Welcome to the dark days. November and December compete for cloudiest months of the year. Throw in limited daylight, and one quickly understands why so many people fall into a deep, dark funk this time of year.
1. The total population within the FEMA 100-year floodplain
2. The total population within the FEMA 100-year floodplain as augmented by sea level rise projections for the year 2050
3. The total high social vulnerability population within the same areas as group #2
Each analysis examined coastal cities with overall populations greater than 20,000. For the first one, we tabulated “at risk” population by overlaying 2010 Census block population counts against FEMA’s 100-year coastal floodplains (Crowell et al 2013) using methods adapted from Strauss et al (2012). FEMA 100-year coastal floodplains factor in storm surge, tides, and waves, and include all areas determined to have an at least one percent annual chance of flooding. Based on locations meeting these criteria and population density, New York City ranked first, with over 245,000 people at risk, followed by Miami and then Pembroke Pines, also in South Florida..."
Implications of Brewing La Nina for 2018 Hurricane Season? Pure speculation at this point, but if (a big if) a cooling phase lingers in the Pacific into next summer and fall, 2018 could - in theory - be another busy year for Atlantic/Caribbean hurricanes. Details from New Scientist: "...La Niña conditions typically last about 9 to 12 months, and some cycles can persist for up to two years. That means Florida, Texas and the Caribbean may be staring down the barrel of another severe hurricane season. However, this is not a certainty. “Two La Niñas are never alike, and they don’t happen in a vacuum,” says Tom Di Liberto at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center in Washington DC. He says other factors such as the Arctic Oscillation, a southward shift in arctic air masses, could also impact on Atlantic hurricanes. The Climate Prediction Center does consider ENSO forecasts when it issues its outlooks, says Di Liberto. But when it comes to hurricanes, he says it’s better to wait and look at what the ocean conditions will be during the summer than in winter..."
Superstorm Sandy and a series of lesser coastal storms since that 2012 disaster compelled some coastal communities to defend themselves by elevating homes and critical infrastructure, building sand dunes, widening beaches and erecting or raising sea walls. But as sea levels continue to rise around the world, that’s not an option in large cities, where skyscrapers can’t be elevated and subway and train tunnels act as turbocharged flumes when millions of gallons of stormwater rush through them. The answer, some cities have decided, is a mixture of hard and soft barriers; green infrastructure to capture rain and absorb storm water; temporary storage space for runoff; and drastically increased pumping measures. Here’s a look at some steps being taken by cities around the world to address the issue..."
File photo credit: "
By any measure, the fires that tore through Northern California were a major disaster. Forty-two people are dead, and 100,000 are displaced. More than 8,400 homes and other buildings were destroyed, more than 160,000 acres burned—and the fires aren’t all out yet. That devastation leaves behind another potential disaster: ash. No one knows how much. It’ll be full of heavy metals and toxins—no one knows exactly how much, and it depends on what burned and at what temperature. The ash will infiltrate soils, but no one’s really sure how or whether that’ll be a problem. And eventually some of it—maybe a lot—will flow into the regional aquatic ecosystem and ultimately the San Francisco Bay..."
Ancient Storms Could Have Hurled Huge Boulders, Scientists Say - Raising New Fears of Rising Seas. Don't sweat the snow flurries! Here's a clip from a Washington Post article: "...Scientists don’t know for sure how these boulders got to their exceptional location — they couldn’t have rolled uphill to the top of the cliff; there’s no higher cliff from which they could have fallen — but they suspect it has something to do with the Atlantic Ocean far below them. One possible explanation has frightening implications for the present. Two years ago, climate scientist James Hansen, drawing on the work of the geologist Paul Hearty, a retired research associate professor at the University of North Carolina, suggested they had been put in place by catastrophic superstorms more than 100,000 years ago at a time of higher seas and dangerous weather dynamics. These conditions, Hansen fears, could return again if polar ice sheets melt rapidly, upending ocean circulation and potentially causing a host of other difficult-to-predict scenarios..."
Photo credit: "
cost more than $100,000—on a house that’s maybe only worth $400,000. That means that while the Whitney’s resilience costs were less than one-twentieth of the new project cost, the owner of an existing home is looking at resilience costs as high as one-fourth of their total property value. While some local and federal support has been made available to storm victims, the costs of these programs have quickly ballooned—even after many withdrew their applications due to overwhelming bureaucracy and out-of-date flood maps..."Even with the support of the city, resilient design can be hard to scale. Retrofitting old buildings is harder than raising more capital to bolster new designs, according to many architects. Raising an existing single-family home on stilts, as many thousands of East Coasters have done since Sandy, can
How Trust Shapes Nations' Safety Rules. The Atlantic has a fascinating story of how various countries manage risk; here's an excerpt: "...It’s easy to feel as if safety has a universal definition. Freedom from want, freedom from fear—aren’t those what people mean when they think of safety? Perhaps, but the routes through the world to that state of being are circuitous and varied. Smoke alarms, for instance, have been required in every American bedroom since 1993. We rarely think about them, except to grouse when they go off while we’re cooking. France, however, only began requiring residential smoke alarms in 2015. Switzerland, rated the safest country in the world in 2015 by one consumer-research firm, has not mandated them at all. There is not a simple, one-way progression from a state of nature to a state of safety. Even within nations, there are fundamental divisions about how we want to deal with risk. Deciding what dangers to avoid sounds like a supremely rational process, on the face of it. You calculate the risk of an event (house fire, bicycle crash), the probability of the bad outcome (death), multiply them together, and get a number that tells you how likely the worst-case scenario is..."
North Korea's Plenty Scary Without an Overhyped EMP Threat. WIRED.com has the vaguely reassuring news: "...For EMP threat skeptics, though, decades-old tests and modern simulations don’t equal a guaranteed result today. Which means the right question to ask isn’t if North Korea could explode a nuclear weapon high over the United States. It’s whether Kim Jong Un would take that risk, uncertain of the ultimate effect, but knowing that his country would receive the full weight of American military response in return. Or, as Burke puts it: “If you’re a country that wants to go to war with the United States, and you want to cause maximum damage, you want to be pretty sure it’s going to work.” North Korea attacking the US with an EMP would be a fantastically high-risk maneuver, with uncertain gains..."
Image credit: The Atlantic.
Scott Pruit Declares War on Air Pollution Science. New Republic reports: "...Of the 17 new members expected to be appointed to the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), three hail from large fossil-fuel companies: Southern Company, Phillips 66, and Total. Three are from red-state governments; one is from a chemical industry trade association; the rest are from various universities and consulting groups. Five of the 17 hold views on air pollution that are outside of the scientific mainstream. Of the three new members expected to be appointed to the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Council (CASAC), one is an air pollution skeptic. Most toxicologists and epidemiologists accept that air pollution can harm humans, and that excessive air pollution can lead to death in vulnerable populations (like children and the elderly). That’s why the government regulates it—principally under the Clean Air Act, a widely popular law passed in 1963 and amended multiple times with unanimous or overwhelming support in the Senate. Through that law, we have various regulations on specific air pollutants, including National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter and ground-level ozone..."
The Web Began Dying in 2014. Here's How. A post from Andrew Staltz caught my eye; here's a snippet: "...What has changed over the last 4 years is market share of traffic on the Web. It looks like nothing has changed, but GOOG and FB now have direct influence over 70%+ of internet traffic. Mobile internet traffic is now the majority of traffic worldwide and in Latin America alone, GOOG and FB services have had 60% of mobile traffic in 2015, growing to 70% by the end of 2016. The remaining 30% of traffic is shared among all other mobile apps and websites. Mobile devices are primarily used for accessing GOOG and FB networks..."
There's Precedent for Amazon Competing With So Many Companies. It Doesn't End Well. A story at Quartz caught my eye; here's an excerpt: "...The company so far has escaped serious antitrust scrutiny by US regulators in part because it can point to so many commercial adversaries with a piece of the market. Even in its primary business—e-commerce—Amazon only took in 23% of the $395 billion Americans spent online last year, and far less when that spending is broken down into individual markets. The one exception is books, where it controls about 65% of the e-book market. But Amazon’s unprecedented logistics and delivery infrastructure, paired with access to personal data about Americans’ purchasing habits, means it is unique in the history of global commerce. No company has ever wielded this combination of consumer insight and infrastructure, say historians and legal analysts, which means the company grows stronger and less assailable with every purchase..."
West Virginians Fight to Save a Generation from Opioid Addiction, Often with Hands Tied. Here's a clip from HuffPost: "...But they’re fighting an uphill battle. West Virginia now leads the nation in drug overdose deaths per capita. In 2016, 818 people fatally overdosed in the state, a nearly 13 percent increase over 2015. About 86 percent of those incidents involved at least one opioid, meaning these drugs are now killing more West Virginians each year than traffic accidents and firearms combined. The damage from opioids extends far beyond overdoses, as the generational decay in Vance’s neighborhood shows. Michael Brumage, executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department and an assistant dean at West Virginia University’s School of Public Health, estimates that between 80 and 90 percent of his daily work is now devoted to some aspect of the opioid epidemic. He calls it the greatest public health threat of his lifetime..."
First Impression of the iPhone X? WIRED.com takes a look: "...There's plenty to admire in the iPhone X straight from the unboxing. The biggest change stares you in the face: that screen, that screen. I love the larger displays of the iPhone Plus line and Android units like Google’s Pixel 2 XL, but the phones are too frickin’ big. They are bulky in my pocket, and making calls is like holding a frying pan to your cheek. The iPhone X is a big screen in a compact form factor—Cinerama in a phone booth. Though the device itself is only slightly bigger than the standard iPhone 8, its screen is roughly the same size as that of the iPhone 8 Plus. When you take into account its “Super Retina” capabilities (another Barnum-esque name concocted by Apple’s marketers), that screen will persistently reassure buyers that emptying their wallets for an iPhone X wasn’t folly. I found the display a noticeable, and greatly pleasurable, advance over my “old” iPhone 7, whether watching The Big Sick, streaming a live football game, or simply swiping through Instagram..."
The iPhone is Cool. That Doesn't Mean You Are Ready For It. Ouch. The New York Times reports.
7 U.S. Cities That Are Hipper Than You Think. Jetsetter.com has the post; here's an excerpt: "...It may be known for its Midwestern friendless and summer lake culture, but Minneapolis has a seriously creative side, too. Just look to the North Loop's Hewing Hotel, a 19th-century logging warehouse that brings together masculine, contemporary design and rustic lake house vibes. The brick-and-timber building has original pine timber beams, walls covered in work by local artists and photographers, and a rooftop Social Club. It’s a great starting point to check out dining hotspots like Bar La Grassa and The Bachelor Farmer, a slick, but inviting, Scandinavian restaurant. If you're pining for some culture, hit up the Walker Art Center for contemporary works and the Mill City Museum, which is built into the ruins of what was once the world’s largest flour mill, to take in exhibits by local and regional artists..."
Where to Travel in 2018, from Shanghai to Scotland's Coolest City. Pretty cool that Minneapolis came in 4th on The Wall Street Journal's list: "...The twin city that gave the world Prince and Bob Dylan—and will host the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 4—is now luring curious foodies. In 2017, Minneapolis claimed 13 James Beard Award semifinalists. When Gavin Kaysen, chef/owner of the wildly popular Spoon & Stable (in a converted 1906 barn) opened his modern bistro Bellecour last spring, he booked 1,000 reservations in the first 24 hours. Other notable names to drop: Thomas Kim, who left Los Angeles to establish the Rabbit Hole (eatdrinkrabbit.com), and Erik Anderson, who sharpened his knives at the Catbird Seat in Nashville and took over Minneapolis’s Grande Cafe earlier this year (grandcafemn.com)..."
Image credit: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
40 F. maximum temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.
49 F. average high on November 2.
62 F. high on November 2, 2016.
November 3, 1991: The Great Halloween blizzard ends with a total of 28.4 inches of snow at the Twin Cities.
November 3, 1956: Parts of central Minnesota experience record high low temperatures in the upper forties to the mid-fifties. Minneapolis, Farmington, Chaska, and Gaylord all had high temperatures of 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
November 3, 1915: One person is killed by lightning during a strong thunderstorm in Chatfield, MN.
TODAY: Mostly cloudy. Sloppy mix arrives late. Winds: E 5-10. High: 38
FRIDAY NIGHT: Light mix, slushy coating possible - more north of MSP. Low: 35
SATURDAY: Cloudy, cool and damp. Winds: SE 8-13. High: 43
SUNDAY: Rain showers taper, turning cooler PM hours. Winds: N 10-15. Wake-up: 39. High: 46
MONDAY: Chilly with a sunny start, chance of flurries late. Winds: W 5-10. Wake-up: 28. High: 38
TUESDAY: Partly sunny, cooler than average. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 26. High: near 40
WEDNESDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, quiet. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 27. High: 43
THURSDAY: Intervals of sun, no weather drama - a bit milder. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 30. High: 47
4th U.S. National Climate Assessment: Notable Findings. Here's an excerpt of a summary at Climate Nexus:
- The draft finds “it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” The report further finds that greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and other human factors are likely responsible for all of the observed warming since 1951 and that these anthropogenic factors are likely countering and overcoming natural factors that would otherwise be cooling the climate.
- Deforestation and agriculture have contributed heavily to the warming observed to date.
- The fingerprints of climate change are now widespread, and climate change is amplifying weather disasters and wildfires.
- The language describing the impact of climate change on the intensity of hurricanes is now much clearer. Decreases in sulfate aerosols together with increases in GHG emissions are found to be likely contributing to the intensity of hurricanes, however the relative size of these contributions is still an active area of research and debate...
Massive Government Report Says Climate is Warming and Humans Are the Cause. NPR has a summary of the research referenced above: "It is "extremely likely" that human activities are the "dominant cause" of global warming, according to the the most comprehensive study ever of climate science by U.S. government researchers. The climate report, obtained by NPR, notes that the past 115 years are "the warmest in the history of modern civilization." The global average temperature has increased by about 1.8 degree Fahrenheit over that period. Greenhouse gases from industry and agriculture are by far the biggest contributor to warming. The findings contradict statements by President Trump and many of his Cabinet members, who have openly questioned the role humans play in changing the climate..."
Study Says Public's Politics Are Correlated with Climate Change Opinion. They Shouldn't Be. Here's an excerpt of a post from Dr. Marshall Shepherd at Forbes: "...The Georgia State University study finds that most dominant predictors of viewpoint on climate change were political ideology, party identification, and relative concern about environmental conservation and economic development. These attributes outweighed respondent experiences with hot weather, drought, or natural disasters. One particularly interesting finding was that the "political party effect" was even more amplified if the respondent was more attentive to news and public affairs. This fact suggests that real or perceived biases in news reporting can shape the public's perspective on a scientific topic that should inherently be apolitical. It also points to a real need for sound climate science reporting rooted in peer review studies rather than opinion or innuendo..."
Image credit: Yale Climate Connections.
Climate Refugee Crisis to Come as Migrants Struggle Now: From Climate Nexus Hot News: "Climate change will force tens of millions of people from their homes in an unprecedented new refugee crisis over the next decade, according to a new report from the Environmental Justice Foundation. Some countries are steadying themselves for a new era of climate asylum seekers, as leaders of New Zealand's new government said in multiple interviews this week that the country is considering creating a new visa category specifically for climate refugees. The Trump administration, however, doesn't seem to have given the issue much thought: Florida county leaders are expressing "confusion and concern" this week over the continuing absence of state and federal leadership as tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans stream into the state following Hurricane Maria." (Report: The Guardian. NZ: The Guardian, New York Post, Washington Post $, CNN. Florida: Orlando Sentinel)
File image: U.S. Army.
Winemakers Warming to Reality of Climate Change, but the Topic is Sensitive. No kidding. Here's an excerpt from The Sacramento Bee: "Droughts. Soaking winters. Heat waves. Wildfires. The last several years have whipsawed West Coast winemakers such as David Graves, who produces that oh-so-delicate of varietals, pinot noir. It is also prompting vintners to ponder whether climate change — once seen as distant concern — is already visiting their vineyards. “It’s a different ball game,” said David Graves, co-founder of the Saintsbury winery in Napa. “A lot of my colleagues think they can manage around this and stay in a business-as-usual mode. I don’t tend to believe that.” Increasingly, winemakers in places such as Napa, California’s Central Valley and Oregon’s Willamette Valley are acknowledging that climate change poses not just a future risk, but a clear-and-present trend. Warmer days and nights, combined with more extreme weather events, are forcing many vintners to adjust their harvest dates and how they produce wine..."
Image credit: "Angela Hart email@example.com.
James A. Baker III. What If Al Gore is Right? A story at Forbes caught my eye: "Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III isn’t ready to say Al Gore is right about climate change, but he is ready to take out an insurance policy just in case. Baker sees a carbon tax as a way to achieve the Republican goal of removing environmental regulation without risking the perils of climate change—whether or not those perils are real. "The potentially tragic results of inaction are not worth the risk," he said at the Global Energy Transitions Summit recently at Rice University. "This plan that my conservative colleagues and I have proposed I think can serve as an insurance policy just in case the Al Gores of the world turn out to be right..."
Photo credit: "Secretary James A. Baker III told au audience gathered at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy that his carbon tax proposal should appeal to both sides in the partisan debate."
Climate Change Fueling Disasters, Disease in "Potentially Irreversible" Ways, Report Warns. Here's a clip from a Washington Post article: "Climate change significantly imperils public health globally, according to a new report that chronicles the many hazards and symptoms already being seen. The authors describe its manifestations as “unequivocal and potentially irreversible.” Heat waves are striking more people, disease-carrying mosquitoes are spreading and weather disasters are becoming more common, the authors note in the report published Monday by the British medical journal the Lancet. Climate change is a “threat multiplier,” they write, and its blows hit hardest in the most vulnerable communities, where people are suffering from poverty, water scarcity, inadequate housing or other crises. “We’ve been quite shocked and surprised by some of the results,” said Nick Watts, a fellow at University College London’s Institute for Global Health and executive director of the Lancet Countdown, a project aimed at examining the links between climate change and public health..."
Air pollution is one of the leading causes of premature mortality globally," said Paul Wilkinson, professor of environmental epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who co-authored the report. More than 803,000 deaths across 21 Asian countries in 2015 were attributable to pollution from coal power, transport and the use of fossil fuels at home, the report states. But there are "some glimmers of hope," he said, such as the fact that coal power peaked in 2013 and is now showing evidence of a decline. Investment in coal also declined from 2013, Wilkinson said, but this "will take a couple of generations to realize." Wilkinson urges governments to prioritize moving away from fossil fuels, as their harms to the environment and human health have long been known. But 71% of 2,971 cities in the WHO's air pollution database exceed the organization's annual exposure guideline for particulate matter..."
Climate Change Already Damaging Health of Millions Globally, Report Finds. The Guardian explains: "...Most of the increase in exposed people resulted from rising temperatures, but the number of older people is also rising, creating a “perfect storm”, Cox said. The report also found that hotter and more humid weather was increasingly creating conditions in which it is impossible to work outside. In 2016, this caused work equivalent to almost a million people to be lost, half in India alone. The report also found that climate change has increased the ability of dengue fever to spread, because the mosquitoes and the virus they carry breed more quickly. Dengue is also known as “breakbone fever” due to the pain it causes and infections have doubled in each decade since 1990, now reaching up to 100m infections a year now. Dengue was used as an example in the report and the researchers suggest global warming will also increase the spread of other diseases such as schistosomiasis..."
Photo credit: "Nearly 700,000 persons have been internally displaced in Somalia as a result of the drought and food crisis, reports say." Photograph: Peter Caton/Mercy Corps.
Floods Are Bad, But Droughts May Be Even Worse. Here's a clip from a CBS News story: "It is by now a familiar story: The storm hits, the , dramatic rescues ensue to save people from the rising waters, followed by the arduous and expensive cleanup. But chances are you've thought less about the deadly and economically destructive consequences of a slower-moving culprit: drought. Repeated droughts around the world are destroying enough farm produce to feed 81 million people for a year and are four times more costly for economies than , the World Bank found in a new study. Beyond hindering food production, erratic rainfall patterns and as the climate changes are causing a host of problems for cities, including businesses..."
File photo: Star Tribune.