The reading for this discussion is: Chapters 4 & 6. Three postings are required. For full credit, your first posting must be made two or more days before the due date.
Prompt- What to answer in your posting
In ‘What We Forget’, Dr. Jones discusses confirmation bias as it relates to our ignoring the flood danger in California. Confirmation bias is when we interpret information in a way that it confirms what we already believe (such as that flooding will not occur where you live, it will always occur elsewhere).
‘When the Levee Breaks’ describes the worst case scenario for responses to natural disasters.
Do you think that California (or America) is in a better place to handle disasters today as compared to 1861 or 1927? Do we hide behind confirmation bias to ignore disasters? Will the worst case disaster scenarios come to pass? Support your opinion with evidence from the book. As we come out of the Covid lockdown, consider how the disasters that Dr. Jones discusses relate to our current situation as well!
For full credit
A total of 3 posting required
Your initial posting must be two or more paragraphs or more in length (300-400 words) and include citations from the book club book (include page numbers)
Respond to at least 2 classmates directly engaging them by asking or responding to a question asked of you.
Response to others ( below just needs to response)
“I think that we definitely do hide behind confirmation bias but I donâ€t think it is entirely on purpose. The confirmation for me that we suffer form this is that most people who are from California donâ€t actually know about this flood, â€œAnd yet, 150 years later, most Californians are unaware that it ever happened. The floods are noted in Sacramento, but they are thought of as a local eventâ€ (pg. 70). The communities that were affected have integrated into their history and it lives in their memory, as Sacramento has. It was interesting to hear about why we donâ€t seem to be so afraid of floods although they can be just as destructive as other natural disasters. We have evolved to be more aware of imminent dangers and floods seem like something that is not an immediate danger to us so we donâ€t take it seriously, â€œRain is so familiar as to feel benign. The floodwaters may rise, but you can see the water approaching. Its impact feels manageableâ€¦The other hazards â€“ earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides â€“ emerge from out of nowhereâ€ (pg. 70). We donâ€t see floods as disasters because we feel we can manage them. I think this is similar to the situation we are living in now. We were so confident in our technology and ability to deal with disease that we are amazed at the huge impact this new disease has had on us. We knew that there had been other pandemics but since they were so far removed from memory and we were so confident in our ability to deal with them we didnâ€t prepare well enough when it came even though research showed it would. This is the same mindset we have with floods, â€œThey wanted to believe that their engineering solutions could not be exceeded, so they ignored our findingsâ€ (pg. 74).
I do think that we are better equipped now to handle disasters but we are by no means immune to hardships and trouble that come with disasters of this scale. I think that we are better prepared for a response to disasters because we can now count of aid from the federal government instead of having to rely on just donations from the red cross, â€œThe vehicle for relief at the time was the American Red Cross.â€ (pg. 109). With the creation of a governmental agency to handle aid relief as well as other long-term improvements Hoover like Carvalho used his political effectiveness to make improvements for the future, â€œHoover seized the opportunity to bring about long-tern improvements, politically and structurallyâ€ (pg. 111). With government aid, states donâ€t necessarily have to go bankrupt trying to help its citizens and their citizens donâ€t have to do it all on their own like those in Sacramento did. I also think that we are also better equipped socially to give aid to all those who are affected and not just certain populations within the affected area, â€œThe Mississippi floods exposed a fundamental weakness in the American social order, a tendency to minimize, dehumanize, and victimize those viewed as other, especially African Americansâ€ (pg. 114). I think we are also more prepared as a society to extend our help to everyone during a disaster now because we can identify with those who have suffered through a disaster â€“ we have tried to regain our humanity.”
“Previous natural disasters have been beneficial for current times as people are able to use the information gained from these disasters and make adjustments now. These adjustments can be to infrastructure or to protocol when disaster strikes again. We should now be more prepared in case a disaster does strike, however, despite great evidence, people still ignore the potential destruction that can be caused. In Chapter 4, â€˜What We Forget,â€ the author discusses the much-overlooked flood of the 19th century in California. This flood forced the temporary move of the capital of California from Sacramento to San Francisco due to immense damage caused by the floods in Sacramento. Jones states, â€œJust trying to describe the extent of the damage is overwhelming…it was ruination extending across thousands of miles of inhabited landâ€ (73). Dr. Jones and her team would use records from this catastrophe to create a model what would happen to California if a similar flood struck again. The results of Dr. Jonesâ€s model showed that a future flood on the scale of the one from 1862 would cause greater damage in comparison to the ShakeOut quake as â€œ…24 percent of the buildings in California would be damaged and that the losses to flood were four times greater than for the earthquake, with almost $1 trillion in damagesâ€ (76). Dr. Jones goes on to say that â€œMany officials simply refused to accept (her findings)â€ (76). This shows that we are still vulnerable to the aftermath of a great disaster.
Another flood disaster is discussed in Chapter 6, â€˜When the Levee Breaks.â€ In the late 1920s, a levee failed at Mounds Landing that in turn submerged a million acres of land in ten feet of water and killed people close to the mouth of the levee (108). Many people were displaced from their homes. Also, farms were destroyed, which was the livelihood of many as it was a source of income. Many African-Americans who were displaced by this disaster were sent to camps where they were abused. However, Herbert Hoover pushed for a change. With this, Hoover was able to create the 1928 Flood Control Act which would prevent flooding nearly one-hundred years later in 2011. Hoover did not ignore what happened to the levee, instead, he took action which was beneficial in current times. It is difficult to say whether or not the worst-case scenario will completely destroy everything, but there is hope. Some things may fall while others will stand. We are certainly better prepared than before, but will we use our knowledge to our benefit?”
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