I’m really pleased to be a new columnist for PSYCHOLOGY TODAY. My doctoral work was focused on cognitive development, so in a way I feel like I’m coming home. My first column, published yesterday, delves into theories of risk: why we take the chances we do, and what’s at stake each time we make a choice.
It was these questions that led me to write SUPERSTORM. I had just finished covering the sinking of the Bounty for Outside Magazine, and I was haunted by the questions that remained: what made the crew of the Bounty decide to sail into the storm? Why were they vilified while the Coast Guard and Hurricane Hunters were praised as heroes? Who decided to evacuate and who decided to stay? Why did some people survive while others lost their lives?
I quickly learned that there are no easy answers. But that doesn’t make the need for them any less important. We live in a changing climate. Hurricanes are going to get bigger and less predictable. The appearance of anomalous tornados will only increase. Rising sea levels make catastrophic floods all the more likely. If we don’t have both a collective and an individual commitment to risk assessment, we are going to pay a price far greater than any of us can bear. If there is a lesson to be learned from Sandy, it is surely that.
You can find a copy of the PSYCHOLOGY TODAY column here. I hope you’ll read it and let me know what you think.