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Who Ya Gonna Call in an Environmental Disaster?

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Nine out of ten Americans now live in places of significant risk, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These risks include things like dam failure, hazardous material exposure, nuclear explosion, terrorism and natural disasters like wild fires, heat, hurricane, thunderstorms, tornados, tsunami, earthquakes, floods, landslides, volcanoes and winter storms.

Actually, it appears that the increased risk of disaster is occurring worldwide due to climate change, deteriorating ecosystems and the expansion of poverty, says a UN Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction.

So what are we to do in the face of such threats to our lives, our homes, our communities--and our world?

"We need to change behavior in this country," Craig Fugate, FEMA's new director, told his emergency-management instructors at a conference last June. The "government-centric" approach to disasters increases the odds of catastrophic failure in a big disaster, as Hurricane Katrina so clearly showed.

Fugate not only has extensive and relevant experience in disaster management, he is not an FOTP (friend of the powerful) as many of his predecessors were.

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Olga Bonfiglio is a Huffington Post contributor and author of Heroes of a Different Stripe: How One Town Responded to the War in Iraq. She has written for several magazines and newspapers on the subjects of food, social justice and religion. She (more...)

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