Visualizing California's water storage

Notes for a discussion on near-term climate change adaptation
  • Near-term iin climate science usually refers to the next 1-10 (sometimes 1-20) years.
  • Over the course of a single decade normal variation can overwhelm anthropogenic impacts.
  • What impacts have we seen so far?
    • From 1901-2020 global average temp rose 1 C
    • Longer, more intensive heat waves (heat wave in France in 2003 killed >15,000 people) - partially due to changes in jet stream
    • More natural disasters and extreme conditions - wildfires, hurricanes, droughts
    • Impact on water supply
    • Potential impact on power generation
    • Changes in animal populations / ecosystems, which can impact food supply
  • 5-20 years out
    • Massive increases in migration
    • Political instability
    • A more uncertain world
  • What can we do?
    • Better ways to get information out during extreme events
    • Reality-based information provided to people
    • Market-based solutions - change incentives - eg insurance
    • Mitigation - France had another heat wave in 2019 that hit ~115F / 46C, but <1,500 people died this time - better education, planning for vulnerable populations ...

Nat Geo, NY Times, NOAA

Probable Futures
Probable Futures

"We started asking climate scientists practical questions about what climate change would look and feel like in different places around the world. We found the answers to be useful, intuitive, and profound. We created Probable Futures to share them with you."

Wet bulb temperatures and danger to human beings
The wet bulb temperature is the temperature of a bulb of mercury inside a damp cloth, in the shade. Basically, what's the temperature taking evaporative cooling into account? When the wet bulb temperature is too high, that's dangerous for human beings, since we depend on evaporative cooling - we're essentially wet bulbs. If the wet bulb temperature and the dry bulb temperature are the same, you're not getting any benefit from evaporative cooling.

chart of wet bulb temps for given temp and relative humidity

Ten degrees!
Somehow I missed that. Ten. ("Could", so maybe that's the upper end of their estimates.)

Two teams of American climatologists published research confirming that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has begun to collapse, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program released its third National Climate Assessment, which noted that average temperatures in the United States had increased by between 1.3 and 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century, predicted that in the absence of human intervention those temperatures could rise by another 10 degrees during the coming century, and attributed recent adverse weather events such as floods and droughts to climate change caused by humans.

Harper's Weekly Review, May 13, 2014

Your darkly gleaming Monday links

"He believed then that human life was infinitely perfectible, eliminating these conditions?"

"There remained the generic conditions imposed by natural, as distinct from human law, as integral parts of the human whole: the necessity of destruction to procure alimentary sustenance: the painful character of the ultimate functions of separate existence, the agonies of birth and death: the monotonous menstruation of simian and (particularly) human females extending from the age of puberty to the menopause: inevitable accidents at sea, in mines and factories: certain very painful maladies and their resultant surgical operations, innate lunacy and congenital criminality, decimating epidemics: catastrophic cataclysms which make terror the basis of human mentality: seismic upheavals the epicentres of which are located in densely populated regions: the fact of vital growth, through convulsions of metamorphosis from infancy through maturity to decay."

Where our energy comes from and how it is used and wasted
an image showing sources and uses of electricity for the USA

I used to love reading my parents' old copies of the Whole Earth Catalog, my first introduction to what was techno-hippie culture. Anybody remember zomes?

I would love a good book of this kind, I hope this is the one.

Reducing greenhouse gases: where to start
Chart of greenhouse gas abatement methods
McKinsey put together this cost-benefit chart of greenhouse gas abatement methods. The width of each box is the estimated impact in reducing greenhouse gases, the height is the estimated cost. So everything below the line saves money as well as reducing greenhouse gases. I assume this takes initial capital investment into account. Here's the text of the study.

There are usually hidden costs to technology changes, and political dimensions that make purely technocratic analysis like this less than a slam-dunk. Framing the discussion around relative cost-benefit data is a good place to start, though. There are a zillion initiatives that might make sense individually, but that shouldn't be near the top of the list of priorities. These initiatives will appear as congressional earmarks - the green economy will be a political economy. We need people in the discussion nudging us back to the highest carbon ROI investments.

Fuck peak oil
"My guess is virtually 90% of the oil industry is assuming that $70 oil is not going to last more than a few years," according to Adam Sieminski, the chief energy economist at Deutsche Bank ... he guesses that most oil companies are projecting crude will fetch $40 a barrel plus inflation over the long-term.

The article goes into the whys ... right now 35% of oil discovered makes it to market, the rest stays in the ground. Oil companies have gotten better and better at extracting it, and they're counting on continued improvement.

Wall Street looks like it's betting on more of a peak oil scenario, though.

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