Americans at Risk: Why We Are Not Prepared for Megadisasters and What We Can Do Now. Irwin Redlener. 2006. ISBN 0-307-26526-9. 304 pp. $24.00 (hardcover). Alfred A. Knopf/Random House, (212) 782-9000, www.randomhouse.com. One of the leading experts on disaster preparedness offers a compelling narrative about America’s inability to properly plan for large-scale disasters. Five years after 9/11 and one year after Hurricane Katrina, it is painfully clear that the government’s emergency response capacity is plagued by incompetence and a paralyzing bureaucracy.
Redlener, founder and director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, brings his years of experience with disasters and health care crises, national and international, to an incisive analysis of why America’s approach to disaster readiness has left the nation vulnerable and virtually unable to respond effectively to catastrophic events. He describes five natural and human-induced
disaster scenarios as a way to imagine what citizens might face, what the current systems would and would not prepare them for, and what would constitute optimal planning in each situation. To see what could be learned from others, he points out some of the more effective ways that countries in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East have dealt with various disasters.
Redlener concludes with a nine-point proposal for how America can be better prepared and what citizens themselves can do. One of Redlener’s most compelling discussions is related to the serious problem of a disengaged and uninformed citizenry—one of the biggest obstacles to assuring optimal readiness for any major crisis.
CenterWorks: The Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance Quarterly. Free online. Four issues per year. www.coe-dmha.org/centerworks.htm. For a printed version, contact the COE at firstname.lastname@example.org or (808) 433-7035. This new quarterly newsletter reports on activities and events of the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (COE). The inaugural issue (Winter 2007) focuses on work underway by specific units within the COE and features articles on pandemics, peace operations, and the Pacific Disaster Management Information Network. It also includes a list of upcoming training courses and conferences.
Child Rights Perspective in Response to Natural Disasters in South Asia: A Retrospective Study. 2006. 101 pp. Free online. Save the Children Sweden. www.crin.org/docs/. The Asian tsunami of December 2004 and the South Asian earthquake in October 2005 were strong reminders of how vulnerable Asia is to natural disasters. Although disasters affect both adults and children, children are most vulnerable, yet they are often not heard. This study focused on various disasters that have struck South Asian countries at different times and included interviews with children and adults affected by these disaster events, focus group discussions with children and community members, and analyses of case studies to provide evidence of the situation and interventions. The findings revealed that rescue and response actions are most often addressed from the perspective of adults. In addition, there is often a lack of child participation in situation assessment and decision making.
Natural Hazards and Disasters. Donald Hyndman and David Hyndman. 2006. ISBN 0-495-11210-0. 482 pp. $99.95 (paper). Thomson-Brooks/Cole, (800) 354-9706, www.thomsonedu.com/earthscience. Written by a son-father geologist team, this college-level textbook emphasizes earth and atmospheric hazards that appear suddenly or rapidly without significant warning. The text further discusses ways to prevent or mitigate the damage caused by natural hazards, providing students with the latest scientific research related to these topics. “Case in Point” boxes generate discussion of individual cases to natural hazard processes and principles. Readers will find a balanced coverage of North American natural hazards, including earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and volcanic eruptions. The book includes color photos, diagrams, an appendix of minerals and rocks related to natural hazards, and a glossary of hazards-related earth science terms. This new updated edition also features a new chapter that covers the devastating 2005 hurricane season and provides an in-depth look at the causes and effects of Hurricane Katrina.
NFPA 1600: Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs. 2007. 46 pp. Free online. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). www.nfpa.org/assets/files/PDF/CodesStandards/1600-2007.pdf. Print copies can be ordered at www.nfpa.org/catalog/. The 2007 edition of the NFPA’s Standard on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs is now available on NFPA’s Web site. The standard establishes a common set of criteria that sets a foundation for disaster management, emergency management, and business continuity programs using a total program approach. This latest edition of NFPA 1600 incorporates changes to the 2004 edition and expands the conceptual framework of the earlier version. Aspects of mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery have been updated, and prevention has been added as a fifth and distinct concept.
A Climate of Injustice: Global Inequality, North-South Politics, and Climate Policy. J. Timmons Roberts and Bradley C. Parks. 2007. ISBN 0-262-68161-7. 384 pp. $26.00. The MIT Press, (800) 405-1619, www.mitpress.mit.edu.
There is an ongoing global debate over who should address climate change. Poor nations fear limits on their efforts to grow economically and meet the needs of their own people, while powerful industrial nations refuse to curtail their own excesses unless developing countries make similar sacrifices. Roberts and Parks analyze the role that inequality between rich and poor nations plays in the negotiation of global climate agreements.
The authors argue that global inequality dampens cooperative efforts by reinforcing the “structuralist” worldviews and causal beliefs of many poor nations, eroding conditions of generalized trust and promoting particularistic notions of “fair” solutions. Until we recognize that reaching a North-South global climate pact requires addressing larger issues of inequality and striking a global bargain on environment and development, Roberts and Parks assert, the current policy gridlock will remain unresolved.
Climate Change, Insurability of Large-scale Disasters and the Emerging Liability Challenge. Howard C. Kunreuther and Erwann O. Michel-Kerjan. 45 pp. Free online. National Bureau of Economic Research, http://papers.nber.org/papers/w12821.pdf. This paper focuses on the interaction between uncertainty and insurability in the context of risks associated with climate change. In particular, it examines the impact of development in hazard-prone areas and of global warming on the potential for catastrophic losses in the future. The paper also discusses the implications for insurance risk capital, the capacity of the insurance industry to handle large-scale events, liability issues associated with global climate change, and possible implications for insurers. The paper concludes by suggesting ways that insurers can help mitigate future damages from global climate change by providing premium reductions and rate credits to companies that invest in risk-reducing measures.
The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review. Nicholas Stern. 2007. ISBN 0-521-70080-9. 712 pp. $50.00. Cambridge University Press, (212) 924-3900, www.cambridge.org. There is now clear scientific evidence that emissions from economic activity, particularly the burning of fossil fuels for energy, are causing changes to the Earth’s climate. A sound understanding of the economics of climate change is needed to underpin an effective global response to this challenge. The Stern Review is an independent, rigorous, and comprehensive analysis of the economic aspects of this crucial issue conducted by one of the world’s top economists: Sir Nicholas Stern, head of the UK Government Economic Service and former Chief Economist of the World Bank. While some oppose taking action to reduce the impacts of climate change based on the economic costs of these actions, this book asks the question, “What will doing nothing cost us?” Stern considers the science of climate change; the impact of climate change on growth and development in both rich and poor countries; the economics of cutting emissions and stabilizing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere; policy responses for mitigation, such as carbon pricing and technological innovation; and the challenges of achieving sustained international collective action.
Getting Ahead of the Curve: Corporate Strategies that Address Climate Change. Andrew J. Hoffman. 2006. 128 pp. Free online. Pew Center on Climate Change, (703) 516-4146, www.pewclimate.org. This report is a compilation of the experience and best practices of large corporations that have developed and implemented strategies to address climate change. Based on a 31-company survey, 6 in-depth case studies, a review of the literature, and experience gained by the Pew Center in working with companies in its Business Environmental Leadership Council (BELC), the report describes the development and implementation of climate-related strategies. Although it is primarily a “how to” manual for other companies interested in developing similar strategies, it will also be of value to investors and analysts in evaluating the effectiveness of company strategies for managing climate risk and capturing climate-related competitive advantage. Finally, it offers policymakers insight into corporate views on greenhouse gas (GHG) regulation, government assistance for technology advancement, and other policy issues. Although the report focuses primarily on U.S.-based multinationals, it considers the global context of climate change and related market transformation.
Richter’s Scale: Measure of an Earthquake, Measure of a Man. Susan Elizabeth Hough. 2007. ISBN 0-691-12807-3. 336 pp. $27.95. Princeton University Press, (800) 777-4726, http://press.princeton.edu.
By developing the scale that bears his name, Charles Richter not only invented the concept of magnitude as a measure of earthquake size, he also turned his name into a household word. This behind-the-scenes look at Richter, the man, is an artful interweaving of the stories of Richter’s life with the history of earthquake exploration and seismology.
Drawing on papers written by Richter and dozens of interviews with his family and colleagues, Hough sets Richter’s life story in the context of his family and relationships, his academic career, and the history of seismology.
SB1953 and the Challenge of Hospital Seismic Safety in California. Charles Meade and Jonathan Kulick. 2007. 62 pp. Free online. California Healthcare Foundation, (510) 238-1040, www.chcf.org/documents/hospitals/SB1953Report.pdf.
In this report, the RAND Corporation updates its previous analysis of the costs, construction activities, and policy issues stimulated by SB1953, California’s hospital seismic safety legislation. Inspired by large increases in the costs for hospital construction and by rapidly approaching deadlines to comply with seismic safety goals, the report employs new data and analysis on hospital infrastructure and construction costs, hospital decision making for large construction projects, historical and current records of hospital construction in California, and quantitative seismic hazard information for California hospitals.
Seismic Safety: Will California’s Hospitals Be Ready for the Next Big Quake? 2007. 5 pp. Free online. California Healthcare Foundation, (510) 238-1040, www.chcf.org/documents/hospitals/SB1953IssueBrief.pdf. This issue brief looks at the progress California hospitals have made toward complying with SB1953; the significant challenges they face in achieving compliance; and the difficult policy choices that must be weighed to reach California’s seismic safety goals. The issue brief is based on the California Healthcare Foundation-funded RAND report titled SB1953 and the Challenge of Hospital Seismic Safety in California (see above listing).
TsunamiTeacher. 267 pp. Free online. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). www.tsunamiwave.info. To help support training related to the communication of tsunami risk to the public, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO has developed the TsunamiTeacher Information and Resource Toolkit. The Toolkit brings new and existing information on tsunamis into a single reliable and verified global resource that is widely accessible to individuals, groups, and governments around the world. TsunamiTeacher aims to build awareness and increase the capacity to respond and mitigate the impact of tsunamis through the sharing of knowledge, research, and best practices. Training modules target the media, educational systems, and the public and private sectors, with topics including hazard and risk assessment; operational warning and dissemination systems; tsunami emergency response, alerting, and preparedness; environmental engineering mitigation and policy; and education and outreach. TsunamiTeacher is supported both as an online resource that will be continually reviewed, updated, and added to by experts, and as an offline set of DVDs that will run on PC and Macintosh platforms. The base language is English, with translations presently planned for Bahasa Indonesia, Bangladesh Bangla, French, Spanish, and Thai.
Flood Hazards & Health: Responding to Present and Future Risks. Edited by Roger Few and Franziska Matthies. 2006. ISBN 1-84407-215-0. 240 pp. ₤55.00 (hardcover). Earthscan, +44 (0) 20 7387 8558 (UK), www.earthscan.co.uk. This book combines an analysis of the human health impacts of flooding with analysis of individual and societal response to those risks. Written and edited by leading researchers and practitioners in the field of flood hazards and human health, the volume begins by providing a detailed discussion of the global health impacts of floods and the nature of human response to health risks posed by flooding. Next, drawing on case study material from Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America, the book presents new research on flood impacts related to mental health, infectious diseases, and the responses of health systems. The conclusion includes a discussion of priorities for policy, practice, and research, and emphasizes the need to integrate action on health with the broader agenda of long-term risk reduction.
The Economic Impacts of Terrorist Attacks. Harry W. Richardson, Peter Gordon, and James E. Moore II. 2005. ISBN 1-84542-301-1. 384 pp. ₤29.95. Edward Elgar Publishing, +44 (0)1242 226934 (UK), www.e-elgar.com. Focusing on the economics of terrorism in the post-9/11 world, this book brings together original research based on the collaborative efforts of leading economists and planners. The expert contributors use a variety of methodological approaches and apply them to various types of terrorist attacks, such as on airports, highways, seaports, and infrastructure, and they also draw analogies between human-induced and natural disasters. While much of the research on future terrorist attacks on the United States has focused on costs associated with human lives and psychological impacts, this book addresses the economic costs of protection and the potential economic damage caused by terrorist attacks.
Assessing the Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Persons with Disabilities. Glen W. White, Michael H. Fox, Catherine Rooney, and Anthony Cahill. 2007. 61 pp. Free online. National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, (785) 864-4095, www.rtcil.org.
This report summarizes research that represents the most recent in-depth effort to understand how persons with disabilities prepared for, reacted to, and recovered from the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina in the most affected portions of the Gulf Coast. In addition, the study sought to understand the roles and relationships that Centers for Independent Living (CILs) played in all phases of the disaster, with a special emphasis on their relationship to the emergency management system. The report includes the findings, which revealed three significant gaps in areas affecting persons with disabilities, and recommendations based on these findings.
Path of Destruction: The Devastation of New Orleans and the Coming Age of Superstorms. John McQuaid and Mark Schleifstein. 2006. ISBN 0-316-01642-X. 362 pp. $25.99 (hardcover). Little, Brown and Company, (800) 759-0190, www.hachettebookgroupusa.com. In this book, Pulitzer Prize-winning authors John McQuaid and Mark Schleifstein give a comprehensive account of why and how Hurricane Katrina happened. However, the book isn’t just about the hurricane, those who survived and those who didn’t; it is an account of the dreadful inadequacies that existed prior to 2005, an indictment of the Washington officials who failed to act, and a scientific investigation into why these huge storms are coming now. Drawing on historical records, geology, and climatology, the authors reveal how changes in the atmosphere, along with the choices made by people and politicians, have created conditions that are ripe for storms like Hurricane Katrina.
The following Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports are available free online at www.gao.gov. Printed copies are also available (first copy is free, additional copies are $2.00 each). To order, contact the GAO: (202) 512-6000, TDD (202) 512-2537; www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/ordtab.pl.
Homeland Security: Progress Has Been Made to Address the Vulnerabilities Exposed by 9/11, but Continued Federal Action is Needed to Further Mitigate Security Risks. January 2007. GAO-07-375. 114 pp.
Disaster Assistance: Better Planning Needed for Housing Victims of Catastrophic Disasters. February 2007. GAO-07-88. 91 pp.
Small Business Administration: Additional Steps Needed to Enhance Agency Preparedness for Future Disasters. February 2007. GAO-07-114. 46 pp.
Maritime Security: Public Safety Consequences of a Terrorist Attack on a Tanker Carrying Liquefied Natural Gas Need Clarification. February 2007. GAO-07-316. 46 pp.
Disaster Preparedness: Better Planning Would Improve OSHA’s Efforts to Protect Workers’ Safety and Health and Disasters. March 2007. GAO-07-193. 78 pp.
Emergency Preparedness: Current Emergency Alert System Has Limitations, and Development of a New Integrated System Will Be Challenging. March 2007. GAO-07-411. 46 pp.
Port Risk Management: Additional Federal Guidance Would Aid Ports in Disaster Planning and Recovery. March 2007. GAO-07-412. 57 pp.
Critical Infrastructure: Challenges Remain in Protecting Key Sectors. March 2007. GAO-07-626T. 30 pp.
Institute for Business & Home Safety, Summary of State Land Use Planning Laws
The Institute for Business & Home Safety’s annual update of state land-use planning laws and their requirements for addressing natural hazards is now available online. This document was researched and written through a contract by IBHS with the American Planning Association (APA). The updated Web site provides information about which states:
- Require local governments to address natural hazards in their comprehensive plans, and precisely what is expected
- Provide specific kinds of technical assistance to local governments in drafting natural hazards elements of comprehensive plans
- Require vertical or horizontal consistency, or both, in local plans
- Mandate a state plan, and which of those include a land-use element or a hazards mitigation element
Vulnerability Network & Observatory
This site provides an online knowledge portal to link researchers and practitioners in various sectors of the vulnerability field. The “Document Hotel” contains hundreds of searchable journal papers, reports, and briefing notes that cover a range of topics, including vulnerability, adaptation, climate change impacts, food security, water management, renewable energy, and socio-environmental modeling. The site also includes news items that highlight activities and events in the field of vulnerability and sustainable development, and users can join public forums to communicate with people engaged in similar work.
International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, Asia-Pacific
UN/ISDR has launched its Asia and Pacific Web site, which provides basic information on disaster risk reduction in the Asia and Pacific region. The Asia and Pacific Islands region represents the widest and most disaster-prone continent in the world, beyond Africa, with a regular and increased frequency of typhoons, tsunamis, floods, droughts, fires, and other natural hazards. The new Web site aims to establish an interactive relationship with regional partners throughout the Asian and Pacific region, who are invited to provide information on a regular basis.
International Association of Emergency Managers - Oceania
On March 14, 2007, the IAEM Board of Directors approved the creation of IAEM-Oceania as the 15th IAEM region. IAEM-Oceania spans most of the Pacific nations and currently has more than 120 members.