Image by NASA Goddard Photo and Video via FlickrTechnology Thursday
The disaster in the Gulf has been riveting - in a truly horrifying way. It shows us that our reach exceeds our grasp, insofar as we undertake activities that have catastrophic (albeit--hopefully--rare) failure modes that we don't know how to cope with. The risks we are willing to take, in other words, exceed our risk mitigation and disaster management capabilities. As the toxic oil and gas continues to gush into the Gulf (at the rate, some suggest, of one Exxon Valdez very 2-3 days; some suggest much less and there's controversy over the calculation, regardless), most of us can only sit and watch, stunned, as images of encroaching devastation approach vital coastlines.
After 9/11, the singer-songwriter Bob Hillman wrote a song about the World Trade Center attacks and the towers falling. In it, he sang about being far away and watching the same image over and over on the television: