Cover: Facing Catastrophe: Environmental Action for a Post-Katrina World, from Harvard University PressCover: Facing Catastrophe in PAPERBACK

Facing Catastrophe

Environmental Action for a Post-Katrina World

As Hurricane Katrina vividly revealed, disaster policy in the United States is broken and needs reform. What can we learn from past disasters—storms, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, and wildfires—about preparing for and responding to future catastrophes? How can these lessons be applied in a future threatened by climate change?

In this bold contribution to environmental law, Robert Verchick argues for a new perspective on disaster law that is based on the principles of environmental protection. His prescription boils down to three simple commands: Go Green, Be Fair, and Keep Safe. “Going green” means minimizing exposure to hazards by preserving natural buffers and integrating those buffers into artificial systems like levees or seawalls. “Being fair” means looking after public health, safety, and the environment without increasing personal and social vulnerabilities. “Keeping safe” means a more cautionary approach when confronting disaster risks.

Verchick argues that government must assume a stronger regulatory role in managing natural infrastructure, distributional fairness, and public risk. He proposes changes to the federal statutes governing environmental impact assessments, wetlands development, air emissions, and flood control, among others. Making a strong case for more transparent governmental decision-making, Verchick offers a new vision of disaster law for the next generation.

Awards & Accolades

  • A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of 2010
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Jacket: The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution, by Lindsay Chervinsky, from Harvard University Press

Why You Should Participate in an (Online) Book Club

Online book clubs can be a rewarding way to connect with readers, Lindsay Chervinsky discovered, when she was invited to join one to discuss her book, The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution. Since my book was published in April 2020, I’ve discovered that my work appeals to three main audiences. First, the general readers who are enthusiastic about history, attend virtual events, and tend to support local historic sites. Second, readers who are curious about our government institutions and the current political climate and are looking for answers about its origins. And third, history, social studies, and government teachers