Exaggerating Fears - Poem by gershon hepner
You must exaggerate your fears;
disaster such a course demands.
Just one storm in ten thousand years
could drown all of the Netherlands.
Although the odds of such disaster
are very small the Dutch have built
strong dikes the element can master,
protecting Holland to the hilt,
and when a deluge comes like Noah’s
when rainstorms from the clouds have burst
the Dutch will all turn into rowers,
prepared like Noah for the worst.
Exaggerating fears may not
make all the difference when your time
has run out like the sea-green snot
from noses of sad men who rhyme.
Inspired by an article in the NYT, May 30 2006, by John Schwartz (“An Autopsy of Katrina: Four Storms, Not Just One”) :
Dr. Daniel, who is reviewing the corps inquiry, said that today's engineers based their designs for buildings in areas prone to hazards like floods and earthquakes on statistical analyses that run through all probable conditions and produce estimates that more closely characterize the risks. The Netherlands has built flood protection to withstand surges that might be expected every 10,000 years. Jurjen Battjes, a flood expert there who is working with Dr. Daniel's group, said his nation began embracing the statistical approach in the 1930's and got a wake-up call with floods in the 1950's. The Dutch planners extrapolated conditions far greater than anything seen in history but still possible, he said, and estimated the costs of protection, including the economic and social costs of failure, and boiled it down to a cost-benefit curve. The ultimate decision, he said, is less technical than political: 'How much money do we want to spend now for protection in the future? '
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