Friday, August 2, 2013

Diagnosis of a Disaster

Maryland Reporter has published an unheralded series of articles entitled "Rising Seas" about the effect of Maryland's sea level rise on our way of life.  According to the header, these articles are written by "graduate and undergraduate" student journalists under the supervision of "experienced editors".  From my read, a number of these writers may start their careers with a few awards.

What is most striking about this series is the direct and mater-of-fact tone the authors take to an emotionally laden and controversial subject.  An example from a piece by Lauren Loricchio and Emilie Eastman:

Sea levels are rising worldwide, and studies show they are rising two-to-three times faster in the Chesapeake Bay region than in most other parts of the world.  By the turn of the century, they could rise 2 to 5 feet, researchers say.

Baltimore neighborhoods would be inundated — along with the 11,700 to 13,000 houses and apartments constructed on those blocks, according to a Capital News Service analysis.

Another by Brandon Goldner:

Scientists say sea levels around the world are rising, that storms are intensifying due to climate change, and that policymakers need to make tough decisions on where to spend limited resources to protect the shoreline and what to let go.


Not all can be saved. And that is a touchy issue in a state where an estimated 900,000 people — a sixth of the state’s population — live in neighborhoods likely to be affected, a CNS analysis of census and U.S. Geological Survey data found.

It seems our conversation on this issue has changed and maybe not for the better.  We have gone from saying what may happen and its cause to what will happen...ignoring the cause.  This may be triage by certainty, but the medical comparison stops there.  Imagine if a physician told you, "You are becoming progressively sicker, potentially due to your own lifestyle choices, but let's not talk about that as it will be uncomfortable for us both."

The journalists at the Maryland Reporter do a great job of walking that line, not to any fault of their own, but to draw attention to the here and now problems of rising sea levels without having their canary calls dismissed by those who find any given snowfall a definitive rebuttal to climate change.

They're just letting us know we are sick...and plans for treatment are slim.

That's all for today.  Have a great Friday doing what you love!