Engineers look at the Gulf and see an engineering problem:
Devices fall out of favor, but seldom if ever get abolished by design. The explosion of the Hindenburg showed the dangers of hydrogen as a lifting gas and resulted in new emphasis on helium, which is not flammable, rather than ending the reign of rigid airships. And engineering, by definition, is a problem-solving profession. Technology analysts say that constructive impulse, and its probable result for deep ocean drilling, is that innovation through failure analysis will make the wells safer, whatever the merits of reducing human reliance on oil. They hold that the BP disaster, like countless others, will ultimately inspire technological advance.
The sinking of the Titanic, the meltdown of the Chernobyl reactor in 1986, the collapse of the World Trade Center — all forced engineers to address what came to be seen as deadly flaws.
“Any engineering failure has a lot of lessons,” said Gary Halada, a professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook who teaches a course called “Learning from Disaster.”
Don't expect engineers to think like social service folks, or environmentalists. Doesn't make their POV invalid, just makes it different. And whether it's the Johnstown Flood of 1889 (a dam failure leading to legal innovation - "state courts' move from a fault-based regime to strict liability, and American Red Cross' first major relief effort, lead by Clara Barton) or the Titanic (lesson learned: have enough life boats), or the Triangle fire (better building code for fire exits and escapes) there's much to be learned from many disciplines when a disaster occurs. Reviewing the engineering lessons doesn't mean igoring the rest.
Want another example? Doing proper disaster planning instead of hiring a consultant to xerox everyone else's. Ed Markey:
What we found was that Exxon, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Shell and BP have response plans that are virtually identical. The plans cite identical response capabilities and tout identical ineffective equipment. In some cases, they use the exact same words and made the exact same assurances.
I welcome learning lessons from the industrial disaster. In fact, everyone should be as eager as the engineers to do so.