Charles Perrow is famous worldwide for his ideas about normal accidents, the notion that multiple and unexpected failures--catastrophes waiting to happen--are built into our society's complex systems. In The Next Catastrophe, he offers crucial insights into how to make us safer, proposing a bold new way of thinking about disaster preparedness. Perrow argues that rather than laying exclusive emphasis on protecting targets, we should reduce their size to minimize damage and diminish their attractiveness to terrorists. He focuses on three causes of disaster--natural, organizational, and deliberate--and shows that our best hope lies in the deconcentration of high-risk populations, corporate power, and critical infrastructures such as electric energy, computer systems, and the chemical and food industries. Perrow reveals how the threat of catastrophe is on the rise, whether from terrorism, natural disasters, or industrial accidents. Along the way, he gives us the first comprehensive history of FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security and examines why these agencies are so ill equipped to protect us.
The Next Catastrophe is a penetrating reassessment of the very real dangers we face today and what we must do to confront them. Written in a highly accessible style by a renowned systems-behavior expert, this book is essential reading for the twenty-first century. The events of September 11 and Hurricane Katrina--and the devastating human toll they wrought--were only the beginning. When the next big disaster comes, will we be ready? In a new preface to the paperback edition, Perrow examines the recent (and ongoing) catastrophes of the financial crisis, the BP oil spill, and global warming.
Charles Perrow is professor emeritus of sociology at Yale University. He has worked as a consultant for the U.S. military, the White House, and the nuclear-power industry.
Preface to the Paperback Edition vii Acknowledgments xlix Part One: Introduction and Natural Disasters li Chapter 1 Shrink the Targets 1 Chapter 2 "Natural" Disasters? 14 Part Two: Can Government Help? 41 Chapter 3 The Government Response: The First FEMA 43 Chapter 4 The Disaster after 9/11: The Department of Homeland Security and a New FEMA 68 Part Three: The Disastrous Private Sector 131 Chapter 5 Are Terrorists as Dangerous as Management? The Nuclear Plant Threat 133 Chapter 6 Better Vulnerability through Chemistry 174 Chapter 7 Disastrous Concentration in the National Power Grid 211 Chapter 8 Concentration and Terror on the Internet 248 Part Four: What Is to Be Done? 289 Chapter 9 The Enduring Sources of Failure: Organizational, Executive, and Regulatory 291 Appendix A Three Types of Redundancy 327 Appendix B Networks of Small Firms 331 Bibliography 335 Index 355