Icy Lakes: Take Nothing For Granted
A few winters ago I broke an ankle walking our dog (Leo), so I’m not a big fan of icy roads. Turns out nearly 1 million Americans are injured due to slip and fall injuries annually, most during the winter months.
One place I like my ice is on area lakes, but looks can be deceiving. The Minnesota DNR doesn’t measure ice depth on area lakes. With a number of vehicles falling through the ice in recent days they had a timely reminder: “Temperature, snow cover, currents, springs and rough fish all affect the relative safety of ice. Ice is seldom the same thickness over a single body of water; it can be two feet thick in one place and one inch thick a few yards away. Check the ice at least every 150 feet.”
All my fish are rough, by the way.
The next clipper may squeeze out a coating to an inch of flurries later today and tonight; another potential for wetter, slushier snow by the middle of next week. Otherwise it’s a dry pattern into the weekend, with a slow warming trend next week.
For much of America “freezing!” is a pejorative, a negative. In Minnesota, after a numbing November, a 4-day thaw next week sounds pretty good.
Half an Inch of Snow by Tonight? The next clipper may whip up a coating to an inch of snow later today into tonight; I’m leaning toward about a half inch of powder tonight, when roads may be getting greasy. 3 KM NAM-WRF model: NOAA and pivotalweather.com.
4th Gloomiest Meteorological Autumn Since 1966. If you’re feeling blue about a lack of sunlight you’re not alone. Check out this post from The Minnesota DNR: “September through November 2018 was quite gloomy across Minnesota. In fact, looking at solar radiation records at the U of M St. Paul Campus Climate Observatory it was the least sunny meteorological autumn since 1983 and the 4th gloomiest autumn on record. There were 40 days of mostly cloudy to cloudy conditions for the three month period, a number that sounds impressive until one sees that the average number of cloudy days for the period is 43...”
Image credit: “Solar Radiation, measured in Langleys, for September 1 to November 30 from the U of M St. Paul Campus.”
Ice is Never 100% Safe. The Minnesota DNR could not have said it any better: “The DNR does not measure ice thickness on Minnesota lakes. Your safety is your responsibility. Check ice thickness at least every 150 feet. Temperature, snow cover, currents, springs and rough fish all affect the relative safety of ice. Ice is seldom the same thickness over a single body of water; it can be two feet thick in one place and one inch thick a few yards away. Check the ice at least every 150 feet…”
Here’s How Much Every Natural Disaster Cost Americans in 2017. Cheatsheet.com has the story; here’s the intro: “Just a few months ago, experts pointed to 2016 as a record-breaking year for natural disasters and corresponding economic damages. But a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says that 2017 blew all other years out of the water — literally. Fifteen major natural disasters ranging from floods and wildfires to deep freezes and tornadoes exceeded $1 billion in weather-related costs and damages. This includes a record three Category 4+ hurricane landfalls. NOAA calculated cost estimates to include both insured and uninsured losses for the major events that occurred throughout 2017. The numbers tell an alarming tale showing how just one tornado or deep freeze can impact the economy by millions. Ranked from terrible to downright unimaginable, here are the 15 most expensive — and most deadly — natural disasters of 2017. How many of these do you remember?…”
How Supercomputers Can Help Fix Our Wildfire Problem. How do we warn for super-fires like what just struck Paradise, California (the Camp Fire)? WIRED.com has an interesting post: “…Still, advances in computing are allowing researchers to crunch ever more data. At Los Alamos National Laboratory, atmospheric scientist Alexandra Jonko is using a supercomputer and a system called FIRETEC to model fires in extreme detail. It models, among other things, air density and temperature, as well as the properties of the grass or leaves in a particular area. Jonko runs a bunch of simulations with different wind speeds, typically on the scale of 40 acres. “It’ll probably take me about four hours to simulate between 10 and 20 minutes of a fire spreading,” she says. FIRETEC produces valuable physics-based data on fire dynamics to inform how fire managers do prescribed burns…”
File image: Noah Berger, AP.
You’re Never Seen Thunderstorms Like These Before. WIRED.com has an amazing pictorial post in search of the perfect supercell thunderstorm: “For the past decade, photographer Mitch Dobrowner has spent a few weeks every summer pursuing extreme weather across the midwestern United States with veteran storm chaser Roger Hill, who, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, has witnessed more tornadoes (more than 650) than anyone in history. During their first outing, in 2009, Dobrowner and Hill spotted a high-precipitation supercell thunderstorm in the Black Hills of South Dakota at noon and followed it all day in Hill’s eight-seater van until giving up the chase at midnight in Valentine, Nebraska. “It looked like a spaceship,” recalls Hill, who runs Silver Lining Tours, which offers 11 storm-chasing outings each year. “Hail the size of grapefruits, lightning strikes every three or four seconds...”
Photo credit: “Mitch Dobrowner.
Americans Have Planted So Much Corn That It’s Changing the Weather. Closer crop rows, more “evapo-transpiration” (corn sweating water in the air at night) is apparently having an impact, according to research highlighted at Gastro Obscura: “…In addition to making the area the world’s most productive agricultural region, climate scientists at MIT say the boom has created its own weather patterns. “We studied data from the past 30 years and found that the intensification of corn production has increased average summer rainfalls by about 35 percent and decreased [average summer] temperatures by as much as one degree Celsius,” says former MIT researcher Ross E. Alter, now a research meteorologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Alter was the lead author of a 2018 report published in the journal of the American Geophysical Union that demonstrated how land use has impacted the region’s climate more than greenhouse gas emissions. “What makes these findings so fascinating is that, while global temperatures have risen, areas like eastern Nebraska have actually cooled,” continues Alter, referring to yearly averages. “We think it’s likely heavy agriculture counteracted rising summer temperatures that might have otherwise resulted from increasing greenhouse gases…”
Photo credit: “Center pivot irrigation at work northeast of Adams, Nebraska.”
Chinese Influence and American Interests: Promoting Constructive Vigilance. YouTube has a good overview video here. A story at Fortune CEO Daily by Clay Chandler caught my eye; here’s an excerpt: “…Speaking of China watchers, on Thursday, a distinguished group of American China specialists—nearly all of whom have previously championed the idea of “strategic engagement” with Beijing—issued a lengthy report urging the U.S. to take new precautions against Chinese efforts to undermine democratic values. It’s an extraordinary document, produced by 32 experts convened by Stanford’s Hoover Institution and the Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations. The report’s title—“Chinese Influence & American Interests: Promoting Constructive Vigilance ”—reflects its recommendations that government agencies at all levels, as well as universities, think tanks and other institutions, adopt more aggressive measures to prevent the risk of economic espionage by China…”
“Juul’s a Business, and They’re Behaving Like a Business”. Many kids don’t even realize they’re addicted. Here’s an excerpt from The Atlantic: “…Even in comparison with other, similar American products, Juul’s nicotine content is quite high. “The legacy of Juul is that it’s reset the level of nicotine across the vapor industry, from 1 to 2 percent to up to 6 percent and more,” Jackler told me. Most Juul pods contain the equivalent of almost two packs of cigarettes. (Two flavors have a lower, 3 percent option.) Juul has not announced any plans to lower the nicotine content in its American offerings. Jackler doesn’t buy Juul’s new image as a product that takes public health seriously by offering a cigarette alternative for adult smokers. Even if it’s a reasonable tactic from a marketing standpoint, it’s still a sleight of hand, given that a significant number of Juul users don’t smoke cigarettes and aren’t adults...”
The NFL’s Real Problem Isn’t Kareem Hunt. It’s Roger Goodell. Food for thought from Intelligencer; here’s a clip that caught my eye: “…A 2014 FiveThirtyEight study showed NFL players, when compared to men aged 25–29 in the country on the whole, are dramatically less likely to commit crimes, particularly drug-related, DUI, burglary, and assault charges. NFL players commit crimes at 13 percent of the national average, and while certain crimes have a closer ratio, including domestic violence (which is still just 55 percent of the national average), still, across the board: NFL players aren’t criminals. They likely have a lower rate of criminal activity than people at your job do. Obviously, one incident of domestic violence is too many. But the idea that this is an epidemic is a matter of misperception rather than fact … and the NFL, as usual, has itself to blame. Which is to say: When stories like Hunt’s take over the news cycle, remember that the NFL doesn’t have a domestic violence problem; it has an NFL problem…”
Future-Proofing Higher Education Starts With Reinventing the College Degree. Yes. Because what worked in the 80s and 90s may not work in the 2020s and 2030s. We (all) need continuing education and retraining to be ready to take advantage of jobs that don’t event exist (yet). But they’re coming. Quartz has a story that resonated: “…The jobs of the future will require a hybrid set of skills from a variety of subject areas. But our current education model has us spending at least three years studying the same singular discipline. As the en vogue skills will change several times as our careers progress, higher education degrees are also adapting, focusing on flexible and customizable credential offerings. In this future, imagine that instead of graduating with a single degree from one university, you will design your own personalized degree from many online or residential programs. Smaller, modular chunks of education will reign, and our learning experience will become incredibly flexible and customizable…”
Photo credit: “In the future, your degree won’t come from one university, or even be on one subject.” AP Photo/Jessica Hill.
Poll Asks What Makes a “Real American”? CNN.com has news of an interesting and timely poll: “The trait most important to being a “real American” is to believe in treating people equally, according to a Grinnell College poll released on Monday. Offered a list of traits, 90% of respondents said treating people equally is very important, followed by taking personal responsibility for one’s actions (88% said that was very important), accepting people of different racial backgrounds (81%), and supporting the US Constitution (80%). The least important traits were being a Christian (55% said it was not important), having been born in America (49%), and having lived in America most of one’s life (45%)…”
Image credit: NOAA NESDIS.
Science is Getting Less Bang For Its Buck. The Atlantic explains: “…The picture this survey paints is bleak: Over the past century, we’ve vastly increased the time and money invested in science, but in scientists’ own judgement, we’re producing the most important breakthroughs at a near-constant rate. On a per-dollar or per-person basis, this suggests that science is becoming far less efficient. Now, a critic might respond that the quality of Nobel Prize discoveries isn’t the same as the overall rate of progress in science. There are certainly many limitations of this measure. Parts of science are not covered by the Nobel Prizes, especially newer areas like computer science. The Nobel Committee occasionally misses important work…”
Photo credit: Fernando Vergara / AP.
Cutting Social Media Can Reduce Depression and Loneliness. So says new research from the U. of Penn, highlighted by Big Think: “…After analyzing the data, Hunt concluded that “experimentally limiting social media usage on a mobile phone to 10 minutes per platform per day for a full three weeks had a significant impact on well-being.” However, social media use doesn’t affect all of the aspects of well-being that Hunt had looked at. Interpersonal support remained unchanged, as well as anxiety, self-esteem, and other measures. But, said Hunt, “both loneliness and depressive symptoms declined in the experimental group,” which was especially true for those students who reported feeling more depressed…”
Photo credit: Flickr user susanjanegolding
Fewer Entrepreneurs in the USA? A paper at The American Economic Association underscores fewer Americans willing to start up new businesses: “… It is difficult to prescribe what the optimal pace should be, but evidence accumulating from multiple datasets and methodologies suggests that the rate of business startups and the pace of employment dynamism in the US economy has fallen over recent decades and that this downward trend accelerated after 2000. A critical factor in accounting for the decline in business dynamics is a lower rate of business startups and the related decreasing role of dynamic young businesses in the economy. For example, the share of US employment accounted for by young firms has declined by almost 30 percent over the last 30 years. These trends suggest that incentives for entrepreneurs to start new firms in the United States have diminished over time...”
Eureka! Eureka! It turns out that many inventions or discoveries are made almost simultaneously. A story at Quartz caught my eye: “What makes a scientific breakthrough? And does it count as a breakthrough if someone else makes the same discovery? The phenomenon of two people inventing or discovering the same thing in two different locations without any contact, called multiple discovery, has dogged the scientific community for hundreds of years. It’s not just about who gets credit. Unravelling how new ideas enter the human consciousness could be a holy grail for anticipating the future, and shape how we invent new technology. In 1922, researchers William Ogburn and Dorothy Thomas set out to unearth some truth about multiple discovery by looking at the data. The pair compiled a list of 148 discoveries that were made independently by more than one scientists, and found a trend: it’s happening more and more often. Let’s investigate, together...”
Now You Can Blast Your Cremated Ashes Into Space. Because, why not? Daily Beast has details: “A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket reportedly blasted off towards the cosmos Monday carrying a memorial satellite with the cremated remains of about 100 people. The San Francisco-based company Elysium Space said it sent the SpaceX rocket out into orbit with the ashes of military veterans, aerospace fans and others aboard, CNN reports. Relatives paid $2,500 to send a sample of ashes into the Milky Way via a 4-inch square satellite called a cubesat. According to Thomas Civeit, Elysium Space Founder and CEO, families will be able to track the Falcon for about four years as the spacecraft circles the Earth before returning to the planet...”
Photo credit: Joe Skipper/Reuters.
Congratulations and Good Luck, Mark. You had a profound impact on the business of sports broadcasting, and touched a lot of lives in the process. You can’t ask for anything more than that in a career, or a lifetime. Our very best to you, Denise and your amazing kids. Stating the obvious, you will be missed.
WEDNESDAY: Coating of light snow and flurries later. Winds: SW 8-13. High: 27
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: About half an inch of snow, icy roads. Low: 12
THURSDAY: Peeks of sun, colder wind. Winds: NW 8-13. High: 19
FRIDAY: Brrr. At least the sun is out. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 5. High: near 20
SATURDAY: Much-needed blue sky, chilly. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 6. High: 26
SUNDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, dry. Winds: S 5-10. Wake-up: 10. High: 28
MONDAY: Intervals of sunshine. Winds: SW 5-10. Wake-up: 13. High: near 30
TUESDAY: Glimmers of sun, milder. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 17. High: 33
As White House Debates Validity of Climate Report, Local Officials Are Already At Work. A story at ABC News caught my eye: “…Stiles said that after 12 years in coastal Virginia he’s seen the inescapable evidence of climate change. He said residents have noticed frequent flooding too and are pressuring local officials to do something about it, saying “when people get wet and angry they don’t go to the state capitol or Washington.” “If you go to any gathering to 10 people and ask who’s had to change their route to work or school in the last two months because of flooding a few hands always go up,” he said in an interview. Local experts and officials said they were not surprised that the latest federal report on climate change predicts even worse flooding because they’re already experiencing and working to do something about it…”
Photo credit: “
Older generations have “messed up the planet”, letting down younger people, who are “angry” about it and want it to stop, British naturalist David Attenborough said on Monday. The 92-year-old, who has fronted wildly popular television series documenting nature and the environment, said on the sidelines of U.N. climate talks in Poland that betrayal of the young generation left him with a sense of “misery”. “I have done my best to speak the truth as I see it, but (young people) … know that the world is warming, and science is making it perfectly clear, and they know who is responsible – and that’s me and my predecessors, and going back even further than that,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation…”
Photo credit: “15-year-old Swedish girl Greta Thunberg holds a placard reading “School strike for the climate” during a protest against climate change outside the Swedish parliament in Stockholm, Sweden November 30, 2018.” TT News Agency/Hanna Franzen via REUTERS.
Here’s a Way to Fight Climate Change: Empower Women. A story at WIRED.com is a worthy read: “Gender and climate are inextricably linked,” said environmentalist and author Katharine Wilkinson on stage at TEDWomen last week, a gathering of women thought leaders and activists in Palm Desert, California. Women, she says, are disproportionately affected by climate change. When communities are decimated by floods or droughts, tsunamis or fire, the most vulnerable among them suffer the most. Because women across the world have fewer rights, less money, and fewer freedoms, in those moments of extreme loss, women are often hit the hardest. “There’s greater risk of displacement, higher odds of being injured or killed during a natural disaster...”
Photo credit: “Global women’s empowerment would directly help the fight against climate change, says environmentalist Katharine Wilkinson“. Marla Aufmuth/TED.
Republicans Are Losing on Climate Issues. We Can Change That. An Op-Ed at TheHill resonated; here’s an excerpt: “…In this new landscape, Republicans are left with a choice: we can either continue to allow the Democrats’ monopoly on climate policy to go unchallenged, ensuring Republicans will be caricatured as environmental obstructionists in future elections, or we can make a play to seize control of the debate by offering our own conservative ideas. The good news is, the left’s climate positions—which grow more extreme and economically punitive by the day—should be easy for Republicans to beat, as long as we offer a credible alternative. It may surprise some to hear, but it is in fact possible to have a climate policy that is both environmentally and economically friendly. In fact, a pro-growth, market-based solution already exists, and it’s rightly gaining steam in some conservative circles…”
Gas giant Royal Dutch Shell announced dramatic goals Monday to cut carbon emissions starting in 2020, including a pay incentive for top executives to meet them. The company plans to set annual three- to five-year carbon reduction targets beginning in 2020 to reduce its carbon footprint. The program will run until 2050. The decision comes after mounting pressure from Shell’s investors to actively decrease carbon emissions. Fossil fuels are a leading contributor to greenhouse gases, which add to the effects of climate change. Shareholders previously criticized Shell’s plan last year to set nonbinding goals to halve its emissions by 2050. Major investors include asset management company Robeco and the Church of England...”
Shell Execs’ Paycheck May Look Different: Links and headlines via Climate Nexus: “Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell will now tie executive pay to short-term carbon emissions targets, the company announced Monday. Following criticism from investors over the company’s long-term goals, which shareholders said did not go far enough, Shell will now set short-term emissions reductions targets of three to five years beginning in 2020. While shareholders will not vote on the changes to executive pay until 2020, the move marks a departure for Shell CEO Ben van Beurden, who has sparred with investors over providing more details of the company’s emissions reductions, and the statement was co-signed by large shareholders, including the Climate Action 100+.” (CBS, Reuters, CNBC, CNN, WSJ $, Bloomberg)
4 Ways to Bet on Climate Change. Which industries will prosper – which are at increasing risk. A post at Forbes has an interesting perspective as you consider investing: “…Several industries could benefit from the fight against climate change, including these four:
Insurance. Property insurers are at the forefront of predicting the losses they will suffer as a result of climate change. They are already raising premiums and cutting back on what they’ll insure in order to survive the effects of climate change. As the Wall Street Journal reported, British insurer Aviva PLC’s changes to its risk models caused it to increase its home-insurance premiums 6% since 2016 in Canada — where fires rampaged in 2016. Aviva’s research into catastrophe risks was behind the increase — suggesting that investors might consider buying stock in companies that build those catastrophe risk models, like Verisk Analytics…”
David Attenborough: Extinction of the Natural World is “On the Horizon”. Forgive me, but framing the climate challenge in this matter, with an extra serving of gloom and doom, may not have the desired outcome. I’m not debating the fact that climate change presents a profound threat to the natural world (and the way we conduct business). It’s just that when (some) people hear a headline like this, they simply shut down; they go into a fetal position and don’t engage. That said, here’s an excerpt from Big Think: “Civilizations will collapse and much of the natural world will go extinct unless the world takes action on climate change, David Attenborough said Monday at the United Nations summit on climate change in Poland. “Right now we are facing a manmade disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change,” he said. “If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.” Attenborough was speaking at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also known as COP24…”
Climate Denialism’s Stupidity is the Point – And Its Weakness. Here’s a clip from an Op-Ed at Bloomberg Opinion: “…The resort to misdirection and conspiracy theories makes progress tough but also hints at the underlying fragility of climate denial. Ultimately, the issue of climate change can be boiled down to this: We have built prosperous societies on the extensive use of fossil fuels, but now know those same fuels also threaten our survival, requiring us to reimagine how we power our way of life. It is as simple and as difficult as that. And our debates, forceful as they are, should focus on the reimagining part. All else — the presidential free-associating, the tweets and the TV soundbites — is noise.”
Five Myths About Climate Change. Climate scientist and Evangelical Christian Katharine Hayhoe takes on the conspiracy theories that just won’t go away in this post at The Washington Post. They’re in it for the money? “…The reality is that nearly every climate scientist could make at least the same amount of money — and often much more — in a different field, including the oil industry. And the money we do receive in grants doesn’t go into our pockets. A $1.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation provided me with a mere $37,000 a year, all of which went to paying for the proposed work, including a graduate researcher, a computer and publication fees. (In summer, I do some climate-focused consulting with cities and water districts to cover my salary when I’m not teaching.) Santorum, meanwhile, receives a substantial income from serving as a consultant to Consol Energy, a coal company; and according to OpenSecrets.org, DeLay has received nearly $740,000 from the oil and gas industry…”
Image credit: “Hurricane Florence is one of many signs of climate change, and those who deny it are complicit in the destruction, meteorologist Eric Holthaus says.”
The small number of voices supporting the science have been largely drowned out. The House Climate Solutions Caucus, co-founded in 2016 by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) and once thought of as a catalyst for climate-friendly legislation, lost 24 of its 45 Republican members to retirement or election defeat this year — including Curbelo. An analysis by the liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund found that 61 percent of Republicans in Congress have in some way raised doubts about climate change, deflected the question, claimed that the climate is always changing, or questioned the extent to which humans contribute to climate change…”
Photo credit: “Scientists say global warming nears an irreversible level, President Trump has been promoting business growth instead of climate change.”
There’s something else that may be at play at the subconscious level that allows us to disregard the evidence that’s in front of us. “A big part isn’t the experience; it’s the motivation,” said Paul Thagard, professor emeritus at the University of Waterloo’s Department of Philosophy, who specializes in cognitive science. “Psychologists talk a lot about ‘motivated inference’ … when people have strong motivations, they’re very selective in the sort of evidence they look for.” Even though there is consensus that climate change is occurring and that humans are exacerbating it, there are still people — including politicians — who refuse to acknowledge the evidence...”
The Wall Street Journal: “…In the coming months, we call on governments, the global business community and financial executives to work with us to help build on these successes with three objectives in mind: First, mobilize public investments in combination with private capital flows to support vulnerable countries and communities. Second, ask companies how they manage climate risks while anticipating the opportunities of a low-carbon future. Third, promote standardized methods for climate-related disclosure and investment decision-making. The private sector must be prepared to get in the front seat with world governments to avert a climate crash. In September 2019, major government and corporate leaders will convene for another U.N.-sponsored climate conference in New York. Let’s seize this opportunity to help land planet Earth safely.”Emmanuel Macron and Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness at