Disaster Law

While Rome (Moscow) Burns, Pakistan and China Flood, Washington Does Nothing

Grim — almost apocalyptic — headlines seem to greet us daily.  Pakistan faces the worst floods in almost a century, displacing millions from their homes and killing thousands. The UN is calling the floods “the greatest humanitarian crisis” the organization has ever faced. Russia swelters in unprecedented heat accompanied by horrific air quality.  The average daily death …


A Picture Speaks a Thousand Words

Do we now have the iconic image of the BP oil spill?  The photo above — of a laughing gull soaked in oil — appeared in newspapers, on line and on the air yesterday.  It seems to capture, as no words can, the tragedy we face as millions of gallons of oil continue to spew …


Blame and the BP Oil Spill

Like most observers, I suspect, I find myself so enraged by the  BP oil spill I don’t even know where to direct my anger.  Obviously, BP should be at the top — Dan was appropriately eloquent in his word choice by calling the company’s series of errors and negligent acts a cluster%#@*.   And the …


Will the BP Oil Spill Change Public Policy?

The oil spill catastrophe now engulfing the Gulf Coast brings home in incredibly vivid detail the ways in which human activity can damage the earth.  This is in stark contrast to climate change, for example, where the changes caused by accumulating greenhouse gas emissions are hard to see and where actions today will only affect the …


The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake Revisited

104 years ago today, the earth shook in San Francisco, igniting devastating fires that destroyed the city. But the impact of the fire was greater than just the loss of property and life: Robert Righter argues that the nationwide sympathy for San Francisco helped revitalize the otherwise flagging campaign in the United States Congress to …


Remembering Katrina

Four years ago today, at about this time of day, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana after it’s previous brief encounter with Florida.  A picture of the landfall is below. I remember thinking that, “as usual,” the weather people were hyping the possible impacts. As it turns out, my skepticism was partly justified because the …