Blue Marble - November 2012

Riding the Storm: Messenger on a Bike From the Entrails of Hurricane Sandy

| Fri Nov. 2, 2012 2:30 PM EDT

 

 Hurricane Sandy on Bikes in NYC from Casey Neistat on Vimeo.

"No city authorized filming will take place," announced New York Mayor Bloomberg as Hurricane Sandy approached. But that didn't stop filmmaker Casey Neistat from getting out on his bike and shooting this crazy awesome scary footage during the storm.

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UPDATE: Bloomberg Bows to Pressure, Cancels Marathon

| Thu Nov. 1, 2012 5:59 PM EDT

UPDATE: Mayor Michael Bloomberg changed course Friday evening, canceling the marathon."While holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division," he said in a statement.

The New York City Marathon, slated for this Sunday, is the biggest running event in the US. Each year, more than 100,000 people apply for one of the 47,000 spots, and then train for months to complete the grueling 26.2-mile course through the city's five boroughs. But given the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy, many people are surprised and, quite frankly, pissed off that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has decided not to cancel the race.

There's a debate raging on my Facebook feed right now about whether or not that was the right thing to do. I run, and I hang out with a lot of runners, and several of my friends are supposed to compete in New York this weekend. I completely get why runners would be frustrated if the race were canceled. That's a lot of training down the tubes. The city has also offered some good reasons to keep the race going. It brings in an estimated $340 million in revenue for the city, and generates $34 million for charities. Race officials say that they are going to dedicate the race to those who are suffering, and use it to help raise money and awareness to bolster recovery efforts.

That said, it seems difficult to argue that the marathon is the best use of everyone's time and effort this weekend, given that thousands of people are still without shelter, power, food or water. In addition to the runners, there are 700 people staffing the race, 10,000 volunteers, and 2.5 million spectators. Putting on the event also requires the work of hundreds of police, sanitation workers, and transit officials—all of whom could instead be deployed to help restore the city. 

The marathon uses a lot of resources that others in the city probably need more right now—like the 93,600 eight-ounce bottles of water handed out to runners, in addition to the 62,370 gallons of water used along the course. Marathons also distribute many pounds of food, which could go to needier New Yorkers—such as elderly people stranded without electricity in apartment buildings, as this video from the Climate Desk shows:

The race would also tie up traffic and transit, which the city really just doesn't need right now.

I can't put it any better than these New York runners who started an online petition asking the city to postpone the race until next spring: "This event is always a positive event and it should not be turned into a hugely negative drain on city resources."

VIDEO: NYC Gas Crisis Is "Like Something You See in the Movies"

| Thu Nov. 1, 2012 5:07 PM EDT

"Our gas crisis should end shortly." Those words of reassurance, issued this morning from New York Senator Charles Schumer, might not be enough for swarms of drivers in Brooklyn.

Limited bus and subway service returned to New York City Thursday morning, but cars remained one of the only options for moving between boroughs. As a result, the streets of Brooklyn—which normally depends heavily on public transit—were overwhelmed with drivers, and they were all looking for one thing: gas. But the city's main artery for this staple, the Port of New York, was closed during Hurricane Sandy and only just re-opened, leading to massive shortages, closed stations, and excruciating—and tense—lines for the pump.

Are High-Fructose Corn Syrup Makers in Denial?

| Thu Nov. 1, 2012 4:31 PM EDT

Whoa! Did the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) seriously just put out a press release using our just-published exposé, "Big Sugar's Sweet Little Lies," as a cudgel in its court battle royale with the sugar industry? Why yes, it did. And I quote:

In court documents filed yesterday, attorneys for the U.S. sugar industry tried to deny that The Sugar Association is deceiving consumers into believing that processed table sugar is safer and more healthful than high fructose corn syrup, even as several recent media stories revealed they are funding secretive campaigns to attack HFCS and other sweeteners.

In the newest issue of Mother Jones, the cover story "Sweet Little Lies" chronicles the sugar industry's decades-long use of paid-for allies to mislead the news media, public and regulators through front groups and questionable science. Just weeks ago, a Bloomberg investigative reporter revealed that The Sugar Association has recently paid $300,000 to the phony consumer group, Citizens for Health, to launch petitions and other sponsored activities to stir-up baseless consumer concerns about high fructose corn syrup.

Wow, okay then.

Watch Live: After Sandy: The Debate We Should Have Had

Thu Nov. 1, 2012 8:33 AM EDT

This morning, Climate Desk Live is partnering with ScienceDebate.org to bring you the second event in our series: a conversation between Kevin Knobloch—the president of the Union of Concerned Scientists and an expert on climate—and Mike Castle, the former governor of Delaware and a nine-term Republican congressman from the state. Our moderator is award-winning journalist and author Chris Mooney. The question at hand: In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, to what extent can science—and climate science in particular—shape US policy?

The event begins at 9:30 a.m. ET. Live-stream it here:

Gary Taubes Answers Redditors' Sugar Questions

| Thu Nov. 1, 2012 6:03 AM EDT
Gary Taubes

In their Halloween Day exposé "Big Sugar's Sweet Little Lies," best-selling science author Gary Taubes and researcher Cristin Kearns Couzens used internal documents to reveal the sugar industry's decades-long campaign to bury scientific evidence suggesting that its product plays a role in what one industry honcho called the "death-dealing diseases." Yesterday afternoon, Taubes showed up on Reddit to answer readers' questions about the story, sugar, and just about anything else related to diet and nutrition. There were nearly 1,400 questions and comments. You'll find below, largely unedited, the ones most relevant to the story. But all you nutrition fanatics can click here to read the entire thread.

Mamabearmcb: What are your thoughts on artificial sweeteners such as Sucralose, Stevia, and Xylitol?

Gary Taubes: Short answer is I think they're all better than sugar/HFCS and there's not nearly enough data—randomized controlled trials—to show whether they are deleterious on their own. The evidence is just poor and the observational studies linking diet sodas to obesity/diabetes are meaningless, because they're, well, just observations and don't say anything about cause and effect. I did a short New York Times Magazine piece on artificial sweeteners about a year ago and concluded that the stevia compounds are probably the best, in that they're natural and have a long history of use. Here's the link. That said, last time I had a Diet Coke I got a headache the likes of which I can't remember having and so haven't touched the stuff since and that was about four years ago.

unclewally: What will you be giving out to kids tonight?

GT: Reese's. I'm looking the other way. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made.

vtmusicwork: 1. In "Big Sugar's Sweet Little Lies" it appears that although added sugars per capita has increased by 10%, diabetes rates and obesity in adults have doubled while obesity rates in children have tripled. Why do you think these outcomes don't correlate to the 10% increase in consumption? Is there another major contributing factor? 2. Do you believe in IIFYM when attempting to lose fat, and why? 3. Do you believe the Glycemic Index is valuable, and why? Do you think there is too much emphasis on it? Thanks for doing this AMA.

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VIDEO: Sandy Leaves Elderly New Yorkers Trapped in Dark High-Rises

| Thu Nov. 1, 2012 6:03 AM EDT

On Monday night, Hurricane Sandy's flood waters inundated electrical equipment underneath lower Manhattan and left hundreds of thousands of residents there without power. By Wednesday afternoon, nearly 240,000 were still in the dark, with no clear end in sight. Climate Desk visited one historic high-rise apartment where residents were running perilously low on water, food, and patience.

Stormy Obama Attack Ad Resurfaces in Wake of Sandy

| Thu Nov. 1, 2012 6:03 AM EDT

After being sequestered in his northern Virginia apartment for the duration of Hurricane Sandy, 32-year-old journalist Haroon Moghul woke up Tuesday morning to find something odd poking out underneath his doorframe. As Moghul wrote in online magazine Religion Dispatches, it was a photocopied flier of the president's face superimposed against a turbulent, stormy backdrop. "We've seen storms in Virginia, but none like this…" it read, then proceeded to accuse the president of summoning financial disaster.

As the Houston Chronicle, and subsequently Buzzfeed reported Tuesday, the original mailing had been paid for by Americans for Tax Reform, conservative operative Grover Norquist's "anti-tax" group. It's unclear who redistributed the flier in the wake of Sandy. Moghul says that neither he nor his building's front desk manager saw anyone handing them out, though both discovered them on the floor and under doors Tuesday morning. "It seems like they were on every floor," Moghul says. One neighbor told Moghul that he saw the fliers on cars as early as Saturday.