The Future is Wondrously Unknowable
“The future depends on what you do today,” said Mahatma Gandhi. I’m reminded of that quote when I listen to epidemiologists talk about flattening curves, wearing masks, physical distancing, and being responsible for our actions. More than ever, our behavior impact the health and lives of others.
Everyone wants to know how this will play out. Good luck. We can learn lessons from the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, which was 3-4 waves of infection over 2 years. In the immortal words of Dr. Michael Osterholm, “All models are wrong, but some are useful”.
While soaking rains drench the East Coast and tornadic storms strafe the Deep South, Minnesota’s weather appears fairly benign. A perfect sky today gives way to a few rumbles of thunder Friday. The weekend looks dry, with enough sunshine for low 70s Saturday and 60s Sunday. Showery rains arrive next Tuesday with a few 50s next week.
If you can’t wait to sweat it out, NOAA’s GFS model predicts 80 degrees in mid-May.
May as in it MAY even happen!
Moderately Warm. If this solution verifies with a sprawling ridge of high pressure over the western half of the USA Minnesota should be good for 70s and a few 80s and summerlike warmth edges ever closer to home.
Bored? Consider a Daily Tattoo. A story at BBC in the UK had me considering my options: “…I found myself pottering around, not knowing what to do and eating all the food in the cupboards,” Chris says. “So the idea of tattooing myself every day was to give myself a bit of direction. Without structure people are at a complete loss.” Each afternoon between 2pm and 4pm, Chris sits down to sketch designs inspired by his current situation. Then, once he’s made a cup of tea, he puts ink in a pot and unwraps a needle. He’s ready to transfer his drawing indelibly to his skin. “I find tattooing therapeutic anyway. Right now I’m drawing what’s on my mind,” he says. “And there’s not much else going through my mind at the moment apart from this monumental crisis…”
Photo credit: Chris Woodhead.
Why Do So Many Anchors Sound Alike? A question I’ve wondered about all these years. Mental Floss has a good explainer: “…The more contemporary practice of sounding linguistically neutral is often referred to as having a General American accent—which is a bit misleading, since there’s really not much of an accent at all. Also referred to as Standard American, Broadcast English, or Network English, General American was a term first used in the 1920s and ’30s by linguists who wanted to isolate a more widespread accent than the New England or Southern dialects. The scholar George Philip Krapp used the phrase in his 1925 book The English Language in America; linguist John Kenyon referred to it in his 1930 title American Pronunciation, where he insisted that 90 million Americans spoke General American…”
German Doctors Pose Naked to Protest Protective Equipment Shortages. CNN reports on the tactics some doctors are using to raise public awareness: “A website apparently featuring photos of German medical workers is calling attention to the working conditions and protective equipment needed by frontline workers amid the coronavirus pandemic. The website, “Blanke Bedenken,” shows photos of apparently nude people, some of whom are partially obscured by medical equipment, paperwork and other props, including stethoscopes, anatomical skeletons and even toilet rolls. “We are your GPs. To be able to treat you safely, we need protective gear…”
Image courtesy of Blanke Bedenken.
62 F. high in the Twin Cities on Wednesday.
64 F. average high on April 29.
58 F. maximum temperature at MSP on April 29, 2019.
April 30, 2004: After a high temperature of 91 on the previous day in the Twin Cities, the mercury tumbles to 47 degrees by the morning. St. Cloud sheds 50 degrees over 12 hours.
April 30, 1967: Tornadoes hit southern Minnesota. Some of the towns affected were Albert Lea, Waseca, Wells, and Owatonna.
THURSDAY: Sunny and spectacular. Winds: N 5-10. High: 69
FRIDAY: Partly sunny, stray T-shower. Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 48. High: 66
SATURDAY: Plenty of sunshine, few complaints. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 51. High: 72
SUNDAY: Sunny, still very pleasant. Winds: N 5-10. Wake-up: 52. High: 69
MONDAY: Clouds increase, late showers. Winds: SE 8-13. Wake-up: 47. High: 62
TUESDAY: Soggy with periods of rain. Wake-up: 43. High: 59
WEDNESDAY: Windy and cool with sprinkles. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 42. High: 52
Meteorologists Say 2020 On Track to be Hottest Year Since Records Began. Where have we heard that before? Oh yeah – just about every year since 2000. I’m sure this must all be a cosmic coincidence. Here’s the intro to a Guardian post: “This year is on course to be the world’s hottest since measurements began, according to meteorologists, who estimate there is a 50% to 75% chance that 2020 will break the record set four years ago. Although the coronavirus lockdown has temporarily cleared the skies, it has done nothing to cool the climate, which needs deeper, longer-term measures, the scientists say. Heat records have been broken from the Antarctic to Greenland since January, which has surprised many scientists because this is not an El Niño year, the phenomenon usually associated with high temperatures. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calculates there is a 75% chance that 2020 will be the hottest year since measurements began…”
Image credit: NASA ISS (International Space Station).
More Days of Heavy Rain. Climate Central takes a look at the trends; here’s an excerpt: “...If the old adage is anything to go by, May should bring plenty of flowers (to much of the country)! While seasonal weather patterns like April showers seem to endure, long-term averages show that climate change is fundamentally changing other aspects of precipitation—making heavy rainfall events more common and more intense. In recent years, an increasing percentage of precipitation has come from intense, single-day events. Climate Central analyzed how heavy rain events are changing in U.S. cities since 1950. Since the amount of rain that falls in a heavy rain event varies dramatically from the Desert Southwest to the downpours of Florida, this analysis calculated trends in ½, 1, 2 or 3-inch events, as appropriate to the location (see Methodology for more details). Over the past 70 years, 79% (191) of the 242 stations analyzed recorded an increase in heavy rainfall...”
Tropical Deforestation Releases Deadly Infections. Ah, science. Climate News Network is connecting the dots: “As forest destruction continues unabated in Brazil, scientists are alarmed that, as well as spurring climate change, it may unleash new and deadly infections on humankind. There is growing awareness that large-scale tropical deforestation, as in the Amazon, not only brings disastrous consequences for the climate, but releases new diseases like Covid-19 by enabling infections to pass from wild animals to human beings. As one well-known Amazon scientist, biologist Philip Fearnside, puts it: “Amazon deforestation facilitates transmission both of new diseases and of old ones like malaria…”
How Concern Over Climate Change Correlates with Coronavirus Responses. I’m sensing a trend here. Here’s a clip from Morning Consult: “Adults who say they are not concerned about climate change are less likely than the general public to be taking personal actions to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus, new Morning Consult data shows. And in contrast, climate-concerned U.S. adults are more likely to be taking these actions, which include wearing masks in public, social distancing and disinfecting the home and personal electronics. In a poll conducted April 14-16, 54 percent of climate-concerned respondents said that they have “always” worn a mask in public spaces such as grocery stores or parks over the last month, whereas just 30 percent of the climate-unconcerned said the same — a 24-point gap...”
Fact Check: How Electric Vehicles Help to Tackle Climate Change. Zeke Hausfather has an illuminating post at CarbonBrief: “Here, in response to recent misleading media reports on the topic, Carbon Brief provides a detailed look at the climate impacts of EVs. In this analysis, Carbon Brief finds:
- EVs are responsible for considerably lower emissions over their lifetime than conventional (internal combustion engine) vehicles across Europe as a whole.
- In countries with coal-intensive electricity generation, the benefits of EVs are smaller and they can have similar lifetime emissions to the most efficient conventional vehicles – such as hybrid-electric models.
- However, as countries decarbonise electricity generation to meet their climate targets, driving emissions will fall for existing EVs and manufacturing emissions will fall for new EVs.
- Comparisons between electric vehicles and conventional vehicles are complex. They depend on the size of the vehicles, the accuracy of the fuel-economy estimates used, how electricity emissions are calculated, what driving patterns are assumed, and even the weather in regions where the vehicles are used. There is no single estimate that applies everywhere...”
A Warming Arctic Turns Topsy Turvy. NASA’s Climate Program explains: “Last summer was hot in Alaska. How hot was it, you ask? Well, last summer was so hot, salmon were literally cooking themselves in the rivers. Bad joke? Perhaps. While you won’t find river-boiled salmon on the menu at your local seafood restaurant anytime soon, it’s a fact that last July, as Alaska and much of the Arctic experienced near-record warmth, the water temperature in some Alaskan rivers reached an unfathomable 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius). The abnormally warm waters led to mass salmon die-offs…”
Photo credit: “Clouds obscure Yellowknife and Great Slave Lake in Canada’s Northwest Territories. The ABoVE team is studying approximately 4 million square kilometers (more than 1.5 million square miles) of northwestern North America, spanning from Canada’s Hudson Bay to Alaska’s Seward Peninsula.” Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.
First Federal Assessment of Arctic Ocean Finds Drastic Change. A story at Canada’s CBC caught my eye: “The top of the world is turning upside down, says the first overall assessment of Canada’s Arctic Ocean. The assessment, the result of work by dozens of federal scientists and Inuit observers, describes a vast ecosystem in unprecedented flux: from ocean currents to the habits and types of animals that swim in it. The Arctic Ocean, where climate change has bitten deepest, may be changing faster than any other water body on Earth, said lead scientist Andrea Niemi of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. “As the Arctic changes, the rest of the ecosystem is going to track with those changes,” she said. “There isn’t going to be a delay…”
Are Summers Longer Than They Used To Be? For much of America the answer is yes, according to climatologist and data/mapping guru Brian Brettschneider on his blog: “...Is summer longer than it used to be? Is Winter shorter than it used to be? To answer these questions, we first need to define what winter and summer are. Should we think of them as December-February and June-August? If so, then winter and summer are exactly the same length every year. Of course this isn’t what you were thinking. What you really want to know is whether summer heat lasts for a longer period of time and if winter cold is shorter. The answer to these questions are an unambiguous yes for most places. The reason for this is simple, the climate is warming in most places. If the average temperature is warmer, then the comparison to what temperatures used to be like will change accordingly. Think of it this way, if you live in Omaha, Nebraska, and you imagine what summer is like (length and intensity) and then you move to Houston, Texas, you would experience a (much) longer period of summer conditions in Houston that what you are accustomed to…”