After reading Adam Welz’s take down, “Bloodthirsty “factual” TV shows demonize wildlife,” of the Discovery Planet’s animal killing TV show, Yukon Men, I did a little bit of research. The City of Tanana, where the show is filmed, is absolutely not the secluded, dangerous place as the Discovery Channel advertizes. The town has never been “attacked” by bears, wolves, wolverines, lynx, etc., as the show will have you believe. Still, each type of these animals is gunned down for your viewing pleasure.
The City of Tanana (above) is small, no doubt. But it is not a remote outback full of danger.
Local Alaskans posting in various wilderness and hunting forums are calling Discovery’s ‘Yukon Men’ a joke, full of lies and exploitation. They even make fun of the choices of guns that the characters in the show use (no local hunter, they say, uses an AR-15 to shoot animals in Alaska).
I dug around and found other interesting facts that belie the Discovery Channel’s claim that the town is a dangerous remote outback. Tanana has schools, an agricultural extension of the University of Fairbanks, annual foot and dog-sled races, and even family and emergency services provided by the Tanana Chiefs Council (this is in addition to services provided by the State of Alaska).
Learning from and enjoying the wilderness is one of the greatest privileges we Americans enjoy. Creating a false myth that nature is scary is not what we need, especially now with so many people unhealthy from increasingly sedentary lifestyles. In my opinion, Discovery needs to set the record straight. They need to refocus on educating viewers of the deep importance of our dwindling natural resources. They need to do this rather than exploiting animals and creating fear all for a quick buck.
Brad Pitt’s sustainable architectural non-profit in the 9th Ward unfairly takes fire from the New Republic. After Hurricane Katrina destroyed the beloved New Orleans’ neighborhood, Pitt, who dabbles in architectural design, decided to help build homes that could withstand hurricanes and floods in the future. He started a non-profit, Make It Right, hired some incredibly talented architects, urban planners, economists, and locals and went to work.
Make It Right built over 90 homes throughout the lower 9th (a small fraction of the tens of thousands that were damaged or destroyed).
The author unfairly compares Make It Right - essentially a charity - to for-profit real estate firms and declares it a failure. It is unclear how anyone - let alone some of the best architects and planners in the country - could have predicted the recovery of a city, especially after a major hurricane.
What’s even more unclear is how the author got away with making such a lazy comparison. The New Republic got duped, in my opinion.
Most of the homes Pitt built are fantastic dream homes comprised of minimalist design and sustainable materials. The problem - so says the author - is that poor people do not deserve such ‘luxurious’ amenities. Racism aside, the fact that many families have moved away from New Orleans, with little expectation that they’ll return anytime soon, the author insists on blaming a charity for attempting to provide sustainable housing.
It’s true the economy is in the tank. But it is simply not true that one non-profit should have followed a different path. The author writes:
But there’s a Catch-22: The neighborhood doesn’t have enough residents to attract many stores and services, and prospective buyers end up elsewhere because the neighborhood doesn’t have enough stores and services.
So about 90 households, primarily elderly people like Guy, are living in futuristic homes that most Americans would covet, and yet there’s not a supermarket—or even a fast food restaurant—for miles.
It didn’t have to be this way, and it’s costing the city.
This is a flat out lie: “yet there’s not a supermarket—or even a fast food restaurant—for miles.” Utterly false. See above google map screen cap I took this morning. The lower 9th has dozens of restaurants and at least 10(!) grocery stores, including one locally owned co-op that features fresh fruits and vegetables.
And that’s just in the Lower 9th neighborhood!
The author uses the yellow home at the top (with the long stair case) as a prop for the story. This home was built 9 feet off the ground. It has solar panels, modernist features, experimental materials, and a small footprint. It cost around $300k to build, yet the author will have you believe that this is far more than anyone in the neighborhood could typically afford. Also false. A quick search on real estate site Zillow shows homes, condos, and townhouses average $250k in the 9th Ward, some top out around $750,000. See map 2. Clearly the New Republic does not employ fact checkers.
Brad Pitt’s project is still the darling of the sustainable architecture and resiliency crowds (and to climate adaptation folks like me). The New Republic will have readers believe that Pitt and his teams should have known better. That his non-profit charity work should become more profitable. This is disingenuous at best, and out right deception at worst.
The New Republic is wrong for comparing a ‘non-profit charity’ to traditional ‘for-profit’ real estate developers.
Founded in 2007, Make It Right’s mission is crystal clear: “To build safe, Cradle to Cradle inspired homes, buildings and communities for people in need.” Yet according this sloppy hit piece, it’s as if Pitt’s error was not fully adopting the commonly held philosophy by greedy developers: “build it and they will come.”
In other words, Make It Right was, is, and will always be a non-profit community development organization, not a for-profit real-estate firm. It’s like blaming an apple for not being a tuna sandwich.
The hit piece is nothing more than journalistic bedazzling. The article has that well researched, boots-on-the-ground journalistic feel. There are nice pull quotes from interviews, and the writer uses urban planning vernacular quite well. But the author used more speculatory “what if” scenarios than actual analysis, which makes the piece more in line with link-baity shlock.
For example, the writer faults Brad Pitt for not doing things that do not exist. ‘Pitt should have invested differently. Pitt could have built cheaper homes. Pitt could have rehabbed more blocks. Pitt should not include hurricanes in architectural designs.’ And, since Pitt didn’t do these things (which exist in the author’s head), the entire venture has failed. This despite the fact that Pitt’s foundation has the support from Louisiana’s politicians, some of the best urban planners, economists, and architects in North America, and the very people who live in the neighborhood.
Instead, we get paragraph after paragraph of utter speculation that serves nothing more than to stir up stern nods of disappointment:
Pitt’s foundation could have chosen to put its $45 million into a neighborhood where the compounding effects would’ve been remarkable, or at least one without the added risk and cost of building below sea level—like Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr.’s Musicians Village on the other side of the Industrial Canal.
He could also have built several hundred perfectly serviceable, weatherproof, and efficient new homes, instead of the 90 he’s completed—like Barnes and Noble founder Leonard Riggio, who’ll build 200 new homes in a concentrated area in nearby Gentilly for about the same amount.
Use of “could haves” and “what ifs” in cultural criticism are red flags. These signal that the author has an agenda. Reader beware. These are known as straw man fallacies - create fake scenarios that no one can test - and then shoot them down, all the while not addressing the original issue.
As you can see, the intention of these “he could have” speculations serve nothing more than to solicit your disapproval. This is journalistic trickery. Perhaps the writer was under deadline and needed to fulfill their word-count requirement. But, in my opinion, any good writer will know that presenting a critical analysis of a possibly failed project (this project has indeed not failed) s/he better present their case steeped deep in a fat vat of facts, not on a buffet of empty calories.
So, word to the wise, if you’re going to write a hit piece, do your due diligence. Address a problem that actually exists and present and contrast it to similar scenarios, scenarios that serve to provide appropriate context and understanding. Avoid filling space with empty speculations and bring some solutions to the table.
If you can stomach reading a biased hit piece, go ahead and visit the New Republic - if not at least for the slideshow.
The SCDNR’s climate report was supposed to be published in 2012, but new leadership changed focused on expanding a shipping port and building a the East Coast’s largest gold mine.
The report warns of dire economic circumstances if nothing is done. One scientist even quit due to (it seems to me) political in-fighting within the Department.
Secret climate report calls for action in SC
A team of state scientists has outlined serious concerns about the damage South Carolina will suffer from climate change – threats that include invading eels, dying salt marshes, flooded homes and increased diseases in the state’s wildlife.
But few people have seen the team’s study. The findings are outlined in a report on global warming that has been kept secret by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources for more than a year because agency officials say their “priorities have changed.”
Current DNR director Alvin Taylor said the department is busy with other environmental matters, such as port expansions in Charleston and Savannah, and a massive gold mine planned for Lancaster County.
Gas drillers were caught lying to public officials. About 66% of the signatures were falsified. Company blames a PR firm, which, it seems, specializes in fudging petitions.
The drillers used the petition to lobby a local government in Colorado to pass fracking laws. Shit is fracked up and bullshit.
Pro-fracking petition with fake signatures embarrasses gas association
A full two-thirds of those denied signing or endorsing a petition opposing a ban on fracking in Fort Collins. Not only was the petition a big fat lie, it was a laughably amateur effort to deceive the city’s lawmakers. From the Coloradoan:
Cali Rastrelli’s name is signed at the bottom of a petition submitted to the council. At the top, the petition says in bold letters, “Vote NO on the Fort Collins fracking ban.”
“Big Bill Pizza” is written in the blank where the signer could enter their business or organization.
“I haven’t signed any petition in the last month,” said Rastrelli, a Colorado State University student who lives in student housing. “I didn’t put my name on this.”
Conservative billionaires used a secretive funding route to channel nearly $120m (£77m) to more than 100 groups casting doubt about the science behind climate change, the Guardian has learned.
The funds, doled out between 2002 and 2010, helped build a vast network of thinktanks and activist groups working to a single purpose: to redefine climate change from neutral scientific fact to a highly polarising “wedge issue” for hardcore conservatives.
The millions were routed through two trusts, Donors Trust and the Donors Capital Fund, operating out of a generic town house in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington DC. Donors Capital caters to those making donations of $1m or more.
Whitney Ball, chief executive of the Donors Trust told the Guardian that her organisation assured wealthy donors that their funds would never be diverted to liberal causes.
the night before the event, campaign aides went to a local Wal-Mart and spent $5,000 on granola bars, canned food, and diapers to put on display while they waited for donations to come in, according to one staffer.
“You need a donation to get in line!” Empty-handed supporters pled for entrance, with one woman asking, “What if we dropped off our donations up front?” The volunteer gestured toward a pile of groceries conveniently stacked near the candidate. “Just grab something,” he said. Two teenage boys retrieved a jar of peanut butter each, and got in line. When it was their turn, they handed their “donations” to Romney.
FRONTLINE explores the massive shift in public opinion on climate change
Four years ago, climate change was a hot issue and politicians from both sides seemed poised to act. Today public opinion on the climate issue has cooled considerably. Politicians either ignore it or proclaim their skepticism. What’s behind this massive reversal? On Oct 23, FRONTLINE goes inside the organizations that fought the scientific establishment to shift the direction of the climate debate.
“The sheen, located about 50 miles off Louisiana’s shore in the Mississippi Canyon block 252 where the Macondo well was drilled, was detected in satellite images taken on Sept. 9 and Sept. 14. The Coast Guard said the size of the sheen has varied with weather conditions.
Samples of the crude were collected and sent to a Coast Guard laboratory in New London, Conn. On Tuesday, the Coast Guard told BP and Transocean, owner and operator of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that caught fire and sank, that the oil from the sheen and spill matched.
In a meeting Wednesday, the Coast Guard told the companies to come up with a plan of action for determining the source. “No one’s 100 percent as to where it’s coming from,” said Frank Csulak, scientific support coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Since the disaster in 2010, which killed 11 workers, the wreckage of the massive rig, the crumpled riser and some hardware used in the attempt to kill the well have remained on the gulf floor.”
Greenpeace investigative reporting breaks a huge pollution case - Russian oil firms are covering up massive oil spills, up to 30 million barrels of oil per year. About 4 million barrels are dumped into the Arctic ocean. More here with maps and graphics.
Totally busted. Ryan requested federal stimulus for energy conservation projects. He took taxpayer money and transferred it to private businesses. As recently as Wednesday (yesterday) he denied requesting the funds from Obama. But, he lied.
His letters requesting stimulus funds were discovered by the Wall Street Journal from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
This matters because he built his career attacking the stimulus funds and attacking environmental policies. This goes beyond hypocritical - it’s flat out lying to Americans.
What else has Paul Ryan lied to the American people about? If he blames his memory, why would we elect someone who can’t remember what he does AS A FUNDAMENTAL PART OF HIS JOB?
In 2009, Ryan wrote to Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis asking for stimulus money to cover costs on two energy conservation projects in his home state of Wisconsin. In the letter, Ryan said the funds would help create jobs and reduce “energy consumption” in the state. At least one of the companies received the requested cash.
The letters were first obtained by The Wall Street Journal through the Freedom of Information Act back in early 2010. The Boston Globe turned them up for the first time during this campaign season Wednesday. At that point, a Ryan aide referred ABC News back to what a Ryan spokesman said when the letters first went public.
“If Congressman Ryan is asked to help a Wisconsin entity applying for existing Federal grant funds, he does not believe flawed policy should get in the way of doing his job and providing a legitimate constituent service to his employers,” the spokesman told the Milwaukee (Wisc.) Journal Sentinel.
Thursday, Ryan responded to the questions himself.
Majority of the House rejects Obama’s plans to expand ocean oil drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf. Republicans attempt to replace his plans with their own. They claim that Obama’s plan violates several environmental laws, and dangerously speeds up the permit and leasing process. Their replacement plan? A substantial expansion of drilling leases, less environmental regulation, weakened oversight, and power to congress (rather than agency) to approve and manage oil leases.
Despite the fact that grizzly bears’ favorite food is in decline in part due to climate change, the DOI is working with northern states to delist the bears. Of course, there is talk of better “management” (e.g., hunting)…
Republicans are sending a message that profits for their wealthy campaign contributors are more important than the lungs and lives of America’s coal miners. It’s clear that voices wealthier than coal miner families drowned out that message.
- Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), on House Republicans moving “to block a planned Department of Labor regulation that aims to protect coal miners from the dust that causes black lung disease.” (via campaignmoney)
A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature.
I'm a climate change consultant specializing in climate adaptation, environmental law, and urban planning based in the U.S. In addition to traveling and hiking, I research, publish, and lecture on how cities can adapt to climate change.
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