Doomsday Fatigue

By Keith Kloor | June 21, 2011 4:05 pm

A lament from Time magazine’s Bryan Walsh:

Work in environmental journalism for very long and you can eventually become inured to catastrophe. Every ecosystem is on the brink of collapse; every endangered species is just a few steps from extinction; every government decision to authorize an oil well or a coal mine is the one that will push carbon emissions over the edge. The language of environmentalism is the language of scarcity and loss, a constantly repeated message that we cannot continue living the way we are, or else. Sometimes the sheer, relentless doomsaying is enough to make you want to take a long, air-conditioned drive in a nice SUV.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: doomsday, environmentalism, Journalism
  • L. Carey

    OK, that’s Bryan’s first paragraph, which is NOT the subject of his article.  How about quoting his second paragraph. which DOES address the subject of his article.?
    “But while news of Earth’s impending doom can sometimes seem exaggerated, there’s one environmental disaster that never gets the coverage it really deserves: the state of the oceans. Most people know that wild fisheries are dwindling, and we might know that low-oxygen aquatic dead zones are blooming around the planet’s most crowded coasts. But the oceans appear to be undergoing fundamental changes “” many of them for the worse “” that we can barely understand, in part because we barely understand that vast blue territory that covers 70% of the globe”

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2078840,00.html#ixzz1PxCfBgEa

  • harrywr2

    I could be wrong, but the report came from the “International Program to Save the Oceans” organisation.
    A quick perusal of their website lists only Dr Alex Rogers and an assistant.  No board of directors, no mailing address.

    here is the website.
    http://www.stateoftheocean.org/
    The Assistant at ‘International Program to Save the Ocean’ is none other then Mirella von Lindenfels.
    http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/mirella-von-lindenfels/14/407/455
    Here bio at linkedin lists that she was former head of media at greenpeace and amnesty international.
    There is also this blurb-
    Also Director of IPSO, a marine science and advocacy organisation which I run with Dr Alex Rogers.

    That would imply her association with IPSO is less then full time.


    There is nothing illegal with someone starting up an organization and using a ‘big name’ to imply they are larger then they are.
    Dr Alex Rogers seems to be associated with an organization called ‘invisible dust’.
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=107896549232544
    Invisible Dust develops exciting new art and science ventures with the aim of making many of the invisible effects of our actions visible in fantastical and imaginative ways

    Sorry, but to be credible with me an organisation needs to have at least one full time employee and a board of directors.

    IPSO is just a part time project of Dr Alex Rogers. He has a day job.
    There is no actual ‘organization’.












     

  • http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com willard

    You seem ready for a tumblog, Keith.

  • Jack Hughes

    Just going for a walk in the countryside is the perfect antidote to this pessimistic nonsense.

    Admire the trees, the flowers, birds. Watch some animals. Watch a falcon soaring and hovering then diving for the kill.

    Look at some of the patterns that nature makes. Look at the unusual seed pod of a swan plant. Or the pattern of sunflower seeds on a sunflower. Or cut an apple in half through its equator and admire the perfect pentagon.

    Enjoy nature. Focus on the positive. Be happy.

    And remember that these pessimistic predictions are just that – they are scary predictions that have not happened yet and will probably never happen.

  • Jack Hughes

    IPSO gets ripped to shreds at Climate Resistance
    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2011/06/a-deep-sea-mystery.html

  • Jack Hughes

    When I was a boy, the zeitgeist was irrational optimism.

    We all watched the moon landing with awe. Computer chips were the next thing and along with nuclear power everyone thought we were on the brink of something exciting and better.

    Now the zeitgeist has flipped and it’s irrational pessimism. We are “on the brink of something scary and bad”.

    The truth is that both zeitgeists are equally irrational – but we ARE better off than before in all kinds of ways: standard of living, less hunger around, less poverty, better gadgets, more democracy, more human rights.

    Maybe some people have “lifestyle vertigo” and feel there is something WRONG with being better-fed, happier, freer, richer than previous generations.

  • Tilo Reber

    L. Carey: “But while news of Earth’s impending doom can sometimes seem exaggerated, there’s one environmental disaster that never gets the coverage it really deserves: the state of the oceans.”

    So many of these reports turn out to be BS, that I no longer give a rats behind about any of them.  These reports were also around in the past.  Had any of them been right, we would all be dead right now.  Is Manhattan under water yet.  Are those Indians dying of thirst yet because the Himilayan glaciers are gone.   Are all the polar bears dead?  Of the thousands of predictions of disaster, give me some that have come true.

  • EdG

    Crying wolf has inevitable consequences.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish.” Prediction made in 1970.

    Bryan’s feeling isn’t new. Have you ever read the essay on The Doomslayer?

  • Bill

     Great quote NiV. In fact 1970 is about the time the Environmentalism religous cult got off the ground.

     Thousands of grim predictions later, and not one has ever been right.

  • Barry Woods

    I got guest qutoed at Watts Up about the state of the oceans and IPSO..  canmt work out how to link Jusing a smartphone, also a a toddler group with my 3 year old.
     

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Collide-a-Scape is a wide-ranging blog forum that explores issues at the nexus of science, culture and society.

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, a senior editor at Cosmos magazine, and adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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