Monday, June 21, 2010

NOT the kind of hit parade we want...

I felt this was an interesting article on the relative "merits" (if you want to call them that) of various environmental disasters in U.S. history. President Obama and others have referred to the calamitous oil spill fouling the Gulf of Mexico as the worst environmental disaster ever to hit the United States; as the article points out, one could make the case that several others top it. Not an auspicious distinction, but it provides some good reminders of past catastrophes.

As a historian, I'm all for widespread dissemination of information about past catastrophes, not in any effort to mitigate the present -- BP and all others associated with this spill were a bunch of [insert impolite term of your choice here] eejits, as the Irish would say, and my heart sinks further with every new story that appears about the Gulf. However, I cling to the hope, praying it isn't entirely misguided, that the more we know about our past mistakes, missteps and downright miscreant activities, the wiser we will be in the future. Ignorance of the past hurts us so often in this world. Thanks be for anything that reminds us.

3 comments:

nwrowergirl said...

Good article - you are right that we'd do well to learn from our past mistakes, but I have trouble keeping up hope that we'll ever really learn...

Here's a really interesting piece from NPR this morning about the "blame game" regarding this current disaster the importance of good word choice.


http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128000186

nwrowergirl said...

sorry: "and" the importance of good word choice. :)

Laura Gifford said...

That is interesting! Obama using "British" Petroleum reminds me of all the other recent examples of language coloring debates. The constant mention of "Barack Hussein Obama" by some on the right, for example. You'd think he, if anyone, would be aware of the power of that kind of rhetoric to be damaging... sigh.