Friday, June 11, 2010

Risks, Reason, and Reality

We, the American people, need to get real about risks in these modern times. Lately, we hear that we have to find out why the BP oil spill happened and take steps to see that it never happens again. Nonsense! Every human activity from walking, driving buggies, riding in automobiles at high speeds on crowded highways, flying over oceans in jet planes on up to sending astronauts to the moon is fraught with the possibility of mishap. This becomes ever more true as we move toward more complex, large-scale technological systems, e. g., drilling for oil a mile deep into the ocean.

Risks are reducible, and we ought to have the most effective kind of stern and intelligent oversight and regulation that human wisdom can devise. The safety systems should  operate with integrity and not at the bidding of those whose profits might be reduced. But under the best possible conditions we humans can manage, accidents and devastation will be occasional features of human life. 

Politicians and pundits and citizens take note. We could, of  course, try living in caves as hermits, but then there are bears, bats, and bugs, not to mention snakes, and other inconveniences.

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