Over the past year or so, we have witnessed a range of natural disasters, from the avalanches of the Chamonix valley, the floods in Britain, Mozambique and Australia, and the earthquakes in El Salvador and Gujarat, to the foot-and-mouth crisis in Britain and France. Our consciousness of such environmental hazards may be a result of better reporting or there may simply be more hazards, possibly because of global climate change or because more people live in vulnerable places.
The third edition of Keith Smith's successful text therefore has a perennial and increasing relevance. It provides a sure-footed and balanced assessment of a wide range of rapid-onset events, whether natural, human or technological in origin. It is not merely a description of some devastating phenomena, but also looks at general issues relating to management and evaluation of risk. The third edition has the basic format of its predecessors but contains new references, illustrative material and material relating to a range of events, including those associated with El Niño.
The book mostly sticks to rapid-onset events that lead to disasters rather than addressing more chronic or "elusive" hazards such as desertification or depletion of the ozone layer. It combines empirical and substantive material with theoretical debate and will be useful to undergraduates studying in geography and environmental studies.
Andrew Goudie is professor of geography, University of Oxford.
Environmental Hazards. Third Edition.
Author - Keith Smith
ISBN - 0 415 22463 2 and 22464 0
Publisher - Routledge
Price - £60.00 and £19.99
Pages - 393