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The Mike Tidwell Dilemma, Part I

The Intersection
By Chris Mooney
Oct 25, 2007 5:25 PMNov 5, 2019 10:19 AM


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A few days ago I mentioned that I had been in College Park, Maryland, sitting on a panel to discuss the work of Mike Tidwell, author of The Ravaging Tide: Strange Weather, Future Katrinas, and the Coming Death of America's Coastal Cities. Tidwell's book has been assigned as the "first year book" for some 4,000 University of Maryland freshmen. Over at DeSmogBlog, I've now posted the first installment of a two-part discussion about why I find this book so problematic, and why I felt that I had to speak out about the matter--especially after my visit to the UMD. I begin by posing the following questions:

What responsibility does an environmentalist and science defender have to criticize one of his or her political allies for inaccuracy and the incautious treatment of complex information? Must we be equal opportunity critics in all cases, or should we blunt our barbs lest they injure our friends?

And I take it from there. Again, you can read the full post here. If you want an example of why Tidwell's approach to the hurricane-global warming issue is so different than my own, meanwhile, consider the following passage from his book--which is not, to my mind, exactly...er, nuanced:

As these future stressors pile up, running nonstop on so many different levels, even one Katrina disaster might be impossible for the nation to absorb in 2015 or 2025. Never mind two or three Katrinas every summer. I can't help but wonder what I will do in my own region. The Chesapeake Bay, warmed and greatly enlarged by sea-level rise, will be an enhanced landing strip for newly pumped-up Atlantic hurricanes. A storm like Wilma, with an unusually tight and compact eye wall, will be able to travel in the future to within a few miles of the Washington Beltway and my house, refueled all the way by the hot and wide open water of a bay no longer buffered by vast marshes and islands. Where will I go after fatigue sets in from the first rebuilding and then the second and the third?

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