Governing Disasters
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Governing Disasters

The Challenges of Emergency Risk Regulation

Edited by Alberto Alemanno

This is the first volume that addresses the complexities of the volcanic ash cloud that overshadowed Europe in April 2011, but has subsequently struck again in Australia, Chile and Europe. It does so from a multidisciplinary perspective, drawing upon research from economics, law, sociology and other fields, as well as volcanology and leading expertise in jet engineering. Whilst our knowledge base is wide-ranging, there is a common focus on the practical lessons of the ash cloud crisis both for subsequent eruptions and for emergency risk regulation more generally.
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Chapter 6: The Challenge of Emergency Risk Communication: Lessons Learned in Trust and Risk Communication from the Volcanic Ash Crisis

Sweta Chakraborty


Sweta Chakraborty 6.1 INTRODUCTION Following the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull on 14 April 2010, the global public was faced with an onslaught of public health and safety risk communications typical of any emergency situation. Risk communications following emergency situations face specific challenges. These challenges have been addressed through the development of crisis communication paradigms following previous transnational disasters, such as pandemics and terrorists attacks. However, it is evident from analysis of the communications following the volcanic ash crisis that no such empirically founded approach towards emergency risk communication was executed. Rather the communications that were disseminated immediately following the crisis were often contradictory and stemmed from a variety of sources ranging from international organizations to private industry. Public attitudes towards these varying information sources, particularly levels of trust, and the role of the media further complicated risk communications being interpreted by the public as intended, potentially increasing public perceptions of the severity of risk. High perceived risk events rely on effective risk communication as a critical component for effective emergency response. This chapter examines what happened in terms of risk communication following the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull and positions it within existing empirical research related to emergency risk regulation. It examines volcanic ash crisis communication activities in relation to existing disaster management paradigms. It continues on to discuss the role of public perceptions of risk, and more specifically the implications for trust in effective risk communication. Finally, this chapter concludes with lessons learned from the volcanic ash 80...

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