Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Environmental Crises Are Nothing New

“Disaster” is certainly the word for it. BP’s catastrophic oil spill in the in the Gulf of Mexico has harmed a fragile ecosystem, contaminated miles of coastline and threatened the livelihood of tens of thousands of workers. One of the most distressing aspects of this corporate crisis is that it could have been prevented. A cascade of errors in judgment made the disaster possible. And it’s not the first time.

Among the worst manmade environmental disasters, in addition to the BP oil spill: the Dust Bowl (1930s and 40s), the use of Agent Orange as a defoliant in Vietnam (1960s and 70s), the Gulf War Oil Spill (1991), the Exxon Valdez (1989) and Love Canal (1978).

Most, if not all, of these crises could have been prevented. Apparently, we have yet to learn the lessons taught by history.

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