As the first post to this blog about accidents, disasters, and related matters, I should say a bit about what will appear here and why this forum might be useful.
Flirting With Disaster: Why Accidents Are Rarely Accidental has just been officially released, and is available at fine bookstores worldwide. I’m really pleased about this milestone, since it’s been a long time coming. From the initial reaction, people seem engaged by the topic, especially the idea that many of the accidents I describe might be a lot more preventable than is generally assumed.
Before I could even get the book finished, however, even bigger “bad things” happened than some of those I had described. In August 2007, the subprime crisis emerged, and more recently the Chinese earthquake has become a fixture in the news. Both of these events fit my criteria for “preventable accidents,” although it is obvious that I don’t mean that we could have kept the ground from shaking in China. (For the moment, I’m going to leave out the cyclone in Burma, since it deserves special attention in my “When the Leaders Are the Problem” department.)
If you’ve been following the earthquake story, you know that the Chinese government has known for some time that Sichuan Province was vulnerable to earthquakes. Extensive development occurred anyway, a great deal of it employing building codes a number of China’s scientists felt were unsafe.
I’ll save the details of this story for a more thorough analysis, but my point is that it makes sense to have a place to discuss such events, and this is it. While the best thing would be if I had little to write about, the way the world seems to be going, this seems unlikely.
So come here often, ask questions, make comments, and join in the conversation.
Perhaps together, we can make the world a little safer.