Disasters occur when hazards of nature strike socio-technological vulnerabilities. While science provides valuable indications of risk, it does not yield certainty, yet leaders must make sense of threats. Raymond Murphy's case study of the management of the 1998 ice storm - the most costly disaster ever in Canada, northern New York state, and Maine - presents rare interviews with key political and emergency management leaders that provide an insider's view of the challenge of responding to extreme weather. They document a generally well managed crisis, but also reveal the slippery slope from transparency to withholding critical information as the crisis deepened, and examine conflict resolution between leaders during a disaster. The study looks into whether technological development inadvertently constructed new vulnerabilities to nature's forces, thereby manufacturing a natural disaster.
As this extreme weather may foreshadow what will occur with global warming, Murphy's interviews also explore the politics, economics, ethics, and cultural predispositions underlying climate change, investigating how modern societies create both risks they assume are acceptable and the burden of managing them. An innovative comparison with Amish communities, where the same extreme weather had trivial consequences, is instructive for avoiding future socio-environmental calamities. Leadership in Disaster is a major contribution to the analysis of vulnerability, resilience, and the challenge of confronting environmental problems, such as global climate change, and a valuable resource for scholars and general readers seeking to learn more about how extreme weather disasters can be managed.