The Rock Ethics Institute


Hurricane Katrina

Climate Change Homepage

There is not a consensus, nor does it really make sense to even assert, that Hurricane Katrina was due to climate change. It can be asserted, however, that climate change will tend to increase to frequency and intensity of hurricanes over many seasons, though there is not consensus that this is actually happening. Whether it is a particularly active part of the hurricane cycle or if it is due to global warming, more category five hurricanes are likely to develop in the Atlantic Basic in the coming decade. The tragic situation in New Orleans, however, was a failure of national and local administrations to heed warnings of such possible outcomes. The result was a failure of the administration to adhere to many forms of distributive and procedural justice and a failure to implement the precautionary principle (failure to err on the side of caution) by not evacuating people in time. Hurricane Katrina provides an unfortunate case study in how justice must enter into consideration of any adaptation policies, and for governing bodies to take seriously the threat of drastic climatic events.

For a series of papers on the case of Katrina, please visit the website for the "New Directions Katrina Research Workshop."

"Cities and Rivers II, New Orleans, the Mississippi Delta, and Katrina: Lessons from the Past, Lessons for the Future," focused on the environmental and societal challenges surrounding New Orleans/Mississippi Delta in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The workshop hypothesis is that scientific and technical knowledge can have a more beneficial societal influence when placed in an interdisciplinary context where the ethics and values dimensions of both knowledge and societal/environmental needs are made explicit."