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Facing Catastrophe: Environmental Action for a Post-Katrina World Hardcover – July 15, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0674047914 ISBN-10: 0674047915 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; 1st edition (July 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674047915
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674047914
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,170,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Beautifully written, powerfully argued, and sweeping in its scope, Facing Catastrophe answers the wake-up call for environmental policymakers that was Hurricane Katrina. This is a book that deserves to be read, re-read, and read yet again. (Douglas A. Kysar, Yale University)

Hurricane Katrina was not just a storm; it was also the occasion for a complete governmental debacle. As Rob Verchick trenchantly demonstrates, we can learn much from this tragedy about how to face other major societal risks such as climate change. Let's hope we learn from this experience, and from Verchick's thoughtful analysis, without waiting for the lessons to be reinforced by still more disastrous policy failures. (Daniel A. Farber, University of California, Berkeley)

Makes a compelling case for reforming disaster policy, making government decision-making more transparent. (New Orleans Times-Picayune 2010-07-18)

The book is an important attempt to, among other things, take the "lessons of Katrina" and make from them a new kind of national policy: one that can calculate the economic value of "natural infrastructure"--like Louisiana's coastal wetlands, which help to diminish the ferocity of incoming hurricanes--and can use that calculation to make saner cost-benefit decisions about our environment. (Harry Shearer Huffington Post 2010-08-17)

In unraveling the engineering, social, and political debacles that created the catastrophic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Verchick proposes fundamental reforms in disaster policy and environmental law for coping effectively and ethically with future natural disasters. His analysis of this complex tragedy is masterful and lucid, and his prudent prescriptions are compelling...Anyone concerned with human and environmental well-being should read this important synthesis about proactive disaster preparation, particularly in light of the ongoing warming of the atmosphere and rising sea levels. (P. R. Pinet Choice 2010-11-01)

About the Author

Robert R. M. Verchick is Gauthier–St. Martin Professor of Environmental Law at Loyola University New Orleans.

More About the Author

Robert R.M. Verchick holds the Gauthier-St. Martin Chair in Environmental Law at Loyola University New Orleans. (He is currently on leave.) He is a graduate of Stanford University and of Harvard Law School.  An expert in environmental law and in the developing field of disaster law, Mr. Verchick has taught at several American law schools as well as at universities in China and Denmark.  He is the author or co-author of three books. His most recent, "Facing Catastrophe: Environmental Action for a Post-Katrina World," has just been released by Harvard University Press.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J Kalb on August 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
If I could have every policymaker in my home state of Louisiana read one book, it would be this one. Rob Verchick argues persuasively that our best response to so-called "natural" disasters is to invest wisely in the natural infrastructure. He translates his three deceptively simple principles, "Go Green," "Be Fair," and "Keep Safe" into concrete suggestions for regulatory action. Unlike much that is written in this area, Verchick's account is both tremendously readable and ultimately optimistic. On the eve of the fifth anniversary of Katrina, this book has left me educated, motivated, and inspired.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By W. Remer on September 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Students and young professionals looking to pursue careers in environmental law and policy, hazard mitigation, and disaster management this is your vindication. Verchick provides well documented evidence that current polices and approaches in land-use planning and environmental protection are not sufficient for our twenty-first century urban lifestyles. Facing Catastrophe is a long awaited wake up call. His book is rooted with academic integrity, but delivered as an easy and practical read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By N Boar on August 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is one of the clearest, most accessible ways to educate oneself about disaster policy and what sort of steps should be taken to change the way we currently deal with them. A must-read for those who live in disaster-prone areas, those who engineer policy for disaster-prone areas, or those who simply want to learn new things without the dryness that normally accompanies it.
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Format: Paperback
Robert Verchick's book is a compelling, thorough, well-written account of the environmental policy failures in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and similar policy failures abroad in Asia and Latin America. A professor of environmental policy law at Loyola University in New Orleans, Verchick encountered the horrors of Katrina first-hand as an evacuee. His accounts of the engineering gaffes and the haphazard recovery process in New Orleans are part of his argument to extend his plea for stronger, more effective global legislation of disaster prevention policies. Citing examples in China (flooding of the Yangtze River basin), in India (The Bay of Bengal and the Godavari Delta), and Africa (The Nile), among others, Verchick points out that though it's very difficult to stop the deleterious consequences of climate change as it builds momentum, through informed and aggressive policymaking, we can mitigate the toll of natural disasters on human life in more readily effective ways.

A full review of the book can be read here, on World Policy Institute's website:
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