Category Archives: Climate Change

America’s Penis Is About To Get Blown

Hurricane Matthew is currently bearing down on Florida’s east coast and it’s still a doozy.  140 MPH sustained winds and showing signs of possible strengthening.  Current forecast shows it moving straight up the east coast of Florida, tickling Georgia and South Carolina and then circling around for a possible second hit of Florida.  Ouch.  There’s also a possibility that it will then cross Florida and hit the Gulf of Mexico whose warm waters might turn it into a hurricane once again, but that’s too far in the future to predict with any accuracy.  You can check its progress here.

This is shaping up to be a very serious threat to Florida.  Not only will southern Florida have to deal with the hurricane surge itself, but it may come just as it is also experiencing high tide in the middle of the night.  You’ll recall what happened to New York when a similar scenario happened with hurricane Sandy which only had 70 MPH sustained winds at the time.  If you know anyone in eastern Florida, be sure to let them know that this isn’t a hurricane to mess around with.  Get away from the sea and stay indoors.

If Matthew does strengthen and continue along its projected path, we could be getting an early glimpse of what the state of Florida will look like in 50-100 years with the predicted sea level rise due to general warming and the ice caps shrinking.  Of which, the Arctic just experienced its second lowest ice extent minimum by the way.  So yeah, things are really shaping up for planet Earth.

Book Review: Not Dark Yet by Berit Ellingsen

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 3/5 stars

The protagonist’s name in “Not Dark Yet” is Brandon Minamoto.  If you’re going to read this book, remember that because it is only mentioned in the very first sentence of the very first chapter.  In fact, I thought the main character was nameless throughout until I read someone else’s review and they said his name was Brandon.  I had to actually do a search of the ebook to see if the author actually did name him.  I can’t recall how far into the book I had read before I realized that I didn’t know this man’s name, but I do recall finally getting the style of the prose after I realized he was repeatedly not named.  It’s an interesting style and it reflects nicely the nothingness feeling of the character.  Until that point, I was quite confused and it was an ah ha moment that made me enjoy the novel much more than I otherwise would have.

The setting is somewhere in the near future and the planet is beginning to reap the whirlwind of global warming.  States and countries are mostly a thing of the past, though governments still exist.  Food and water shortages are rampant.  Riots are a daily occurrence.  The weather grows more unpredictable and more violent.  This is the world that Brandon is floating through.

The novel starts with a jumble of stories from random moments in Brandon’s life.  Only with some thought can you later piece together those snippets into some sort of chronological order.  By the end, the pieces are all there to figure out, but it’s quite the jumble.  The problem is there’s not much reason for you to want to care about reassembling the jumble since nothing really exciting happens throughout the book to make you want to care.  If you bother, you will see that despite the book’s bleak ending, the real ending is possibly hopeful.

Despite the zero-sum nature of the novel, I found it enjoyable to read, if slightly disappointing given the abundant attention to detail without the corresponding fleshing out of any real connection of the main character to anyone or anything.  For that reason, it’s difficult to recommend the book to those who are looking for a more novelistic read.  If upon reading my review, it still sounds worth it, I don’t think you will be disappointed reading it.

Let The Water Wars Begin!

Say you live in a city of eight million people that is in the middle of the worst drought the area has seen in decades.  Not only has it been record-shatteringly dry, but it’s also been the warmest year on record.  Oh, and your main reservoir of water is down to 3% of capacity and it has been reported that it will run out by mid-November.  What do you do?  I’m leaning heavily towards panic.

Such is the situation that Sao Paulo, Brazil, the 12th largest city in the world, finds itself in.  What is amazing is how poor the government response has been to this disaster waiting to happen.  They’ve basically just buried their heads in the sand up until this point and have pretended nothing is wrong.  No pleas to ration water, no mandatory rationing of water, just life as usual.  Now they are finally limiting water usage, but it may be way too late unless rain starts to fall and that seems unlikely since November is traditionally the warmest month for the city and its rainy season doesn’t start until January.

The water wars may soon be upon us.  Think of all the wars that are fought for natural resources whose sole purpose is a better economy.  Now think of what those wars would be like if they were fought over something essential to life.  We’re not just talking country vs country wars but city vs city and Hatfield vs McCoy.  Countries with weak governments will dissolve and even countries with strong governments will have a hard time keeping it together if a severe water shortage hits them.

2014 is likely to go down as the warmest on record for the entire planet.  Severe droughts are everywhere and wild weather is becoming more common.  A recent survey of California residents asked them to name the most important issue facing the state today and, for the first time ever, water/drought lead the list along with the perennial concern of the economy.  “Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink” may soon be a reality in many major metropolitan centers.

The Guacocalypse Is Nigh!

Chipotle caused quite a stir recently when they filed their annual report with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Part of every filing is where the company lists a series of possible issues that may affect the company’s ability to provide their expected services.  For the most part, it’s pretty boilerplate stuff.  So when a company deviates from that boilerplate material you can bet someone’s going to notice.  And that’s just what Chipotle did.

As part of the risks that Chipotle may face, they stated that “increasing weather volatility or other long-term changes in global weather patterns, including any changes associated with global climate change” may lead them to “choose to temporarily suspend serving menu items, such as guacamole or one or more of our salsas, rather than paying the increased cost for the ingredients.”

It’s a guacocalypse!

After much media attention, Chipotle claimed that they don’t know what the big deal is about and it was just another general “what if” and there is no danger of their guacamole going anywhere any time soon.  It’s still a big deal, though.  Chipotle is not some fly by night operation.  They’re a well recognized and insanely popular national food chain.  And they filed a report that they are concerned about global climate change and it’s effects on their business model.  That’s news.

Global Warming Is Easy To Understand

How long do you think it would take you to understand the mechanism that leads to global warming?  Years?  Months? Days?  Nope.  Fifty-two seconds:


If you want more information, How Global Warming Works has one, three, four, and five minute versions that go into greater detail.  I love examples of elegant learning like this.

Hey Ladies, How Would You Like 17 Inches…

…of rain…

…in ninety minutes.

Yeah, probably not.  Anyway, everyone knows that after the first six or seven inches of rain, the rest is just for show.

That’s exactly what happened to the island of Sardinia, Italy on Monday night.  For reference, Sardinia normally gets 17 inches in half a year.  This much rain obviously caused apocalyptic flooding and killed at least 16 people.

In still horrible, but slightly more amusing news because of its incongruity, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia got 0.79 inches of rain in a 12 hour span.  This also caused massive flooding that killed 4 people.  That 0.79 inches is double what Riyadh normally gets in November.

This Is The Way The World Ends, Not With A Bang But A Jellyfish

Subtitled: No One Ever Suspects The Jellyfish.

You need to read this article.

Many years ago, I was in Boston walking across one of the bridges.  If you looked down to the water below, you’d see a very large population of jellyfish hanging out in the shadows of the bridge.  It was kind of beautiful.  Various sized blobs of goo pulsating in the water.  Lately, that beauty has turned into horror.

It turns out that jellyfishification is totally a thing!  Our oceans have been getting much warmer and much more acidic than is good for the biome.  Coral reefs for example are experiencing a massive die off because of it.  One sea animal is totally fine with it.  The jellyfish!  The conditions have caused a population explosion of jellyfish to occur around the world.  The scale of this explosion is massive beyond belief.  The phrase ‘breeding like rabbits’ may need to be replaced with ‘breeding like jellyfish’.  Jellyfish are taking over the world!  Prime beaches have had to be closed.  Ships are getting disabled from traversing jellyfish blooms.  Fisheries are reporting losing entire catches because of scooping up thousands of pounds of jellyfish.

This is the stuff or horror movies, folks.  It is very possible that we could be looking at the extinction of fish (and mammals) and the oceans reverting to a time long ago when simple animals were the only occupants.  It may get to the point where it is unsafe to swim anywhere in any ocean.

There is one tiny, tiny bright side to this.  Jellyfish are edible.  I hope you like them because you may be eating a lot of them.  Jellyfish is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, jellyfish-kabobs, jellyfish creole, jellyfish gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple jellyfish, lemon jellyfish, coconut jellyfish, pepper jellyfish, jellyfish soup, jellyfish stew, jellyfish salad, jellyfish and potatoes, jellyfish burger, jellyfish sandwich. That- that’s about it.

Oil To Plastic, Plastic To Oil

We all know that oil is used to create plastic.  Well now there is an invention to turn plastic back into oil.  Watch:

What a goldmine for developing countries!  They will get free oil that can be used for heating or cooking all while saving them money and reducing their garbage footprint.  I guess this would also come in handy for those industrialized areas that still use heating oil, but small scale stuff like this seems pretty pointless for urban areas.  I’m sure there’s a larger scale equivalent that major cities could use to collect the plastic and save on their own electric bills or sell off to someone who is willing to convert the plastic.

The video is, unfortunately, a little vague on details.  For instance, what is the byproduct?  It can’t all be oil.  Regardless, this has the makings of a revolutionary product that may become commonplace as resources get scarcer and scarcer.

The Second Dust Bowl Is Already Here

The Dust Bowl was a dramatic and devastating event.  Taking place during much of the 1930s where there was a severe drought after years of large rainfall, its most well known characteristic is the massive dust storms that stripped the earth of its topsoil making it impossible for anything to grow.  Much of the devastation from the Dust Bowl was man made, though.  Soil conservation didn’t exist yet and farmers and governments reaped the literal whirlwind of their actions.

Much of the 2000s, the U.S. has seen droughts equal to or surpassing the droughts during the Dust Bowl.  Thanks to governmental soil conservation projects, there are no dramatic pictures of massive clouds of dust and no mass migration out of the affected areas.  This makes the effects of the drought fairly invisible to those not immediately affected by it.

Things are really bad, though.  Smaller towns in the Southwest are running out of fresh water.  Las Vegas is desperate to get more water pumped in from anywhere.  Water levels in Lake Mead are down 100 feet from normal.  Southern California has had to dig deeper and deeper for fresh water.  Fracking companies are competing with citizens for water.  This is doubly poisonous since not only are they taking fresh water from people who need it, they are also using that fresh water and chemicals to destroy the remaining fresh water.

I’ve been reading this excellent collection of short stories by Paolo Bacigalupi called “Pump Six and Other Stories”.  They are all dystopian future stories that have to do with what happens when natural resources like water and oil run out.  Read “The Tamarisk Hunter” for a frighteningly believable tale of the western United States with scarce fresh water.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Move To Arizona

Or New Mexico.  Or Utah.  Or southern California.  Why?  Water.  Lake Mead and Lake Powell, two of the largest man-made reservoirs of potable water are getting smaller.  These two lakes are basically responsible for the vast tracts of land surrounding them being habitable by humans.

They’re probably overpopulated as it is if you assume that this is just your normal 100 year drought.  If you think man-made climate change is here and happening, the Southwest is in for a world of hurt.

The history of the Colorado River is absolutely fascinating.  If this kind of thing interests you, I highly recommend you follow the link above and the links contained therein.  For instance, did you know that the Colorado River Compact that relegates usage of the river’s waters is 90 years old and is still the basis of law for most other river sharing agreements?

Water management is one of the obvious areas where Federal oversight is mandatory.  It is a limited resource and doesn’t care about arbitrary borders.  This is basic government.  If you don’t understand this, you shouldn’t be in government.  I’m talking about you, Ron and Rand Paul!