Weather and the Law Explored in New Book

Professor Marsha BaumIn When Nature Strikes: Weather Disasters and the Law, Marsha Baum, Dickason Professor of Law at the University of New Mexico, describes the interconnections between weather and law. The book, which was released by Praeger/Greenwood earlier this year, is likely the first book to explore these connections broadly.

This one-of-a-kind work describes the law related to weather in the United States in the context of specific cases, legislation and administrative legal action. For example, in the chapter on civil liability, Baum discusses cases involving the deaths of athletes from heatstroke and the limitations on the liability of employers and government entities.


When Lightning StrikesBaum developed her proposal for the book and began her research in June 2005, before the disaster of Hurricane Katrina. However, the devastation suffered and the continuing financial and social repercussions of inadequate programs and responses became an important focus of the book and Baum’s research.

“The historical and public policy connections between law and weather are fascinating, " she says. "But the interconnection of law and weather is not only felt at the level of major disasters. Individuals also suffer from an extraordinary weather event that may not have regional impact, such as a lightning strike, a heat wave, a wildfire, a flash flood, a blizzard. How the law responds to individual losses is as telling as the macro level response of major legislation and programs.”

Baum has presented on weather and the law topics at weather conferences and law related conferences both in the U.S. and abroad, including the Pacific Northwest Weather Workshop, the Considering Animals conference held in Australia, and upcoming presentations to the American Meteorological Society in January 2008.