Or maybe it's The Horrors Of Capitalism, Part Whatever, as expressed by people with computers, smartphones, automobiles, kitchen gadgets and abundant food, none of which is the product of a non-capitalist economic system.
There's a chemical plant in Crosby, Texas that has already had a few explosions and which will have a nasty fire. There's no getting around it. They brew all manner of chemicals at the site, twenty miles away from downtown Houston and most of them have to be kept "very cool" to prevent explosions. Commercial power failed, but they had a backup generator; when water got to it, they transferred the stuff to diesel-powered refrigerated storage, but the water kept on rising. By that point, Arkema was in contact with local authorities and they evacuated a mile-and-a-half radius around the site.
Also by that point, my Facebook feed was blowing up with people bemoaning Arkema for being so "negligent" and comparing the situation to the Fukushima Daiichi reactor mess.
This is way off; Arkema in Crosby is a firecracker to the Fukushima hand grenade. Moreover, engineers working for the Japanese power company that operated the reactors had identified the risks (far more probable than the flooding in Texas) and recommended measures to prevent bad outcomes. The operator made very few of those improvements. Arkema had two levels of backups for keeping their chemicals cool. It's a lower risk and better prevention.
Then the location was criticized. Facebookers asked, "Why did they put the plant on a flood plain?" They didn't; you can pull up the maps and the site isn't even on the 500-year (0.2%) flood plain. Others, taking the generic chem-plant photos used to illustrate web news stories as on-scene images, griped at the "lazy" company putting a dangerous plant right along the water (it isn't) or in a residential area (it isn't).
This isn't a good situation and no doubt Arkema will be rethinking locations; they're going to lose this plant and all the product stored there and it may not be covered by their insurance. It's hardly criminal negligence to fail to plan for fifty inches of rainfall in a few days in a place that normally gets that much over the course of a year.
Most Americans live within thirty miles of a hazard as dangerous as the Arkema plant, if not more so. We fertilize farm fields with ammonium nitrate and anhydrous ammonia, we build high dams, pump natural gas across the continent in huge pipelines, etc. etc. With modern conveniences come modern hazards and when they crop up, it takes only minutes to do your homework instead of playing Chicken Little on social media -- but few people bother.
It took me a minute last night to pull up a map of the Arkema locations near Houston and find the one near Crosby; it was a couple of minutes to get a flood plan map and compare the two. This morning, I spent maybe five minutes reading updated news stories on the situation and reviewing articles on the Fukushima Daiichi reactor catastrophe to get a sense of the relative scale. Information has never been so available in human history and yet the bliss of ignorance still appeals
Bliss is over-rated. Be uncomfortable. Do the easy homework.
5 months ago