Overall, I liked Cronon’s assessment of “The Frontier Thesis”. He points to Turner using rhetorical moves of the frontier as an idea, not a place, and he defends his points well for the most part. It’s possible, however, that he does make some assumptions that I would not have been as quick to make, but he obviously does them with good reason, and his overall argument still stands. I disagree with jewarren in that I believe we should continue analyzing Turner’s work. Cronon is trying to prove why it’s still important to embark on new theories about an environmental historian’s arguments, and if we stopped analyzing it, then his work would be rendered dead in academia.
With that said, I really want to talk about a possible new natural disaster that just occurred yesterday (northerners go ahead and laugh). In Atlanta and Birmingham, many people, young and old, were stranded on the roads last night in a complete stAndsTiLl on the roads. The interstates in Atlanta were gridlocked; for hours, no one moved an inch on the roads unless they abandoned their cars and walked. I scrolled through Facebook, and I saw people talk about their 4, 8, 9, 16, and even 20 hour commute to get back home. For the first time in Atlanta’s history, traffic going away from the city during the morning rush “hour” was gridlocked, while the city-bound side of the interstate across the median was completely empty; people were sitting in the shadows of the skyscrapers 16-24 hours after they left to go home. In texting my friends and family back home, I often heard, ‘I’m okay, but it’s CRAZY down here’. There have been over 1,000 car crashes in the past 28 hours (and counting). School kids were stranded with their bus drivers on hills. Thousands of people abandoned their cars on the interstates and highways to walk home. The city is in a state of emergency right now.
Just yesterday, we were talking in class about how to define disaster, and one major axis of conversation revolved around the inexplicability and who to place blame onto. If you go to ajc.com (The website for the Atlanta Journal Constitution), you’ll see multiple articles about the ‘blame game’. I don’t want to get into the blame game, but I’ll try to help you understand how it happened. Schools decided not to close, so all of the schools in the metro area got out at 3; businesses decided to close early… at 3. Whoever was not home at 3:00 yesterday decided to leave then. Just 3 years ago, it snowed a foot in Atlanta and people were fine, but yesterday, it snowed two inches. The reason for the disparity in the level of disastrous effect was that most of 6 million people in the city decided to drive at the same time. We Atlantans saw something somewhat similar effects in the Olympics and the NBA All-Star game in 2003, but never to this scale. Atlanta drivers have done very well in spacing out “rush-hour”, so that we’re not all on the road at the same time. That just means that for 8 hours of the day, traffic is pretty bad, but bearable (at least for an Atlantan). When we’re all on the road at the same time, the transportation system just can’t take it, and millions of dollars are lost while people sit on the same spot of the road for 4 hours. When Atlantans can space out there driving, all is relatively well, but when they can’t, chaos erupts.