Long Term Climate Advantages to Living Here?

It may not feel like it after this weekend’s cold, flaky weather tantrum, but Minnesota may be far more climate-resilient than other parts of the USA. As the west heats up and dries out, with more frequent fires and water shortages – and much of the deep south and east coast grapples with rising seas, increasing coastal flooding and wetter, more severe hurricanes, there may be a slow-motion exodus of Americans
back to northern latitudes, from Seattle to St. Paul to Buffalo.

Our extended outlook callsbfor more flooding, invasive pests and stress on Up North forests, lakes and agriculture. Compared to The South, we’ll be in better shape. A few of those snowbird neighbors may be coming home. They just don’t know it yet.

A shower today marks the leading edge of cooler air. We thaw into the 60s by late week, and Saturday looks like the nicer day of the weekend. Models spin up another major (rain) storm late Sunday into Monday; possibly ending as a windblown mix by Tuesday.

What a year. No rest for the weather-weary, huh?


Graphic credit above: Rolling Stone.






Mild Finish to October? If you believe NOAA’s GFS extended 500mb outlook much of the USA will be enjoying a lukewarm Halloween this year, with the possible exception of New England.


Typhoon Hagibis: Biggest Storm to Hit Japan in Decades. BBC News has details: “At least 23 people have been killed in Japan as torrential rain and tornado-like winds lash large parts of Japan. The eye of Typhoon Hagibis – the worst storm to hit the country for 60 years – made landfall shortly before 19:00 local time on Saturday (10:00 GMT), in Izu Peninsula, south-west of Tokyo. It is now moving out to sea after moving up the eastern coast of Japan’s main island, with wind speeds of 225km/h (140mph).”


FEMA May Need to Buy Millions of Flood-Prone Homes. And where, exactly, will that money come from? Here’s the intro to a post at Finance & Commerce: “…Americans have voluntarily sold more than 43,000 properties in high-risk areas to the government since 1989, according to a new analysis published Wednesday in Science Advances. FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program has bought properties sprinkled among one-third of all U.S. counties, spread over 49 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. After the properties are bought, the structures are demolished and the land remains open, ready to absorb future flood waters. This 30 year-trickle is nothing compared with the great climate exodus to come. The potential number of homes that may be abandoned is staggering, said A.R. Siders, a co-author and assistant professor at University of Delaware’s Disaster Research Center. “There are 49 million housing units in at-risk areas on the U.S. coast, and over $1 trillion worth of infrastructure within 700 feet of the coast,” she said. The government isn’t prepared to relocate even one-tenth of that, if it needed to, Siders said. FEMA did not immediately respond to a request for comment...”

File photo: Walt Jennings, FEMA.


NASA Testing First All-Electric Plane. A story at Big Think made me…think. It hurt my head. Here’s a clip: “NASA recently received the X-57 Maxwell, an all-electric X-plane that’s set to undergo manned tests in the coming months. The X-57 Maxwell is modeled after a popular Italian twin-engine plane called the Tecnam P2006T, but the new X-plane has electric cruise motors instead of traditional combustion engines. The X-57 that was recently delivered to NASA is the second of four scheduled iterations of the electric plane, with the third and fourth versions including additional improvements to the wings and other hardware. NASA’s design goals are to develop an electric plane with “500% increase in high-speed cruise efficiency, zero in-flight carbon emissions, and flight that is much quieter for communities on the ground,” the agency wrote…”

Image credit: NASA.


Was the Automotive Era a Terrible Mistake? 20-20 hindsight is always easy, the question is how do we clean up our mess? Here’s a post with mind-boggling statistics from The New Yorker: “...In America today, there are more cars than drivers. Yet our investment in these vehicles has yielded dubious returns. Since 1899, more than 3.6 million people have died in traffic accidents in the United States, and more than eighty million have been injured; pedestrian fatalities have risen in the past few years. The road has emerged as the setting for our most violent illustrations of systemic racism, combustion engines have helped create a climate crisis, and the quest for oil has led our soldiers into war. Every technology has costs, but lately we’ve had reason to question even cars’ putative benefits. Free men and women on the open road have turned out to be such disastrous drivers that carmakers are developing computers to replace them…”

Illustration credit: Sebastien Plassard. The age of driving may be merely a cul-de-sac in transportation history.

The Longevity Files: How Do You Live To Be a Ripe Old Age? Some helpful advice (much of it common sense, whatever that is) courtesy of The Washington Post: “…Walking or other moderate activities are just as good if you’re looking for a longevity boost.Some of the early evidence for the heart benefits of moderate exercise came from studies in the 1950s by British epidemiologist Jeremy N. Morris showing that conductors on double-decker buses, who spent their shifts walking up and down, had lower rates of coronary heart disease and thus lived longer than bus drivers who spent their workday sitting. Since then, studies showing the cardiovascular benefits of exercise have been “incredibly consistent,” Joyner says. But there’s more. Physical activity also reduces the risk of diabetes, which one study found shaved six years off life expectancy. And it keeps your brain healthy, too. “Exercise has better effects on cognitive performance than sitting around playing brain games,” Carstensen says...”


Video: What If Aging Wasn’t Inevitable? The Quest to Slow and Even Reverse Aging. Check out the interview at NPR: “Scientists are better understanding why we age — and they’re also better explaining the cellular changes that lead our bodies and brains to decline. This research has led people like David Sinclair, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School, and Peter Attia, a longevity doctor and oncologist, to challenge the conventional wisdom that aging is inevitable. Sinclair believes the humans of the future will live decades longer than we do now, thanks to biological and technological interventions that are already being discovered. In short: Better understanding the mechanisms of aging has led to promising treatments to slow, stop and even reverse the symptoms of growing old…”

Image credit: NPR.


Helicopter Parenting and Bulldozer Parenting Are Bad for Everyone – Including Parents. One of the hardest things any parent can ever do is let their children fail. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at NBC News: “…But is that such a great development? We’ve also been told that kids who aren’t allowed to figure things out for themselves — even if it means occasionally falling or failing — can develop anxiety and a kind of learned helplessness instead of the resilience they need to become successful adults. And less discussed, but also problematic, is the effect on parents. The vague mandate to “be involved” can lead to stress and guilt for time- and resource-strapped parents — and resentment in those of us who’d rather our relationship with our kids revolve around something besides worksheets and study guides...”

Graphic credit: “Parents have somehow gotten the message that if “parental involvement” is good, then complete and total parental control and oversight must be great.” Claire Merchlinsky / for NBC News.


Is Amazon Unstoppable? The New Yorker has an interesting read: “…Amazon is now America’s second-largest private employer. (Walmart is the largest.) It traffics more than a third of all retail products bought or sold online in the U.S.; it owns Whole Foods and helps arrange the shipment of items purchased across the Web, including on eBay and Etsy. Amazon’s Web-services division powers vast portions of the Internet, from Netflix to the C.I.A. You probably contribute to Amazon’s profits whether you intend to or not. Critics say that Amazon, much like Google and Facebook, has grown too large and powerful to be trusted. Everyone from Senator Elizabeth Warren to President Donald Trump has depicted Amazon as dangerously unconstrained. This past summer, at a debate among the Democratic Presidential candidates, Senator Bernie Sanders said, “Five hundred thousand Americans are sleeping out on the street, and yet companies like Amazon, that made billions in profits, did not pay one nickel in federal income tax...”

Image credit above: “Bezos, reportedly worth a hundred and fourteen billion dollars, has donated less than three per cent of his wealth to charity.” Illustration by Todd St. John.


America’s Risky Approach to Artificial Intelligence. The New York Times has another shot across the bow: “…If the race for powerful A.I. is indeed a race among civilizations for control of the future, the United States and European nations should be spending at least 50 times the amount they do on public funding of basic A.I. research. Their model should be the research that led to the internet, funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency, created by the Eisenhower administration and arguably the most successful publicly funded science project in American history. To their credit, companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple are spending considerable money on advanced research. Google has been willing to lose about $500 million a year on DeepMind, an artificial intelligence lab, and Microsoft has invested $1 billion in the independent OpenAI laboratory...”


High School Football Player Forced to Tackle Teammate Running the Wrong Way. Life is a series of tough lessons. Deadspin explains: “High school is hardly an easy time for any teenager, let alone those who try to balance a life filled with academics and athletics, so it’s important for kids around that age to have a good support system who can help save them from themselves. Kha’Ron Thrower, a high school football player in California, played that role perfectly on Friday when he had to stop a teammate from turning what should have been a pick-six into a safety. Even without sound, the clip perfectly encapsulates all the anger and confusion felt among pretty much everyone who was witnessing this event. Every player in red is frantically gesturing the opposite way, the coaches are jumping up and down…”


Teens Makes Snoring Stepfather Hand out Ear Plugs to Airline Passengers. Fox News has the story: “Last month, Alan Tattersall, from Victoria, Australia, was preparing to head to Houston for business when his stepdaughter, Grace, got the idea, The Mirror reports. Just a few days before the trip, Grace took note of her stepfather’s “pretty serious” snoring problem, and felt badly for any poor soul unlucky enough to wind up sitting next to Tattersall on the plane. “I’d heard of moms giving out little care packages when they have babies on planes — acknowledging that their infants might be crying,” Grace explained. Together with the help of Tattersall’s wife, Ros, and a friend, Grace went out and purchased chocolates and earplugs, and sealed up 10 tiny care packages for Tattersall to hand out on the plane...”

File image: Shutterstock.


50 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

59 F. average high on October 14.

42 F. high on October 14, 2018.

October 15, 1968: Unseasonably warm weather moves into central and southern Minnesota. The high was 85 in the Twin Cities.

October 15, 1899: Heavy rain falls, with 3.2 inches in the St. Cloud area and 2.1 inches in Willmar.


TUESDAY: Passing shower or two, windy. Winds: NW 15-25. High: 46

WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy, less wind. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 37. High: 49

THURSDAY: Partly sunny and pleasant. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 38. High: near60

FRIDAY: Fading sun with a lukewarm breeze. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 48. High: 64

SATURDAY: More clouds than sun, the nicer day. Winds: NW 7-12. Wake-up: 51. High: 62

SUNDAY: Dry start, rain arrives late. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 49. High: 58

MONDAY: Gusty with rain, heavy at times. Winds: SE 15-25. Wake-up: 45. High: 54


Climate Stories….

Activists Thought Blackrock, Vanguard Found Religion on Climate Change. Not Now. A post at CNBC.com caught my eye: “…In 2017, the two biggest U.S.-based fund managers, BlackRock and Vanguard — which control a combined $12 trillion in assets — both voted to require Exxon Mobil to produce a report on climate change. It was a seen as watershed moment showing what can occur when the biggest index funds punch their weight at the annual meetings of corporations, and join other shareholders in supporting proxy proposals covering social issues. Until it wasn’t the watershed everybody thought it was. Since that 2017 vote, multiple analyses of proxy votes have shown BlackRock and Vanguard to have among the worst voting records when it comes to social issues supported by other shareholders, including many of their peers among the world’s largest asset managers…”


Scientists Endorse Mass Civil Disobedience to Force Climate Action. Or…we could all post really snarky remarks in the comment sections of our favorite news sites. If you see something, say something, right? Better yet, get off the sofa and do something. Here’s an excerpt from Reuters: “…In a joint declaration, climate scientists, physicists, biologists, engineers and others from at least 20 countries broke with the caution traditionally associated with academia to side with peaceful protesters courting arrest from Amsterdam to Melbourne. Wearing white laboratory coats to symbolize their research credentials, a group of about 20 of the signatories gathered on Saturday to read out the text outside London’s century-old Science Museum in the city’s upmarket Kensington district. “We believe that the continued governmental inaction over the climate and ecological crisis now justifies peaceful and non-violent protest and direct action, even if this goes beyond the bounds of the current law,” said Emily Grossman, a science broadcaster with a PhD in molecular biology. She read the declaration on behalf of the group…”

Photo credit: “Julia Steinberger, an ecological economist at Britain’s University of Leeds, endorses mass civil disobedience to pressure governments to tackle climate change at a protest at London’s Science Museum, Britain October 12, 2019.” Louise Jasper/Handout via REUTERS



Fire, Floods and Power Outages: Our Climate Future Has Arrived. Here is the intro to a powerful Op-Ed from Justin Gillis at The New York Times: “Now we suffer the consequences. In Northern California, power was cut to more than a million people this week. Near Houston, houses that flooded only two years ago just succumbed again. The South endured record-shattering fall heat waves. In Miami, salt water bubbled through street drains yet again as the rising ocean mounted a fresh assault. All of it was predicted, in general outline, decades ago. We did not listen. Ideologues and paid shills cajoled us to ignore the warnings. Politicians cashed their checks from the fossil fuel lobbyists and slithered away. Today, we act surprised as the climate emergency descends upon us in all its ferocity.  The scientists knew long ago, and told us, that the sea would invade the coasts. They knew a hotter atmosphere would send heavier rains to inundate our cities and farms…”

Photo credit: “Michael Owen Baker/Associated Press.


How Vested Interests Tried to Turn the World Against Climate Science. Here’s a clip from an explainer at The Guardian: “…Walker outlined a vision of a comprehensive, international campaign to change public opinion on the climate crisis by casting doubt on the scientific research, presenting it as unreliable when the overwhelming majority of scientists had reached consensus. The communications plan involved finding sympathetic scientists, identifying thinktanks to fund that would produce helpful reports, and working through supposed grassroots groups to hold debates questioning the consensus on global heating, along with a constant flow of media briefings manufacturing uncertainty. The plan sounded much like a 1960s PR campaign devised by the tobacco industry to delay controls by questioning the science showing that smoking killed. Some of the people involved were in fact tobacco campaign veterans...”


Firms Ignoring Climate Crisis Will Go Bankrupt, Says Mark Carney. CEOs who want to remain CEOs will need to factor all external risks, including climate volatility and weather disruption. The Guardian reports; here are 2 excerpts: “Companies and industries that are not moving towards zero-carbon emissions will be punished by investors and go bankrupt, the governor of the Bank of England has warned. Mark Carney also told the Guardian it was possible that the global transition needed to tackle the climate crisis could result in an abrupt financial collapse. He said the longer action to reverse emissions was delayed, the more the risk of collapse would grow…The Bank of England has said up to $20tn (£16tn) of assets could be wiped out if the climate emergency is not addressed effectively. But Carney also said great fortunes could be made by those working to end greenhouse gas emissions with a big potential upside for the UK economy in particular…”