Keeping Tabs

How many times have we been right? Stand by.... (Photo by Jerkert Gwapo/Flickr)

Can we talk? About whether this website is an outpost of wild-eyed eco-extremism, cherry-picking alarmist half-truths from the web to scare the unsophisticated? That sort of thing. If we could just take a look at the recent record:

In December of last year (“Food Fights Coming Soon“) and in January of this year (“The People, Sir, are a Great Beast“), we wrote about the imminent threat of popular uprisings because of food shortages. Tunisia’s dictator fell (“unexpectedly,” by all accounts) two weeks after the second piece was published, and Egypt’s after that, as the wave of risings rolled on toward Libya, Yemen, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. But wait, there’s more.

In April of last year (“Troubled Oil on Gulf Waters”), and again in May (“The Seven Greatest Myths About the Gulf Oil Spill“) we suggested that the scope of the Gulf oil spill was being played down (“Curious assumptions: that millions of gallons of crude oil in the waters of the Gulf do no damage until they are on shore.”) and that there would be much more bad news.

This week we learned that — contrary to assurances from BP and from our own government that most everything has returned to normal — large swaths of the bottom of the Gulf are still coated with oil that is not degrading as has been advertised and is destroying sea life contrary to strenuous assurances. And this week we also learned that dead baby dolphins are washing up along the Mississippi and Alabama coastlines at 10 times the normal rate of stillborn and infant deaths among dolphins. It is a tribute to the oil-coated spinmeisters that government scientists refused even to point a finger of suspicion at the oil spill, and that the Washington Post headline on the story this morning says — in the headline — that the cause of the deaths “may never be known.”

Oh, and did we question the sincerity of BP? We certainly hope so, because this week we also learned that BP has reneged on promises made in November to Louisiana to help rebuild oyster beds, repair damaged wetlands and build a fish hatchery to allow the state to respond to the collapse of commercial fisheries in the wake of the oil spill.

Back in January we reported (“Solar Powered Blackout“) on the danger to technology — all of it, our satellites, electronic devices, and the entire electric grid — posed by solar flares. We recounted the history of two previous hard hits to earth, and explained what another one could do. On February 17, according to NASA, a wave of charged plasma particles from a huge solar eruption glanced off the earth’s northern pole, lighting up auroras and disrupting some radio communications.

As always the journalism about this event was curious, divided between those who claimed that earth had “dodged” the storm — a really difficult maneuver for a planet of the age and weight of ours — and those that poked gleeful fun at the “alarmists” who had again been proved wrong because the bullet missed them (like a diner in a crowded room that is being sprayed by automatic-weapon fire who calculates that the odds of being hit are low, and continues eating).

Last November (“Sea Water Rising at Norfolk, Va.”), we detailed the increasingly frantic efforts of one city to deal with rising seas, and commented on their futility. On February 16, a new study from the University of Arizona (soon to be a beachfront property?) confirmed that “hundreds of cities along U.S. coastlines will lose about 10 percent of their land area by 2100” in the face of a sea-level rise of at least one meter. And on December 31 of last year the little noted New York State Sea Level Rise Task Force reported to the legislature that “sea level rise and coastal flooding from storm surge are already affecting and will increasingly affect New York’s entire ocean and estuarine coastline.”

Last November (“Burn, Baby, (Cough) Burn“) we predicted that the easing recession would mean worsening pollution and in December (“China: World Leader in Self Destruction“) pointed out that the flip side of China’s awesome growth is its suicidal lack of regard for thew web of life. On February 21, pollution in Beijing was so bad it was beyond the ability of instruments to measure it, and all the government could do was warn people to stay inside.

As the fatuous expert on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show says at the end of his segments: You’re welcome.

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2 Responses to Keeping Tabs

  1. Gail Zawacki says:

    An excellent website. I have added it to my blogroll (for what is worth with my miniscule readership!) and bookmarks.

    Keep up the great work!

    • tomlewis says:

      Thanks. Your work on trees is amazing. Who knew there was a scandal in the death of America’s Christmas Tree? Keep writing, and good luck.