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© 2001 American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
Thomas Birkland is a professor of public policy at the State University of New York at Albanys Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy. His research centers on environmental and natural hazards policy. He has written several articles on natural hazards, and is the author of After Disaster (Georgetown University Press), a study of the political effects of disasters.
Earthquakes and hurricanes are important and costly natural hazards. Although there has been a National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act since 1977, there is no parallel statutory program dealing with the equally costly and dangerous hurricane hazard and with coastal hazards in general. A primary reason for the lack of comprehensive federal legislation is the lesser degree of scientific input at congressional hearings dealing with hurricane policy compared with the greater prominence of science in earthquake policy-making. The differences between earthquake and hurricane policy reflect broader factors that inhibit effective coastal hazards policy-making in general. But with these factors come opportunities for earth scientists to organize and press for more effective participation in coastal hazards policy.
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