It's darker here.


DTG: 06:11 Monday, 24 July 2023

Our efforts to address the climate emergency are taking place as our democratic institutions that are the means by which we marshal the resources to do so are under attack.

They are being attacked by anti-democratic tendencies that have always existed in some parts of our society. They are a minority, but they are energetic, determined, and they are enjoying some success of late.

If we are to address the climate emergency in a way consistent with the values of justice, equity and compassion, we must defend and strengthen our democracy and the institutions that serve it.

So I was pleased to read A. G. Gancarski's editorial in Jax Today.

Unblinking, unsparing and unsentimental, but true. And in a time when anti-democratic forces rely on deceit, disinformation and division, the truth is a powerful weapon to bring people together and rally their efforts to fight back.

The pendulum swings both ways.

Public Service Announcement

DTG: 05:35 Monday, 24 July 2023

The phrase, "the new normal," is non-operative. Misleading. False.

There is no "normal" now, at least with respect to weather phenomena. The extent to which meteorological conditions at any given moment are consistent with what we consider historical "norms," is merely coincidental.

The climate system that is manifesting these meteorological conditions is not "normal." It is without historical precedent in any meaningful sense of the term as regards civilization.

The rainfall events we have been witnessing in Fort Lauderdale, Pennsylvania, Vermont; the heat records being broken everywhere; the record high ocean temperatures; the record low antarctic sea ice figures are all features of a climate system that is not normal. A climate system that is not in anything approaching an equilibrium state. A climate system that is being driven by a change in atmospheric composition that is wholly without precedent in earth's history, save for giant impact events, and perhaps periods of extraordinary volcanism.

There is nothing "normal" about what we're experiencing, and it will never again be "normal" within the lifetime of anyone alive on earth today. Maybe the great-great-grandchildren of children being born today may live in a climate that may resemble that of the holocene, if we do everything we can.

Even if we were to cease all CO2 emissions and methane releases, today, it will be decades, likely centuries absent active measures to extract CO2, before atmospheric concentrations of CO2 return to something approaching what we associate with a "normal" climate.

During all that time, the climate will be undergoing dynamic transformations, seeking equilibrium. That's what "normal" will mean. Unpredictable. Unprecedented.

"Business as usual" is likewise a non-operative phrase.

Every flood plain manager in the country should be asking to have extreme rainfall events modeled for their areas of responsibility. They should identify critical infrastructure at risk from extreme rainfall events and begin efforts to harden or relocate it. Signage should be installed on all roads identified as vulnerable to flash flood events so people are aware of the risks. Such roads should be closed when conditions make extreme rainfall events likely. People living in regions vulnerable to flash flooding need to be relocated. In the interim, evacuation plans must be developed that are workable. Shelters identified. We need to become experts at temporary housing and services for persons displaced by extreme weather events. We also need to become very efficient at handling mass casualty events.

None of this is "normal."

I think people are beyond the "denial" stage at least with regard to the fact of climate change. They may not be beyond denial in terms of what we must do now.

We are in a state of emergency from now on. And we should begin acting like it.

The Way We Live Now

DTG: 06:34 Saturday, 22 July 2023

Figured this post belonged here rather than in the marmot.

Mitzi and I have been watching events related to extreme weather and talking. We've even been doing a mental exercise, looking at houses in other states.

Moving is an enormous pain in the ass, to say nothing of an expense. But living in Florida is a gamble.

Apart from the fascist nature of state government, climate and economics are making the state unsafe as well. The insurance crisis is just waiting to explode. Another Ian will do it. I don't know what premiums will do, and I suppose we may be able to afford a 100% or 200% increase, at an opportunity cost of some magnitude. But it will compel some people to leave, make some people homeless if they can't go without insurance because of their mortgage, and shake up the real estate market.

The "fixes" the legislature enacted mostly benefit the insurance companies by making it easier to deny claims. When people start going without insurance because it's unaffordable, and insurance companies don't pay adequate amounts to recover, neighborhoods will decline following a hurricane. They won't be able to recover. Someone has already coined "DeSantisville" as a sea of blue tarps.

Property values will tank. People will bolt, the ones who can anyway, because the handwriting is on the wall.

The race to the bottom will begin.

Most people won't be able to move. Jobs. Family. But the "wealth" that's locked up in their home values will tank, for many, the largest asset in their portfolio. We thought that the value of this home would be something we could leave to our kids, but I suspect it's going to be a lot less than we might have hoped for a few years ago.

I don't know what we're going to do. If we were better situated, I suppose we'd buy a "second home" in a safer state. Someplace to land if this place gets wiped out. But we're not so well situated that we can afford a second home. And moving after we've spent so much time and money making this place the way we want it is almost impossible to contemplate. And we're not getting any younger, either.

I guess we're just going to have to get used to holding our breath and hoping.

Welcome to "the free state of Florida."

It Ain't the Heat, It's the Stupidity

DTG: 07:50 Saturday, 8 July 2023

"Sudden surge of broken heat records is scaring scientists."

Now, I'm no expert, no genius, no trained climatologist, but I've been scared for quite some time.

I've never been convinced that our climate models are doing us any great service. Although, in any rational world, they would have been enough to compel radical changes long ago. But we don't live in "rational" world, we live in a capitalist one.

Again, I've just been assuming these guys and gals all know a hell of a lot more than I do. You don't often hear earth's climate system described as a complex, non-linear dynamic system; but I think that's what it is. It has feedback mechanisms that introduce non-linearities in the system outputs. But our models, at least it seems to me, have been mostly treating it as a linear system "If you increase CO2 in the atmosphere x-amount, you get y-amount of global temperature increase."

And somehow, we've concluded that 1.5°C of overall warming is somehow "safe" or "acceptable." Why?

Complexity implies that the system is difficult to predict. The system outputs exist in a "phase space" that can be somewhat well defined, but how and when it gets to any particular point in that phase space can be very difficult to predict. And many, if not almost all, of those points in the climate system phase space are likely incompatible with our present civilization and population numbers.

I think the assumption has been that for small increases in temperature, the system will behave mostly linearly. But we haven't seen small increases in the composition of the earth's atmosphere, we're trying to predict where the climate system will end up if we double atmospheric concentrations of CO2.

To my, limited, profoundly ignorant, way of thinking, that seems to suggest that that places us well inside the realm of non-linearity already, and that predictions are largely meaningless at that point. Complexity.

Anyway, I hope I'm just dumb and this is all going to work out.

But I've been scared for a long time. More scared now.

Not that being scared does anyone any good.

One Step Up

DTG: 04:57 Thursday, 6 July 2023

The Florida legislature (Republican controlled for a generation), enacted a sales tax "holiday" on Energy Star appliances below a certain price. Good.

But it included gas stoves regardless of price, in a typically performative, shoot us all in the foot, short-sighted, foolhardy, irresponsible, adolescent act of posturing on "wokeness" or any measure that these ignorant, intolerant, narrow-minded, asinine "legislators" deem as insufficiently worshipful to their blinkered notions of "freedom." (New York banned gas stoves in new buildings. This is Florida's reaction.)

"Florida. People are dying to live here!"

Really should be the state motto.