Tag Archives: environment

Going On The Account: A Shore Thing…

My thanks to Robert Gonzalez at io9.com who found two sites, one with stills and one with GIFs (from which the above comes), with renderings by Nickolay Lamm of what some sections of the East Coast would look like after inundation from a 25-foot rise in sea levels.

For those keeping track at home, the (soon-to-be-finished) novel assumes sea level rises like that occur during surges, with the normal now being about fourteen feet. Of course, with the frequency of such storms likely to rise in the future, the number of days you can visit these places and see water levels like these is probably going to increase every year…

Also of note, and it’s a minor quibble, but if the ocean’s coming in and covering your structures, they are not going to keep their picture postcard good looks after a while; a few months into a changed coastline, and the extra water and currents working your base is going to leave your monuments looking less like this and more like…

 

(All right, not so accurate either, but hey, demonstrative needs and all…)

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Going On The Account: Blogtober – Seeds of Doom

This is the twenty first entry in the Blogtober self-flagellation exercise; maybe I should be glad I never got that journalism career, the way the carping’s coming hard and fast here…

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Speaking of distressing things, there was an article at io9 that directed me to this older piece from Nature that makes an interesting claim:  That for every rise of the mean temperature by one degree Fahrenheit, we can expect a species’ geographic range to extend northward by fifty miles.   Thus, if the average temp goes up ten degrees, we should expect species that are at home five hundred miles to the south of us to be quite comfortable in the New York area.

Of course, if the temperatures go up over that ten degree mark, we could be seeing so radical a die-off from the extreme conditions that the rest of this discussion is rendered meaningless, so let’s stick to this as our upper limit, shall we…?

Now, for the sake of visualization, as you can see on the map provided here, 500 miles to the south of New York would put you in the center of Wilmington, NC, a place we considered a little while ago.  Which means that should we see radical climate shift, that the great outdoors here would look much like they do down there now.

And of all the species that would be getting some southern hospitality here, the one we have to fear most has no fangs or claws…

The kudzu plant, a decorative vine imported from Japan that became an invasive species in the US, would feel quite at home here.  Compare the 500-mile radus map linked above with this map of kudzu’s infestation area, and you can see that the New York area could soon disappear under a sheet of green the same way areas near Atlanta and Mobile have.  And this assumes that the plant hasn’t adapted for here yet; one sighting in Albany was noted in 2006, and some areas north of the city have been observed to be overgrown during the warmer months.

In addition to the issues with overgrowth taking out the native plants, there’s the problem of kudzu being a major source of surface ozone pollution, which can increase the rate of global warming as well as being a direct health threat itself.  Which means it will not only bake you and choke your garden, it’ll destroy your lungs; lovely stuff, kudzu…

Sometimes, the threats you need to pay the most attention to are the ones you don’t hear…

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Speaking of threats, if you’re looking for further detailed examination of the world our children will know better, you’re in luck.  The World Bank just released their climate change report, detailing the changes they envisaged for a world that is four degrees Celsius warmer on average, the same scenario I run with.  Theirs is a bit more  precise and covers a wide number of factors affecting areas beyond Western New York; in all fairness, they have a bigger staff…

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Going On The Account: Blogtober – Coincidence or Consequence?

Welcome to day ten of the continuing Blogtober crisis, where before the end of this we’ll find some way to justify keeping Ted Koppel on the air long after it’s finished

 

Speaking of crisis impact, I’ve had a few folks ask me how what we just went through compared with what I’m writing now, which is a fair question, all said.

 

Yes, it’s easy to see that there’s much of my work that echoes a lot of what we just went through.  The situation in the Midwest does seem like the “Big Dry” and the storm does seem to have done similar damage to what Hurricane Alejandro had wrought when he came ashore in the novel, although he swiped a little to the east of where Sandy had been.  And if the normal sea levels where the novel has set them were the same height as where the surges that came with Sandy that took out the tunnels, making the flooding we saw permanent (which seems possible when you have Governor Cuomo stating his belief that we’re going to get storms like this a lot more often),  then yes, I could probably claim to be the next Morgan Robertson, whose book Futility about a giant ship being  christened Titan sunk in the Atlantic by an iceberg just did not sell all that well until the Titanic disaster14 years later…

 

Of course, it’s not all radical climate shift we have to worry about.  Part of what sends this time our children will know better into such a calamitous state is a shift in the balance of power after Korea reunifies, which may not happen soon.

 

Although President  Lee Myung-Bak of South Korea doesn’t seem resigned to a long wait; in fact, minister for reunification Yu Woo-ik is drawing up a sensible roadmap for it, trying to avoid some of the issues the Germans faced when they came back together…

 

Well, there was also that part about an Arab-Israeli Cyber War I threw in there…

 

…which admittedly was written after word about Struxnet hit the wires, although this does not seem to be the end of the story…

 

O-kaaaa-a-a-a-a-y….  I think I’m going to make this a quick post; I have to see about talking to some folks and let them know that, yes, I do want to see those southern Ontario listings after all…

 

And maybe download some Morgan Robertson while I’m at it…

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Going On The Account: Say… What?!?

I got word just now that North Carolina is going to make it illegal to accurately predict sea level changes.

Yes, the same people that have a very narrow definition of marriage are going to out-crazy themselves with an act covering how the state will predict the rise in sea levels.  House Bill 819 goes on to state in Section 2.(e) the following:

The Division of Coastal Management shall be the only State agency authorized to develop rates of sea-level rise and shall do so only at the request of the Commission. These rates shall only be determined using historical data, and these data shall be limited to the time period following the year 1900.  Rates of sea-level rise may be extrapolated linearly to estimate future rates of rise but shall not include scenarios of accelerated rates of sea-level rise. Rates of sea-level rise shall not be one rate for the entire coast but, rather, the Division shall consider separately oceanfront and estuarine shorelines.

What are they, HIGH?  Not that I’d suggest the North Carolina legislature is enmeshed in the thrall of addictive plant products that get users hooked  to the point of causing a major health crisis.

Then again…

But seriously, really?  That a state would legislate a scientific process by discarding logic and game the system so as to be able to make it illegal to do anything other than putting their fingers in their ears and going Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah  ad infinitum until the bad smart person just gives up?

What do they think this is, 1633?

I went back to some of the notes and files I put together for doing…   well, you know…  and saw how the Tarheels fared in the scenario I had.  On average between calm periods and the extended inundations during a now-extended hurricane season, Wilmington International Airport is under an inlet to the sea that rolled over Southport and Carolina Beach, Beaufort and Cape Hatteras are great places to scuba dive, and Camp Lejune is in an even better defensive position now that it’s on a peninsula.

But after reading this, I might want to see if there’s more to be done onto them to be mentioned in the back end of the book.  I’ve seen climate change deniers of all stripes, many of whom are starting to realize lately that yes, there is something going on here and it may be time to rethink the denial, but this just makes me want to get all Books of Samuel on their asses.

 

There’s denial that’s just plain stupid, and then there’s this, something criminal that will hurt thousands of people.  If this does not kill them, then it will certainly ruin them through economic disincentive, their properties either uninsured or under-insured thanks to poor risk assessment legislated into existence by narrow minded folks who probably live inland away from the impending disaster.  And again, those without the means will pay the most when the time comes, bearing the cost of another’s foolishness.

Part of me hopes that this becomes for the climate denial movement the high-water mark.  (Pun not intended; oh hell, maybe it was…)   Once word gets out that people need to change the law to keep their fantasies alive and spit on facts and observation,  that maybe this would wake people up and get them to see that much of the “doubt” is really a psy-op campaign by special interests to allow them to keep a very enriching status quo in place.

Mind you, I never thought a statehouse would actually go this far to deny climate change, so it might get a little wetter before it dries out…

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Going On The Account: Sightings and Soundings

I be just getting me hull righted after a great swell, which is a Talk Like a Pirate Day-appropriate statement that means, “Oy!  The tsurus I’ve had, you don’t want to know.”  I’ve been out of it for a bit and need to share a few bits of interest, to prove I’m alive and not willing to have me booty pried from me dead hands just yet, which means- well, that’s actually pretty straightforward, so…

 

A semi-viral video is going around the Web after getting flagged via Bloomberg of an action taken last year aboard the bulk carrier Avocet by her security detail, provided by the Trident Group.  The headcam for a member of the security detail shows the hired guards first attempting to repel the pirates approaching the vessel, which was 120 miles off the Somali coast.  When the launch collides into the Avocet’s hull, the guards kept firing on her, and still fired as the launch slid down the ship’s hull.

 

Brutal?  Sure.  Expected?  Certainly.  Justified?  That’s the question people looking at the situation are pondering.  The fact that this was an act of piracy and that the ship had a right to defend itself, versus the wonton application of force which as displayed by the headcam can feel excessive; that’s not an easy choice one has to make.

 

Just keep in mind that whatever else you may conclude as you watch the video and more news comes out about it (provided it’s not buried under a host of other stories, some of them of legitimate import), the last thing you should be is surprised.  People should have seen this coming, after all…

 

Considering that as this video and incident get attention, word comes of the seizure of the M/T Smyrni while in transit in the Arabian Sea.  This of course complicates things as you do a gut check; the only quick comfort to come is that if you do have to deliberate this, then there’s still something in you that approaches emotion…

 

And if rather than debate yourself about this, you would rather try and be as practical about the situation as possible, there’s a handy piece over at The Atlantic about how to negotiate your way out of being seized by pirates.  It’s a little tongue in cheek, which may be in poor taste to those who know some of the people currently guests of the Somalis, so sensitivity warnings ahoy…

 

Speaking of those recognizable, the Royal Navy is no longer actively engaged in piracy interdiction missions off Somalis.  The main reason behind the pullback appears to be lack of funds, which is rionic as it was Somali poverty that got this mess started in the first place.  What’s interesting is that the British fight may well be taken up by the Germans, who just approved an expanded mission in the theater.  Which means the Somalis had better know what they should do if an unfamiliar ship trains her guns on them and over the loudspeaker comes, “Bereiten Sie sich Beobachter an Bord, Piraten sein!

 

Speaking of warnings, a piece by James Hansen that appeared at the New York Times discusses the threat to the global climate posed by Canada exploiting its tar sands oil.  With some reports out there indicating that even if not a single drop is pressed out of the ground in Alberta, we may already be seeing some of the Midwest dustbowl Hansen predicts anyway.  The big takeaway from the piece is that there’s discussion of tar sands coming that doesn’t place this strictly as a US policy issue; finally, some recognition down on this side of the 49th that not every decision on this issue comes from the power centers in Houston Washington, that Ottawa has a say too.

Which, of course, is something our children will know better…

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