Sunday, August 28, 2011

Perfect Storm of Hype: Apocalypse That Never Was

UK Telegraph -- "The truth is that the dire warning beforehand suited both politicians and journalists. Just as with the minor earthquake that shook the east coast last week causing no loss of life and virtually no damage, Irene became a huge story because it was where the media lived.

For politicians, Irene was a chance to either make amends or appear in control. The White House sent out 25 Irene emails to the press on Saturday alone.

By lunchtime on Sunday, the sun was peeking through over New York. The TV anchors were expressing their relief at the good news that the east coast had “dodged a bullet” and Irene had not been the apocalypse they had predicted.

Perhaps it would be a bit too much to hope that they and certain politicians felt a little sheepish too."

HT: Juandos

14 Comments:

At 8/28/2011 8:42 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Millions of people lucked out. After Katrina govt was incompetent for not doing more to evacuate people, now govt is incompetent for evacuating too many.

Press did seem to have nothing else to say, but then, the storm was unleashing a lot of energy, too.

I see no reason for anyone to apologize for what the storm did not do.

 
At 8/28/2011 8:51 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

I see no reason for anyone to apologize for what the storm did not do.

That is not the point. The media an the politicians knew a day before the storm hit NY City that the winds would be much slower than predicted and that the storm surge would be minor. I imagine that Jon Stewart will do a spoof on the news coverage as the idiots in the media went too far as usual. No wonder viewers are leaving in droves.

 
At 8/28/2011 9:37 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

As usual, the politicians sprang into action spinning their wheels and trying to seem relevant. The media had a good time with this too. But, I'm glad we were warned to prepare.

We had unexpected hurricane force winds in Southern Connecticut a year and a half ago and people were stranded for days without power and no way to get out of their neighbourhoods because trees blocked the roads. Trees fell on almost every house in my neigbhourhood - some had to be almost completely rebuilt. 70-90% of my town was without electricity - most for over a week. Tonight, 90-100% of Eastern CT is without power and won't have power for days. They would have wanted to be prepared for that.

It is stupid to say that the weather service "knew" anything. These storms are unpredictable and all that the weather service could do was throw out probabilities. The storm could have worsened at any time as conditions changed and it takes a long time to evacuate a densely populated area like the tri-state area. I'm glad we were prepared because the last time, we weren't and I did not enjoy that.

 
At 8/28/2011 11:08 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

Horse pucky.

I live in FLA, and every single time a hurricane even THINKS of drifting our way, it's Chicken Little Time, Big Time.

The modern media hypes the crap out of every possible physical threat, since it calls (almost universally) for government "help" to repair whatever damage will result, since, clearly, "government", and only "government", can "solve" the problems represented.

(In the meantime they downplay real threats to American well being like the Social Security Ponzi Scheme)

This gets them attention. It was like years ago, when there was a comet nearing earth. When the comet turned out to be a total dud, barely visible to the naked eye IF you got away from city lights, everyone bitched about scientists overselling it.

The real fact was, the media oversold it -- if two scientists got asked: "How significant and visible is this comet going to be?" and one said "It will be phenomenal! It will stretch across the sky for days, and be visible even during the day!", and the second said, "Well, we really can't tell at this point. It might be highly visible, it might not be, since it hasn't really started forming its tail yet." -- Guess which one got airtime?

The media likes to
PAINT
BIG
STORIES
because they gather eyeballs. It's not a new thing, Hearst himself supposedly said, "You provide the photos, I'll provide the war", regarding the events leading up to the Spanish-American War. He did this because he knew a war would sell papers, and truth and honesty meant little to him.

 
At 8/29/2011 1:48 AM, Blogger Charles Platt said...

After Katrina, legislators and our president took note of the vilification of George W. Bush. Because the first imperative of any politician is to get re-elected, they took elaborate CYA precautions so that it wouldn't happen to them, regardless of cost. After all, what's a few hundred million of taxpayer money if a representative can sustain his tenure in the biggest gravy train (or pig trough) in the history of the world?

Preparations had nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with crass self interest and avoidance of blame.

 
At 8/29/2011 6:25 AM, Blogger geoih said...

How do you measure the cost of an event that didn't happen?

Whether it's the destruction of a hurricane that could have been a lot worse, or the lost productivity from all the apparently unnecessary shutdowns and evacuations that occurred as a precaution, we'll never know.

The only thing we can be sure of is that when the final decision rests with government officials, the potential consequences for making a wrong decision are minimal, and all of the incentives are in favor of over-reacting.

By the same token, those private individuals who chose to take no precautions will now probably be bailed out by the same over-reacting government.

Risk assessment is wholly subjective, the same as economic valuation. Involving the government simply distorts the decision making process and socializes the costs.

 
At 8/29/2011 6:54 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

the media does what the media does no matter whether it's a storm or a political fight or a airplane crash.

but how do you explain all the East Coast Govs willingly coming on TV..not once.. but many times and themselves seemingly hyping a Cat 2 storm and the media loving it?

Gov Christie said "get out"

Bloomberg said "we're going to cut off the power and shut down the subway".

huh?

WTF?

 
At 8/29/2011 7:16 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Well yet again OBH with his usual panache nails it, "if it bleeds, it leads" was hard at work over this particular storm...

"How do you measure the cost of an event that didn't happen?"...

Well geoih the UK Daily Mail made the attempt: Economy takes MULTI-BILLION hit from Irene on vital weekend as experts warn of U.S. clean-up cost

*Last weekend of August is usually key for New York's $1.4tn annual output

*But direct hit would have flooded subway and acres of expensive real estate

*Damage cost of Hurricane Irene across East Coast estimated at up to $45bn

*Non-functioning economy in New York for four days will have huge impact

*Insurance premiums will rise and businesses across the city have suffered

 
At 8/29/2011 7:28 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

Let us be clear. The government hyped up a storm even though the data showed that the storm was not much of a problem. Even now we get from NOAA the claim of a maximum average of 75mph while most station measurements show that maximum gusts were well below that. Even though the math makes no sense nobody in government or the media is calling the NOAA to account.

 
At 8/29/2011 7:35 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

" The government hyped up a storm even though the data showed that the storm was not much of a problem. "

agree.. but WHY?

what's going on with the govt on this?

virtually every East Coast Gov came on the air.. not once but multiple times and they all seemed to be reading from the same script...

my question is what are they going to do when we get a REAL Hurricane?

it's almost like all the Govs got together and decided that they needed to handle hurricanes differently than they had been and now the game plan is that they all come on TV AND...they all same the same thing....

and it appears that in NYC they "encouraged" people to evacuate by threatening to cut the power even before the hurricane got there...

I cannot imagine the govt purposely cutting the power.... to knock out street lights, fridges and freezers, and sump pumps, security systems..etc..

purposely cut power... to get people to leave.

FAIL!

 
At 8/29/2011 7:44 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"what's going on with the govt on this?"...

Come on Larry G, don't you think Charles Platt"s explanation covered it?

Reread his last line: "Preparations had nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with crass self interest and avoidance of blame"...

 
At 8/29/2011 9:12 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>> agree.. but WHY?

LOL, Larry, that one was answered about a century ago, I believe:

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
- H.L. Mencken -

 
At 8/29/2011 9:17 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

well the forecasters over-hyped the hurricane in the south but under-hyped it in the north where dozens of 100 and 500 year floods occurred.

you can call this - disaster stimulus

:-)

 
At 8/30/2011 10:12 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

agree.. but WHY?

what's going on with the govt on this?

virtually every East Coast Gov came on the air.. not once but multiple times and they all seemed to be reading from the same script...


It is a way of shifting blame. When services fail and things do not work as they should there will be an easy excuse by giving the impression that the storm was bigger than it was.

There is also the need to remove an embarrassing problem for politicians who have hitched their wagon to the AGW myth. With the Accumulated Cyclone Energy Index falling and at such low levels and no hurricanes making landfall in the US since 2008 it helps to hype things up a bit and report wind speeds that are higher than the actual measurements, which are available live for anyone to see.

my question is what are they going to do when we get a REAL Hurricane?

I suspect that many will cheer because it will remove a very inconvenient piece of data that the politicians are pounded with by the AGW skeptics.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home