Not to dwell on the thoughtful refrain from Pete Seeger’s 1960s anthem, but the question is worth asking frequently—of ourselves and our society. George Santayana wrote: “Progress... depends on retentiveness.... When experience is not retained... infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
- Growth and changes in this country and in the international political environment have created new threats and challenges for our society.
- Life is getting more complicated, with new technologies and the unfamiliar vulnerabilities and threats they bring, and aging infrastructure.
- Population growth and development has placed more people in harm’s way.
- The movement of people into the warmer and/or coastal states places them at greater risk to such hazards as earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, and tornadoes.
- With the planet becoming “smaller” and more populated, threats of communicable disease spread, including pandemics become more probable and conceivably more dangerous.
- The most recent rise in international terrorism makes life more dangerous.
- We build in floodplains.
- We destroy wetlands
- We build along earthquake faults
- We build on the coast
- We build on the alluvial fans from mountains
- We build in and near forests susceptible to wildfire
- We don’t zone, code, build, inspect and maintain as appropriately as is feasible
Image from the University of Vermont Libraries collection