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Separation of Loss Reduction and Causation

There are, of course, many, real-world variations on the main theme. These include those unique to each particular form of energy and those determined by the geometry and other characteristics of the energy’s path and the point of area and characteristics of the structure on which it impinges–whether a BB hits the forehead or the center of the cornea.

One point, however, is of overriding importance: subject to qualifications as noted subsequently, there is no logical reason why the rank order (or priority) of loss-reduction countermeasures generally considered must parallel the sequence, or rank order, of causes contributing to the result of damaged people or property. One can eliminate losses in broken teacups by packaging them properly (the sixth strategy), even though they be placed in motion in the hands of the postal service, vibrated, dropped, piled on, or otherwise abused. Similarly, a vehicle crash, per se, need necessities no injury, nor a hurricane housing damage.

Failure to understand this point in the context of measures to reduce highway losses underlies the common statement: ‘If it’s the driver, why talk the vehicle.” This confuses the rank or sequence of causes, on the one hand, with that of loss-reduction countermeasures–in this case “crash packaging”–on the other.

There are, nonetheless, practical limits in physics, biology, and strategy potentials. One final limit is operative at the boundary between the objectives of the eighth and ninth strategies. Once appreciable injury to man or to other living structure occurs, complete elimination of undesirable end results is often impossible, though appreciable reduction is commonly achievable. (This is often also true for inanimate structures, for example, teacups.) When lethal damage has occurred, the subsequent strategies, except as far as the strictly secondary salvage of parts is concerned, have no application.

There is another fundamental constraint. Generally speaking, the larger the amounts of energy involved in relation to the resistance to damage of the structures at risk, the earlier in the countermeasure sequence must the strategy of lie. In the ultimate case, that of a potential energy release of proportions that could not be countered to any satisfactory extent by any known means, the prevention of marshalling or of release, or both, becomes the only approach available. Furthermore, in such an ultimate case, if there is a finite probability of release, prevention of marshalling (and dismantling of stockpiles of energy already marshalled) becomes the only, and essential, strategy to assure that the undesirable end result cannot occur.

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