Some Thoughts About Environmental Disasters

In an environmental disaster, a disaster causes environmental harm, environmental change causes an acute risk to humans, or both take place.  Examples include the BP Oil Spill, the London killer for of 1952, the 2003 European heat wave, and the 2011 Japanese tsunami. Climate change will intensify the connection between disaster issues and the environment. Given the interwoven nature of disasters and environment, we should consider what environmental law and disaster law can learn from each other.  Environmental law has the most to teach disaster law about risk management and prevention.  Disaster law, in contrast, directs attention to issues of unequal risk exposure and on compensation as a supplement to risk mitigation. For more about environmental disasters, see this paper.

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