Hazard Risk Resilience Magazine Volume 1 Issue 2 - Page 53

53 Left: Aftermath of 2005 Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Why do you call them ‘stealth disasters’? Generally, a natural disaster has a fairly rapid onset – boom – an earthquake happens or a volcano starts erupting. Sometimes there are no precursors. Other times there are some warning signs, but the actual onset of the disaster tends to be rather quick. In contrast, stealth disasters or humaninduced disasters have a fairly slow onset so they tend not to be noticed because they ‘creep up’ on us, like a stealthy predator. There were indications a hundred years ago about climate change but the signs were fairly subtle, and we didn’t have the instrumentation or the global awareness to follow-up on it. You’ve talked about disasters within disasters in some of your previous work.1 How do you define ‘disaster within a disaster’? I think Hurricane Katrina in the US is a good example. The natural disaster was the hurricane, the disaster within that disaster was the mismanagement of the evacuation. Even within that disaster there’s another one. The