnity Insurance, but it does not stop you from being gaoled. Also scientists cannot afford the sums insured they are likely to need if they get their advice wrong.

There needs to be a balance between accountability and needing the help of experts, but gaoling those that make a mistake is plain wrong with such un-predictable natural catastrophes. Otherwise no one will want to advise on such things making the risk even worse.

Last changed: Nov 06 2012 at 9:43 AM

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