The New York Times had an interesting front page Saturday. First, Justin Gillis tracks through a list of natural disasters in the U.S., to see where the current BP oil spill might rank.
Most natural disasters are rural. The worst in our history? “The Dust Bowl (above) is arguably one of the worst ecological blunders in world history,” said Ted Steinberg, a historian at Case Western Reserve University. A second might be the Johnstown Flood, the 1889 dam failure that killed 2,200 people.
The list goes on. One we might add is the strip mining of the Appalachian mountains for coal over the last 50 years.
Second on the front page is news that the Department of Labor is cracking down in child labor on farms. The U.S. Department of Labor has hired hundreds of investigators to find children working in the fields. The example picked out by writer Erik Eckholm is the blueberry harvest in eastern North Carolina, where children under the age of 12 have been found to be picking the crop. (A 1938 federal law allows children over 12 to work the fields as long as they toil outside of school hours.)
Labor is increasing fines for violation of the law from $1,000 to $11,000. An Arizona farmer was fined more than $30,000 in may for employing 10 and 11 year old children.