Warming Climate is Both Threat – and Opportunity

With climate change there is a considerable amount of gloom and doom, and much of it is warranted. Observations suggest floods and heat waves are, in fact, becoming more severe, worldwide.

We can debate how much of the warming is natural vs. man-made, or the merits of a progressive carbon tax, but there’s no doubt we’ll have to adapt.

Every threat is an opportunity. How do we harden our infrastructure to become more storm-proof, flood-resistant and drought-tolerant? Who will invent hail-proof shingles, drought-friendly strains of corn and sealants that keep water out of basements, no matter what Mother Nature throws at us?

We’ll figure it out, because in the end we won’t have much choice.

An irritable sky fires off another T-storm today, but a merciful stretch of dry weather is likely Wednesday into Monday. Daytime highs approach 90F by late week. The upcoming weekend should be pool, golf or lake-worthy, indeed. ECMWF (“Euro”) guidance keeps T-storms to our south/east this weekend; a few growls of thunder as close as Wisconsin.

I look forward to unplugging the Doppler.

Trending Warmer. Not late-May hot, but ECMWF predicts temperatures consistently 5-7F warmer than average through the middle of next week. Graphic: WeatherBell.

More Dog Days. I don’t see an early transition to a fall-like pattern, not through the end of August, as a hot,  high pressure ridge rebuilds over the USA with more 90s likely – slight relief for the Pacific Northwest and New England.

California’s Inferno: Climate Nexus has the headlines and links: “Eighteen fires burning throughout California torched 290,000 acres last week–roughly double the five-year average number for the same time period, state fire officials reported this weekend. A fire complex raging in Mendocino County is now the state’s largest current fire and became California’s fourth-largest on record over the weekend, burning more than 260,000 acres by Sunday morning. The Trump administration approved a request from California for a disaster declaration on Sunday, allocating emergency federal funds for residents of Shasta County, where the Carr Fire has burned over 1,000 houses and claimed its seventh fatality on Sunday. In a tweet, the president made no mention of climate change, but instead blamed “bad environmental laws” that “diverted” water to the Pacific Ocean for the crisis. It’s not clear what policies the president was referring to, and firefighters on the ground have not reported a lack of water.” (General fire: KALW, NPR, AP, Reuters, CNN, San Francisco Chronicle $. Mendocino Complex Fire: LA Times $, Press Democrat. Carr fire: AP, LA Times $, Time. Trump: Buzzfeed, Huffington Post. Background: Climate Signals on Carr Fire)

Image credit: NASA.

North America Just Had Its First EF4 Tornado, And It Wasn’t in the U.S. The Weather Channel reports: “…Last Friday’s EF4 tornado killed a 77-year-old man as it tore through the Alonsa, Silver Ridge and Margaret Bruce Beach areas of western Manitoba during the evening hours. The twister was on the ground for approximately 20 minutes as it carved a destructive path up to a half-mile wide, CBC reported, citing Environment Canada. Environment Canada deployed a team of meteorologists to assess the damage, in which they were able to determine the tornado’s rating of EF4, which has winds of 166 to 200 mph on the Enhanced Fujita Scale…”

Map credit: “Average annual number of tornadoes for each state in the U.S., based on the 20-year period from 1991 to 2010.” (NOAA/NCEI)

Happy American Wind Week! Here’s an excerpt from americanwindweek.org: “In celebration of wind power emerging in 2017 as America’s No. 1 source of renewable energy capacity, AWEA hosted the inaugural “American Wind Week.” Annually, wind companies and supporters now host a wide variety of events around the country that show how wind works for all Americans. Each year in August, elected officials will visit wind farms and factories across the country to show their support. You can get involved by sharing on social media, requesting a proclamation from your mayor or governor, or attending a live event!

Next-Generation Contact Lenses. Big Think has a post that made me do a double-take: “Just imagine contact lenses that are also cameras, giving them the ability to record and store whatever you see so you can play it back whenever you want to – your wedding, the birth of your child, or a particularly happy vacation that you don’t want to forget. Well, Sony has recently filed a new patent for ‘smart contact lenses’ that actually record your experiences. The technology behind these lenses would be highly sophisticated. They would feature special sensors that would convert mechanical energy into electrical energy to activate the camera. It would even be able to adjust for the tilt of the wearer’s eye and use autofocus to adjust for blurry images...”

Image credit: “A wicked case of futuristic pink-eye.” Creative Commons / Pxhere

Alcohol Helps You Speak a Foreign Language Better. TIME.com takes on the doubters: “Those who dabble in learning a new language sometimes find that alcohol — in moderation — helps them speak more fluently. In a way, that makes sense: It’s been shown that a beer or a glass of wine can lower inhibitions, which may make it easier for some people to overcome nervousness or hesitation. An experiment, published this week in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. And it turns out, people in the study really did speak more fluently after a low dose of alcohol — even when they didn’t think so themselves…”

Facebook Lenses. Don’t write Facebook off just yet, argues Ben Thompson in a long, detailed post at Stratechery: “…By extension, to insist that Facebook will die any day now is in some respects to suggest that humanity will cease to exist any day now; granted, it is a company and companies fail, but even if Facebook failed it would only be a matter of time before another Facebook rose to replace it. That seems unlikely: for all of the company’s travails and controversies over the past few years, its moats are deeper than ever, its money-making potential not only huge but growing both internally and secularly; to that end, what is perhaps most distressing of all to would-be competitors is in fact this quarter’s results: at the end of the day Facebook took a massive hit by choice; the company is not maximizing the short-term, it is spending the money and suppressing its revenue potential in favor of becoming more impenetrable than ever. “Utter disaster” indeed.”

Growing Up Jobs. Steve Job’s daughter tells her story at Vanity Fair; here’s a clip: “...I was required to take a DNA test. The tests were new then, and when the results came back, they gave the odds that we were related as the highest the instruments could measure at the time: 94.4 percent. The court required my father to cover welfare back payments, child-support payments of $385 per month, which he increased to $500, and medical insurance until I was 18. The case was finalized on December 8, 1980, with my father’s lawyers insistent to close. Four days later Apple went public and overnight my father was worth more than $200 million. But before that, just after the court case was finalized, my father came to visit me once at our house in Menlo Park, where we had rented a detached studio. It was the first time I’d seen him since I’d been a newborn in Oregon. “You know who I am?” he asked. He flipped his hair out of his eyes...”

Photo credit: “Lisa Brennan-Jobs on her father’s lap in the Palo Alto home she shared with her mother, 1987.” Photograph courtesy of Grove Atlantic.

Nike Says Their New Running Shoes Will Help You Run Faster. The New York Times reports: “If a running shoe made you 25 percent faster, would it be fair to wear it in a race? What about 10 percent? Or 2 percent? The Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% — a bouncy, expensive shoe released to the public one year ago — raises these questions like no shoe in recent distance running history. Nike says the shoes are about 4 percent better than some of its best racing shoes, as measured by how much energy runners spend when running in them. That is an astonishing claim, an efficiency improvement worth almost six minutes to a three-hour marathoner, or about eight minutes to a four-hour marathoner. The Vaporflys — which retail at $250 a pair — were widely released to the public by Nike last summer...”

84 F. high in the Twin Cities on Monday.

82 F. average high on August 6.

76 F. high on August 6, 2017.

August 7, 1968: 7.09 inches of rain falls at Mankato. 1,200 homes are damaged. Highways 169 and 22 are blocked by mudslides.

August 7, 1955: The climate record of George W. Richards of Maple Plain ends. He recorded weather data with lively notations on phenology and weather events. He began taking observations when he was eleven in 1883. He continued to take observations for 72 years, with 66 years as a National Weather Service Cooperator.

August 7, 1896: The final day of a massive heat wave brings highs of 104 to Le Sueur and Mazeppa.

August 7, 1863: A Forest City observer sees what he calls a ‘perfect tornado.’ He noted that it ‘drove principally from west to east and lasted about one half hour.’

TUESDAY: Sunny peeks, stray T-storm possible. Winds: W 5-10. High: 81

TUESDAY NIGHT: Drying out – patches of fog. Low: 66

WEDNESDAY: Sunny and warmer. A dry day! Winds: SW 8-13. High: 88

THURSDAY: Sunny, cue the Dog Days of August. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 69. High: 89

FRIDAY: Plenty of sun, another shot at 90F. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 68. High: near 90

SATURDAY: More clouds, T-storm risk over Wisconsin. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 68. High: 87

SUNDAY: Partly sunny, just warm enough. Wake-up: 69. High: 86

MONDAY: Sticky sun, T-storms far north/west. Wake-up: 70. High: 88

Climate Stories…

Climate Change is Making Wildfires More Extreme. Here’s How. PBS NewsHour and YouTube have a good explainer, featuring analysis from Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann: “High winds, high temperatures, pervasive drought. These extreme conditions are driving two enormous fires in California, and many more throughout the American West and much of Northern and Western Europe. William Brangham talks with Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University about the ways climate change is contributing to the danger and destruction.”

The World is Losing the War Against Climate Change. An article at The Economist caught my eye; here’s an excerpt: “EARTH is smouldering. From Seattle to Siberia this summer, flames have consumed swathes of the northern hemisphere. One of 18 wildfires sweeping through California, among the worst in the state’s history, is generating such heat that it created its own weather. Fires that raged through a coastal area near Athens last week killed 91 (see article). Elsewhere people are suffocating in the heat. Roughly 125 have died in Japan as the result of a heatwave that pushed temperatures in Tokyo above 40°C for the first time. Such calamities, once considered freakish, are now commonplace. Scientists have long cautioned that, as the planet warms—it is roughly 1°C hotter today than before the industrial age’s first furnaces were lit—weather patterns will go berserk…” (Photo credit: PA).

Climate Change’s Looming Mental Health Crisis. WIRED.com has the story: “…It’s known as ecological grief—the mourning of ecosystems and species and ways of life that are disappearing as the planet warms. But it isn’t just hitting the Inuit. As our planet plays host to rising seas, more intense storms, and higher temperatures, those conditions will support a growing international mental health crisis. “Things like depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, domestic abuse, all these things tend to go up in the aftermath of a natural disasters,” says psychologist Susan Clayton of the College of Wooster, co-author of an extensive report on climate change and mental health. “As we have more natural disasters, one would expect to also have increases in those kinds of mental health consequences…”

On Climate Change, It’s Time to Start Panicking. Salon has the headline and story; here’s an excerpt: “…There will be and already is major consequences and they grow over time. It does not look good,” Kevin Trenberth, a a Distinguished Senior Scientist in the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, told Salon by email. “The effects are always local but there are more and more of them and the consequences are major. These includes floods and drought, heat waves and wild fires.” He also pointed Salon in the direction of a paper he co-authored that elaborated on how Hurricane Harvey in particular could be linked to climate change. Indeed, the California wildfires that ravaged America’s most populous state last month provide a major example of the dangers of man-made climate change discussed by Trenberth…”

Image credit: NASA.