A couple of streaks ended today.
First, the good one: after 221 days, I finally got to fly somewhere. That's the longest I've gone without traveling by air since 1980, or possibly earlier.
Second, the bad one: after 82 days, I finally missed 10,000 steps, owing to the above-mentioned flying. That's the longest stretch of 10k-plus days I've had since getting a Fitbit. (I would have made it, too, if it weren't for those meddling time zones.)
Finally, there is a crushing disappointment that I will share tomorrow morning. Well, maybe not crushing, but certainly disappointing. And temporary, it seems, but coinciding exactly with my trip here. So, boo.
Most people starting college this year were born in 2000. Let that sink in. Then read this:
- They are the first class born in the new millennium, escaping the dreaded label of “Millennial,” though their new designation—iGen, GenZ, etc. — has not yet been agreed upon by them.
- Outer space has never been without human habitation.
- They have always been able to refer to Wikipedia.
- They have grown up afraid that a shooting could happen at their school, too.
- People loudly conversing with themselves in public are no longer thought to be talking to imaginary friends.
It gets worse from there. (Worse, I suppose, if you realize that these kids are 30 years younger than you are.)
I'm traveling today, so this may be my last post of the Summer of 2018. Posting resumes from the Ancestral Homeland tomorrow.
The New York City subway, with its passive air exchange system and tunnels too small for active ventilation or air conditioning, have gotten excessively hot this summer:
On Thursday, temperatures inside at least one of the busiest stations reached 40°C—nearly 11°C warmer than the high in Central Park.
The Regional Plan Association, an urban planning think tank for the greater metropolitan area, took a thermometer around the system’s 16 busiest stations, plus a few more for good measure, and shared the data with CityLab. A platform at Union Square Station had the 40°C reading at 1 p.m., which was the hottest they found, although Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall and Columbus Circle weren’t far off at 39°C and 38½°C, at around 10 and 11 a.m., respectively. Twelve out of the 16 busiest stops boiled at or over the 32°C mark in the late morning and early afternoon.
One might think that subway stations would offer crisp respite to sweaty New Yorkers, being underground and all. But you’d be wrong. Heat doesn’t only “rise”—it just diffuses to cooler areas, which can include below-ground spaces. Plus, only a few of the city’s 472 stations are equipped with air conditioning; most rely on a passive ventilation system better known for their Marilyn Monroe moments above ground. This system was built in the days before AC, and the MTA says it’s not possible to squeeze the station-cooling machinery that other metro systems have inside New York’s narrow tunnels. Meanwhile, the units that cool passengers inside cars actually shed heat into the stations as trains pass through.
That onboard air-conditioning can fail, too. The MTA has also seen a rising number of complaints about overheated cars in recent years. In today’s issue of Signal Problems, his indispensable newsletter focused on subway accountability, the journalist Aaron Gordon reports that “about two percent of all subway cars in service on any given day might not have working A/C,” according to the MTA. That means at least 100 cars are roasting passengers on any given day this summer.
This problem also bedevils the London Underground.
Meanwhile, here in Chicago, we're having our 73rd day this year above 27°C, just 10 short of the record. Given the normal number of temperatures that warm between now and October, I think we'll probably set a new one.
And the sunlight here looks eerily orange and hazy today, because of climate change-driven wildfires out west.
Welcome to the future.
As London broils in 34°C heat today, New Republic's Emily Atkin asks, "Why are some major news outlets still covering extreme weather like it's an act of God?"
The science is clear: Heat-trapping greenhouse gases have artificially increased the average temperature across the globe, making extreme heat events more likely. This has also increased the risk of frequent and more devastating wildfires, as prolonged heat dries soil and turns vegetation into tinder.
And yet, despite these facts, there’s no climate connection to be found in much news coverage of extreme weather events across the globe—even in historically climate-conscious outlets like NPR and The New York Times. These omissions, critics say, can affect how Americans view global warming and its impact on their lives.
Meanwhile, the Guardian (who, one hopes, have air conditioning in their offices) are reporting that 87% of the earth's oceans have human-caused damage.
London has very few air conditioners compared with North American cities, because the 30°C temperatures they've got right now happen so rarely it hasn't made a lot of sense to install them. But this heat wave is different:
The average July high in Stockholm, for example, is usually 23°C; this week, temperatures will crest 32°C, and there are 21 wildfires currently blazing across Sweden during its worst drought in 74 years. Some municipalities have resorted to sending leaflets to older residents to give them tips on how to manage the heat. Hospitals are shipping in otherwise rarely needed air conditioning units. Swimmers might be tempting to cool off in the city’s many waterways, but hot weather has caused giant algae blooms to appear within the Stockholm Archipelago, making the water unhealthy to swim in.
In the UK, severe dry conditions have also fed wildfires. Earlier this month, a large section of the grassy meadows at Wanstead Flats, on London’s eastern edge, burnt to ash—only to reignite again during another fire yesterday. This summer parts of the London region have received only six percent of their normal rainfall, leaving parks brown and reservoirs dry.
Parts of the UK may hit 36°C later this week, with torrential downpours predicted for Friday—a recipe for flash floods and massive property damage:
Several places have now had 54 consecutive dry days – meaning less than 1mm of rain – stretching back to 30 May, the longest spell since 1969 when 70 days passed with no significant rainfall, according to the Met Office.
The longest run of days with no rain at all this summer is 48 at Brooms Barn, near Bury St Edmunds.
A Met Office spokesman said: “For the UK as a whole we’ve only seen about 20% of the rainfall we’d normally expect throughout the whole summer. Parts of southern England have seen only 6%.”
Several longtime Daily Parker readers live in or are this week visiting the UK. Guys: how bad is it where you are? I'll be in the Big Stink on August 31st to find out for myself. I hope it's not as grim by then.
I probably won't have time to read all of these things over lunch:
Share that last one with your non-technical friends. It's pretty clever.
As I write this, my Ancestral Homeland's football team are up 1-0 over Croatia in the World Cup semifinals. This wasn't supposed to happen:
Since 2006, England’s performance on the world stage has been lamentable, a comedy of errors marked by group-stage evictions, racism scandals, and grifters. In 2016, after the abrupt departures of two successive managers, the former England player and manager of its feeder under-21 team Gareth Southgate was given temporary charge of the national team, a decision that seemed safe, if uninspired. Expectations for Russia 2018 were muted, to say the least. “Before the tournament started, I could not make a case for us winning it,” the former England captain Alan Shearer wrote, Eeyore-ishly, in a column for the BBC. “I just wanted to see some signs of improvement.”
What happened instead has been a surprisingly smooth path to Wednesday night’s semifinal against Croatia, as a youthful and undaunted England side swept away a nation’s pessimism. Southgate’s great accomplishment—aside from the manager’s natty collection of waistcoats—has been getting the squad to envision itself as a team, as opposed to a collection of surly prima donnas who’d rather be spending their summers on Roman Abramovich’s yacht. England has one of the youngest and most inexperienced squads of all the teams competing in Russia, with an average age of 26.
As England heads toward its Wednesday-night match with Croatia, the anticipation of a potential victory (and a spot in the finals for the first time in 52 years) offers some welcome relief from the turbulence surrounding Theresa May’s government and the ongoing gloom of Brexit. (Almost as perturbing as the England team’s current run of success is the fact that Sunday marked England’s 50th straight day of sunshine.) Waistcoat sales are cresting. Motorways and shopping malls are being abandoned. Even Southgate is daring to dream. “How far can we go?” he told The Guardian.“Let’s push the boundaries, let’s create our own history.”
We've got the match on in the office. Updates as conditions warrant.
Large areas of the planet are experiencing record heat this week, as predicted by the anthropogenic climate change hypothesis:
No single record, in isolation, can be attributed to global warming. But collectively, these heat records are consistent with the kind of extremes we expect to see increase in a warming world.
As we reported, Quriyat, Oman, posted the world’s hottest low temperature ever recorded on June 28: 109 degrees (42.6 Celsius).
That's right; in Oman overnight on June 28th, it never got below a potentially lethal temperature.
It's beginning to look a little like Christmas...on Venus.
Meetings and testing all day have put these on my list for reading tomorrow:
And with that, it's the weekend.
Elon Musk's Boring Co. has gotten approval to start work on a high-speed underground connection between O'Hare and downtown Chicago:
The promised project: A closed-loop pair of tunnels from Block 37 in the central Loop to the airport that would whisk passengers to their flights in 12 minutes, using autonomous pod-like vehicles, or electric skates, that would depart as frequently as every 30 seconds and carry up to 16 passengers and their luggage.
If all goes as it should, [Deputy Mayor Robert] Rivkin said, construction work could begin next year with actual service in operation around 2022.
The Chicago project generally would use already existing "electric skate" technology, though it would link them together in a form and length that is unique to this country. The direct connection via a dedicated tunnel would allow those vehicles to accelerate to over 100 miles per hour, according to the city and Boring, slashing the time on the 27 km O'Hare run. And the project would-use the long mothballed CTA "superstation" under Block 37 as a terminal, with the end point located near the CTA's Blue Line terminus close to O'Hare terminals but outside of the airport's security perimeter.
I really, really hope the project succeeds. It will be nice to get from O'Hare to downtown that quickly, though I doubt the $25 fare will last long. For comparison to other under-20-minute express trains, the Heathrow Express costs $29 while the Schiphol Fyra (to Amsterdam) only costs $6.25. If you want to take an hour, the El costs $5 and the Tube $4.10 (off-peak).