A Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Message from NHMA President Ed Thomas:
One of the most significant aspects of NHMA is our commitment to underserved populations, who so often are disproportionately afflicted by the results of human failure to properly and safely design for foreseeable natural events.
On this, the holiday celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it is appropriate to give special attention to the serious and continuing problem of how society often externalizes the costs of development activity to underserved populations. There is a great article in today’s New York Times describing an ongoing effort by a professor at the United States Military Academy at West Point to bring this message home to the cadets he is helping train. That article is well worth reading and is available here.
Understanding how all too often society also increases the toll of future disasters by externalizing the true costs of many community development activities, including using the usual practices to construct shopping centers, bridges, roads, homes, and more, is absolutely essential to achieving our goal of Disaster Risk Reduction. Attorney Lynsey Rae Johnson and I wrote an article for the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) about using recent court rulings as an opportunity to promote safe development and Disaster Risk Reduction.
Father of the nonviolent struggle for Indian Independence, Great moralist and Attorney Mohandas K. Gandhi tremendously influenced the writings and thoughts of Dr. King. In our article, Attorney Johnson and I point out that Gandhi wrote that the idea of not using your property to harm others is fundamental to morality and community harmony. This concept of Safe Development or No Adverse Impact is also a maxim of law and fundamental to understanding property rights. The Thomas-Johnson article for ELI is also worth a look, and available on the American Bar Association website here.