(Update 10/28/12–Here is the latest story from The New York Times on the progress of the storm. The National Atmospheric and Oceanic Adminstration link below continues to note the course of the storm.)
There is a giant storm headed for east coast of the United States and for inland areas of the nation as well. Some are calling this storm a “Frankenstorm.”
(Above–A recent satellite image of Hurricane Sandy and the eastern half of the United States.)
From Bloomberg Businessweek—
The superstorm expected to develop from Hurricane Sandy probably will mean that millions of people lose power for a week as airplanes are grounded and coastal areas are flooded by tidal surge and rain. The system, dubbed “Frankenstorm” by the National Weather Service, will grow out of Sandy and two other storms rushing eastward across the U.S….Because of the large size of the system and the slow motion, it’s going to be a long-lasting event, two to three days of impacts for a lot of people,” said James Franklin, branch chief at the National Hurricane Center. “The kinds of things we are looking at ultimately would be wind damage, widespread power outages, heavy rainfall, inland flooding and again, somebody is going to get a significant surge event out of this.” Sandy is expected to be so large it will cover the eastern third of the United States, said Louis Uccellini, director of the National Centers for Environmental Protection in College Park, Maryland. …’
A candidate for Congress in Rhode Island has asked that supporters take down his campaign yard signs so they don’t become projectiles in the storm.
Does this storm have anything to do with global warming?
“Hurricanes are expected to dump 20% more rain in their cores by the year 2100, according to modeling studies (Knutson et al., 2010). This occurs since a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor, which can then condense into heavier rains. Furthermore, the condensation process releases heat energy (latent heat), which invigorates the storm, making its updrafts stronger and creating even more rain. We may already be seeing an increase in rainfall from hurricanes due to a warmer atmosphere. A 2010 study by Kunkel et al. “Recent increases in U.S. heavy precipitation associated with tropical cyclones”, found that although there is no evidence for a long-term increase in North American mainland land-falling tropical cyclones (which include both hurricanes and tropical storms), the number of heavy precipitation events, defined as 1-in-5-year events, more than doubled between 1994 – 2008, compared to the long-term average from 1895 – 2008. As I discussed in a 2011 post “Tropical Storm Lee’s flood in Binghamton: was global warming the final straw?”, an increase in heavy precipitation events in the 21st Century due to climate change is going to be a big problem for a flood control system designed for the 20th Century’s climate.”
What is our response to climate change as a nation?
The issue did not come at all in the Presidential debates.
Also, our weather satellites are aging and breaking down and we don’t have all the information we need to track weather systems.
“The United States is facing a year or more without crucial satellites that provide invaluable data for predicting storm tracks, a result of years of mismanagement, lack of financing and delays in launching replacements, according to several recent official reviews.”
Hopefully the storm will weaken and people in the path of the storm will be well-prepared and safe.
It is time to fly home to Houston from Chicago.
Here is a picture of some geese flying a few days ago in a Cook County forest preserve.
I don’t know if these geese were flying north or south. Maybe they are staying in place for the winter. It must be tough to know how best to migrate with the Earth heating up.
In any case, my plane this afternoon is headed back to Texas.
Drought And Heat Go On And On In The United States—We’ll Ignore The Causes And Ignore The People Who Are Impacted
Many places in the United States are dealing with drought conditions.
It is very dry out there in our great nation.
Changes in the climate are messing with some of America’s infrastructure. Roads and railroad tracks are buckling.
Does all this have anything to do with global warming?
Many people think this is the case.
New Scientist magazine reported recently that the severe 2011 Texas drought was made much more likely to occur by a warming planet.
Still–President Obama says very little on climate change, and Mitt Romney–despite previously saying he believed in climate change—now says he has no idea if human beings are heating up the planet.
Many farmers who are suffering from the drought want help from the federal government.
What these farmers feel about government help for others I’m not certain.
Though I bet some of them at least are not strongly in favor of government help for others besides themselves.
No worries though about any ideological inconsistencies from our nation’s farmers.
Congress was unable to agree on a drought relief bill before going on a recess and so farmers will not be getting any relief for the time being at least.
So the drought and the heat will likely go as we refuse to take a serious look at what may be causing the unusually severe weather, and as we allow farmers to keep on taking the hits.
That’s how we do things in the United States of America
Climate Change May Raise The Prospects Of East African Drought And Famine—American Conservatives Do Not Care
A recent article in New Scientist said that changing weather patterns have increased the chance for recurring drought in East Africa.
(Above–Oxfam photo of a family gathering firewood in drought-stricken Kenya in 2011.)
“Last year’s drought occurred because both of the region’s rainy seasons failed. We already know that the trigger for the failure of the “short rains”, between October and December 2010, was La Niña – a cyclical meteorological event caused by a pulse of cool water rising to the surface of the eastern Pacific Ocean. But efforts to work out why the “long rains” that occur between March and May fail have drawn a blank – until now.
Bradfield Lyon and David DeWitt of Columbia University in New York examined records of the long rains and found that they have been much more likely to fail since 1999. That year also marked a sharp rise in sea-surface temperatures in the western tropical Pacific Ocean, while further east the ocean cooled.”
The story goes on to very clearly state that the reasons for the prospect of recurring drought in East Africa are by no means the definite result of man-made climate change. The article says that studies are now ongoing to see if the droughts are naturally occurring, are influenced by human activity, or are caused by some combination of these two factors.
(It should also be noted that some of the problems of famine in Somalia have been caused by Islamic insurgent groups stopping shipments of food.)
The thing is that here in the United States one of the two major political parties won’t even allow all the needed research to take place, and won’t even consider the prospect that man-made climate change is for real.
And if a bunch of people in Africa die so we don’t have to change our lives in any way, or so we can retain the ideological purity of the Republican Party—Then I guess that is the way it goes.
A recent Oxfam report says that global response to the 2011 famine drought in East Africa was very slow in starting, and that many lives were lost as a consequence.
Here is how to make a donation to Oxfam for famine relief. I just made a small donation as it seemed the thing to do to back up my post.
Another thing we can all do in the United States is to ask our political leaders to at least be open to the prospect of climate change, and to support the necessary research to determine the facts.
We are not the only people in the world. What we do impacts others.
The United States Department of Agriculture has updated the map it issues to help gardeners across the nation determine what they can plant.
Because the nation is getting warmer, people are now able to plant various flowers and trees in parts of the country that before would have not been hospitable to such a wide range of plantings.
Above you see the map. Here is the link to the USDA site that has facts on how to use the map, and also has specific information for each of the states.
The Chicago Sun-Times has a story about how this warming is being acknowledged in the ways everyday people are planting their gardens.
From this story—-
“Vaughn Speer, an 87-year-old master gardener in Ames, Iowa, said he has seen redbud trees, one of the earliest blooming trees, a little farther north in recent years. “They always said redbuds don’t go beyond U.S. Highway 30,” he said, “but I’m seeing them near Roland,” 10 miles to the north….“It is great that the federal government is catching up with what the plants themselves have known for years now: The globe is warming and it is greatly influencing plants (and animals),” Stanford University biology professor Terry Root wrote in an email.”
Do folks who think global warming is a scam believe that these map changes are a government plot? Is it better to deny even the prospect of warming than to at least admit the possibility, and to prepare for what might be on the way?
Folks on the right can go on creating an alternate reality about just about everything. I’m certain that press bashing will by itself change the facts in just the same way the idea that the rain will follow the plow made arid places wet.
(Below–The Eastern Redbud Tree. You might be seeing more of them in Iowa before long.)
Where In Houston Can You Recycle Your Christmas Tree?—As Admirable Act As Recycling Your Tree Is, America Refuses To Address Climate Change
Christmas Day is over.
While you may be more tired of your relatives than you are of your Christmas Tree, it is the tree that you will have to ditch.
The City of Houston offers Christmas Tree recycling services.
This is just one of the many ways that government helps everyday people.
The City of Houston has also been nice enough to make available the flier you see at the top of the post.
Free materials for bloggers to use is indeed a fine city service.
Every year, Houstonians discard thousands of used Christmas trees that could be recycled into useable items. The COH is encouraging residents to recycle their Christmas trees to give them a new lease on life and make the recycling of Christmas trees a family tradition.
Please remove tinsel, lights, ornaments, plastic tree stands and plastic water bowls from the trees. The recycled trees will be converted into mulch, which will in turn help save landfill space and help preserve the environment.
That is very helpful information.
Of course–as good a deed as recycling your tree may be and as good as it make you feel–this does not change the fact that climate change is real, and may well be due to human activity on the Earth.
The problem is that Republicans, and the wealthy interests that own the Republican Party, won’t even allow us to collect the data that would help resolve this issue.
That is a problem for somebody else far away.
Our pious nation lives the Christmas spirit of consumption all year round.
Here is a website that has a lot of information about Christmas tree recycling and, also, offers a list of links from around the nation about where you can recycle your tree.
Here is the most recent Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.
TPA members are citizen-bloggers who are working everyday for a better Texas.
Every Texan and every American has the ability to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, write or call an elected official, talk to friends and family, start a blog, donate money, write a letter to the editor, volunteer for candidates and causes, engage in acts of civil disobedience, and to run for public office.
The work of democracy and freedom is up to each of us.
With the round-up this week is the latest Texas drought map from the federal government. I swear the map is not a federal trick to convince Texans that it is dry when it is fact it is raining.
It is very dry.
From that history—
“In 1720 a summer dry spell in Coahuila killed 3,500 of the 4,000 horses that the Marqués de Aguayo, governor of Texas, was prepared to bring to Texas. A drought in Central Texas dried up the San Gabriel River in 1756, forcing the abandonment of a settlement of missionaries and Indians.Stephen F. Austin’s first colonists also were hurt by drought. In 1822 their initial food crop of corn died from lack of moisture.”
The fact that Texas has always had severe droughts makes it clear that this current drought is not necessarily a result of climate change.
However, it is fully possible that global warming does have something to do with the drought conditions we are seeing across Texas.
Regretfully, with Rick Perry as Governor and with Republicans in strong control of the Texas legislature, there will not even be any discussion of the possible impact of climate change on Texas.
Here is the round-up—
On a night during which both Georgia and Texas put men to death, Letters From Texasvisits the moral and practical implications.
Amy Price, the progressive running for Houston’s city council at large #4 seat, had a great week of news coverage. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs collected the stories, audio, and video. Continue reading
(Above–The sea is all around us.)
Is this complete proof that global warming is taking place and causing the seas to rise?
You can’t prove it for 100%.
Any bit of doubt allows corporate intrests–and the Republican Party that corporate interests own–to avoid discussing this issue in any serious fashion.
I know— The EPA website is socialist plot to take away our SUV’s and make us all drive Yugos.
“The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…” With an annual budget of about $6.9 billion (FY 2010), we are the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities.”
If we would just cut all funding for the NSF, than the problem of global warming and rising sea levels would go away.
“The rate of sea level rise along the U.S. Atlantic coast is greater now than at any time in the past 2,000 years–and has shown a consistent link between changes in global mean surface temperature and sea level…. The team found that sea level was relatively stable from 200 BC to 1,000 AD. Then in the 11th century, sea level rose by about half a millimeter each year for 400 years, linked with a warm climate period known as the Medieval Climate Anomaly. Then there was a second period of stable sea level during a cooler period called the Little Ice Age. It persisted until the late 19th century. Since the late 19th century, sea level has risen by more than 2 millimeters per year on average, the steepest rate for more than 2,100 years.”
Of course, as is often the case, it is not just conservatives that are the problem when it comes to the inability to have a serious discussion over important national issues.
As it is with so many issues before us in our nation, everyday people are going to have to decide to take the lead and are going to have to pressure political and corporate leaders for more action.
At the moment, we seem unable to even discuss the matter because the Republican Party takes opposition to the idea of climate change as a matter of faith.
But the fact is that faith is faith and science is science. The two are separate for someone who has confidence in their faith and hope for our future.
Some snow is expected in Houston this upcoming Thursday night/Friday morning.
(Update 2/4/11–We got ice rather than snow.)
(Above–A 20 inch snowstorm hit Houston in 1895. This picture was taken at the intersection of Travis and Prairie in Houston.)
At least one inch of snow is possible in Houston. Though just how much snow we get, and if we get any ice, will be determined by the course of the storm.
While that might not be big news in much of the country, it rarely snows in Houston.
While the bad weather in Houston will pass soon enough, it is good opportunity to learn more about snow and winter weather.
What is snow? Here are basic facts about snow from Clouds R Us.com–
“Snow forms if the air in a cloud is below freezing. The water vapour then turns to ice instead of rain and the tiny ice crystals stick together until they form snowflakes. When they get heavy enough to fall, they drop out of the clouds. At this point though, we still don’t know whether they will end up as rain or remain as snow. This depends on the temperature of the air they travel through on the way down to the ground. If it gets warmer, they turn into rain, but if the air stays close to freezing all the way down, then the snowflakes will make it without melting and so fall as snow. If this occurs in a mountain area, it is possible for snow to be falling on the mountaintop while lower down in the valley the air is warmer and so it is raining instead.”
The National Snow & Ice Data Center has plenty of information about–yes–snow and ice.
Snowcrystals.com will tell you all need to know about snowflakes.
No matter where you are, please be careful on the roads.
And no matter what anybody says, don’t believe the false logic that winter weather in a warm place means that global warming is not true.
In fact, 2010 was the warmest year on Earth so far recorded. 2010 was part of trend that has gone on for some time now.
(Below–Picture I took at Houston Ship Channel during December 4, 2009 snowfall. Photo copyright Neil Aquino.)
2010 was also the 34th consecutive year that the global average temperature was higher than the 20th century global average.
People can go on debating global warming. Maybe it is so that warming has not been proved 100%. Maybe warming has only been proved to an 80% or 90% certainty.
The real political issue is that the American right won’t accept global warming because of ideological issues and because of economic concerns. The facts don’t matter.
Conservatives, and the corporations that own conservative politicians, don’t want Al Gore and the environmental groups to be proven right. They don’t want any taxes and regulations that might be wisely applied if global warming is indeed real.
These are folks willing to put the future at risk so that they can score political points in the here and now, and so that often quite prosperous industrial concerns can avoid regulation.
For at least this moment in time, no real debate on the question appears possible in our nation.
Please meet Extinct. Extinct is the newest contributor to my blogging efforts.
In the picture above, you see Extinct reading about a time when his kind ruled the Earth.
The book Extinct is reading is Prehistoric Life—The Definitive Visual History of Life on Earth by DK Publishing.
It would be difficult to understate the lack of concern Extinct has at the moment for the future of the human condition.
Says Extinct–“It is one thing to be wiped out in a world not of your own making, it is another thing to have the tools and knowledge to do the right thing and yet to choose another course.”
It could just be that Extinct is upset about an article he read in the New York Times this morning about the unexpectedly fast melting of the Greenland ice cap.
Says Extinct— ” If Woolly Mammoths had had a “House of Mammoths” were we could have addressed issues of concern, I’m certain that we could have put our differences aside to explore just what it was that was making us all die. Why can’t human beings see that the threat of global warming is not an issue inherent to one political party of the other?”
I could not have expressed these concerns any better than Extinct has here in his first post at Texas Liberal.
(Above–Drawing of a narwhal.)
A small device is attached the narwhals. When they dive , data is recorded. The narwhals in this study live in Baffin Bay up in the Arctic.
The data shows that the water is warmer than was thought, and that the ice is more thin than had been known.
American conservatives might argue that narwhals don’t believe in God and that they don’t live in the “heartland” with “Real Americans.”
All true. Narwhals never attend church and there are likely no narwhals in Nebraska or Kansas.
On the other hand, narwhals are like many “Real Americans” in that they are willing to work for less than a livable wage without offering any objection at all.
In fact, narwhals are the perfect employee for the American conservative movement. They are willing to work for absolutely no wages.
While I understand our current political realities, I’m not certain at the bottom line why being a Republican would make one a doubter of climate change.
There is a video going around of Republican U.S. Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois essentially saying that global warming won’t do great harm to the world because God made a promise to Noah that He would not destroy the Earth. Mr. Shimkus may end up with a powerful committee Chair in the next Congress that will have oversight on climate issues.
I’ve no interest in being dismissive of people’s religious beliefs, but I just don’t see how this kind of thing will serve as a helpful environmental policy in the years ahead.
People are at some point going to have decide what kind of future we are going to have in this world. The facts are more clear everyday. We can keep on denying the facts for ideological reasons or we can move ahead.
A great book to learn about all types of whales and dolphins is the National Audubon Society’s Guide To Marine Mammals Of The World.
The sludge flood in Hungary is disgusting.
What you see above has taken place in the town of Ajka which is 100 miles from Budapest.
At least four people are dead and three are missing. The sludge substance causes burns when it touches the skin.
There is concern that the sludge will enter the Danube River and spread to other nations.
As nasty and harmful as this is, we can’t forget that technology and industry is as “natural” to human beings as is what we commonly perceive as natural.
A factory is as natural to our existence as is a tree.
(Below–Vincent Van Gogh‘s 1887 painting Factories At Asnieres, Seen From The Quai de Clichy.)
We’ve been bending the world to our needs and wants for a long time.
It adds a great deal to life when we see the things we create with our minds and our hands as extensions of the fact that we are human beings.
It has value to see both the good and the bad of what we make of the world
A nasty industrial disaster like a flood of skin-burning sludge can cause revulsion at what human beings do the world.
The reality of climate change and our refusal to address the problem in an adult manner might make you want to give up for good.
What is required, however, is that we take the time to fully understand where we fit in the world.
The sludge flood can be a spur to not just revulsion, but also to a more complete grasp of the fact that all things are connected.
Because of our unique abilities as human beings, this fact of connection joins together the man-made world and the environment of our planet.
Let’s see the whole picture so that we can understand our problems, define our goals, and make the best use of our abilities and our lives
The floods in Pakistan are taking a terrible toll of death and suffering.
At the very least, 1500 are dead so far. Millions have been displaced and are without clean water or adequate shelter.
It can be difficult to keep track of all the floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and manmade disasters that take place in our world.
Yet we should take a moment to pause and be aware of the Pakistan floods just as we would take note of a tragedy down the street.
The people of Pakistan are like most of us in that they just want to get by day-to-day and have a good life.
These people are our brothers and sisters in our increasingly small and connected world.
Any of us could be impacted at any time by a flood, hurricane, earthquake or by any type of unforeseen tragedy.
Here are some links to learn more about the floods and about how to donate to help the folks in Pakistan.
The floods are being caused by monsoon rains. Here is a definition of monsoon.
Much of the flooding involves the Indus River. Efforts to change the river over the years may have made the floods even worse.
181 million people live in Pakistan with an average income $980 a year.