Pundits and politicians have criticized the president for being slow to respond to the disaster, but that criticism misses the mark. The point is not to respond but to anticipate. Once again, Deepwater Horizon has proved the sad maxim that it takes a crisis to focus attention on an issue. Maybe we can finally learn now what we should have learned 30 years ago: that we should not just be mopping up the last crisis but preventing the next one, whether it is an oil-rig blowup or ice sheets calving into the sea.
This article was originally published with the title Catastrophic Thinking.