59 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
53 F. average high on October 26.
64 F. high on October 26, 2014.
.01″ rain fell at MSP International Airport yesterday.
October 27, 1943: Said to be one of the worst fogs in the Twin Cities in memory. A very dense area of fog, with an average of 75 feet in thickness, blanketed the area. At the worst, street lights could not be seen 25 yards away. Drivers refused to cross unmarked railroad crossings and traffic was brought to a standstill.
October 27, 1931: Storm hits the Duluth area. Barometer falls to 29.02.
I’m still standing. The sun was shining Saturday as my oldest son got married at a majestic 100-year old lodge on the northern tip of Gull Lake. I want to thank Walt and Tracy for restoring my faith in love, the institution of marriage, and everything good in the world. I feel blessed – and old, in that order.
Duluth Enters Final Round of Flood Resiliency Competition. In the wake of historic flooding in 2012 Duluth is trying to make its infrastructure more resilient and weather-proof. Smart. Here’s an excerpt from KBJR 6: “Duluth is in the final round in a national competition that could secure tens of millions of dollars for flood resiliency. The city is working with the state and the non-profit agency Ecolibrium3 and LISC in the two-step grant process in the wake of the 2012 flood…”
Rainfall Records, Tornado Surveys, High Water Follow Storms. The remnants of Hurricane Patricia fueled flooding rains from Texas into the Panhandle of Florida. Here’s an excerpt from nola.com: “…Offshore, the lows have prompted a gale warning. One platform reported wind gusts as high as 75 mph. On Sunday, the paired lows fueled by Gulf moisture inundated all of southeastern Louisiana, with torrential rainfall totals almost reaching one-day records:
- At Louis Armstrong International Airport, 8.67 inches of rain fell, the fourth highest one-day total on record for that location. The all-time high there was 12.24 inches on May 8, 1995.
- Baton Rouge’s Ryan Airport measured 8.60 inches of rain, its fourth-highest one-day total. The all-time record at Ryan is 11.99 inches, set April 14, 1967…”
How Hurricane Patricia Became the Strongest Hurricane on Record So Quickly. I have never seen a hurricane intensify so rapidly over such a relatively short period of time. Unusual ocean warmth, extending unusually deep into the Pacific, probably fueled by El Nino, was a contributing factor. Here’s an excerpt of a good explainer from Andrew Freedman at Mashable: “…The storm exploded over an area of exceptional ocean warmth, with waters of 1 to 2 degrees Celsius above average for this time of year. In addition, the atmospheric conditions in this area were ideally suited for a rapidly strengthening storm, with what is known as “thermodynamic potential intensity” readings at a maximum. This occurred right in the area where Patricia spun its way into the record books on Friday morning. The ocean warmth is largely due to a near-record strong El Niño event, which has not only raised ocean temperatures in the eastern tropical Pacific, but has also caused those warm waters to extend deeper below the surface than is usually the case, which also helps storms to intensify...” (Graphic above: University of Wisconsin).
21 Hurricanes and Typhoons That Shattered Records in 2015. Mashable provides more perspective on a very active hurricane season in the Pacific; here’s an excerpt: “…The combination of El Niño, other natural climate cycles and global warming have supercharged this year’s tropical cyclone season in the northern hemisphere to the point where all-time records have been blown away. Specifically, there have now been 21 typhoons and hurricanes in the hemisphere — all but one of which occurred in the Pacific Ocean — that have reached the most intense levels of the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, Category 4 and 5. This beat the past record of 18, set in 2004…” (File image of Hurricane Patricia: NOAA, NASA).
States Where Disaster Strikes Most. Looking back over 8 years worth of records the most expensive natural disasters have been in the south, with the exception of Colorado (fire) and New Jersey (Sandy). Here’s an excerpt from Kiplinger.com: “…Working with data from the National Weather Service that covers the last eight years or so, we identified the states that have had the most damage. I’ll tell you about four of them. Number 1 on the list is New Jersey, and it’s almost all due to Sandy, the storm that did billions of dollars of damage to New Jersey’s exposed coastline. New Jersey doesn’t normally get a lot of natural disasters, but that one was a doozy.Superstorm Sandy was the second-most expensive storm in U.S. history. Hurricane Katrina was the worst. But the data we have from the federal government starts after Katrina struck in 2005. Yet even without Katrina in the count, Louisiana has still seen the eighth highest damage losses in recent years. That’s life on the Gulf Coast, it would seem — other storms, such as Hurricane Isaac, in 2012, have hit the state hard…” (File photo: FEMA).
Can Markets Take on Climate Change? For the record (if anyone cares) I’m not ready to throw up my hands and concede that this problem is too big, capitalism is the culprit and markets can’t (ultimately) invent the new technologies and clean energy alternatives we’re going to need to keep the lights on without polluting. There’s simply no time for gloom and doom narratives, but in the spirit of full disclosure here’s an excerpt of an article focused on Naomi Klein at New York Magazine: “…It is not the right but the center-left that provides the main target of Klein’s polemic. Mainstream liberalism, in keeping with classic economic analysis, has always seen pollution as a straightforward market failure. If an individual or a business is dumping a harmful by-product into the commons, economic logic dictates they be forced to internalize the cost. Creating a price for carbon emissions, so that greenhouse gasses cannot be emitted for free, will give the marketplace the correct financial incentive to reduce its emissions to the necessary level. Klein insists, on the contrary, that liberal remedies that leave in place the underlying structure of the market economy do not, and cannot, work...”
It’s pretty straightforward—when the reality of someone’s life is better than they had expected, they’re happy. When reality turns out to be worse than the expectations, they’re unhappy….
Photo credit above: “Life is hard when you have unreasonable expectations.” (Reuters/Lucas Jackson).
Everything You Think You Know About Happiness is Wrong. Picking up on the previous story here’s a snippet from a story at Quartz: “For many of us, happiness is the ultimate goal in life, worth pursuing above all else. If you’d asked me a few months ago, I would have agreed. But recently, I’ve been thinking about the kinds of mistakes we make when pursuing happiness. I’ve been wondering whether the biggest mistake might be seeing happiness as something we should be aiming for at all….”
Atheism Requires a Leap of Faith, Too. I found this story at The Guardian to be curious and a worthy read. We don’t know what we don’t know. Here’s a clip: “But my conviction that there is no God is nonetheless a leap of faith. Just as we have been unable to prove there is a God, we have also been unable to prove that there isn’t one. The feeling that I have in my being that there is no God is what I go by, but I’m not deluded into thinking that feeling is in any way more factual than the deep conviction by theists that God exists. I keep this fact in mind – that my atheism is a leap of faith – because otherwise it’s easy to get cocky...”
TODAY: Early sun, still milder than average. Light rain arrives late PM. Winds: SE 10-20. High: 59
TUESDAY NIGHT: Periods of rain. Low: 45
WEDNESDAY: Gusty and colder with rain. Flurries Wednesday night? Winds: NW 15-30. High: 47
THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy, brisk. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 36. High: near 50
FRIDAY: Fading sun, rain at night? Wake-up: 34. High: 53
HALLOWEEN: Wet start, slow clearing. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 43. High: 55
SUNDAY: Sunny, mild breeze. Winds: SW 10-15. Wake-up: 44. High: 63
MONDAY: Clouds increase, turning cooler. Wake-up: 52. High: 58
Financial Fears Fueled Exxon Shift on Climate Change. The Dallas Morning News takes a look at how attention to the bottom line framed the public response to Exxon’s own internal scientific research; here’s an excerpt: “Throughout much of the 1980s, Exxon earned a public reputation as a pioneer in climate change research. It sponsored workshops, funded academic research and conducted its own high-tech experiments exploring the science behind global warming. But by 1990, the Irving-based company, in public, took a different posture. While still funding select research, it poured millions into a campaign that questioned climate change. Over the next 15 years, it took out prominent ads in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, contending climate change science was murky and uncertain. And it argued that regulations aimed at curbing global warming were ill-considered and premature...”
Exxon Sowed Doubt about Climate Science for Decades by Stressing Uncertainty. Manufactured misinformation, weapons of mass confusion, because the truth might interfere with the bottom line? Where have we heard that before (tobacco lobby). Here’s the next story in a powerful series at InsideClimate News: “…Exxon wanted scientists who disputed the mainstream science on climate change to oversee Washington’s work with the IPCC, the authoritative body that defines the scientific consensus on global warming, documents written by an Exxon lobbyist and one of its scientists show. The company persuaded the White House to block the reappointment of the IPCC chairman, a World Bank scientist. Exxon’s top climate researcher, Brian Flannery, was pushing the White House for a wholesale revision of federal climate science. The company wanted a new strategy to focus on the uncertainties…”
Climate Change is Already Costing Us Billions of Dollars Every Year. Here’s an excerpt from Motherboard: “Climate change has already begun to cost us, and it’s only going to get worse. Hurricanes, intensified in size and frequency by climate change, are taking a massive financial toll already, according to a new paper. The study, published in Nature Geoscience this week, found that an increase in property dollar amounts lost over the past several decades in a case study was due to hurricanes intensified by global warming. Conducted by researchers from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma in Mexico and VU University in the Netherlands, the researched used statistical models to estimate the economic losses from storms from 1900 to 2005, taking into account societal change and wealth gains over the years…”
File photo credit above: “New Orleans shortly after Katrina“. Image: National Archives.
Landmark Study Finds Elevated Carbon Dioxide Levels Impair Human Brain Function. No, it’s not a 30 years down the road thing; it’s happening now. Here’s a link to the study and an overview of findings at ThinkProgress: “In a landmark public health finding, a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health finds that carbon dioxide (CO2) has a direct and negative impact on human cognition and decision-making. These impacts have been observed at CO2 levels that most Americans — and their children — are routinely exposed to today inside classrooms, offices, homes, planes, and cars. Carbon dioxide levels are inevitably higher indoors than the baseline set by the outdoor air used for ventilation, a baseline that is rising at an accelerating rate thanks to human activity, especially the burning of fossil fuels. So this seminal research has equally great importance for climate policy, providing an entirely new public health impetus for keeping global CO2 levels as low as possible...” (File photo: Reuters).
The House Science Committee Is Worse than the Benghazi Committee. Vox takes a look; here’s an excerpt: “…The thing is: The Benghazi committee is not even the worst committee in the House. I’d argue that the House science committee, under the chairmanship of Lamar Smith (R-TX), deserves that superlative for its open-ended, Orwellian attempts to intimidate some of the nation’s leading scientists and scientific institutions. The science committee’s modus operandi is similar to the Benghazi committee’s — sweeping, catchall investigations, with no specific allegations of wrongdoing or clear rationale, searching through private documents for out-of-context bits and pieces to leak to the press, hoping to gain short-term political advantage — but it stands to do more lasting long-term damage…”
Stanford and Berkeley universities took a crack at it anyway. For Mexico…yeah, it’s pretty bad. A 73% reduction in per-capita GDP by 2100 due to natural disasters caused by climate change. The study, conducted by Stanford professor Marshall Burke, Global Policy Lab climate change researcher Sol Hsiang and Berkeley professor Ted Miguel was published in “Nature” magazine last week...”
Image credit above: “Two possible future. Colors are 2100 temperatures under “business as usual” climate change (left, RCP8.5) and aggressive climate policy (right, RCP2.6). Burke, Hsiang, & Miguel (Nature 2015) demonstrate the effects of these changes on economies around the world. These findings are used in a simulation of future nightlights, as seen from space, since richer economies tend to glow brighter. A hotter world is a more unequal world, with the north benefitting and tropical economies declining. A cooler world leads to more equitable global growth, offering regions like Africa the chance to “catch up”.
Figure attribution: Burke, Hsiang, & Miguel (Nature, 2015)
Big Changes are Occurring in One of The Fastest-Warming Spots on Earth. Here’s a clip from a story at The Portland Press Herald: “…The Gulf of Maine – which extends from Cape Cod in Massachusetts to Cape Sable at the southern tip of Nova Scotia, and includes the Bay of Fundy, the offshore fishing banks, and the entire coast of Maine – has been warming rapidly as the deep-water currents that feed it have shifted. Since 2004 the gulf has warmed faster than anyplace else on the planet, except for an area northeast of Japan, and during the “Northwest Atlantic Ocean heat wave” of 2012 average water temperatures hit the highest level in the 150 years that humans have been recording them. As a result, many native species – boreal and subarctic creatures at the southern edges of their ranges – are in retreat. Lobsters populations have been shifting northward and out to sea along our coast as they’ve abandoned Long Island Sound almost entirely…”
Canadian Government Hinders Scientists from Talking about Climate Change. Following up on the rapid changes taking place in the Gulf of Maine (even faster than what we’re witnessing in Minnesota) here’s a link to a story at The Portland Press Herald.
What I learned on a Luxury Cuise Through the Global-Warming Apocalypse. Here is an excerpt from a first-person account of what’s happening in the Arctic at The Nation: “… The Arctic death spiral will work like that: As white ice melts into dark water, it will diminish the Earth’s ability to reflect light and heat back into space, thus increasing overall warming. Carbon and methane frozen in Arctic permafrost will thaw and flow into the atmosphere, intensifying greenhouse-gas effects and increasing overall warming. Deep-ocean circulation, which depends on differences in temperature and salinity to move water around the world, will slow and shut down, radically changing regional climates, contributing to sea-level rise, and increasing overall warming. To see the Arctic death spiral firsthand, and to see the Arctic before it melted, I took a 17-day “adventure cruise” with the outdoor expedition company Adventure Canada: “Into the Northwest Passage 2015...”
Photo credit above: “ Preserved by cold, a musk-ox carcass lies above the toe of Brother John’s Glacier, Etah, Greenland.” (All photos by Roy Scranton).