Getting a Jump on the Holidays. Why Not?

I have the freedom to make confusing choices. Recently WCCO Radio co-host, Jordana Green, gave me a hard time for putting up our Christmas tree and blasting holiday tunes two weeks before Halloween. “Who does that?” she asked, incredulous.

I do, and for good reason. It’s getting dark after lunchtime – temperatures are tumbling. If it makes you happy and doesn’t hurt anyone, why not? White, twinkling lights make me happy, so why not. Every Minnesotan has their own unique winter weather coping skills.

Case closed.

As expected MSP was on the northern fringe of accumulating snow and the pattern doesn’t favor heavy snow for the next 2 weeks.

Minnesota’s coldest days tend to be sunny, and that may remove some of today’s sting, with highs in the 20s.

The atmosphere will be mild enough aloft for rain showers Saturday, followed by a January-like slap of numbing air next week. Metro highs will hold in the 20s; wind chills may dip below zero. But I still see 40s, even 50F the third week of November.

Excuse me while I crank up “Let it Snow”. La-la-la-la.

Snowfall Totals. Brownsville, Minnesota gets the Golden Snow Shovel Award with a cool half foot. Rochester picked up more than 5″ with accumulating snow in the southern suburbs of the Twin Cities. Check out this National Weather Service link for more snowfall totals.

These Songbirds Seem Eerily Good at Predicting Hurricane Seasons, Delaware Researcher Finds. Yes, but can they point to a green screen? USA TODAY reports on a head-scratching correlation: “…It turns out that in years they stop breeding earlier, there’s more tropical storm activity on their migration route,” Heckscher said. “I thought of that idea, I tested the hypothesis, I looked at the data, but I really wasn’t expecting there to be any relationship there. “And it was a really strong relationship.” Nearly 20 years of data showed Heckscher that not only does the length of the veery’s breeding season relate to future tropical storm activity, but the average number of eggs in each nest could also signal whether the season will be normal, slow or overly active. He found that females produce more eggs when an active hurricane season is in store…”

Photo credit: “The veery thrush migrates every spring from the southern Amazon basin to northern breeding grounds stretching from Delaware to Canada.” Kyle Grantham – The News Journal.

Impact-Based Flash Flood Warnings. NOAA’s National Weather Service is making a few tweaks, using language that better frames the threats to life and property. Right now the perception is that NWS issues too many Flash Flood Warnings, when in fact all warnings are not created equal. Some scenarios are far more dangerous than others.

“Night and Day.” New Radar Allows Scientists to Peer Inside California Wildfires Like Never Before. I had no idea, but a story at SFGate got me up to speed: “…But while tens of thousands fled the flames, there are a handful of researchers who have driven towards them. Scientists with San Jose State University’s Fire Weather Research Laboratory have been deploying to the blazes, taking advantage of the dire fire weather to test an experimental Doppler radar capable of peering into wildfire smoke plumes at unprecedented resolution. Researchers hope the system will yield new insights into the inner structure and evolution of the most dangerous blazes. This could lead to better tools for tracking and forecasting fires, thereby reducing damage and casualties. “This system is unique,” says Craig Clements, the director of the Fire Weather Research Laboratory who’s led deployments of the new radar over the last few weeks…”

Image credit: San Jose Fire Weather Research Laboratory.

Human Activities Are Drying Out Amazon: NASA Study. Here’s the intro from NASA: “A new NASA study shows that over the last 20 years, the atmosphere above the Amazon rainforest has been drying out, increasing the demand for water and leaving ecosystems vulnerable to fires and drought. It also shows that this increase in dryness is primarily the result of human activities. Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, analyzed decades of ground and satellite data over the Amazon rainforest to track both how much moisture was in the atmosphere and how much moisture was needed to maintain the rainforest system. “We observed that in the last two decades, there has been a significant increase in dryness in the atmosphere as well as in the atmospheric demand for water above the rainforest,” said JPL’s Armineh Barkhordarian, lead author of the study. “In comparing this trend to data from models that estimate climate variability over thousands of years, we determined that the change in atmospheric aridity is well beyond what would be expected from natural climate variability...”

Image credit: “The image shows the decline of moisture in the air over the Amazon rainforest, particularly across the south and southeastern Amazon, during the dry season months — August through October — from 1987 to 2016. The measurements are shown in millibars.” Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech, NASA Earth Observatory.

Top 3 Plastic Polluters on the Planet? OneGreenPlanet has the story; here’s an excerpt: “An annual global audit from the Break Free From Plastic movement has found the largest sources of plastic pollution. Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and PepsiCo are the top three most identified companies as sources of plastic pollution around the globe. As part of their audit, Break Free From Plastic conducted 484 cleanups in 50 countries, on six continents. According to the audit, part of the problem is that plastic is not recyclable. Only 9% of plastic produced since 1950 has been recycled. The rest is incinerated, in landfills or left pollution in oceans, land and other areas. When plastic is burned it causes toxic pollution. If not incinerated or recycled, it breaks down into microplastics, which cause harm to ocean life…”

Tesla Pickup (Cybertruck) Unveiled November 21. The design is an acquired taste, but if Elon Musk can pull off 400-500 mile range and price this under 50K he may have something here. Details via “…The Tesla truck will make the RAM seem toy-like and will beat the Ford F-150 too. Lofty goals, but Tesla really never fails to deliver on the performance front.In top-level trim, the Tesla truck should boast a range of between 400 and 500 miles, possibly more. As one might suspect, it will be all-wheel drive with a motor for each axle. Musk also noted that the suspension will dynamically adjust according to its load. Being electric and a truck means it will have gobs of torque. Musk once tweeted that it could tow 300,000 pounds. Some additional features include 240-volt power for all of your work tools, a unique drop-down tailgate and it will parallel park automatically & have 360-degree cameras & sonar…”

Do You Suffer From General Anxiety Disorder? Here are a couple of excerpts from a Washington Post article: “…A 2018 Gallup poll found that 45 percent of Americans said they felt worried a lot, more than in any year since 2006. patients worry about work, relationships, children, health and money. When worrying becomes persistent, long-lasting and difficult to control, it can seriously affect daily life. And if the unrelenting worry is accompanied by anxiety symptoms such as irritability, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, fatigue and poor sleep, that person may be suffering from something called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)...”

Image credit: National Institute of Mental Health.

“Fail Faster – Fail Better”. A story at caught my eye (I suspect it’s on the right track). Here’s the intro: “Scientists have calculated what they say is the percentage of times we need to fail in order to most efficiently learn something new. In what researchers have dubbed the Eighty Five Percent Rule, failing 15 percent of the time and succeeding the remainder is the optimum way to gain new skills and information. Otherwise if the challenge is too easy we don’t learn. Too hard, and we’re likely to be put off and give up. To arrive at this percentage, the authors of the paper published in the journal Nature Communications taught computers simple tasks, like telling the difference between patterns or reading and sorting handwritten numbers. They found the machines learned fastest when they got the task wrong 15 percent of the time, and succeeded 85 percent...”

I’m Not Single – I’m “Self Partnered”. OK. I’m just trying to keep up. Washington Post (paywall) has the story: “…For years, people have been looking for alternatives to describing themselves as “single,” and now Emma Watson has a new one: “self-partnered.” In an interview with British Vogue, the “Beauty and the Beast” actor, who’s 29, describes her stress around turning 30 while still figuring out things such as navigating her love life, starting a family and building a home. She’s very happy being single, she said, adding, “I call it being self-partnered.”… Whether “self-partnered” speaks to you or not, it harks to the larger trend of sologamy, or marrying oneself. Japanese travel agencies offer “solo wedding” packages: wedding dress, bouquet, limo, hotel stay and photo album included. An Italian woman hosted a “fairytale” wedding, sans prince, for herself and 70 guests…”

Photo credit: “Actor Emma Watson, right, has coined a new term for single: “self-partnered.” (Francois Mori/AP).

31 F. maximum Twin Cities temperature yesterday.

47 F. average high on November 6.

43 F. high on November 6, 2018.

November 7, 1844: A large prairie fire at Fort Snelling occurs, followed by more fires later on in the week.

THURSDAY: Blue sky, a bit nippy. Winds: NW 8-13. High: 28

FRIDAY: Partly sunny and breezy. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 18. High: 37

SATURDAY: Unsettled, milder. Passing shower. Winds: W 10-15. Wake-up: 29. High: 45

SUNDAY: Windy and colder with flurries. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 29. High: 34 (falling)

MONDAY: Mostly cloudy. Feels like 5-10F. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 13. High: 25

TUESDAY: Numbing start. Partly sunny and dry. Winds: SW 7-12. Wake-up: 5. High: 24

WEDNESDAY: Next clipper, chance of light snow. Winds: S 8-13. Wake-up: 18. High: 28

Climate Stories….

“Like the Moon Landing”: 8 Candidates Confront the Next President’s Most Urgent Task. Mother Jones has the story and review; here’s an excerpt: “What’s your plan? How much will it cost? Where will the money go? Which regions require the most aid? These are questions that politicians across the political spectrum will need to answer when it comes to climate change, one of the most defining issues not only for the 2020 election but for the future of the planet. That’s why the Weather Channel, Mother Jones, and Climate Desk have teamed up: to have thoughtful conversations with 2020 hopefuls from both parties, to see up close places across the country that have been affected by extreme weather, and to discuss policy proposals and personal insights about the climate crisis. The result is a one-hour special, “2020: Race to Save the Planet,” which airs on Thursday, November 7 at 8 pm ET.  The Weather Channel’s hurricane expert and broadcast meteorologist Dr. Rick Knabb will host the segment, which will feature five Democrats and three Republicans…”

Can Farmers Sow Their Way Out of Climate Change? And still make a profit, which is becoming more difficult to pull off. Here’s a clip from a story at CBS News: “…The principle is simple, according to Russell: incentivize farmers and ranchers to reduce their carbon emission production and they’ll see improved water quality and better soil health while capturing more carbon from the atmosphere. In practice, though, it’s still not an easy choice for farmers. Russell makes the case that more farmers need to embrace practices like extended crop rotation, conservation tillage, which means farmers would rarely or never till soil, and keeping the soil covered with winter and perennial crops. He also says other agricultural methods would also have to be adopted, including putting livestock back on the land, practicing more rotational grazing, and generating green energy on farms...”

File image: meteorologist Rob Koch.

Does Extreme Weather Convince Conservatives That Climate Change is Happening? Oregon State researchers have some interesting findings, highlighted in a post at Willamette Week: “Conservatives are more likely to support action to fight climate change if they report being harmed by extreme weather events, Oregon State University researchers found in a study published this month in the journal Global Environmental Change. The OSU researchers surveyed 1,600 residents in 10 communities across the United States with at least four fatalities due to extreme weather from 2012 to 2015. “There’s been a lot of speculation that extreme weather could have this impact,” said Hilary Boudet, an OSU public policy professor. “Now we have evidence that personal harm may be moving the needle on a person’s beliefs, particularly those with more conservative political orientations.” The survey did not explicitly link weather to climate change, so the researchers believe people were making the connection on their own...”

Photo credit: Duke University.

U.S. Tells UN It Is Pulling Out of Paris Climate Deal. Unfortunate, especially considering every country could set its own non-binding targets for emission reductions. It was, in essence, an agreement to agree. AP and Star Tribune reports: “The United States has begun the process of pulling out of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that he submitted a formal notice to the United Nations. That starts a withdrawal process that does not become official for a year. His statement touted America’s carbon pollution cuts and called the Paris deal an “unfair economic burden” to the U.S. economy. Nearly 200 nations signed the climate deal in which each country provides its own goals to curb emissions of heat-trapping gases that lead to climate change…”

Trump Starts Paris Pullout… Climate Nexus has links and headlines: “The Trump administration on Monday initiated the process to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement by formally submitting a letter to the UN. This puts the US on track to officially stop being a party to the Paris Agreement on November 4th, 2020—one day after the US general election. The move was met by a loud chorus of disapproval from members of Congress, governors, mayors, and private sector leaders, among others, who called the decision bad for America’s economy, health and security. American leaders committed to upholding the Paris Agreement have increased to represent two-thirds of the US economy the second largest economy in the world—and will be represented at this year’s UN climate talks in Madrid.” (New York Times $, CNN, AP, Reuters, Politico, Washington Post, Fortune, Gizmodo, CNBC, NPR, ABC, Newsweek, The Hill, Climate Home. Commentary: Washington Post, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel op-ed $, LA Times editorial $. Backgrounders: What Experts Say v. What the White House Says, Paris Agreement Withdrawal FAQ)

File image: Reuters.

Climate Crisis: 11,000 Scientists Warn of “Untold Suffering”. The Guardian reports: “The world’s people face “untold suffering due to the climate crisis” unless there are major transformations to global society, according to a stark warning from more than 11,000 scientists. “We declare clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency,” it states. “To secure a sustainable future, we must change how we live. [This] entails major transformations in the ways our global society functions and interacts with natural ecosystems.” There is no time to lose, the scientists say: “The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected. It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity...”

Photo credit: “A man uses a garden hose to try to save his home from wildfire in Granada Hills, California, on 11 October 2019.” Photograph: Michael Owen Baker/AP.

Googlers Demand Company Do Better On Climate: Climate Nexus reports: “More than 1,000 Google employees sent an open letter to the company Monday demanding that it cut its greenhouse gas emissions and stop funding climate denial organizations. The letter, organized by Google Workers For Action on Climate, calls for the company to reach zero emissions by 2030 and cut all business relationships with fossil fuel extraction companies, and references recent Amazon and Microsoft movements making similar demands within their companies. Google came under fire last month after reports on its continued contributions to organizations funding climate denial.” (The Verge, APFast Company, The Guardian, Gizmodo, Business Insider, Daily Beast)

Business Increasingly Accepting Reality of Climate Change. Here’s an excerpt of an interview at IMF, the International Monetary Fund: “…Everybody that I’ve talked to, with very few exceptions, accepts the fact that climate change is occurring. Some subset of that group, maybe 15 percent, are not yet convinced that it’s man-made as opposed to naturally occurring. That means, therefore, at least from the people I’ve talked to, 85 percent of them believe that man-made factors are contributing to climate change and that something needs to be done about human behavior. What is the best thing to do about this, though, is not easy to figure out. One of the problems is that if you go through history, it’s rarely been the case that humans have said, “I’m going to take action that will be important for my great, great grandchildren, but I will not be alive to see the benefits, and maybe my children and grandchildren will not be alive to see them either...”

The AI Revolution Could Kill Fossil Fuels. But I suspect it won’t go down without a prolonged fight. No industry wants to be disrupted. Here’s an excerpt from Markets Insider: “…Now, two and a half years later, the technology has advanced considerably, along with the urgency of finding a wide-scale solution to making variable renewable energies like wind and solar a viable replacement for high-polluting fossil fuels. As reported by the World Economic Forum, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that lobbies for deregulation on behalf of a consortium of 1,000 multinational corporations, “the pressure is on to cut carbon emissions and, as a result, methods must be found to manage the increasing gigawatts of unpredictable, weather-dependent renewable energy flowing on to power grids. The cost of electricity is also a concern, not just for consumers, but for governments keen to keep their voters happy. In short, there is a global demand for clean, cheap, reliable energy – and artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly being used to help meet this need. Enabling the growth of low-carbon, green electricity is an AI application with a potentially huge long-term impact…”

Climate Change is Burning Down California. It’s Time We Stop Adding Fuel to the Fire. Here’s an excerpt of an Op-Ed at Newsweek: “…Once a fire ignites, the conditions fostered by climate change increase the size, frequency, and intensity of wildfires, and lengthen the fire season. A slew of studies have identified these climate change signals in recent western wildfire trends. Climate change has led to an average temperature increase of 2°F in the western U.S., and this is making fires worse by heating up and drying out the landscape. When the ground is parched and plants are dry, it’s far easier for fire to spread further, and faster. In the Western US, climate change has increased the risk of fire weather fivefold and has doubled how much land has burned. Wildfire frequency has quadrupled since the 1980s, and fire season has lengthened by more than two months (78 days). These changes are largely linked to warmer temperatures and earlier snowmelt. Both ingredients (warmer temperatures and earlier snowmelt) have in turn been directly attributed to climate change...”

The Ice Used to Protect Them. Now Their Island is Crumbling Into the Sea. The Washington Post has the story; here’s a clip: “…The sea ice that used to encase the islands most winters, shielding them from the brunt of fierce storms and pounding waves, is shrinking at a rate of about 555 square miles annually, data shows. That’s a swath of ice larger than Los Angeles. Even as that natural defense collapses, sea levels have been rising at a rate roughly twice the global norm in recent years, researchers say. The result is an escalating battle against erosion and flooding — one that a growing number of coastal populations face, from islands in the South Pacific to communities along the U.S. East Coast…”

Photo credit: “An abandoned road is crumbling into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Adele Chiasson, a widow who lives nearby, said visitors “are shocked at the changes” that erosion has wrought on the cliffs.”