Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

May 2, 2010

Social Interpretation: “Oil spill threatens our… way of life.”

Filed under: Risk Assessment,Strategy — by Philip J. Palin on May 2, 2010

Further to defining – or as a colleague recently suggested, envisioning – catastrophe, a few early Sunday morning headlines:

US Oil Spill ‘threatens way of life’, governor says (BBC)

After flyover, congressman downplays threat of oil spill (Miami Herald)

Federal Response based on Worst Case Scenario (Times-Picayune)

Oil spill that threatens an Armageddon (The Mirror UK)

Long-term impact of spill remains unclear (Times-Picayune)

Frustration and Fear Grow in Oil Spill Clean-up (Associated Press video)

Oil Spill Disaster now “Out of Control” (Times Online UK)

White House moves to blunt criticism on oil spill (Associated Press)

May 4 UpdateGulf oil spill is bad, but how bad? (New York Times)

May 4 Update:  A Catastrophe (USA Today print-edition frontpage headline for mid-South floods.  The same newspaper headlines the oil spill on the third page with Winds holding spill offshore: Though long-term path of oil slick is unclear, weather offers unexpected good news)

A catastrophe is in the eye of the beholder.  The meaning we give a disaster determines its catastrophic potential and impact.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
  • LinkedIn

3 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 3, 2010 @ 1:12 am

Words may well be meaningless by the time this oil spill event is over. It may be by Mother’s Day the first real clues of its impact on US will have been well documented. A friend on the Gulf Coast asked me for my real bottom line and I told him sell out and move.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

May 3, 2010 @ 4:55 am

Bill, Your comment reminds me of a phrase from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, “Words are but painted fire.” The real-deal may exceed our ability to paint. But I am pretty confident that whatever happens – especially if it is very bad – we will use words to debate its cause and implications. Those words, and any shared meaning that emerges from them, will end up defining the event as much as the event itself, at least for all of us not directly effected.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 4, 2010 @ 3:55 am

A great book! Mark Twain?

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>