9/15/2005

Quicksilver : Jewish environmental journalist as Jonah: Mark Schleifstein on catastrophic hurricane risk

Great Post from a blog find! -- law

Jewish environmental journalist as Jonah: Mark Schleifstein on catastrophic hurricane risk

Prophecy was not the intent of Pulitzer-prize winning Mark Schleifstein, an environmental reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Still, Schleifstein hit the nail on the head when he warned that a hurricane could have a catastrophic impact. He co-authored: "Washing Away: How south Louisiana is growing more vulnerable to a catastrophic hurricane" (Eye-opening journalism. Awards for the series listed below.)

{ADDED} Mark Schliefstein is Jewish and non-partisan. He tells me that he serves both as the gabbai in his Conservative shul (Shir Chadash, Metairie) and "I try to be as available as I can, considering my work schedule, for filling in at evening minyan at the Orthodox shul around the corner on Canal St. in New Orleans." Here's his understated precis of the last few days:

My house has about 10 feet of water in it, based on satellite photos I've seen, as does Beth Israel [DovBear]. Don't know yet about my synagogue. We stored our torahs in a third floor room in our Jewish Community Center, across the parking lot from us, and expect they survived. We stayed at the paper during the storm, safe place, and ended up evacuating the next day when water was rising a bit too quickly around the building. Loaded into the back of newspaper delivery trucks, I went to Houma, La., 65 miles southwest, where we put out our web edition of the paper the next two days, and my wife went to Baton Rouge and then flew out to her dad in Atlanta. He's in the Jewish Tower. I'm now in Baton Rouge, sharing a dorm room with 10 staffers at Louisiana State University.

{ADDED} Of course, now Mark's series is getting a storm of attention for exposing the danger and the flaws and negligence with preparedness efforts, e.g., Cox News, SLC editorial, Ronda Hauben on the negligence of prevention, Eric Zorn, and The Wall Street Journal (HT Romenesko on journalism).

Gristmill reports on what Mark says the press should cover now (i.e., coastal wetlands not yet the questionable global warming connection).

Transparent Grid recaps the "Washing Away" series' worst case scenario, see also TG's part II and part III (Bush budget cuts).

Mark Schleifstein is a splendid journalist and environmental hazard investigator. I couldn't find on the web all his excellent earlier work, e.g., on chemical industry pollution in Louisiana. His prior articles and accomplishments include:

Have evacuation plan, will travel (Dec 2004)

Biggest mercury polluter in La. to clean up its act (August 5, 2005) (You can be sure I wouldn't skip his work on quicksilver, which PPG uses in Lake Charles, Louisiana to make chlorine. More on mercury air pollution here.)

Washing Away: How south Louisiana is growing more vulnerable to a catastrophic hurricane, notes the SJE bio, "won the American Society of Civil Engineers' 2003 Excellence in Media award and the 2003 National Hurricane Conference media award. It also was a finalist for the 2003 Edward J. Meeman Award for Environmental Reporting for newspapers with over 100,000 circulation. He also recently received the Governor's Award from the Louisiana Wildlife Federation, presented annually to the person or organization deemed to have made the most outstanding contribution toward the protection and wise use of the state's natural resources."

Quicksilver כספית: [UPDATED NEWS] Jewish environmental journalist as Jonah: Mark Schleifstein on catastrophic hurricane risk

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