"The United States faces multiple natural hazards that threaten its safety, security, economic wellbeing, and natural resources. To balance near-term economic interests with long-term sustainability goals, as well as prepare for and recover from disasters, public officials, emergency and other managers, businesses, and at-risk individuals need a clear understanding of both societal risk from various threats and strategies to increase resilience. Societal risk and resilience to natural hazards are complex phenomena, involving the exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity of human-environmental systems. These aspects of vulnerability are a function of (1) existing patterns of land use and land cover, (2) current socioeconomic conditions, (3) likely patterns of future land use, and (4) current efforts to mitigate, adapt to, or prepare for future events or conditions. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Western Geographic Science Center (WGSC) and the USGS Geographic Analysis and Monitoring (GAM) Program are committed to improving the Nation's understanding of where and how it is vulnerable to natural hazards, what options exist for reducing unacceptable risks, and how to effectively respond so that recovery is rapid when catastrophes occur. Communities can use this information to reduce the impacts on quality of life and resources from future disasters."
U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2011-3008
U.S. Geological Survey: http://www.usgs.gov/