The Way We Live Now Open Thread: “Infrastructure Weak”

Quote in the title from the Hoarse Whisperer tweet that linked this article. From the LATimes, “Unprecedented power shutdown coming as winds bring critical fire danger”:

PG&E said the power cutoffs will begin just after midnight Wednesday.

The blackouts will impact 34 counties in central and northern California, including the Bay Area. It would be the biggest power shutdown so far as utilities across California attempt to reduce wildfire risk due to heavy wind. Utilities malfunctions have been tied to some of the state’s most destructive fires, including last year’s Camp fire, which devastated Paradise, Calif., and the 2017 wine country blazes.

“It is very possible that customers may be affected by a power shutoff even though they are not experiencing extreme weather conditions in their specific location,” the utility said in a statement. “This is because the electric system relies on power lines working together to provide electricity across cities, counties and regions.”

Southern California Edison announced it too was considering preventive power outages. The utility said, in advance of possibly strong Santa Ana winds, power could be cut off to more than 106,000 customers in parts of eight Southern California counties.

Edison’s possible outage would primarily affect utility customers in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Also under consideration are areas in Ventura County and portions of Kern, Tulare, Inyo and Mono counties…

Thoughts & prayers to those in the affected areas, and Murphy only knows I wish that were more useful.








West Virginia: Warmer, Wetter, AND Drier

This article caught my eye last weekend. It’s a quick read, but the implications – for WV as a whole and rural residents who are agriculturally dependent, but also for traffic that must transit the state – are dire.

Having just driven back and forth through 4 hours of WV, I can attest to the number of bridges, and I was surprised how many of my favorite passes in Colorado were still closed because of avalanche/road damage from all the precipitation the past 18 months.  If even a few bridges are knocked out because of the combined effects of more moisture and drier, less-absorbent soils, so much commerce will grind to a halt! I know in our talks of Climate Change, rarely is attention given to infrastructure and what happens once it fails. Some places, like WV, are so dependent on bridges that a string of collapses would put a damper on a huge area’s economic activity, not to mention the permanent population shifts as the land no longer supports the people that cling to it.

An excerpt:

If nothing is done to mitigate temperature rise, the study says, Appalachia is likely to become not only hotter, but wetter and drier. How can it be both? Zegre, an associate professor of forest hydrology in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and his team, just completed a study of the entire 7 state region.  Here’s how they say it would happen: “As the atmosphere warms, evaporation increases so water that is in the trees, in the soil, in our crops, in wetlands lakes and rivers, evaporates more quickly.”  And with all that water held in the atmosphere, when it rains it pours. “In the steep topography of the Appalachian region, what this translates to, is landslides and floods.”

Article (and audio, for those interested): Appalachia to become hotter, wetter, drier

 

Open thread!








A Climate Change Disaster That Might Actually Hit Denialists Where They (And Most Of Us) Live

The tiny handed shitgibbon infesting the White House seems to “think” that folks can’t tell the difference between weather and climate:*

“Large parts of the Country are suffering from tremendous amounts of snow and near record setting cold. Amazing how big this system is. Wouldn’t be bad to have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now!”

Don’t know about you but I can hear the “hurr, hurr, hurr” quite clearly.

Meanwhile, in the reality-based cosmos, new and increasingly horrific dimensions of the climate crisis are making themselves apparent with every passing week:

Applying IUCN Red List of Threatened Species criteria to all (124) wild coffee species, we undertook a gap analysis for germplasm collections and protected areas and devised a crop wild relative (CWR) priority system. We found that at least 60% of all coffee species are threatened with extinction, 45% are not held in any germplasm collection, and 28% are not known to occur in any protected area. Existing conservation measures, including those for key coffee CWRs, are inadequate. We propose that wild coffee species are extinction sensitive, especially in an era of accelerated climatic change.

Domesticated coffee cultivation in a context of changing climate, drought, changes in pest patterns etc. requires the kind of genetic variety and range of traits that the ~125 wild coffee species offer.  Those wild plants are subject to the same pressures that have created what many see as the sixth Great Extinction in the history of life on earth: loss of habitat, over exploitation, and, now, human-driven climate change.  As the abstract above notes, much of the genetic heritage of wild coffee is simply unknown: unpreserved, unstudied, and under dire threat.

Which means that while Trump smears faeces on the wall (on the faces of his supporters?) the one thing that makes facing a morning with his tweets in it seem even remotely possible is being put at risk by his and his party’s willed ignorance, stupidity, and greed.

Happy Sunday, all….

(Open Thread)

*He might not be wrong for much of his base, but more and more, it appears, this particular squib doesn’t have much impact beyond the I’ll-enjoy-the-drought-to-pwn-the-libs crowd.

Image: J.W.M. Turner, Snow Storm: Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouthc. 1842.








Late-Night Reiteration #1,357 Open Thread: Bernie Sanders Has Exactly *One* Principle

“What’s in it for me, Bernie Sanders?”

Now that Bernie has all-but-officially launched his 2020 candidacy, he’s gonna be waaay too busy collecting tributes from his cultists to actually spend time or prestige on the job he’s already got…

Sanders outranks Manchin in seniority on the committee and could block him. But the Vermont independent has shown little inclination to leave his perch as the ranking member of the Budget Committee — even though he made climate change and clean energy a major plank in his 2016 presidential run and plans a national town hall on the issue Monday…

Sanders, who is exploring a 2020 presidential campaign, wrote in an email to POLITICO on Wednesday evening that he is proud of his work on the Budget Committee, where he’s been for his past two terms, and suggested he’d likely stay.

“As ranking member I have helped fight for budget and national priorities, which represent the needs of working families and not just the 1 percent. I look forward to continuing the fight in the new session for social, racial, economic and environmental justice,” he said…

Manchin’s critics aren’t explicitly pressuring Sanders to seize the Energy spot. Some say it’s up to Schumer to reassess seniority rules or do whatever necessary to prevent Manchin from moving up. Other committee Democrats who are more senior than Manchin and could step into the role include Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, who are currently ranking members of the Finance and Agriculture committees, respectively….

Stabenow would also have seniority over Manchin and could face pressure, though she expressed happiness with her current top slot on the Agriculture Committee this week…

Ron Wyden, as we know, has been an Intelligence workhorse for keeping pressure on the GOPers trying to hide Trump’s crimes. And the Ag Committee also controls food stamp regulation, where Debbie Stabenow has done important work protecting Michigan farmers and those who most need government support.

Unless I’ve missed something — feel free to update me! — all Bernie has done on the Budget Committee is make finger-wagging, social-media-friendly speeches complaining that none of his fellow members appreciate Bernie Sanders’ brilliance.

And I guess that’s all the “help” environmentalists should expect from Bernie Sanders, now or in the future.



A Small Step

Folks,

I just wanted to pass on a tip that may cost you a bit more money but will reduce your carbon footprint. I mean most of us here know this and care about these issues, but that doesn’t always result in action or change, now does it?

So last Friday I spent 30 minutes researching and then changing my electricity provider from the standard (dirty) mix of sources to 100% renewable. It literally took a few minutes to setup and configure my new source which is still delivered by my local power company.

When I first went to sign up, it offered me at no extra charge on top of my normal power bill, a 50-50 mix of wind/renewable and normal. So just by signing up for free and with no premium, I could be 50% renewable. I figured, “Well, they’ve already given me half, might as well make it 100%” and clicked the slider, Apply, and I was done. Of course that’s the sales pitch, and it worked. On top of things, I get a $50 Best Buy card in the mail soon which will come in handy as I shop.

I am now using 100% renewable power, and since this house is all-electric, I can sleep a bit better knowing that I’m helping in a small way every minute. My power bill will increase a bit as the renewable is more expensive, but that’s a small investment in a slightly better future – in this case, value today means outsize effects in the future and I’d rather pay that bill now if possible, before it gets bigger.

In the back of my mind, I knew that I could do this, but didn’t get around to actually doing it until I read about the Federal Government report on Friday and made my small step. In this case, my provider was/is running a Black Friday promotion with the before-mentioned gift card. The physical hookup, etc. remain as they are, so really this just means that they feed my local power company X kilowatts of power each period to cover my usage.

It’s contract, installation-fee, and investment -free, so I can change my mix or mind whenever I choose, though I expect I’ll stick with them as long as the price remains acceptable. I’m not funding some investment jackass’s new furniture to feel pure, so I plan to keep an eye on the rates and how it all goes down.

I’m not looking for accolades, but wanted to prompt as many of you as possible to check your local electricity providers to see if they offer an option for renewable energy, or if you are in an area where you can choose your supplier, see if you can find a renewable provider that you’re comfortable with. In my case, knowing that my local power company still delivers and services the lines means that I should see no difference except less carbon usage and a slightly higher bill.

 

Open Thread!