Friday, October 21, 2016

A Most Agreeable Weekend - Target Is U.S. Company With The Most Solar Power

SATURDAY: Mild sunshine, a fine fall day. Winds: W 5-10. High: 62

SATURDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy. Low: 46

SUNDAY: Patchy clouds, winds pick up. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 59

MONDAY: Cool sunshine, very pleasant. Winds: SE 5-10. Wake-up: 38. High: 56

TUESDAY: Few showers southern Minnesota. Winds: SE 10-20. Wake-up: 41. High: 52

WEDNESDAY: Cold rain tapers off PM hours. Winds: E 10-15. Wake-up: 43. High: near 50

THURSDAY: Mostly cloudy, gusty winds. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 40. High: 52

FRIDAY: More sunshine, less wind. Winds: E 5-10. Wake-up: 38. High: 56

Addicted to Travel - No Complaints This Weekend

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness” wrote Mark Twain. Traveling is our vice, preoccupation and obsession. Logging miles on Delta gives us new understanding of the world, and new appreciation for Minnesota.

Overhead at yesterday's Senior Expo in Scott County: "You're sure gone a lot Paul!" Well, we don't want to wait until we're in our 70s to tick off items on our bucket  list. 50 countries so far - the goal is 100 before we take the ultimate journey.

And I'm not talking France.

You won't want to go anywhere this weekend with low 60s and sunshine dribbling through high cirrus clouds. Rain is still possible Tuesday and Wednesday, although latest model runs take the biggest puddles south of MSP. We warm up to 70F or beyond a week from today before cooling off for Halloween.

Don't buck the trends. In spite of a La Nina cool phase in the Pacific my hunch is a continued mild bias into at least November.

My wife of 32 years and I love to travel. But we also like coming back home. There's nothing better than returning to the cool, clean sanity of Minnesota.

Photo credit: Fidel L Soto.

NOAA's Winter Outlook Predicts Warmer, Drier South and Cooler, Wetter North. Will that translate into more snow for Minnesota and Wisconsin? How 'bout those Vikes! Here's an excerpt from NOAA: "Forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center issued the U.S. Winter Outlook today, saying that La Nina is expected to influence winter conditions this year. The Climate Prediction Center issued a La Nina watch this month, predicting the climate phenomenon is likely to develop in late fall or early winter. La Nina favors drier, warmer winters in the southern U.S and wetter, cooler conditions in the northern U.S. If La Nina conditions materialize, forecasters say it should be weak and potentially short-lived..."

Early Look at Halloween. Thanks to Planalytics for passing along their preview for October 31 weather from coast to coast. No big blizzards brewing this year: "Weather plays an important role on Halloween as it affects what trick-or-treaters will be wearing as well as the types of food and beverages to serve at parties and gatherings. For Halloween Monday (October 31st), expect temperatures to be cooler than normal in the West, supporting demand for light jackets and warm beverages. Near to above normal temperatures are anticipated in much of the Northeast. Markets in the Plains, Midwest, and Deep South are expected to remain warmer than normal, creating “spooktacular” conditions for trick-or-treaters..."

Stronger Than Expected La Nina May Be Brewing. Reuters has an update and context: "Many have doubted forecasts calling for the onset of the first La Niña in almost five years, believing that its failure to materialize in convincing fashion last summer - as originally predicted - means that it may be off the table for 2016-17. But in recent weeks, the oceans and atmosphere have been pulling everything into place to facilitate a potentially stronger La Niña than previously thought, so those who follow commodities markets may want to take a second look. Last Thursday, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center reissued the La Niña watch that was removed in early September. The watch indicates that conditions are favorable for the phenomenon’s development within the next six months..."

ENSO Model Plume: Earth Institute, Columbia University.

Hottest Months on Record Have Something in Common. Climate Central reports: "...The run of record-setting months means 15 of the most abnormally warm months have occurred since March 2015. Accounting for ties, the only exception is January 2007 which came in tied for 11th. There has never been a run of hot months like this in the 1,641 months (or 136-plus years) of data at NOAA’s disposal. March 2016 tops the list with a global temperature 2.21°F (1.23°C) above the 20th century average. Even though September 2016 is the second-warmest September on record, it’s still on the list clocking in at 11th with temperatures 1.6°F (0.89°C) above average..."

Map credit: "The year-to-date heat has the world on track for its hottest year on record."

Let's Choose a New Name for "Indian Summer". Yes, the name is something of a head-scratcher. Here's more perspective from Atlas Obscura: "...In his extremely thorough research, though, Matthews never discovered a convincing explanation for what the phrase meant. Why associate Native Americans with warm days in fall? There were plenty of ideas floating around: Native Americans had predicted the warm spell to settlers; they used that time of the year to extend their harvest; a tribe's mythology connects the weather to the sigh of the personified southern wind. "Indian summer" may have had a tinge of colonial nostalgia to it, too. Some of the examples Matthews found argued that by the 1800s "Indian summer" had disappeared. "This short season of mild and serene weather, the halcyon period of autumn, has disappeared with the primitive rest," wrote one 19th century author. “It fled from our land before the progress of civilization; it has departed with the primitive forest..."

Super Typhoon Wipes Out Nearly Every Home In This Philippine City. The imagery coming out of far northern Luzon is heart-wrenching; Huffington Post reports: "...Typhoon season typically lasts from May to October in the Philippines, which experiences on average about 20 storms per year. But in recent years, things have gotten worse. Five of the 10 deadliest typhoons to ever hit the archipelago nation came in the last decade, according to the nonprofit Climate Reality Project. In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan ― the country’s deadliest storm on record ― killed more than 6,300 people, displaced 4 million others and created $2 billion in damage. The intensity of super typhoons has spiked by about 10 percent since the 1970s, according to a study, released last year, of 850 storms in the Pacific..."

Hurricane Matthew Brought 1,000-Year Record Rainstorms to North Carolina. Here's the intro to a story at Pacific Standard: "The storm swept in by Hurricane Matthew has produced rainfall that exceeds the level expected about once every 1,000 years, according to a statistical analysis using National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data. Matthew broke numerous rainfall records in some of North Carolina’s toughest-hit towns, marking another spike in this year’s extreme weather. The new rainfall records were enabled by warming in the ocean and coastal atmospheres, which hold more water as temperatures increase — with a few cities across the Southeast reporting record levels of air moisture during the storm..."

1 in 1,000 Year Flood for North Carolina. Rainfall from Hurricane Matthew did, in fact, reach "thousand-year rainfall" criteria, according to NOAA. This is the 6th thousand-year flood to strike the USA since October, 2015. The list includes South Carolina, Maryland, West Virginia, Louisiana, Texas, and now North Carolina.

In Solar Panel Battle, Target's Beating Walmart. It's hard not to root for the hometown team. Here's an excerpt from "When it comes to US companies installing solar panels on their buildings, Target is in the lead. That's the top takeaway from a Solar Energy Industries Association report this week on companies that use sun-siphoned energy for their buildings. Interestingly, Apple is the only tech company to make the top 10. It comes in at No. 4, while Intel and Verizon come in at Nos. 14 and 15, respectively. Together, the top companies using solar energy have installed cells that can capture more than 1 gigawatt of energy, says the SEIA report. That's enough to power 193,000 homes. Although Walmart has more cells installed, it's Target that wins in bang for the buck with the highest capacity: 147 megawatts compared to Walmart's 145 MW..."

These Are The U.S. Companies With The Most Solar Power. Here's an excerpt from Fortune: "Target is now the U.S. company that produces the most solar power at its facilities, beating out Walmart for the first time, according to a new report looking at corporate solar power usage in the United States. Other companies with large installations of onsite solar panels include Prologis, Apple, Costco, Kohl’s, and IKEA, says a report released on Wednesday by the solar group the Solar Energy Industries Association..."

Photo credit: Forbes.

Minnesota Power Shutting Down 2 More Coal Generators. Duluth News Tribune has details: "Minnesota Power announced Wednesday that it will shut down two more of its coal-fired electrical generators, Boswell Units 1 and 2 in Cohasset, as the utility continues its move away from coal. The Duluth-based utility said it will idle the 1960-vintage units by the end of 2018 as it moves toward more natural gas and renewable energy from solar and wind generation. The changeover is part of the utility’s long-term Energy Forward focus and helps it comply with state regulations to get more energy from renewable sources..."

When Does an Artificial Intelligence Become a Person? How We Get To Next has another compelling, though-provoking, vaguely terrifying story; here's the intro: "The things that define something as someone — as a person — are complex, contested, and mutable. Thinking about the moral, legal, and philosophical arguments around who does and does not get to be a person is a crucial step as we move ever closer toward the birth of the first truly sentient machines, and the destruction of the most highly sentient, endangered animals. What level of sophistication will artificial intelligences need to attain before we consider them people — and all the rights that entails? And at what point on the spectrum of intelligence will we be creating machines that are as smart, and as deserving of legal rights, as the sentient animals we’re driving to extinction?..." (Image credit: Exosphere).

Man, This Guy Really Likes His Coffee. Typhoon? Flood? What stinking flood! I'm not going to let a little moving water get between me and my tall soy latte! Here's an excerpt of a funny story at TIME: "A Hong Kong man, affectionately dubbed “Starbucks Uncle” by social media, had one strategy when the coffee shop began to flood: keep calm and hang out. As it became flooded with standing water, he sat reading his newspaper, unperturbed by the typhoon raging outside, leading swirling waters to infiltrate his caffeine sanctuary. This week, Hong Kong has been dealing with torrential rainstorms and gale-force winds from Super Typhoon Haima, leading to flash flooding across the city..."

Climate Stories....

Global Warming Continues; 2016 Will Be The Hottest Year Ever Recorded. Here's an excerpt from Dr. John Abraham at the University of St. Thomas, writing for The Guardian: "...What is the big deal? Well first of all, 2016 blows away 2015 which was previously the hottest year ever and that had beaten 2014 as the hottest year ever – call this a three-peat. Three records in a row and the last two are by large margins. Does this mean global warming all of a sudden has gotten worse? No, surface temperatures fluctuate a lot – you can see that in the figure. Temperatures will go up or down from year to year without apparent reason. This is why we are interested in the long term trends. This is also why we are interested in looking at other measures of warming (especially in the oceans). All of our measurements agree with each other – we know the Earth was warming long before this set of records began falling in 2014..."

Map credit: "July 2016 was the hottest month every recorded according to a monthly analysis of global temperatures by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS)." Photograph: GISS/NASA.

Debate Moderators Completely Failed Millennials - And Everyone Else. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at "In 2016, likely the hottest year on record, there's one question US presidential debate moderators had a moral obligation to ask Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton: How do you plan to address climate change and rid the economy of fossil fuels? Yet they never did. That's just unbelievable. We're already seeing seas rising in Miami, wildfires worsening in the West and deaths related to swollen rainstorms in Louisiana. The effects in the future, if we don't curb emissions, will be much worse, including drowned coastal cities, supercharged droughts in the Southwest, mass extinction in the natural world and the likely end of the coral reefs..."

An Atmosphere of Neglect. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Baltimore Sun: "...The list of corporations that are making strategic decisions about their future with an eye to climate change reads like the Dow Jones Industrial Index: Walmart, Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Starbucks, Goldman Sachs and on and on. This isn't just some public relations move; farsighted executives see a huge advantage in steering their businesses toward a reduced carbon footprint, either through less energy consumption or greater use of less polluting forms of energy as temperatures rise. Yet despite this surge of activity within corporate leadership and investment communities, the presidential contenders can't be asked over the length of four and a half hours of debate about what the federal government should be doing? Shame on the various moderators for not insisting that Mr. Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speak directly on such a critically important topic..."

9 Cities To Live In If You're Worried About Climate Change. I'm surprised the Twin Cities didn't make the cut. My theory, my hunch is that Minneapolis, St. Paul and all of Minnesota will be in relatively good shape for one big reason: an abundant supply of clean water. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "It’s hard to imagine that any city in North America will escape the effects of climate change within the next 25 years. But some will be better positioned than others to escape the brunt of “drought, wildfire, extreme heat, extreme precipitation, extreme weather and hurricanes.” Those were some of the climate change-related threats listed by Benjamin Strauss, who focuses on climate impacts at Climate Central, an independent nonprofit research collaboration of scientists and journalists. Dr. Strauss, 44, identified cities where people could settle in the next two decades if they are aiming to avoid those threats..."

Climate Change: Extreme Environments to Require New Equipment, Tougher Ships. Here's an excerpt from National Defense Magazine: "...Areas where planning could be improved include disaster relief, emergency response, weapon system acquisition, theater campaign and installation master planning, he said in an email.We need to build resiliency into our efforts to adapt to a ‘normal’ that will continue to change over time,” he said. “Climate is not stationary and neither is national security.” The Defense Department is working with the office of science and technology policy, and the interagency science and technology community through the department’s research and engineering organizations to bring a “whole of government approach” to identifying technology needs and how they may be satisfied, he said. “Preparing for climate change, it’s actually not as much about the equipment; it’s about the mindset,” Holland said. “It requires foresight and thinking and planning." (File photo: Associated Press).

Greenland Is Melting. Check out Elizabeth Kolbert's article at The New Yorker; here's a clip: "...In recent years, as global temperatures have risen, the ice sheet has awoken from its postglacial slumber. Melt streams like the Rio Behar have always formed on the ice; they now appear at higher and higher elevations, earlier and earlier in the spring. This year’s melt season began so freakishly early, in April, that when the data started to come in, many scientists couldn’t believe it. “I had to go check my instruments,” one told me. In 2012, melt was recorded at the very top of the ice sheet. The pace of change has surprised even the modellers. Just in the past four years, more than a trillion tons of ice have been lost. This is four hundred million Olympic swimming pools’ worth of water, or enough to fill a single pool the size of New York State to a depth of twenty-three feet..."

Photo credit: "When water accumulates on the surface of an ice sheet, more sunlight gets absorbed, which results in more melt, in a cycle that builds on itself. This year’s melt season began so early that many scientists couldn’t believe the data they were seeing." Photograph by Daniel Beltrá.

Exxon Boss: Climate Change is "Real" and "Serious". Here's the story intro at ThinkProgress: "Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson said Wednesday the company backs a price on carbon and believes climate change brings “real” risks that require “serious” action. Speaking at the Oil & Money conference in London, Tillerson also noted that the Paris climate accord set to kick in this November is unlikely to limit near-term consumption of oil and gas, Climate Central reported..."

Photo credit: "ExxonMobil Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson." CREDIT: AP/Evan Vucci.

The Conservative Christian Case for Climate Change Action. My sincere thanks to Minnehaha Academy, which is hosting a book-launch event the evening of November 15.The first 500 people who RSVP will receive a complimentary copy of Caring for Creation. Details are here. Here's an excerpt of a Time Op-Ed written by "Caring for Creation" co-author, Methodist minister, former coal industry employee and EEN (Evangelical Environmental Network) President Mitch Hescox:"...Food and water scarcity are made worse across the developing world. Sea-level rise, increased asthma, and disease carrying insects across the U.S. are just a few of the other climate-related impacts. The good news is that overcoming climate change presents us with a tremendous opportunity to create a better world. In order to realize it, we must end the partisanship and dump the denial. The scientific debate about climate change is over. We might not know all the particulars about how quickly the oceans will rise, but the causation is clear. One only has to open a window to know that our environment has changed. We must honor our past, but we cannot live in it. Coal mining jobs continue to disappear. The blast furnaces of Pittsburgh and elsewhere won’t be rebuilt. We’re in the middle of an economic disruption..."

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