Here is the commentary from Silicon Valley Bank that started my thought process:
Since the beginning of recorded history man has attempted to ascribe deeper meaning to horrific natural catastrophes. The gods must be angry; we need to sacrifice something to prevent the next eruption or earthquake or typhoon. This is a human way of attempting to control the environment, at once reducing the randomness of nature and the fear. When we lived in central Africa and someone was struck dead by lightening it was said that a witch doctor had put a spell on the person. By appeasing the good doctor one could avoid being "foudroyé" — literally, murdered by lightening. This concept was easier for the locals to live with than the notion that people were struck down at random by accident. When the weather changed history it was God taking sides. The British have noted the "providential" storms that destroyed the Spanish Armada in 1588. Even today al-Qaida-linked Web sites explain that the latest storm in the south is evidence of the "wrath of God" striking an arrogant America
Then, sometime around the middle of the last century, the more technologically advanced countries decided that if they couldn't control the weather, at least they could mitigate its effects, so that major natural disasters devolved into a mere passing nuisances. This notion is probably most dramatically illustrated by the Dutch response to the massive flooding in Holland in 1953. Now, the re-routing of rivers, changing the shape of coastlines, and even dampening the shaking from earthquakes, have become just a matter of engineering and money.
The problem with all this effort is that when it doesn't work we have no one to blame but ourselves. This is what is happening now in the wake of the aggregation of thousands of human tragedies known as Katrina. The Army Corps of Engineers is blamed both for not reinforcing the levees and for building too many levees, in effect re-engineering the delta in such a way that New Orleans was more susceptible to disaster. In the more extreme example, environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. implied that Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is responsible for Katrina, drawing the wrath of the "environmental god" for not supporting the Kyoto Treaty. The truth is that neither the engineers nor the environmentalists are as smart as they would have us believe.