The main lesson from Oroville — or Fukushima, or Katrina — is that governments do a poor job of relating accurate information to their citizens when big threats are involved. Part of that is likely due to a desire to avoid stoking fear. Part probably due to politics and bureaucracy. And part probably due to plain old incompetence.
Regardless of the cause, it means that the public — even the vigilant ones — suffer information deficits when it matters most. Simply put, the authorities do not share all the facts necessary for making informed decisions.
Which brings us to one of the truly great risks we’re facing today. One with much more destructive potential than a single failed dam but, like Oroville, one the authorities are desperate to keep us in the dark about.
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