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By Michael Kraten, PhD, CPA

August 13, 2023

The 1975 summer movie Jaws portrayed a suburban New York beach community that recoiled from the assault of a voracious great white shark. Although the film was a work of fiction, a shark (in reality) seriously injured a swimmer last week near a New York City beach. It was the latest shark attack to strike the Big Apple during the past few years.

Why the recent increase in such events? According to environmentalists, more sharks are visiting New York’s waterfront because the ocean is becoming progressively cleaner. Apparently, though, public protection activities have not kept pace with the aggressive creatures.

There are other examples of risk management activities that inadequately address our new environmental realities. Just last year, for instance, Maui’s Bill 135 was implemented to ban certain chemical sunscreen products. Apparently, when tourists and locals swim in the Pacific water, sunscreen washes off their bodies and damages the ocean ecosystem.

Like the Atlantic waters near New York City, the Pacific Ocean surrounding Maui undoubtedly became cleaner as a result of the law. But this week’s devastating wildfires across the Hawaiian island suggest that local lawmakers may not have adequately prioritized other environmental risks.

During times of resource scarcity, risk management professionals emphasize the function of risk assessment as a means of establishing priorities among competing concerns. But when resources are overly allocated away from the highest priorities, the risk of catastrophic losses may soar.

To be sure, ocean health is an extremely important priority. And yet, because we live in an integrated global environment, it is not always ideal to fully invest in our waters while potentially under-investing in our people and our land.

Originally published at All rights reserved by author.