Reducing Our Vulnerabilities to Natural, Industrial, and Terrorist Disasters
Author: Charles Perrow
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Category: Social Science
Charles Perrow is famous worldwide for his ideas about normal accidents, the notion that multiple and unexpected failures--catastrophes waiting to happen--are built into our society's complex systems. In The Next Catastrophe, he offers crucial insights into how to make us safer, proposing a bold new way of thinking about disaster preparedness. Perrow argues that rather than laying exclusive emphasis on protecting targets, we should reduce their size to minimize damage and diminish their attractiveness to terrorists. He focuses on three causes of disaster--natural, organizational, and deliberate--and shows that our best hope lies in the deconcentration of high-risk populations, corporate power, and critical infrastructures such as electric energy, computer systems, and the chemical and food industries. Perrow reveals how the threat of catastrophe is on the rise, whether from terrorism, natural disasters, or industrial accidents. Along the way, he gives us the first comprehensive history of FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security and examines why these agencies are so ill equipped to protect us. The Next Catastrophe is a penetrating reassessment of the very real dangers we face today and what we must do to confront them. Written in a highly accessible style by a renowned systems-behavior expert, this book is essential reading for the twenty-first century. The events of September 11 and Hurricane Katrina--and the devastating human toll they wrought--were only the beginning. When the next big disaster comes, will we be ready? In a new preface to the paperback edition, Perrow examines the recent (and ongoing) catastrophes of the financial crisis, the BP oil spill, and global warming.
Ready (or Not)? : a Beyond Goldwater-Nichols Phase 4 Report
Author: Christine E. Wormuth
Category: Political Science
America is not ready for the next catastrophe. Almost seven years have passed since the nation was attacked here at home by violent Islamist extremists who remain free and who have made clear their willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against the United States, should they be able to acquire or build them. Almost three years have passed since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast and laid bare myriad flaws in the nation's preparedness and response system. Simply creating the Homeland Security Council, the Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Northern Command was not enough to make the country prepared. There are still no detailed, government-wide plans to respond to a catastrophe. There is still considerable confusion over who will be in charge during a disaster. There are still almost no dedicated military forces on rapid alert to respond to a crisis here at home. There are still no guidelines to determine and assess the capabilities that states, cities, and towns should have to ensure they are prepared for the worst.Many of the building blocks required to move the country toward being truly prepared to handle a catastrophe already exist in some form, but the next administration needs to bring the pieces together, fill in the gaps, and provide the resources necessary to get the job done. If implemented, the recommendations contained in this report--part of the CSIS Beyond Goldwater-Nichols project--would go a long way toward getting America ready to manage the next domestic catastrophe, whatever form it might take.
Explains cataclysmic events--including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, and financial crashes--and details the mathematical modeling that researchers use to predict when the next big disaster will strike.
United States. Congress. House. Committee on Financial Services. Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity
This book argues that catastrophe is a particular way of governing future events – such as terrorism, climate change or pandemics – which we cannot predict but which may strike suddenly, without warning, and cause irreversible damage. At a time where catastrophe increasingly functions as a signifier of our future, imaginaries of pending doom have fostered new modes of anticipatory knowledge and redeployed existing ones. Although it shares many similarities with crises, disasters, risks and other disruptive incidents, this book claims that catastrophes also bring out the very limits of knowledge and management. The politics of catastrophe is turned towards an unknown future, which must be imagined and inhabited in order to be made palpable, knowable and actionable. Politics of Catastrophe critically assesses the effects of these new practices of knowing and governing catastrophes to come and challenges the reader to think about the possibility of an alternative politics of catastrophe. This book will be of interest to students of critical security studies, risk theory, political theory and International Relations in general.
The Engineering of Katrina and the Disasters of Tomorrow
Author: William R. Freudenburg
Publisher: Island Press
When houses are flattened, towns submerged, and people stranded without electricity or even food, we attribute the suffering to “natural disasters” or “acts of God.” But what if they’re neither? What if we, as a society, are bringing these catastrophes on ourselves? That’s the provocative theory of Catastrophe in the Making, the first book to recognize Hurricane Katrina not as a “perfect storm,” but a tragedy of our own making—and one that could become commonplace. The authors, one a longtime New Orleans resident, argue that breached levees and sloppy emergency response are just the most obvious examples of government failure. The true problem is more deeply rooted and insidious, and stretches far beyond the Gulf Coast. Based on the false promise of widespread prosperity, communities across the U.S. have embraced all brands of “economic development” at all costs. In Louisiana, that meant development interests turning wetlands into shipping lanes. By replacing a natural buffer against storm surges with a 75-mile long, obsolete canal that cost hundreds of millions of dollars, they guided the hurricane into the heart of New Orleans and adjacent communities. The authors reveal why, despite their geographic differences, California and Missouri are building—quite literally—toward similar destruction. Too often, the U.S. “growth machine” generates wealth for a few and misery for many. Drawing lessons from the most expensive “natural” disaster in American history, Catastrophe in the Making shows why thoughtless development comes at a price we can ill afford.
Presenting cutting-edge domestic and international approaches, Catastrophic Disaster Planning and Response explains how to effectively plan for and manage the consequences of a catastrophe. Recognizing that a business-as-usual approach to preparing for and responding to such events is doomed to fail, the book fills a gap in emergency management education. It introduces the many considerations that influence how we plan for and respond to large-scale catastrophes and how it differs from preparing for smaller-scale emergencies. Written by a recognized expert in emergency management, this volume is a thorough study of the planning process and response procedures for catastrophic disasters. Topics discussed include: The history of catastrophic events, both in and outside the United States How catastrophes differ from disasters and emergencies and how they are all part of the emergency management continuum The varying definitions of catastrophes and their political and societal implications The main ethical and value dilemmas that one will likely face before, during, and after a catastrophe The legal framework associated with government response to catastrophes The post-catastrophic environment that an emergency manager might experience, with a focus on logistics, critical infrastructure, mass care, and mass evacuation Planning strategies and skills an emergency manager can employ to mitigate the effects of such an event The use of crisis leadership skills and how to lead and influence others in a catastrophic situation Recent major events provide valuable lessons that demonstrate the characteristics of a catastrophic disaster, the special issues of response and recovery, and the necessary preparation on international, national, and local levels. Offering best practices using recent real-world case studies, the book provides a foundation for continued study and critical reflection. Catastrophic Disaster Planning and Response is one of only two books utilized by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) in their elite 2010 Flag Office/SES Executive Change Leadership Program (ECL) curriculum. The ECL program develops the executive leadership skills of USCG Admiral-selects awaiting Senate confirmation, as well as members of the Department of Homeland Security's federal Senior Executive Service (SES), which in 2010 included representatives from the U.S. Secret Service, the Transportation Security Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Border Patrol, Citizenship and Immigration Services, and FEMA. Readily adaptable for classroom use, this cutting-edge professional reference provides qualifying instructors with access to teaching materials and a test bank.
Fundamental change occurs most often in one of two ways: as a "fatal discontinuity," a sudden catastrophic event that is potentially world changing, or as a persistent, gradual trend. Global catastrophes include volcanic eruptions, viral pandemics, wars, and large-scale terrorist attacks; trends are demographic, environmental, economic, and political shifts that unfold over time. In this provocative book, scientist Vaclav Smil takes a wide-ranging, interdisciplinary look at the catastrophes and trends the next fifty years may bring. Smil first looks at rare but cataclysmic events, both natural and human-produced, then at trends of global importance, including the transition from fossil fuels to other energy sources and growing economic and social inequality. He also considers environmental change -- in some ways an amalgam of sudden discontinuities and gradual change -- and assesses the often misunderstood complexities of global warming. Global Catastrophes and Trends does not come down on the side of either doom-and-gloom scenarios or techno-euphoria. Instead, Smil argues that understanding change will help us reverse negative trends and minimize the risk of catastrophe.