Disaster law promises to become an increasingly important subject over the course of this century. Climate change will increase the frequency of extreme weather events, while more people and property will be at risk due to population growth, coastal development and economic growth. Depending on the extent of climate change, the risks vary from serious to catastrophic. In dealing with these increased levels of risk, the entire disaster cycle must be considered, from pre-disaster risk mitigation to emergency response, followed by insurance and compensation, and rebuilding (and then by another potential disaster). This article provides a framework for considering these issues and sets forth five grand challenges for scholars and policymakers. These challenges require improvement in key areas: techniques for planning in the face of uncertainty; property and land-use rules; sensitivity to issues of social justice; the international framework for emergency disaster response; and mechanisms for risk spreading.

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