The historical record is the foundation of risk analysis. However history is just one manifestation of what may have happened. We often consider how history may have unfolded if particular catastrophes had not occurred. It is rarer that we consider that past catastrophes could have happened differently and led to more negative impacts than historical record shows. Take for example the near-miss air disaster experienced in July 2017: when Air Canada pilots mistook a taxiway for a runway. Had they not been able to pull up before a crash, the result may have been one of the worst civil aviation disasters ever.
This presentation explored these themes and provided important risk insights for insurers, banks, and other risk stakeholders gained by rejecting the anthropocentric view that the past was somehow inevitable. It coincides with the release of a new report published by Lloyd’s, together with Risk Management Solutions (RMS): Counterfactual Disaster Risk Analysis: Reimagining History.
Dr Gordon Woo is a catastrophist at Risk Management Solutions (RMS), specialising in mathematical modelling of extreme risks, with a particular focus on catastrophe insurance. Apart from his scientific papers, he is the author of two books, published by Imperial College Press: The Mathematics of Natural Catastrophes, and Calculating Catastrophe.
A top mathematics graduate of University of Cambridge, he completed his PhD in theoretical physics at MIT as a Kennedy Scholar, and was a member of the Harvard Society of Fellows. He is an adjunct professor at the Institute of Catastrophe Risk Management at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and has just been appointed a visiting professor at UCL.
Gordon has been an advisor to the Cambridge Centre for Risk Studies since its inception.