The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Foomp

In the last couple of days, I've observed a phenomenon I don't remember seeing in years past, perhaps because the city has a different mix of tree species around my new place. It looks like all the silver maples in Ravenswood dropped their leaves just in the past 72 hours:

All the other trees in the neighborhood took their time over the warm, dry fall we've had, but the silver maples hung on like a 6-year-old holding his breath.

Researching this post, I learned that the city requires property owners to limit Norway and silver maples to 5% of the total population of trees they plant. Maples account for 38% of Chicago's trees (as of 2013), so the city recommends planting London planetrees, Chicago Blues black locusts, and Chicagoland hackberries, among a few others.

It shouldn't have surprised me that Chicago itself has become a specific ecological niche with its own local plant species. I can't wait to see rattus norvegicus chicagoensis lurking in my alley...but I'd bet they're out there.

Putin remains master strategist

Thirty-five weeks into his 3-day war, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin woke up to a new IAEA report that his invasion of Ukraine may cause a permanent decline in Russian fortunes:

The energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is likely to speed up rather than slow down the global transition away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner technologies like wind, solar and electric vehicles, the world’s leading energy agency said Thursday.

While some countries have been burning more fossil fuels such as coal this year in response to natural gas shortages caused by the war in Ukraine, that effect is expected to be short-lived, the International Energy Agency said in its annual World Energy Outlook, a 524-page report that forecasts global energy trends to 2050.

Instead, for the first time, the agency now predicts that worldwide demand for every type of fossil fuel will peak in the near future.

Russia, which had been the world’s leading exporter of fossil fuels, is expected to be hit especially hard by the energy disruptions it has largely created. As European nations race to reduce their reliance on Russian oil and gas, Russia is likely to face challenges in finding new markets in Asia, particularly for its natural gas, the report said. As a result, Russian fossil fuel exports are unlikely to return to their prewar levels.

Josh Marshall connects the dots:

What interested me most about the report however is the impact of the Ukraine War on Russia itself. Russia has spent decades building up both the economic engine of its fossil fuel industry as well as its geopolitical power. The report includes a range of scenarios for how the 2022 energy crisis impact plays out over the coming decades. But in each scenario Russia’s role as an energy producer goes into permanent decline. As the report’s executive summary puts it, “Russian fossil fuel exports never return – in any of our scenarios – to the levels seen in 2021, and its share of internationally traded oil and gas falls by half by 2030…”

That's the problem with malignant narcissism: if you think you're the smartest guy in the room, and you discount everyone else's opinion because of it, you won't know you're wrong until reality asserts itself.

Complete pile-up in my "to be read" stack

I've had a busy day. I finally solved the token-authentication problem I've been working on all week for my day job (only to discover another flavor of it after deploying to Azure), while dealing with a plumber ($1600 repair!), an HVAC inspector ($170 inspection!) and my buyer's mortgage appraiser (not my problem!). That left some reading to do tonight:

Finally, despite the crashing temperatures outside my window right now (down 5.5°C in the past 2 hours), Illinois had a pretty dry and mild start to autumn.

Ian makes landfall

Hurricane Ian has made landfall over Tampa, Fla., as a strong Category-4 storm:

In a 3:05 p.m. update, the National Hurricane Center said the massive Category 4 storm made landfall on the southwest coast with 240 km/h maximum sustained winds. The most immediate and life-threatening concern was storm surge — the waters of the Gulf of Mexico pushed inland by Ian.

The surge predictions from the National Hurricane Center soared overnight to 4 to 6 meters for Englewood to Bonita Bay, a forecast so high a new color was added to the National Hurricane Center’s peak storm surge prediction map. The worst of that storm surge is expected after landfall and later this evening.

Here is the GOES-East satellite image for the past 4 hours:

I have friends in Tampa and Orlando I'm keeping tabs on. I hope they're all right as the storm moves (very slowly) north. Currently, the probability cone has the storm also hitting just west of the RDU area as a tropical depression. As my (Hungarian) primary flight instructor often said all those years ago, "it mights gonna to be a bit vindy."

Good thing there's an El

My commute to work Friday might get a little longer, as Metra has announced that 9 out of its 11 lines (including mine) would likely not operate if railroad engineers and conductors go on strike Friday. Amtrak has already started cancelling trains so they won't get stranded mid-route should the strike happen.

In other news:

  • Cook County tax bills won't come out until late autumn, according to the County President, meaning no one knows how much cash they have to escrow when they sell real estate.
  • The Post has an interactive map showing everywhere in the US that hit a record high temperature this summer.
  • US Rep. Marjorie Taylor "Still Smarter than Lauren Boebert" Greene (R-GA) has come up with a climate-change theory so dumb it actually seems smart.
  • US Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), another intellectual giant of the 117th Congress, proposed a Federal abortion ban, demonstrating a keen command of how most people in the United States view the issue.
  • Robert Wright explores "why we're so clueless about Putin."
  • Block Club Chicago explains why my neighborhood and a few others experienced massive geysers coming out of storm drains during Sunday's flooding rains.

Finally, right-wing lawyer Kenneth Starr died at age 76. No reaction yet from Monica Lewinsky.

Bog-standard August

Despite record temperatures in late spring, Illinois had a perfectly average August, which the state climatologist for some reason refers to as "mild:"

May kicked off summer early in Illinois with a very unusual heat wave. Then came a very warm June that had this winter lover wishing for sweater weather. Fortunately, a slightly cooler July was followed by a very mild August.

August average temperatures ranged from the low 70s [F] in northern Illinois to the high 70s in southern Illinois, within 1 degree [Fahrenheit] of normal statewide. The warmest place in the state last month was Bean Ridge in Alexander County with an average August temperature of 25.6°C. The coolest place in the state–other than my house–was Shabbona in DeKalb County with an average August temperature of 20.6°C.

Overall, the preliminary statewide average August temperature was 23.2°C, 0.1°C above the 1991–2020 average and the 58th warmest on record going back to 1895.

I'll take it. August felt just fine to me, and the forecast for this coming weekend looks pretty good, too.

The last post of the summer

Meteorological summer ends in just a few hours here in Chicago. Pity; it's been a decent one (for us; not so much for the Western US). I have a couple of things to read this afternoon while waiting for endless test sessions to complete on my work laptop:

And via Bruce Schneier, a group of local Chicago high schoolers will never give you up and never let you down.

Storms came early

A line of thunderstorms just blew past my office about 3 hours ahead of schedule, which means I might get home at a reasonable hour without drowning. Of course, we might get more storms:

Scott Lincoln, a National Weather Service meteorologist. The first storms are expected to hit Chicago as early as 1 p.m., but that could vary — and more storms will be possible throughout the afternoon, he said.

Some parts of the city could get 1-2 inches of rain or more if they’re hit by strong storms, while other parts will see less than 1 inch, Lincoln said. In general, the Chicago area will get .5 to 1 inch of rain, he said.

“Summertime storms are very variable with rain amounts,” Lincoln said. “All depends who lucks out and who ends up getting a storm.”

The entire world has serious problems with water, though. Most troubling, a new study found that Greenland will lose 110 trillion tons of ice regardless of what climate mitigations we put in place, raising sea levels 30 cm:

The predictions are more dire than other forecasts, though they use different assumptions. While the study did not specify a time frame for the melting and sea-level rise, the authors suggested much of it can play out between now and the year 2100.

“The point is, we need to plan for that ice as if it weren’t on the ice sheet in the near future, within a century or so,” William Colgan, a study co-author who studies the ice sheet from its surface with his colleagues at the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, said in a video interview.

“Every study has bigger numbers than the last. It’s always faster than forecast,” Colgan said.

And in the southwestern US, the drought looks worse and worse every day:

The Colorado River, which supplies water to more than 40 million Americans and supports food production for the rest of the country, is in imminent peril. The levels in the nation’s largest freshwater reservoir, Lake Mead, behind the Hoover Dam and a fulcrum of the Colorado River basin, have dropped to around 25% of capacity. The Bureau of Reclamation, which governs lakes Mead and Powell and water distribution for the southern end of the river, has issued an ultimatum: The seven states that draw from the Colorado must find ways to cut their consumption — by as much as 40% — or the federal government will do it for them. Last week those states failed to agree on new conservation measures by deadline. Meanwhile, next door, California, which draws from the Colorado, faces its own additional crises, with snowpack and water levels in both its reservoirs and aquifers all experiencing a steady, historic and climate-driven decline. It’s a national emergency, but not a surprise, as scientists and leaders have been warning for a generation that warming plus overuse of water in a fast-growing West would lead those states to run out.

Everyone thought anthropogenic climate change would happen slowly, giving us plenty of time to adapt. It seems even the pessimists underestimated how quickly the shit hit the fan.

Amazing late-summer weather

The South's misfortune is Chicago's benefit this week as a hot-air dome over Texas has sent cool Canadian air into the Midwest, giving us in Chicago a perfect 26°C afternoon at O'Hare—with 9°C dewpoint. (It's 25°C at IDTWHQ.) Add to that a sprint review earlier today, and I might have to spend a lot more time outside today.

So I'll just read all this later:

Finally, the leader of the Westminster city council in London really wants to close down the "American" candy stores opening up all up and down Oxford Street.

Lunchtime links

Happy Monday:

I would now like to take a nap, but alas...