Friday, January 5, 2007

Plants to People: Chill Out!


Cloudy, damp, mild. After this morning's showers, it's a foggy, misty afternoon here in the Washington metro area, but temperatures are quite mild for the season, generally in the upper 50s and low 60s. A few more showers, and possibly thundershowers, will give way to near-record temperatures tomorrow while a more seasonable cold snap gathers on the horizon for the early to mid part of next week.

Tonight and Tomorrow

Showers ending, near-record warmth. There is a 50% chance of showers, possibly scattered thundershowers, overnight with lows only in the mid to upper 50s. Clouds will give way to sunshine during the day tomorrow with highs near 70°.

For the outlook through the rest of the weekend, scroll on down to Jason's post below.

Plant Patrol

An article, "Kept From Hibernation By a Lingering Warmth", in today's WaPo Metro section surveys the recent unusual (and more usual) blooming patterns of the region's gardens. It quotes several local experts as saying that the plants will still be able to survive when the inevitable cold snap (and there will certainly be one) does occur.

Mediarology: Hype-ocracy

Having rerun all possible past disasters into oblivion, The Weather Channel is rolling out a new series of imaginary disasters The Day After Tomorrow (Sunday, 9-10pm). According to the on-air promos, these are the cities scheduled to die to the tune of a continuously pounding soundtrack in the new season of "It Could Happen Tomorrow": St. Louis (F5 tornado), Chicago (F5), Austin (wildfires), Houston (Cat 5 hurricane), Las Vegas (8.0 earthquake). The state of Hawaii is also scheduled to be demolished via tsunami, and there is an untitled shot of a crumbling Capitol dome under a looming presumably F5 attack. The TiVo on-screen schedule shows the Chicago and Houston programs to be the premiere back-to-back episodes of the new season.

Last January, when this series first went on the air, PM Update cautioned that the continued blurring of the line between news and entertainment can lead to a "cry wolf" effect that threatens to outweigh the possible educational benefits. The Weather Channel's Climate Code, which also debuted last year, is a very different kind of show, but it has sometimes been criticized by being lumped together in the same category. It has gone to great lengths to be objective and non-partisan (or at least bi-partisan; a Democratic and Republican governor were interviewed in the same segment), but it has still been accused of having a ratings-driven agenda. If this show is driven by ratings, why was it put on at 5pm Sunday . . . during football season?

Another example of the confusion between reality and image is the reaction to last year's documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth." It has been attacked for hyping a 50-ft wall of water demolishing New York. Guess what? The drowning Statue of Liberty was in a completely different movie, although a comparable scene was used to promote "It Could Happen Tomorrow." If you're keeping score at home, turn to scene 21, time 1:00:23, of the DVD, to see how New York is presented. For reference, here is what the book, which is an extended version of the movie script, says about Manhattan (starting on page 196):
"If Greenland melted or broke up and slipped into the sea---or if half of Greenland and half of Antarctica melted or broke up and slipped into the sea, sea levels worldwide would increase by between 18 and 20 feet. . .
[quotation from Tony Blair's advisor]
[several pages of illustrations of Florida, San Francisco Bay, Netherlands, Beijing, Shanghai, Calcutta, Bangladesh]
. . . the picture at right shows what would happen to Manhattan if sea levels rose 20 feet worldwide. The site of the World Trade Center Memorial would be underwater. Is it possible that we should prepare for other serious threats in addition to terrorism? Maybe it's time to focus on other dangers as well."
Which particular part of that includes the hysterical 50-ft wall of water?

The plants may be more rational than the humans.

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