Friday, October 26, 2007

Horrible Fires And Our Planet In Peril Part II (Wednesday's Show)

Hi everybody. Welcome to your second schizophrenic blog posting. As I reminded you in my last post, due to the special and then the continuous breaking news, I'm foregoing my usual recap and review. But perk up because there's more pictures! I'm going to start again with the fires. It's great that the winds are dying down, but the fact that some of this destruction is apparently due to arson is just infuriating. Why? I've said it once and I'm sure I'll say it again: people suck. Anyway, to be honest, since I'm not recapping I haven't been watching the fire coverage super closely, but I've been watching close enough to be annoyed by the comparison of the response efforts between this disaster and Katrina. Look, I am in no way defending Blanco and Nagin, and by all surface appearances, the Governator seems to be rockin it. But you can't compare the response to the two disasters. New Orleans was 80 percent under water. It was scorching hot. People couldn't leave. There were bodies in the streets. The president was off strumming a guitar in another state. You can't compare the two. And that's not to take away from what the people of southern California are going though. Because lives are being destroyed just like during Katrina, so some comparisons are apt (and I'll be making some in my next paragraph). But as far as the response effort or how well behaved everyone was at Qualcomm, they can't be compared and I really wish people would stop trying.

On a lighter note--well a little lighter note, I couldn't help shaking my head at Anderson Cooper when he mentioned that maybe they should be wearing masks due to the smoky air. Okay, lungs filled with smoke particles are in no way funny, but he said almost the same thing during Katrina after getting that nasty water kicked up in his face. Shouldn't a mask be standard protocol for Anderson's (and everyone else's) travel bag at this point? You know: clothes, razer (gotta stay smooth for the high-def!), toothbrush and . . .mask! Is it any wonder he has so many chemicals in him? Anyhoo, I'm going ahead for a second to Thursdays' coverage. You know, just to confuse you. I have to say, seeing Anderson wearing what has been dubbed the "field shirt" (black tee, we miss you so!) and picking up the remains of people's houses was kind of freaky similar to the Katrina coverage. I had a little moment of, God, is this what it's always going to be like? There have always been disasters, sure, but over the past two years the phrase "largest peacetime movement of Americans since the Civil War" has been used twice. That has to tell us something. Oh, but Bush visited California on Thursday and promised not to forget them. They're saved! Over the crackling fire you can almost hear the laughter from New Orleans . . . or is that crying?

I'm going to transition now to part II of "Planet in Peril." This half begins in Greenland with Anderson and Jeff Corwin and the focus is the controversy-inducing subject of global warming. Greenland is losing 100 billion tons of ice each year and sea levels would rise by 23 feet if the whole sheet were to melt. That's worst case scenario, but even a little rising can devastate populations. To me, the most fascinating part of this segment is when they explore the moulin, which is a narrow hole that's been created by surface water that then carries that surface water far down to the base. Then when the water gets under the sheet it makes the whole thing much easier to move. Oh, and the rappelling to the moulin was rather amusing. Poor Anderson. And you know Jeff teased him mercilessly. And how awesome would it be to discover an island? It's sad that it exists because of global warming, but still. I also liked seeing the researchers' pad (shigloo!). It was something regular viewers hadn't seen before and helped round out the piece.

From Greenland we're off to Alaska with Jeff where he and the other experts catch a momma polar bear and her adorable cubs to perform some research. I think regular viewers have seen most of this, though admittedly I missed a good deal of this segment. So we're going to go hang with Sanjay Gupta now on the Carteret Islands, which are only five feet above sea level at their highest point. About 2,000 people live on the islands and they're literally losing part of their home every year to the sea. In time it will be completely under water and already they are at a point where they have to rely on support from the Papua New Guinea government. This support only comes twice a year, which seems unbelievable. How strange it must be to know that soon the only land you've ever lived on is going to be under water. Oh, and we also get to check out scuba diving Sanjay discovering some, unfortunately, bleaching reefs.

We then stick with Sanjay, but travel to central Africa where Lake Chad is disappearing--it's literally shrunk by 90 percent. Again climate change is being fingered as the likely culprit, which is sadly ironic, given that Africa is the lowest carbon emitter in the world. On his way to the source of the lake, Sanjay and crew get stranded when their vehicle gets stuck in the hot dry terrain. I love the good doctor, but I would advise against going on trips with Sanjay. He has a habit of getting stuck . . . and he doesn't help push!

At this point in the program, we come to the part where our PiPers (look at me coining things!) take the global warming controversy head-on (applied directly to the forehead--sorry, I couldn't help it) and attempt to quell their critics. They don't have an agenda. I know this because I've heard them say it 50 bazillion times. Who says cable peeps can't have talking points? I do actually believe them, but the whole "we don't have an agenda" thing is rather pointless to say. Because the people that they're speaking to will never believe them. Ever. So anyway, this is when the "other side" gets a turn. Unleash the crazies! Okay, the one guy who talks about adaption doesn't seem crazy, he's just wrong. Heh. But what's a global warming debate without Senator James Inhofe? This is a man who's compared global warming to the big lie, you know, the one associated with the murder of six million Jews. And apparent "An Inconvenient Truth" is Mein Kampf. No, I'm not kidding. And I'm sure this fun-to-watch craziness has nothing to do with the energy and natural resource companies that fund him. No siree.

You know, honestly, I don't even understand why there' s a debate. Okay, so let's say that we cut emissions and really change our lives to try to combat global warming and it all turns out to be a hoax. Is that so completely terrible? And don't talk to me about economics, because companies are starting to "go green" now because it benefits them financially. Anyway, if we go with the global warming believers and they're wrong, all we've done is make our air a little cleaner for nothing. But if we go with the deniers and they're wrong, well, that's pretty much total chaos and destruction and the eventual end of us. The choice seems pretty clear. But that's just me.

Back to our travels, we head to the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil with Felix and Oscar, er, I mean Jeff and Anderson. We see them go out with Ibama to catch illegal loggers, but I have to say that the most compelling part of this segment was the story of Sister Dorthy. The nun was fearlessly dedicated to helping protect land and this made her some powerful enemies. Sister Dorothy was ultimately murdered by a hitman paid $25,000 by ranchers and we're shown horrible pictures of her body. But rather than solving their problem, Sister Dorthy's death made things worse for the ranchers because it rallied the people. A good ending to a very sad story. During the Brazil visit, Jeff and Anderson also hang out with the Kraho Indians and this is where they get their famous (infamous?) tribal markings. It must have been cool to get them, but man, I think I heard Anderson's stayed on for a month and Jeff's longer (somebody apparently needs to shower more). I don't even like it when I get stamped at a show and can't get it off by the next day.

Like last night, we again end at home--this time in Houston where an energetic six year old has been diagnosed with cancer. His family lives in what has been dubbed the "stinky neighborhood" due to the smell from the nearby Houston Ship Channel, which emits chemicals such as Benzene. No one can say for certain that's what caused the cancer, but it seems a likely target. Of note is that the neighborhood is mostly Hispanic and in fact, it seems that it's often the case that it's the poor and minority neighborhoods that suffer from the most pollution. Some have dubbed this environmental racism. Morja Carter talks about this issue and I actually recognized her from this PBS piece done by NOW. It's definitely an issue that needs more coverage.

"Planet in Peril" ends with a most excellent sum up. After following their process from the beginning, it's great to see the final product. Admittedly, when they first started this PiP stuff I and many others thought the coverage was shallow. You just have to go back and read my reviews and reader comments when they were live in Brazil to know that. It soon became clear they were hording material and it's great to finally see it all come together. No more criticisms of shallowness from me. Actually, my only real criticism has to do with something the PiPers probably don't even control: the ads. I mean, c'mon, car and energy companies? Hello! As I said last night, our 360 people really made something to be proud of. Gold star, A+, you get a cookie!

Photo of the moulin from and the rest credited to CNN Worldwide – All Rights Reserved 2007©


Post a Comment

<< Home

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from