Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Thursday Quiz LI

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The Thursday Quiz!

The Thursday Quiz is an "Is It or Isn't It" game. From the list of twelve items, your job is to determine whether each IS or ISN'T a true example of the week's category.

Remember always the system that makes our existence possible:

No research, Googling, Wikiing, or use of reference books. The Thursday
Quiz is a POP quiz. Violators will face extinction.
This Week's Category is one of those really verbose ones!

Environmental Disasters

This week, the Thursday Quiz presents twelve tales of humans messing with Ma Nature and paying the price. Which of these stories are pretty much accurate as written? And which have been taken a trip through the michael5000 plausible nonsense grinder?

1. The Aral Sea Debacle -- The Soviets dam the Amu Darya and Syr Darya Rivers to provide large-scale irrigation in Central Asia. The scheme is actually quite successful, and Uzbekistan remains today a leading exporter of cotton. Without the water from the rivers, however, the Aral Sea began to dry up. As it shrinks into a much smaller lake and evaporates down to a toxic level of salinity, the regional ecosystem and the prosperous fishing industry it had supported are destroyed.

2. The Ardennes Inferno -- After the hot, rainless summer of 1944, Germans launch the famous "Battle of the Bulge" in a last attempt to stem the advance of the Allies. All along the front line, bombs and tracer bullets ignite the tinder-dry trees and undergrowth of the Ardennes Forest, and soldiers on both sides conduct hellish weeks of battle in and around the largest documented forest fire in European history. By the times that the Allies contain the German advance, more than twice as many soldiers are presumed dead of fire and smoke inhalation as from combat injuries.

3. The Boston Molasses Disaster -- In 1919, a large holding tank of molasses (a more important sweetener in the American diet then than it is today) ruptures in downtown Boston. A fast-moving wave of molasses around ten feet high tears down busy streets, drowning or crushing twenty-one people as well as horses, dogs, and other animals. Tens of thousands of man-hours are required to clean and repair streets and buildings in the aftermath of the flood. The extent of ecological damage to Boston Harbor -- which remained molasses brown for months -- can not be assessed.

4. Cane Toads -- In an attempt to control a pesky native bug, the cane beetle, 500 Hawaiian Cane Toads are introduced into Northwestern Australia in 1935. Able to reproduce quite quickly, the Cane Toad population explodes, rapidly expanding its range and dramatically altering the local ecology in often unpredictable ways -- with toads available to eat, for instance, fewer crocodile eggs get eaten by predators, which leads to obvious problems. The Toads now number over 200 million.

5. The China Southern Smog Disaster -- Visitors who complain of Beijing's smog problem today don't know how good they have it. The Chinese capital's skies are much clearer now than in the days before democratic reforms, when coal-burning factories kept the city in a perpetual smoky twilight. The low point was the 1989 crash shortly after takeoff of a China Southern Airlines 737 outside the city, with the loss of all passengers and crew. After two years of foot-dragging, the official investigation was finally allowed to admit the humiliating truth: both of the airplane's engines had failed due to oxygen starvation in the murky Beijing air. Public outrage led to the passage of some of China's first ever environmental legislation.

6. The Cuyahoga River Fire of 1969 -- Fires had been breaking out on the lower Cuyahoga River, an industrial waterway winding through Cleveland, since at least 1935. Floating oils, chemicals, and debris made the river highly flammable; the largest and most damaging fire had been all the way back in 1952. It was an awakening environmental consciousness and a colorful article in Time magazine that made the 1969 fire a body blow to the civic image of Cleveland and a spur to the creation of the Clean Water Act and the Environmental Protection Agency.

7. Deforestation of Easter Island -- The inhabitants of Easter Island, an isolated society in the South Pacific, gradually cut down all the trees on their formally wooded island, probably for logs with which to roll and raise their enormous stone statues into position. With no wood available for tools, no nesting sites available for many species of birds important to the local diet, and widespread soil erosion, the Easter Island food supply and the civilization that depends on it go into steep decline.

8. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch -- Currents draw floating plastic waste from lands bordering the Pacific Ocean into a stable area in the North Pacific five times the size of Kansas. In some parts of the patch, as many as a million pieces of floating plastic per square mile have been counted. As plastic degrades from exposure to salt water and sunlight, it eventually dissolves into the sea, from where it begins to enter the food chain by accumulating in organisms that filter sea water for food and oxygen.

9. The Los Angeles Harbor Oil Spill -- The Sea Trader and the Prudhoe Bay -- not what we would consider supertankers today, but among the largest oil tankers afloat in 1955 -- collide in a rare late afternoon fog in Los Angeles Harbor. Both boats remain afloat, but each loses its entire cargo into the bay. With little attempt at cleanup, the spill wipes out the marine ecology of the region, and with it the old L.A. fishing and shellfish industries. Occurring before the environmental movement, the incident receives little attention outside of L.A., and would be largely forgotten today if not for the oil "bubbles" that still occasionally rise off the bottom and wash in to besmirch the famous Southern California beaches.

10. Love Canal -- The City of Niagara Falls school board buys an industrial waste site from a plastics company -- over the objections of the company -- as a site for a new school. The city puts in streets and sewers, and soon there is a residential neighborhood planted on top of what is essentially an underground lake of toxic waste. The problems that surfacing barrels and bubbles of industrial chemicals pose to landscape maintenance are the least of resident's worries; by some counts, more than half of the children born to neighborhood families have significant birth defects. After 21 years, a federal emergency is declared; the neighborhood is razed and its inhabitants evacuated.

11. Minamata Disease -- The Chisso Corporation, a Japanese chemical company, dumps toxic metals into the harbor of the city of Minamata during the 1950s. When it becomes clear that hundreds of people are contracting a crippling form of mercury poisoning, Chisso responds by installing a phony waste treatment system and continuing to dump mercury waste for another decade. By the time the practice is stopped, more than 1000 people have died and Chisso is able to profitably mine the harbor bottom for reclaimed mercury.

12. The Roberts Island Fox Hunt – On New Zealand's Roberts Island, home to a human population of more than 40,000, rabbit farmers decide that the island's foxes pose a threat to their industry. They arrange a highly successful eradication campaign. To their chagrin, however, it soon becomes apparent that only foxes had been keeping the island's Norway rats in check. The rat population explodes, becoming a major detriment to agriculture and a public health hazard. The large-scale abandonment of "Ratters Island," as it is often called now, is blamed mostly on this unpleasant ecological disaster; the current population is around 5000.

Post your answers in the comments.


Cartophiliac said...

1. is
2. isn't
3. isn't
4. is
5. isn't
6. is
7. is
8. is
9. is
10. is
11. isn't
12. isn't

The Calico Cat said...

I don't know how coompletely true the cane toad story is, but when I was in Australia - you could buy all kinds of cane toad stuff. Like a coin purse - the jaw was replaced with the closure...
Oh & some of the sport clubs use the cane toads as mascots...

They are a nuisance - not unlike other introduced fauna/flora. (Africanized honey bees & fire ants to name a couple.)

La Gringissima said...

1. is
2. isn't
3. is
4. is
5. isn't
6. is
7. is
8. is
9. isn't
10. is
11. is
12. isn't

gS49 said...

1 true
2 false
3 true!!
4 true, a classic
5 false
6 true (I remember it)
7 true (at least plausible)
8 true
9 false
10 true
11 true
12 false

d said...

10y (wasn't this what the movie 'a civil action' was based on?)
7y (sadly)
4y (there was also something similar with a fish from china(?) that has no natural predators here in the u.s. and now we're f'ed)
3y (my favorite one of the bunch) 2y

Elizabeth said...

1. Yes
2. No
3. Yes
4. Yes
5. No
6. No
7. Yes
8. Yes
9. No
10. Yes
11. Yes
12. No

With luck, not a total disaster. A Super-fun(d) quiz, M5K!

Rebel said...

1. Linguistic Analysis
2. Teach via a text
3. Phonemic script
4. Test Teach Test
5. Controlled Practice Exercise
6. Written consolidation
7. Concept Check
8. Minimal Response Task
9. Global Task
10. Present Perfect Simple
11. Sentence Stress
12. Productive follow up to receptive skills lesson.

mrs.5000 said...

1 Aral Sea yes
2 Ardennes Well, sounds good, never heard of it, and I thought it was a WWI battle. hmm. no
3 Molasses Fast-moving wave of sweetened malarkey. no
4 Cane toads yes
5 China smog hmmmm hmmmm no
6 River fire hmmmm yes
7 Easter Island You're not going to give out any purple asterisks for pointing out the island wasn't really "formally" wooded, are you? I'm picturing something like Versailles--allees, a grid, maybe some topiary. . . Anyway this is a solid yes
8 Pacific garbage patch yes, alas
9 LA oil spill Well, sounds plausible, but your ship names seem a little too on-topic. no
10 Love Canal yes
11 Minamata disease hmmmm no
12 Roberts Island Portions for Foxes A perfect parable. Too perfect, maybe. no

DrSchnell said...

1. Sadly, yes. Part of the worldwide trend in growing cotton in stupid places where there's not enough water.
2. Seems plausible, but I've never heard of it so I'll say Nonsense.
3. So nutty it's gotta be true.
4. yes
5. No
6. Yes. Next time you're in Cleveland, you can quaff a "Burning River Pale Ale" at the Great Lakes Brewery to commemorate the occasion.
7. yes. Just goes to show the perils of art.
8. Yes, unfortunately.
9. No
10. Yes. I remember the made-for-TV "Lois Gibbs and the Love Canal" from when I was younger, one of the first times I really became aware at what colossal fuckups we are as a species.
11. Yes
12. No

About half guesses in there.....

karmaSartre said...

1 / true
2 / false
3 / false
4 / true
5 / false
6 / true (I think Randy Newman sang about this)
7 / true
8 / true
9 / true
10 / true
11 / true
12 / false

Critical Bill said...

3, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11 are true.

Anonymous said...

Remember that Bill Murray's character in "Tootsie" wrote a play called "Return to Love Canal?"

Sydney Pollack had a great line: "Nobody wants to pay twenty dollars to watch people living next to chemical waste. They can see that in New Jersey!"

mhwitt said...

I was thinking I ought to find a way to offer more jokes in my answers, but that seems wholly inappropriate in a disaster-themed quiz.

I'm offering blind guesses on about half of these.

True: 1, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12
False: 2, 3, 5, 11

Sad to think that eight of these twelve even seem plausible.

Michael5000 said...

OK! Let's talk ecological disaster!

1 Aral Sea -- YES.

2 Ardennes -- No. Concept inspired by a battle of the American Civil War.

3 Molasses -- YES. "Slow as molasses" indeed.

4 Cane toads -- YES.

5 China smog causes plane crash -- No. And nobody bit.

6 Cuyahoga -- YES.

7 Easter Island -- Very probably YES.

8 Pacific garbage patch -- YES.

9 LA Oil Spill -- No. I don't know if they had even invented Prudhoe Bay in the 1950s.

10 Love Canal -- YES.

11 Minamata disease -- YES. This is the kind of shit that gives us conspiracy theory bashers a bad name. Chisso Corporation continues to be a very successful enterprise; as of this writing, their website features a picture of a baby and the slogan "Bringing state-of-the-art chemistry to the ordinatry household."

12 Roberts Island -- No. I want to believe it happened, but I remember making it up.

Michael5000 said...

So, with strong showings across the board, you had to be perfect today to place in the Quiz.

Who was perfect? Well, la gringissima was perfect. Tanned, rested, and ready after a sojourn in Mexico, she claims her second ever Gold Star, her eighth Star overall.

Fifth-Season champ gs49 starts the Sixth Season off right by taking the Silver Star. It's his third Silver.

DrSchnell, finally, takes his third Blue Star. It is his 16th Star overall, which ties him for second on the leaderboard.

Excellent showings all around.

Michael5000 said...

@Calico: Yes! Yes! But... what about the other eleven...?

@d: "A Civil Action"? Never saw it.

@Elizabeth: I can't tell whether that's a very clever pun, or if I'm just blinded by the flattery.

@Rebel: It's like your head's not in the game today, or something.

@Mrs.5000: I hate it when you call me a "fast-moving wave of sweetened malarkey."

@DrSchnell: Indeed! Who are the damn environment-wreckers providing the demand for all of that cotton, anyway?

fidgits. coughs nervously

@Anonymous: Didn't see "Tootsie" either.

@mhwitt: Jokes are good. Graveyards are for the whistling, I've always felt.

Happy Weekend Eve, everyone!

The Calico Cat said...

The other 11 - I thought I could play by my own rules. (Or at least not look like a total fool for biting on that China Smog one...)

boo said...

Well I would have gotten at least two here. I remember #6 not because of when it happened. I was still in diapers but by 1971 I was paying attention and the Lorax came out. Dr. Seuss was a favorite, so I had to learn why he mentioned my lake in the book. It was a shock to me then.

mydogischelsea said...

I don't know about any of the other ones, but I do know for sure that the Great Molasses Flood happened. It's my favorite piece of trivia to pull out during dull conversations.