Majorityrights News > Category: Ecology

A Dispatch From Bonn: “1.5 To Stay Alive”

Posted by DanielS on Friday, 24 November 2017 12:13.

Frontline, “A Dispatch From Bonn: “1.5 To Stay Alive”, 18 Nov 2017:


Faith Debrum, 12, is pictured near her home on the Marshall Islands. The island nation is part of an international coalition fighting to keep global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius. (Michelle Mizner/FRONTLINE)

BONN, Germany — One of 12-year-old Faith Debrum’s favorite hobbies is diving off the seawall in front of her house and swimming to a nearby reef in search of interesting fish. When asked how climate change might affect that hobby, she had a ready answer: “1.5 to stay alive!”

It was a phrase that my reporting partner and I heard again and again while we were in the Republic of the Marshall Islands earlier this year speaking to children like Faith about the risks climate change pose to their country’s future. “One-point-five” refers to the degrees Celsius (2.7 F) that scientists believe world temperatures can afford to rise by 2100 without making life on low-elevation island nations like the Marshall Islands nearly impossible. Researchers believe it would also keep the number of new heatwaves and heavy rains globally in check.

Beach house in Arno Atoll

“In the seminal 2015 Paris Agreement on climate, the world committed to holding global warming below 2 degrees Celsius by 2100 – but also “pursuing efforts to limit” warming to 1.5 degrees. That additional proviso was added under pressure from a “high ambition coalition” of 100 nations, which had spent years advocating for a 1.5-degree goal to be included in the agreement, and, against political odds, succeeded.

By all accounts, staving off the extra half-degree of warming will require radically new efforts – and soon. Climate experts say every year that passes without significant action will make it harder to reach the 1.5 target.

Already, temperatures have risen 1.1 degrees Celsius (2.0 F) since pre-industrial times. And, even with the Paris accord in place, temperatures are on track to surge by 3.2 degrees Celsius (5.8 F) by the end of the century. One study published this year pinned the planet’s odds of achieving 2 degrees at just 5 percent – and of achieving 1.5 at just 1 percent.

Despite seemingly unsurmountable obstacles, those who advocated for 1.5 degrees in Paris were once again advocating for it at this year’s United Nations climate negotiations in Bonn, while preparing for another major push at next year’s conference in Katowice, Poland.

The half-degree between 1.5 and 2 may seem minor, but for low-lying coastal areas, it is imperative: According to climate models, it likely means an extra 10 centimeters (3.9 inches) of sea level rise, perhaps more. Those extra inches are critical for places like the Marshall Islands, where the mean elevation is six feet above sea level.

Researchers and environmental groups insist the goal is achievable.

The train has not left the station,” said Andrew Jones, co-director of the nonprofit climate research group Climate Interactive. “It’s leaving, though, and we need to run faster than we ever have in our lives to catch it.”

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Occupy Hambach forest, another step toward pervasive ecology

Posted by DanielS on Friday, 17 November 2017 03:36.

Again, while the source of this news story, unfortunately, is the anti-White Democracy Now, the protestors “look huWhite to me”; and their protests should not be at odds with the survival and protection of European peoples; quite the opposite, they are a part of pervasive ecology.

This open coal pit is nearly as big as Cologne, which is the next city here, where over one million people live.

Basically, 90 percent of the forest is destroyed already because of the coal mining ...and we have less than 10 percent of the Hambach forest left.


...and we are trying to protect this last ten percent of the Hambach forest.

We will take you to the occupation of the Hambach forest…

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The Water Will Come and US Cities are Under Threat

Posted by DanielS on Thursday, 26 October 2017 06:25.

Environment

NPR, “Climate Change Journalist Warns: ‘Mother Nature Is Playing By Different Rules Now”, 24 Oct 2017:

Fresh Air

Author Jeff Goodell says that American cities are under threat from extreme weather, rising sea levels and lax enforcement of environmental regulations. His new book is The Water Will Come.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria have shown how extreme weather can destroy towns, cities and islands. My guest Jeff Goodell is the author of a new book about what cities around the world face in a future of rising seas and increasingly intense storms. It’s called “The Water Will Come.” Goodell is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and has covered climate change for 15 years. He’s also written about fossil fuels, including the coal industry and their impact on the environment.

Jeff Goodell, welcome back to FRESH AIR. So Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, Maria - all the climate people say no one event can be attributed with certainty to climate change. But what about the confluence of these three consequential hurricanes?

JEFF GOODELL: Well, I mean, I think that we’re seeing what’s happening as we’re warming up the earth’s climate here. I mean, it’s a very well-established fact that as the ocean temperatures heat up, that is going to increase the intensity of these storms. One of the complicated things about what’s happening in our - as CO2 levels rise in our climate is that no one can predict exactly how these sort of new impacts are going to play out and what kind of consequences we’re going to see.

So you know, these hurricanes, these storms that we’ve seen this season are an indicator that, you know, we’re moving into this sort of new age when the sort of old rules of how our climate works are off the table. And Mother Nature is playing by different rules now.

GROSS: So just to sum up, do you think that these three hurricanes are the result of climate change?

GOODELL: The hurricanes themselves are not the result of climate change. But certainly the additional intensity, the fact that we’ve had a number of Category 5 hurricanes is likely the result of warmer ocean temperatures and higher CO2 levels.

GROSS: So your book opens with a very upsetting description of what Miami might look like by the end of the 21st century. So give it a go for us. Describe what, like - your dystopian fantasy of what Miami will look like as a result of climate change.

GOODELL: Well, I mean, one of the problems with Miami is that it’s very - you know, it’s a very low-lying place. There’s no high ground to run to. And so you know, with only, you know, 5 or 6 feet of sea level rise, which we could certainly see by the end of the century, you know, you’re going to see major parts of the city inundated.

You’re going to see more and more flooding in residential areas. You’re going to see more and more kind of pollution coming out of those flooded areas like we’re seeing in Houston with Harvey - major infrastructure like the airport underwater or not functional, massive losses in real estate investment along the coast, fleeing from low-lying areas inland, which are also going to be flooded out, places like Hialeah and Sweetwater. I think the real thing that you’re going to see that people don’t really think about is just this sort of economic collapse and economic problems that are going to be caused by a plummet in real estate values, which are really important to the Florida economy.

GROSS: What actually is happening in Miami now? You spent some time in Miami Beach, and you saw flooding just caused by high tides. Describe what you saw.

GOODELL: Well, I started this book, you know, shortly after Hurricane Sandy hit New York. And you know, there was nine feet of storm surge that came into New York. And I was talking to some scientists after that, and they said, you know, think about this as a sort of, you know, experiment of what sea level rise will look like. Imagine if you had nine feet that came in and didn’t go away the way it did with Sandy. So then I started thinking about that, and other scientists said, well, if you’re going to really think seriously about this, you need to go to Miami.

So I did. And I happened to be there on king tides, which is the time of - in the fall when the high tides are particularly high. And I started wandering around through Miami Beach on the western side of it in this sort of very wealthy neighborhood, and there was water up to my knees. I mean, there were people kayaking through the streets of Miami Beach on king tide. And it didn’t take a whole lot of thinking to figure out that if you had 2 or 3 feet of sea level rise, much less 6 or 8 feet of sea level rise, this place was in big trouble. And thinking about that and thinking about what the kind of trouble it would be in and the kind of trouble that other coastal cities would be in was really the genesis of the book.

GROSS: What do the people who live there do about those waters that you can kayak in?

GOODELL: Well, since then - this was four years ago, and since then, they’ve, you know, invested $500 million in building - improving the storm drainage, improving - putting in a bunch of pumps. And so some of these areas are - you know, in short term, you know, the flooding has been better. But that’s just a sort of short-term fix. And so what people are doing now is they are, you know, kind of living in a kind of denial.

They are hoping that - you know, a lot of people who live in Miami Beach aren’t there for - they’re not thinking about being there for the next 50 years. They’re thinking about being there for the next five years and how much fun they can have and, you know, how they can enjoy their retirement or their parties on the beach. And there’s not a lot of long-term thinking going on in a place like Miami Beach. And so basically people’s time horizon is the next five years. And will I be OK for the next five years - you know, probably. And so that’s where it’s at. People who think more broadly about it - and there are a number that I know - are selling and moving.

GROSS: What makes Miami Beach so vulnerable?

GOODELL: Well, it’s interesting. Miami Beach is a barrier island not unlike the Outer Banks or Galveston, Texas, or - you know, there’s many barrier islands around on the East Coast and on the Gulf Coast. So that’s one thing. It’s low-lying. Its elevation is 4, 5, 6 feet at max. But the real problem with Miami that makes it different than a lot of other places is that it’s built on this sort of porous limestone. The particular kind of limestone it’s on is full of holes. And so what that means is that you can’t build sea walls in the traditional sense around Miami Beach. In New York and in Boston and of course in the Netherlands, there’s lots of sea walls, and they can be an effective, if problematic, way of keeping water back for a while.

But in Miami, that’s not really possible because of this porous limestone, which means the seawater can just go right underneath a wall and just pop up on the other side. And this has complications not just for kind of protection of the place but also because as that seawater rises and begins to seep underneath, it gets into the freshwater drinking aquifer, which is very shallow in Miami. And so there’s going to be impact. There’s already problems with the salinization of drinking water. So there’s going to be a problem with drinking water in the very near term also.

GROSS: What’s Governor Rick Scott’s position - the Florida governor - on climate change?

GOODELL: Rick Scott is, you know, a pioneering climate denier. Rick Scott has, you know, unofficially kind of prohibited government employees from using the phrase climate change in any kind of government communication. I mean, he’s this sort of prototype for what we’re seeing in the Trump administration with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and others who are basically just trying to deny that this is a problem.

And it’s a particular disservice in Florida because Florida is, you know, so obviously at risk. It’s not like he’s the governor of Oklahoma or something where, you know, sea level rise is not going to be a problem. In Florida, it’s a direct risk not only to people’s lives with flooding but also just to the economic future of the state.

GROSS:  So let’s talk about the ice sheets. Many of them are melting, and that’s affecting sea levels, causing them to rise. And that’s affecting climate change and ocean levels. So let’s start with the ice sheets. You say that there’s much more melting in the Arctic than in Antarctica. Why is that?

GOODELL: Well, a lot of the heat from the warming of the Earth is sort of concentrating itself up in the north in the Arctic right now, and that’s the, you know, fastest melting place on the planet right now. And when we think about sea level rise, you know, there’s a number of factors - the thermal expansion of the ocean, the melting of glaciers on land, you know, land-based glaciers around the world - but it’s really - when it comes down to it, it’s really all about Greenland and Antarctica. Those are the only two sort of big ice cubes on the planet that if they - when they go, that’s big trouble. So what we’ve seen mostly right now is a lot of surface melting up in Greenland, and that’s been a big cause for concern.

We’ve seen - in 2012 there was a record ice melt up there. And, you know, we’re seeing acceleration of the glaciers in Greenland. But ice physics is very complex and, you know, scientists up until recently sort of had this idea that they could calculate how fast a big ice sheet like Greenland can melt and have a good idea of what sea level rise rates might be like in the future. But recently, a lot of attention is being focused in West Antarctica, especially this couple of glaciers there called Thwaites and Pine Island Glacier where the real problem is that you have a warming ocean - the ocean absorbs a lot of the heat of - as the atmosphere warms. And that warming ocean is getting underneath the ice sheets there, and that can cause big problems because you have melting from below.

And one of the things that scientists are figuring out is that you can calculate to a pretty good degree how fast an ice sheet will melt, but calculating how fast it can collapse is a whole a different thing. And some of the ice sheets in West Antarctica are a mile or two high. And if the water gets underneath them and they start to collapse, that could mean very rapid sea level rise.

GROSS: Yeah, why is a collapse so catastrophic?

GOODELL: Well, because you have an ice sheet that’s, you know, a mile or two high. Imagine, you know, everyone - a lot of people have seen pictures of El Capitan. Imagine something like that or twice as high as that of sheer ice melting from below. And the physics of ice structure tells us that a cliff like that of ice can’t stand on its own. So it will collapse, and as it collapses, it falls into the sea, and as it falls into the sea, sea levels rise. And so the risks of this are a really new idea that are only in the last three or four or five years are scientists really beginning to understand. And that’s why when you talk to the best ice scientists in the world you hear a rising alarm in their voice about what we might potentially be facing.

GROSS: You’ve been to Greenland, and you say you actually stood on land that you might have been among the first people to stand on because it wasn’t - it was ice before.


Photo, Earthworld

GOODELL: Yeah, it was a very surreal experience. I was there with a scientist named Jason Box, and we were flying a helicopter over the Jakobshavn Glacier, which is the fastest-moving glacier in the world. And he spotted this bare spot of ice, and he said, we have to land there, we have to land there. So we brought the helicopter down, and we jumped out and, you know, he shouted out new climate land. You know, this is - this patch of Earth has never been - you know, no human has stood here before and it hasn’t been seen - you know, it hasn’t been uncovered in tens of thousands of years. It was very profound because standing there and being on that bare patch of ground and seeing these enormous glaciers all around me, I had just been in Miami Beach, I mean, a few weeks before.

And you really connected, you know, I really connected in a visceral way, you know, what was happening in this faraway, distant place on this bare piece of ground that was being uncovered where I could actually see the ice going away fast with the rising waters in Miami Beach that I had seen and been wading through, you know, a few weeks earlier. And so this sort of connectedness of these places, which is so hard for most of us, including myself, to really grasp, I really felt in a very powerful way at that moment.

GROSS: I’ve seen film images of some of the ice and snow - I guess it’s mostly ice - in the Arctic darkened by soot. Like, why is there soot there?

GOODELL: That’s an interesting question. That’s one of the things that I was up there to look at with the scientist who I traveled up there with, Jason Box, is, you know, we talked about wildfires earlier. As the wildfires in California and other - in Russia and in China and other places burn, that soot gets picked up and carried up into the circulatory patterns in the atmosphere and gets dropped places. And one of the places a lot of it gets dropped is in Greenland and in the Arctic. And it’s really remarkable that even a small amount of darkening of snow has a big impact on how fast it will melt. It’s the same reason why you wear a light-colored shirt on a hot day and you feel a lot hotter if you’re wearing a black shirt. It absorbs the heat.

And in Greenland, where you have these vast ice sheets, if you get even a modest amount of soot on those ice sheets, both from wildfires or from industrial pollution like coal plants, it can really speed up the melting. And one of the things that’s happening as scientists think harder and harder about what’s happening on the ice sheets is they’re understanding that there’s a lot of new factors that they didn’t consider before. Like, you know, 10 years ago, not very many scientists were really thinking about the impact that darker soot would have on the melt rate of the ice sheets in Greenland. But now they know that it’s a significant factor.

And there’s a lot of other factors that they think they have not considered very well that - including the friction on the bottom of the glaciers and the friction on the sides of the canyons as the glaciers move through them, the warming of the ocean on the bottom of the glaciers. There’s just - it’s a - you would think it’s a very sort of simple idea of trying to calculate melt rate of ice, but it’s in fact incredibly complex.

GROSS: Let’s look at Alaska. Alaska’s in a kind of interesting situation in that it’s very dependent on fossil fuel. It raises a lot of money from fossil fuel. And at the same time, temperatures are rising in Alaska because of the whole phenomenon that we’ve been talking about - about how, you know, the Arctic is warming and ice is melting. So what are political leaders in Alaska saying about climate change and the impact it’s having on the state and the connection of that to fossil fuels?

GOODELL: Well, they’re not saying much. I’m actually just back from Alaska. I was just there for a few days. I just got back yesterday. So I’ve - and I talked to a number of politicians there, and, you know, the basic problem in Alaska is that, you know, their economy is dependent upon fossil fuels. Eighty percent or so of the revenues of the state come from oil and gas.

And so there’s no real way that the state can continue to function by, you know, reducing the drilling and pumping of oil and gas. It’s - they’re just completely dependent upon it. So there is no conversation, basically, about, you know, reducing that. And in fact, they’re talking about expanding it, looking into offshore drilling.

Right now, Congress is, you know, moving towards opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling, and nobody there that I talked to in the sort of political establishment is anything but, you know, sort of embracing that. What is beginning to happen, though, is they are beginning to realize that, you know, no matter what they do, they’re going to be feeling impacts. They are feeling impacts.

When I was there with President Obama in 2015, we visited the villages on the - in the Arctic Circle that are already in trouble because of erosion from sea level rise. They’re just going to have to relocate many coastal villages because of - they’re just at risk now because the seas are higher and the storm surges are bigger.

So they’re facing hundreds of millions of dollars in helping people adapt there. So they’re beginning to have this, like, OK-so-how-are-we-going-to-adapt conversation. What are we going to do about this? And they’re beginning to think more about the future in diversifying their economy and trying to encourage kind of what they call this, you know, sort of transition from an oil economy to a salmon economy. That’s a big issue. But basically, it - they’re in a really tough spot because they are really, you know, dependent upon the very fossil fuels that’re doing them in. And it’s a very vicious circle to be caught in.

GROSS: Do you think political leaders are acknowledging, OK, we’re dependent on fossil fuels, but we acknowledge, at the same time, that fossil fuels are helping to lead to climate change, which is having an altering effect on the geography, the landscape, the life of Alaska?

GOODELL: Yeah. I mean, I don’t think that they’re - the political leaders that I’ve talked to up there - it’s very hard to be a denier there in the sort of classic way of say, you know, Florida Governor Rick Scott or EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt because it’s just all around. And the permafrost is melting. It’s just, you know, obvious there.

But the question is, what can you do about it? And it’s a really - for - if you’re, you know, the governor or a senator from Alaska - and I’m not giving them a get-out-of-jail-free card, but, you know, for any politician, you know, keeping the economy going is the No. 1 job. And in Alaska, keeping the economy going for the moment means, you know, oil and gas drilling. And that’s just the fact, and that’s the way it’s going to be in the near term.

The question is, how quickly can they diversify away from that? How quickly can they begin to build another, a new kind of economy based on clean energy? I mean, there’s a lot of engineering ability in Alaska. I mean, look at the pipelines they’ve built. I mean, this is the headquarters of sort of big, you know, brilliant engineering.

And the idea of beginning to, you know, apply some of that to adaptation, to diversifying, to building new kinds of clean energy, you know, is really appealing. And I was, you know, trying to make the pitch to them up there that they can be a real leader in showing how to adapt to these massive changes that’re coming and how to change from a fossil-fuel-dependent economy to something else. I mean, West Virginia’s a classic example of a state that never did make that turn and has been sort of beholden to coal for, you know, 150 years, and it’s just been, you know, devastating for the economy of that state.

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Pence brought to you by the Koch bros anti-EPA, Evangelical, Heritage fndn & all right wing concerns

Posted by DanielS on Thursday, 19 October 2017 00:01.

Pence owes his position to doing the dirty bidding of the Koch brother’s interests, starting with lobbying against carbon tax, an initiative that wound up putting oil man Scott Pruitt in charge of EPA - the proverbial fox in charge of the hen house. That’s not the half of Pence’s classic story of right wing corruption.

NPR, “Understanding Mike Pence And His Relationship To Trump: ‘His Public Role Is Fawning”, 18 Oct 2017:

Though President Trump ran as an outsider, New Yorker writer Jane Mayer describes his vice president as “the connective tissue” between Trump and the billionaire donors in the Republican party.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross. Many of President Trump’s critics are hoping he won’t serve his full term, but what kind of president would Mike Pence make? That’s one of the questions Jane Mayer sets out to answer in her new article about Pence titled “The President Pence Delusion.” It’s published in the current issue of The New Yorker.

She writes about how Pence became an evangelical Christian and how he became a favored candidate of billionaire backers, most especially the Koch brothers. She traces how religion and money shaped his ideology. She investigates how Pence became Trump’s running mate and how much power he has in the White House and how he’s used it.

Mayer is a staff writer for The New Yorker. She’s also the author of the bestseller about the Koch Brothers titled “Dark Money: The Hidden History Of The Billionaires Behind The Rise Of The Radical Right.” Last March in The New Yorker, she profiled another billionaire funder of right-wing causes, Robert Mercer, who she says has become a major force behind the Trump presidency.

Jane Mayer, welcome back to FRESH AIR. So I feel like I don’t see Mike Pence very much, and I often wonder if he’s a power behind the scenes or if he really doesn’t matter that much within the Trump administration. So what’s your impression?

JANE MAYER: Well, it’s really hard to tell. He is - as Joel Goldstein, a specialist in the vice presidency, told me, he calls him the sycophant in chief because when you do see him, he’s usually acting as an emcee to Trump or kind of echoing Trump and praising Trump. So his public role is really fawning. Behind the scenes, though, according to Newt Gingrich, he’s 1 of the 3 people who have the most power in the Trump administration along with the chief of staff, John Kelly, and Trump himself.

GROSS: What are the signs that he’s that powerful?

MAYER: Well, (laughter) that’s a good question - because I think he acts as the connective tissue between the Trump administration and Congress, between the Trump administration and the - kind of the socially conservative base of the party. And most importantly, he is the connector between the Trump administration and the billionaire donors in the Republican Party. He is the guy who does most of the fundraising and outreach to the money.

GROSS: And the money includes the Koch brothers and Robert Mercer.

MAYER: It does. And one of the interesting things to me in writing about Pence is it poses such a juxtaposition between the way that Trump ran, which was as a populist outsider who was attacking the big-money forces in the Republican Party as corrupt and saying that they were puppeteers trying to control the candidates as puppets. And Trump made a huge point of saying, I’m my own man; I’m so rich; no one controls me. Yet as his vice president, he chose Mike Pence. And you could hardly find a candidate in the American political scene who has closer ties to the big donors and particularly the Koch brothers. He’s been sponsored by them for years.

GROSS: So how do the Kochs first start backing Mike Pence?

MAYER: So this was when Pence was in Congress in 2009. He really did the Kochs a big favor. There was legislation pending that might have put a tax on carbon pollution, and it would have been terrible for Koch Industries. And Pence took up the cause and tried to help defeat that legislation and specifically carried around a pledge that the Kochs had created, trying to get people to sign it. And after he was successful in that, the Kochs invited him to come to their secret donor summits. And at that point on, they started showering him in money. So it was - it’s really became a working relationship then. And I hadn’t realized that until recently.

GROSS: One of the things you say Mike Pence is responsible for is bringing the Kochs and Donald Trump together. The Kochs didn’t support Trump’s candidacy. Charles Koch described the choice between Trump and Hillary as one between cancer or a heart attack. (Laughter) So what did Pence do to bring the Kochs and Trump together?

MAYER: Well, so this is what was interesting to me - is that Pence has been very close with the Kochs, and they have just showered money on his campaigns. And he’s kind of act as a peacemaker between the Kochs and Trump. And but in that process, what interested me most was that I really do think that Trump ran as a different kind of Republican. He ran against the big-donors orthodoxy and kind of libertarian vision of people like the Kochs. He said he was going to deliver something for the little guys and build infrastructure all across the country and use the government in various ways that the Kochs disapprove of.

And what you’ve seen with Pence is that in many ways, Pence has brought in a ton of people who are allied with the Kochs into the government, and he’s brought a lot of their policies in - so whether it’s on environmental issues or tax policy now where the Kochs are working very closely with the Trump White House on the Trump tax plan. And it is a tax plan that the Kochs love, and it’s a tax plan that’s going to help the super-rich according to many nonpartisan analyses and not do very much for the middle class. So you’re beginning to kind of see the government moving in the direction of the Kochs.

GROSS: You say 16 high-ranking officials in the Trump White House have ties to the Koch brothers.

MAYER: Well, and that’s according to a study by a group called the Checks And Balances Program. And you can count them. You can see it online. They’re - that’s in the White House. There are also many, many people who’ve worked for the Kochs in the government at large, in the cabinet, in the other departments. And a tremendous number of people who work with and for Pence have gone in and out of working for the Kochs to the point that you had Politico saying - they quoted a Republican operative saying that the Koch operation really was the shadow campaign for Pence for president.

And chief among them really has been Pence’s former chief of staff, Marc Short, who went - after working for Pence in Congress, he went to run the Koch’s political operation, Freedom Partners. And then when Pence was chosen as vice president on the ticket, Marc Short came back, worked with Pence in the campaign and is now the head of Congressional Liaison in the Trump White House. So the man that actually ran the Koch’s political operation is a key player inside the Trump White House.

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Hurricane Irmina Gathering - Worst Case Scenario is Worse than Harvey, Worse than Katrina [updates]

Posted by DanielS on Saturday, 02 September 2017 02:54.

  “We’re talking total destruction”

Irma worst case scenario: Cat 5 storm, direct hit on Miami.

“Major Hurricane Irma now ... I’d be surprised if storm didn’t become Cat 5 during next 5-7 days. Many EPS ensembles are very intense.

It would be much worse than Harvey. Miami is built right up to the ocean, all those tall building would receive the impact of Cat 5 winds plus devastating storm surge. We are talking total destruction.”

- Ryan Maue, Meteorologist (PhD) | Free ex parte opinions on Weather | Hurricanes | Climate Science | Politics | Think Tanker @CatoCSS

SethBrown321‏ @FnafSeth Aug 31, replying to Ryan Maue @RyanMaue

“I’d make evacuation plans now everyone in Florida, NC/SC, Georgia, DC, Maryland and Virginia.”

Source, Lion of the Blogosphere

The Economic Collapse, “Category 6? If Hurricane Irma Becomes The Strongest Hurricane In History, It Could Wipe Entire Cities Off The Map”, 1 Sep 2017:

Meteorologists have been shocked at how rapidly Hurricane Irma has been strengthening, and they are already warning that if it hits the United States as a high level category 5 storm the devastation would be absolutely unprecedented.  Of course we are already dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, and many experts are already telling us that the economic damage done by that storm will easily surpass any other disaster in all of U.S. history.  But there is a very real possibility that Hurricane Irma could be even worse.  According to the National Hurricane Center, at 5 PM on Friday Irma already had sustained winds of 130 miles per hour.  But it is still very early, and as you will see below, next week it is expected to potentially develop into a category 5 storm with winds of 180 miles per hour or more.

I suppose that it is appropriate that such a powerful storm has a very powerful name.  In old German, the name “Irma” actually means “war goddess”…

  The name Irma is a German baby name. In German the meaning of the name Irma is: Universal, from the Old German ‘irmin’. War goddess.

Irma began forming on Wednesday, and it intensified at a faster rate than any storm that we have seen in nearly 20 years…

Hurricane Irma formed early Wednesday in the warm waters off the coast of West Africa — and took just 30 hours to strengthen to a Category 3. That’s the fastest intensification rate in almost two decades. By Friday afternoon, the storm had also grown noticeably larger in size with a well-defined eye, a classic sign of a strong hurricane.

Though Irma poses no immediate threat to land, the outlook is ominous: In the Atlantic, Irma is expected to pass through some abnormally warm waters — the primary fuel source for storm systems. The official National Hurricane Center forecast says it will remain at major hurricane status for at least the next five days, and, in a worst-case scenario, Irma could eventually grow into one of the strongest hurricanes ever seen in the Atlantic.

So how powerful could Irma eventually become?

According to Michael Ventrice of the Weather Channel, Irma could easily become a “super typhoon” with “sustained speeds of over 180mph”…

Veteran USA forecaster Michael Ventrice posted the track model on Twitter overnight and warned it looked like the storm could be a “super typhoon”, with sustained speeds of over 180mph.

He wrote: “These are the highest windspeed forecasts I’ve ever seen in my 10 yrs of Atlantic hurricane forecasting.

“Irma is another retiree candidate.”

The scale we have right now really never envisioned storms that powerful.  In fact, some have suggested that we need to add a “category 6” to describe the kind of “super storms” that are now developing in the Atlantic.

One of the reasons why Irma is so unique is because it is a “Cape Verde hurricane”…

There are a few factors that worry hurricane forecasters more about this storm when compared to the myriad other tropical storms and hurricanes that tend to form in the Atlantic.

First, it’s a so-called Cape Verde storm, having formed off the west coast of Africa. These storms tend to be the ones that go on to affect the U.S., after gathering strength for many days during their march across the ocean. For example, Hurricane Andrew, which was the most recent Category 5 storm to hit the U.S. in 1992, was a Cape Verde-type storm.

Because they begin at a relatively low latitude and move west rather than northwest, it can be harder for upper level winds blowing across North America to pick up and steer these types of storms away from the U.S. coast.

Let us hope that this storm does get steered away from our coastlines at some point, but so far that is just not happening.

Many hurricanes are often weakened by wind shear, but that isn’t happening to Irma either.  In fact, CNN is reporting that “Irma will remain in a low-shear environment for the next several days”…

A strong high-pressure ridge to the north of Irma, over the Atlantic, is steering the storm to the west and limiting the wind shear in the upper levels of the atmosphere, which has allowed the storm to grow so quickly. Wind shear is like hurricane kryptonite, and prevents storms from forming or gaining strength.

Unfortunately, Irma will remain in a low-shear environment for the next several days, so there isn’t much hope that Irma will weaken any time soon.

Basically, conditions are nearly ideal for a “super storm” to develop, and if Irma does make it to the U.S. the destruction that it causes could be absolutely off the charts.

Of course at this point there is no guarantee that it will ever reach the United States.  But if it does, and if it is still a category 5 storm when it arrives, we could be facing an event unlike anything that we have ever seen before.

Do you remember Hurricane Katrina?  Well, scientists now know that when it hit New Orleans it had already been downgraded to just a “low category 3” storm…

To put this all in perspective, Katrina was a Category 5 hurricane out over some hot spots in the Gulf. But when it hit New Orleans, scientists now know, Katrina had winds at a low Category 3, and much of them Category 2, including the “left side winds” that then came down from the north and pushed the surge-swollen waters of Lake Pontchartrain over and through NOLA’s levees. (Hurricanes spin counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere, so when Katrina came ashore just east of New Orleans, its winds hit the city from the north.)

Only three Category 5s have come ashore in the United States in the past century — the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, Camille in 1969 and Andrew in 1992.

And Hurricane Harvey was just a category 4 storm.

If Hurricane Irma were to make landfall as a category 5 storm with sustained winds of 180 miles per hour, it would rip buildings and everything else in its path to shreds.

Next week we shall find out what happens.  Let us hope for the best, but let us also get prepared for the worst.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

Irmina Update:


The Island Packet
, “Hurricane Irma back to Category 2, but its track makes a pronounced turn”, 2 Sep 2017:

Hurricane Irma become a Category 2 storm once more in the National Hurricane Center’s 5 a.m. update, but as its strength fluctuates, its track now shows a distinct northwestern turn.

Tropical weather track

Reload page every few hours
for the latest tracking information.

Source: National Hurricane Center

Irma is currently located about 1300 miles east of the Leeward Islands, and is moving west at 14 mph. It has maximum sustained winds of 110 mph with gusts up to 132 mph.

While Irma has remained in a somewhat weakened state over the past day or so, it is expected to move into warmer waters and better wind conditions in about a day, and is expected to be a major hurricane again as it approaches the Lesser Antilles at the beginning of next week.

It is expected to reach Category 4 status by next Wednesday, with forecast sustained winds of 132 mph and gusts over 160.

The NHC track for Irma looks only five days out, but there are other, more speculative forecast models.

No coastal watches or warnings have yet been issued for Irma. Watches and warnings are typically issued 36 hours before a tropical cyclone poses a threat to a coastal area. So, as alarming as some of the information coming in might be, people can take solace in the knowledge that they will have plenty of warning if Irma looks to threaten the U.S. coast.

“It’s still 2,000 miles away, and anything over the Atlantic Ocean moving generally westward, by geographical definition, would be ‘aiming in the general direction of the United States,’” said NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen. “It is far to early to tell what, if any, impacts will be felt on the continental U.S.”

Feltgen also said that Irma is a useful reminder that we are in the peak of hurricane season, and that as such, people in hurricane prone areas should be prepared, just in case.

“Check your supplies and make sure you have a hurricane plan,” said Feltgen. “The last thing you want is to be doing this on the fly if you happen to be in an area where hurricane watches or warnings go up. Not that we expect that to happen any time soon, but use this weekend, when stores are open and everyone has supplies, to take advantage of that.


Second Presidential Debate Between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

Posted by DanielS on Monday, 10 October 2016 02:23.


Chinese investment in Canada impacting private and public resource

Posted by DanielS on Tuesday, 04 October 2016 22:13.

Macleans, “China is buying Canada: Inside the new real estate frenzy”

How China’s affection for Canada’s real estate is reshaping the nation’s housing market well beyond Vancouver

Paul Shen can tick off the reasons Mainland Chinese people buy property in Canada as surely as any fast-talking B.C. realtor. Some long to escape the fouled earth and soupy air of their country’s teeming cities, he explains, while others are following relatives to enclaves so well-populated by other Chinese expats they hardly feel like foreigners.

The richest, of course, regard homes in the West as stable vessels for disposable cash, but Shen lays no claim to such affluence. Last spring, the 39-year-old left behind his middle-management advertising job in Shanghai to seek the dream of home ownership he and his wife couldn’t afford in their home city. “We just followed our hearts to begin a totally different life,” he tells Maclean’s, adding: “We can make the house dream come true in Canada.”

The starting point was one-half of a modest duplex near downtown Victoria, close to the university where his wife is seeking a master’s degree, and priced about right for their limited means. Selling points ranged from the quiet of the street—perfect for their six-year-old son—to the stunning Vancouver Island vistas all around. High on his list, though, was Victoria’s comfortable distance from the bustling Chinese communities of B.C.’s Lower Mainland. As Shen—betraying his limited knowledge of pre-settlement Canadian history—puts it: “We wanted a place that would allow us to live with the natives.”

It’s hard not to smile at his idealism. Substitute any one of two dozen nationalities, after all, and you have a chapter in Canada’s cherished narrative of migration, settlement and shared prosperity.

But as a Chinese newcomer with a buy-at-all-costs resolve, Shen also personifies a phenomenon dividing those “natives” he’d like to call his neighbours. In the past five years, the flow of money from mainland China into Canadian real estate has reached what many consider dangerous levels, contributing to a gold-rush atmosphere in the nation’s leading cities, while stirring anger among young, middle-class Canadians who feel shut out of their hometown markets.

Its impact on Vancouver’s gravity-defying boom is the best known—and most hotly debated—example, as eye-popping price gains leave behind such quaint indicators as average household income, or regional economic activity. “We’re bringing in people who just want to park their money here,” says Justin Fung, a software engineer and second-generation Chinese-Canadian who counts himself among those frustrated by Vancouver’s surreal housing market. “They’re driving up housing prices and simply treat this city as a resort.”  Full story at Macleans

Related story:

BCBusiness, “China, Foreign Ownership & B.C. Resources”

B.C.’s natural resources are being gobbled up by foreign entities at a record pace. Increasingly, those entities are controlled by governments, such as China’s, that may have motives beyond mere profits. (Return to B.C.‘s Top 100 of 2011.)

[...]

It’s that potential for conflict of interest that has a few people worried. Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president of the Business Council of B.C., appreciates the “investment renaissance” that B.C. is now experiencing, but recommends a cautious approach.


“Canada needs to look at this,” he says. “I don’t know what the right answer is, but I do agree that the private-sector rules don’t apply to state-owned organizations, and it’s not just the Chinese. It requires an explicit look. Do we hold them to a higher test? They are going to have to do it sooner rather than later.”


John Bruk, who 27 years ago co-founded and headed the Asia Pacific Foundation, pulls no punches on this topic. He sees a need for some concerted action before too many horses have fled the barn. Bruk has prepared a comprehensive analysis of the track record of the foundation; he believes the government-funded organization needs to be re-energized in part because of China’s growing economic influence, and believes it needs to do much more to help Canada address an unsustainable trade deficit with China. (Disclosure: I provided editing services for Bruk on this paper.)


“Is trading our ownership and control of core assets for more consumer goods, resulting in unsustainable trade deficits, good for Canada?” Bruk asks in his report. “Are we jeopardizing prosperity for our children and grandchildren while putting at risk our economic independence? In my view, this is exactly what is happening.”


 


The Visegrád Four unite on forest management and ecology

Posted by DanielS on Friday, 05 August 2016 04:09.

Visigard Post, “The Visegrád Four unite on forest management and ecology,” 3 August 2016:

Slovakia – The Visegrád Group’s countries signed a memorandum of collaboration for forest management.

The ministers and secretaries of state responsible for Agriculture and Forestry met in Slovakia on July 8 to sign a memorandum of collaboration across the Visegrád Group (V4). The document led to lay the foundations of cooperation between Poland, Czechia, Slovakia and Hungary for forest management covering several countries, the permanent exchange of information on the forestry sector, knowledge exchange industry experts and professionals, supranational cooperation in joint programs and especially the establishment of a common forest policy for the V4.

All parties have agreed to support the efforts which they have undertaken on their own, and have created a working group to follow up their work. Departmental officials will meet once a year and specific working groups will be created as needed. For now on, at a regional scale and inside the EU, the Visegrád Group will speak with one voice on the issues of forest management and ecology.

        Excellent


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