While the number of catastrophes may vary from year to year, environmental conditions suggest that we may be in for more natural disasters in the years ahead.

The next science café is titled “Gambling Against Nature: Combining Science and Economics to Defend Against Natural Disaster,” with Professor Seth Stein, Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Northwestern University. Humans are playing a high-stakes game of chance against nature, trying to figure out what will happen in an unpredictable world and then trying to come up with strategies for protection from natural disasters by deciding how much to spend and where.

Those who guess wrong, as in the case of Hurricane Sandy, lose big. Prof. Stein says, “We can do better by combining science and economics to be careful, thoughtful gamblers.”

The Science Café will take place 6:30-8 p.m. on Jan. 23 at the Firehouse Grill, 750 Chicago Ave.