Science matters

September 30, 2004

Unless your belief system doesn’t begrudge a millimeter of doubt, there is calm and order in science. Recently we learned that atoms can now be viewed through powerful microscopes. A scientist from Oak Ridge Labs described the scale of viewing an atom as the equivalent of looking at a penny from across the continent. Wow.

There is charm in science, too. Think of The Weather Channel, how you dependably are returned to your local weather on a blue screen, elevator music and animated signs in boxes to represent the coming days that are usually nothing out of the ordinary before returning to typhoons in Asia, tornadoes in Omaha and mayhem in Florida. Read the rest of this entry »


Where is the world? Compare your experience with Jeanne to Haiti’s

September 28, 2004

While millions of Floridians are grittily focused on finding a way back to normalcy, it is worth reflecting on the dominant concern of our times: security.

Hurricane Jeanne hit Haiti hard before it did that loop the loop and aimed right where Frances had gone before. The double blow bent the knees of the most hardened residents of Florida’s Treasure Coast, already weakened by calamitous, toxic outflows from Lake Okeechobee.

The death toll in Haiti, first reported at 500, quickly mounted to more than 1,000 and is likely to double. More than 250,000 are homeless. The storm hit in the middle of the night in Gonaives, where most deaths occurred, without forewarning—no Weather Channel, no TV reporters with goggles leaning into the blistering wind. Read the rest of this entry »

What are these hurricanes telling us?

September 16, 2004

With hurricanes coming at us like bowling balls, people begin to wonder: What lane are we bowling on? Could Florida be the stopper in the return?

It is called global climate change. To judge the credibility of this concern: check your homeowner windstorm- and flood-insurance rates. Something is up, and it’s not just the wind.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration does a terrific job of harnessing technologies to forecast the path of hurricanes. Tens of millions of Americans rely on its National Hurricane Center and accurate, timely science. Why aren’t Americans getting the same quality information with respect to global climate change? Read the rest of this entry »

The power of names: There’s a little hurricane in all of us

September 4, 2004

Thursday. A day strange, anxious, hot and sunny. Coming up with “Andrew.” That’s what the folks who Charley collided with can look forward to—every threat of hurricane is like a lottery ticket you’re hoping won’t scratch the same name.

Ten years after the Category 5 storm hit Miami-Dade, what sticks is the memory of long, slow days afterward. I tell this to my wife, who looks at me like I’m crazy. Read the rest of this entry »

Plan to fix Everglades: Bicycle with cardboard wheels

September 1, 2004

Water moves to money the way hips sway to salsa. But taxpayers had something more serious in mind when they agreed to invest more than $10 billion to restore America’s Everglades. The likelihood is—absent immediate action by elected officials—that pile of money will wash away like storm water down a drain.

Here is a brief explanation why. Read the rest of this entry »