by Nancy McDaniel
In early August 1991, I spent two weeks in the small fishing village of Cordova, Alaska. It was about two years after the devastating Exxon Valdez oil spill, which so cruelly fouled Prince William Sound. I was there as a part of an Earthwatch team helping two professors interview local residents. We were trying to find out how the spill had affected their lives, their hopes, and their expectations for the future. The professors had a theory that technological disasters (e.g., oil spills, hazardous waste accidents, etc.) would be responded to differently than natural disasters (e.g., earthquakes, floods, etc.) because there was “someone to blame” (versus it being “God’s will”), and there would be great uncertainty as to future lingering results.