I just got back from walking Cassie for about half an hour, and I'm a bit sticky. The dog days of summer in Chicago tend to have high dewpoints hanging out for weeks on end, making today pretty typical.
Our sprint ends Tuesday and I still have 3 points left on the board, so I may not have time to give these more than a cursory read:
Finally, Andrew Sullivan adapts a column he wrote in August 2001 asking, "why can't Americans take a vacation?" One reason, I believe: all the time and money we spend in and on our cars.
While I fight a slow laptop and its long build cycle (and how every UI change seems to require re-compiling), the first day of the last month of summer brought this to my inbox:
- Who better to prosecute the XPOTUS than a guy who prosecuted other dictators and unsavory characters for the International Criminal Court? (In America, we don't go to The Hague; here, The Hague comes to you!)
- After the evidence mounted that Hungary has issued hundreds of thousands of passports without adequate identity checks, the US has restricted Hungarian passport holders from the full benefits of ESTA that other Schengen-area citizens enjoy.
- The US economy continues to exceed the expectations of people who have predicted a recession any day now. (Of course, every dead pool has a guaranteed winner eventually...)
- After an unprecedented 31 consecutive days enduring temperatures over 43°C, Phoenix finally caught a break yesterday—when the temperature only hit 42°C.
- Jake Meador explores why about 40 million fewer Americans go to church these days than in 1995.
- Remember how we all thought Tesla made cars with amazing battery ranges? Turns out, Elon Musk can't do that right, either.
- American car culture not only gives us unlivable environments, but also discourages the exploration that people in other countries (and I when I go there) do all the time.
- We should all remember (and thank) USSR naval Captain Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov, who vetoed firing a nuclear-tipped torpedo at an American destroyer during the Cuban Missile Crisis 71 years ago.
Finally, Chicago historian John Schmidt tells the story of criminal mastermind Adam Worth, who may have been Arthur Conan Doyle's inspiration for Professor Moriarty.
I'm still working on the feature I described in my last post. So some articles have stacked up for me to read:
And while I read these articles and write this code, outside my window the dewpoint has hit 25°C, making the 28°C air feel like it's 41°C. And poor Cassie only has sweat glands between her toes. We're going to delay her dinnertime walk a bit.
Back in 1990, journalist James Burke produced a documentary for PBS called "After the Warming," which looked back from an imagined 2050 to explain how and why palm trees came to grow in Boston. The framing device he used was to set the documentary as an explainer for an important report on the Atlantic thermohaline circulation study due to be released during the broadcast. I won't spoil it for you except to say as pessimistic as Burke was in 1990, he may have been, in fact, overly optimistic:
The Atlantic Ocean’s sensitive circulation system has become slower and less resilient, according to a new analysis of 150 years of temperature data — raising the possibility that this crucial element of the climate system could collapse within the next few decades.
Scientists have long seen the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC, as one of the planet’s most vulnerable “tipping elements” — meaning the system could undergo an abrupt and irreversible change, with dramatic consequences for the rest of the globe. Under Earth’s current climate, this aquatic conveyor belt transports warm, salty water from the tropics to the North Atlantic, and then sends colder water back south along the ocean floor. But as rising global temperatures melt Arctic ice, the resulting influx of cold freshwater has thrown a wrench in the system — and could shut it down entirely.
The study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications suggests that continued warming will push the AMOC over its “tipping point” around the middle of this century. The shift would be as abrupt and irreversible as turning off a light switch, and it could lead to dramatic changes in weather on either side of the Atlantic.
The consequences would not be nearly as dire as they appear in the 2004 sci-fi film “The Day After Tomorrow,” in which a sudden shutdown of the current causes a flash freeze across the northern hemisphere. But it could lead to a drop in temperatures in northern Europe and elevated warming in the tropics, Peter Ditlevsen said, as well as stronger storms on the East Coast of North America.
Exactly: palm trees in Boston and the extinction of most food crops in Scotland, Scandinavia, and the Baltics. London in January may only have 6 hours of daylight but it rarely gets below freezing, even though it's at roughly the same latitude as Calgary. If the Atlantic stops bringing warm Caribbean water to the British Isles, the UK will have to invest in snow plows.
The main thing that Burke predicted in his film has come to pass, however: decades of inaction by politicians who have no incentive (other than having to live on the planet) for taking long-term action on climate change. And we're the worst offenders.
I'm having a few people over for a BBQ this evening, several of them under 10 years old, and several of them dogs. I've got about 45 minutes before I have to start cutting vegetables. Tomorrow will be a quiet day, so I'll just queue these stories up for then:
- Not a group to pass up risible hypocrisy, Alabama Republicans have defied the US Supreme Court's order that they create a second majority-Black district in the state, preferring just to shuffle the state's African Americans into a new minority districts. This leaves African Americans with 27% of the population and 14% of the Congressional representation, and the state Republican majority wishing it could just go all the way back to Jim Crow instead of this piecemeal stuff.
- Surprising no one who understood that former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) cared less about governing than about enriching his pals (and himself), the Foxconn semiconductor factory that Wisconsin residents subsidized for $3 billion has not, in fact, created 13,000 jobs yet. Probably because it doesn't exist yet, and may never.
- James Hansen, who first warned in the 1980s that human-caused climate warming had already started and would accelerate if we didn't cut greenhouse gas emissions, thinks "we are damned fools" for needing to experience it to believe it.
- The Chicago city council plans to pass legislation raising the minimum wage for tipped workers to the general minimum wage of $15.80 per hour, up from $9.48 today. This doesn't address how anyone could possibly live on $32,000 per year in Chicago, let alone $19,000 a year at the lower wage.
OK, time for a quick shower and 15 minutes of doing nothing...
It's Tuesday afternoon, and I think I'm caught up with everything in the way of me ploughing through some coding at work the remainder of the week. At some point, I might even read all of these through:
Finally, North Korean troops detained a US soldier after he intentionally crossed the demarcation line in the Joint Security Area, apparently after deserting while en route to the US for unspecified disciplinary measures arising from a separate incident. When I visited the JSA in 2013, a tour guide told me that this happens occasionally, and the North Korean army rarely gives the person back. Not sure life in a North Korean prison beats an other-than-honorable discharge from the US Army, but what do I know?
Just a few items for my reading list:
- The Supreme Court's Republican majority have invented a new doctrine that they claim gives them override any action by a Democratic administration or Congress.
- John Ganz thinks all Americans are insane, at least when it comes to conspiracy theories.
- Chicago's Deep Tunnel may have spared us from total disaster with last week's rains, but even it can't cope with more than about 65 mm of rain in an hour.
- Oregon's Rose Quarter extension of Interstate 5 will cost an absurd amount of money because it's an absurdly wide freeway.
Finally, for those of you just tuning in to the multiple creative labor actions now paralyzing the film industry, the Washington Post has a succinct briefing on residuals, the principal point of disagreement between the suits and the people actually making films.
Sea-surface temperatures around our embarrassing southern peninsula have passed 32°C, significantly warmer than normal:
Not only is Florida sizzling in record-crushing heat, but the ocean waters that surround it are scorching, as well. The unprecedented ocean warmth around the state — connected to historically warm oceans worldwide — is further intensifying its heat wave and stressing coral reefs, with conditions that could end up strengthening hurricanes.
Much of Florida is seeing its warmest year on record, with temperatures running 2 to 3°C above normal. While some locations have been setting records since the beginning of the year, the hottest weather has come with an intense heat dome cooking the Sunshine State in recent weeks. That heat dome has made coastal waters extremely warm, including “downright shocking” temperatures of 33°C to 35°C in the Florida Keys, meteorologist and journalist Bob Henson said Sunday in a tweet.
Such warm water temperatures “would be impressive any time of year, but they’re occurring when the water would already be rather warm, bringing it up to bona fide bathtub conditions that we rarely see,” Brian McNoldy, senior research associate at the University of Miami and hurricane expert for Capital Weather Gang, said in an email.
The marine heat wave will likely make this year's hurricane season more active and more powerful, and cause continued above-normal temperatures in the Caribbean and southern US.
Monday was the hottest day on the planet in 125,000 years. Yesterday was hotter:
Tuesday was the hottest day on Earth since at least 1979, with the global average temperature reaching 17.18°C, according to data from the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Prediction.
Tuesday’s global average temperature was calculated by a model that uses data from weather stations, ships, ocean buoys and satellites, Paulo Ceppi, a climate scientist at London’s Grantham Institute, explained in an email Wednesday. This modeling system has been used to estimate daily average temperatures starting in 1979.
“This is our ‘best guess’ of what the surface temperature at each point on earth was yesterday,” he said.
Instrument-based global temperature records go back to the mid-19th century, but for temperatures before that, scientists are dependent on proxy data captured through evidence left in tree rings and ice cores. “These data tell us that it hasn’t been this warm since at least 125,000 years ago, which was the previous interglacial,” Ceppi said, referring to a period of unusual warmth between two ice ages.
Because of the El Nino building in the Pacific, the normal seasonal warmth in the Northern Hemisphere, and human-caused climate change, we can expect more records as the summer goes on. Nice work, people.
Yesterday's rain in Chicago set a few records:
Sunday’s heavy rain poured upward of 200 mm in Berwyn, Cicero and Garfield Park, according to preliminary reports from weather officials, sending residents in search of supplies to clean up flooded homes.
The National Weather Service said that daily rainfall totals ranged from 75 to 175 mm in the immediate Chicago area after “extended rounds of heavy/torrential rainfall.”
The preliminary data came from radar estimates, personal weather stations and rain gauges. Official information will be released over the next few days, weather officials said.
O’Hare International Airport broke the record for daily rainfall on Sunday, recording 85 mm of rain. The previous record was 52 mm in July 1982.
Yesterday's rain didn't even come close to the record 24-hour rainfall that ruined a summer party I'd planned for weeks on 13-14 August 1987. That day we got 238 mm of rain and a flooded basement.