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Confronting Catastrophe addresses natural disasters in terms of the issues arising from globalization, technological development and consumer culture. These factors have profoundly altered social and economic values, and international relations have responded to a new balance of forces and ideologies. Beginning by examining the theoretical underpinnings of academic and applied work the author then considers cultural, economic and historical changes in relation to the impact of disasters on human societies. Special attention is given to the effects of new technologies on vulnerability to natural catastrophe and to the difference in impacts between industrialized nations and developing countries. It is argued that, far from being exceptional events, disasters are a normal part of life and a substantial influence on most human cultures.