Tuesday, November 29, 2005

News Flashes?

Gristmill today highlighted a recent poll showing that the public trusts the Democrats over the Republicans with our environment. Interestingly enough, I found this somewhat depressing. Yes, we trust the Democrats over the Republicans with the environment. Seems moronic to consider any other response, given the general Republican favoring of business over earth.

The way the poll was worded, there could be no other response. "When it comes to protecting the environment, which party do you think would do a better job?" Anyone who uses the words "protect" and "environment" in the same sentence would say they apply more likely to Democrats than Republicans. A poll telling us that the Democrats represent the interests of those who are green is kind of like a survey announcing that NOW represents the interests of liberal women. Duh.

A less leading polling question that might give a little more pertinent information would be "When it comes to the environment, whose policies do you favor more, the Democrats or the Republicans?" That would gives us the information the poll was looking for, wouldn't it? Please, tell me the pollers didn't genuinely think there are people out there who think that the Republicans "protect" our environment. What a spectacularly dumb waste of a polling question. Like the Alaskan billion dollar bridge to nowhere.

Gristmill also linked to this sadly appropo cartoon that demonstrates why it's a dumb question. Check it out.

Didn't have a chance to blog about the removal of grizzlies from the Endangered Species list back a week or two ago. Perhaps I'm Mistress of the Obvious, Serf to the Obtuse or something today. But what, exactly, is the sense in taking a species off an endangered list just as it's making a comeback? We're not talking about a population explosion here. This isn't China with 10 billion people being born every 30 seconds. Grizzlies have edged away from extinction. But a animal that originally numbered 50,000 and is now down to 600 around Yellowstone is hardly in the clear. And a local story lists environmental group concerns such as a continued lack of habitat and problems with the grizzlies' food supply--concerns that auger for continued endangered listing in my book.

Speaking of endangered species, is NOLA on the list? Estimates for making the city Cat 5 safe are now running at $32 BILLION. The NYT article also gave ink to a not-oft examined issue: how the loss of wetlands surrounding New Orleans caused at least some of the levees to fail. "Where you had wetland, the levees were not eroded, and where you did not have wetlands, the levees were annihilated, " said Professor van Heerden, an LSU professor of civil and environmental engineering at Louisiana State University and deputy director of the university's hurricane center.

Wetlands are apparently nature's "speed bumps", slowing down hurricane progress. Two enlightening facts about the loss of wetlands in NOLA taken from the above article:
  • 1,900 square miles of wetlands have disappeared from the area since the 1930s, and the receding continues at a rate of about 24 square miles per year.
  • For every 2.7 miles of wetlands, storm surges are reduced by about one foot.
Do the math for a 28 ft storm surge the size of Katrina. Makes the environment seem awfully important, doesn't it? Too bad those Republicans don't do math.

Until tomorrow,


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