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2019 Activity Report Explorer

Polly Dyer – Seattle • Entered by Penelope Peterson on April 29, 2023

GOB Book Club

January 26, 2023 – January 26, 2023

Participants and Hours

Pre Planning hours 3
Post Admin hours
Activity Hours 2
Participants 1
Total Hours 5

Key Issue: Doesn’t apply
Activity Type: Education & Outreach (tabling, films & lectures, regional B-walks/works)

Short Description of Activity

For this evening’s Book Club, we read, “Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore.” I heard about this book on a CARE call done by Broads’ National Office on diversity and equity. A member from another chapter suggested this book as a good one to read as the author deals with flooding in areas that are often inhabited by diverse and low-income groups. As a result, I suggested to our Book Club that we read this book, and they agreed.

As usual, I prepared a set of twenty questions of time. Here are the questions I assembled:
Discussion Questions on Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore

1. How did the author become aware of sea level rise?
2. Why is the tupelo tree an important symbol in the chapter?
3. Over the past 60 years, what has happened to the wetlands surrounding the Isle de Jean Charles?
4. How have the residents responded to the island’s dramatic change?
5. What effect did the oil drilling have on the marshland and how does it relate to the presence of dolphins?
6. What is the Science Box and how does it help biologists understand the impact of sea level rise?
7. Rush describes how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has installed “ditch plugs” in the Sprague River Marsh in Maine. What did the Service intend these “plugs” to do? What did the plugs actually do?
8. What is a “meltwater pulse” and how is it different from a human pulse?
9. Legislation plays a key role in land management. What was the Swamp Land Act and what has been its impact?
10. How are spoonbills being affected by changing sea levels?
11. After experiencing the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy, how did the residents of Oakwood Beach, Staten Island, New York react?
12. If retreat is a useful adaptation strategy, why is it successful sometimes but not successful in other cases?
13. Why is it problematic to pave over wetlands?
14. Rush titles Part 1 of her book, “Rampikes, “ and she calls Part !!, “Rhizomes.” Why? What do these terms convey?
15. What is the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) and what purpose does it serve?
16. What’s are flood maps? How are they used? What is problematic about current flood maps?
17. What is the South Bay Saltwater Restoration Project trying to do and why?
18. What is happening in Oro Loma, and how is it an example of a “resiliency project”?
19. John Holdren, Obama’s science advisor, famously said, “We basically have three choices: mitigation, adaptation, and suffering.” Which of these does Rush advocate. and why?
20. In one of the last chapter in the book, Rush visits the H.J. Experimental Forest in Oregon. Even though the forest is inland, the author understands its relevance to the shore when she observes the rufous bird. What is the connection, and why is it so important?

Reflection/Evaluation

Twelve Broads attended Book Club this night, and we had a lively discussion as the book proved to be quite controversial. Indeed, one Broad refused to attend because she thought the book was so bad. Here is part of an email that this Broad wrote to me:

“The author engages in pseudo-logic; and I am not a fan of mis-informative non-facts. She is leading her readers down a path of ‘Chicken Little’ disaster tourism, if they themselves do not have a firm grasp of how things work. It’s ‘unfortunate’ that she touched on topics where I do have experience: technology and insurance. I am an Information Technology professional in a company that provides flood and earthquake insurance, and also deals with reinsurance (which has existed for years). I don’t support the politician who claims that the California wildfires are started by a Jewish space laser… and I won’t support similar material coming from the left.”

Two other Broads who attended also didn’t like the book. I think a problem with the book is that it falls in a crack between being a research report and a piece of journalism, but is actually not a good representation of either one. As a social scientist, I was trained to do good qualitative research case studies, and although the authors claims that she reports case studies, she does not do so adequately. In contrast, she could have written in the journalism genre, but she does not do good journalistic reporting either. Hence the book was an unsatisfactory read. However, the author does describe a several interesting cases of flooding in the United States and some possible consequences so the book did provoke some interesting speculation on where we may be heading in the future and what we might do about it.