June 1 marks the traditional opening of the Atlantic Hurricane Season.

I spoke to one of the world’s best known hurricane experts, Kerry Emanuel of MIT, back in February.

Penn State University Earth Systems Science Center:

ESSC scientists Dr. Michael E. Mann and Daniel J. Brouillette and alumnus Dr. Michael Kozar have released their seasonal prediction for the 2020 North Atlantic hurricane season, which officially starts on 1 June and runs through 30 November.

The prediction is for 19.8 +/- 4.4 total named tropical cyclones, which corresponds to a range between 15 and 24 storms, with a best estimate of 20 named storms.

The assumptions behind this forecast are (a) the persistence of current North Atlantic Main Development Region (MDR) sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies (+1.1 °C in early to mid-April 2020 from NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch) throughout the 2020 hurricane season, (b) the development of mild El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-negative conditions by boreal late summer and early fall 2020 (ENSO forecasts here; we used mid-April 2020), and (c) climatological mean conditions for the North Atlantic Oscillation in boreal fall/winter 2020-2021.

If no La Niña develops, then the prediction will be slightly lower: 18.3 +/- 4.3 storms (range of 14-23 storms, with a best guess of 19).

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Holds up pretty well.

Lyrics:

You can shine your shoes and wear a suit
You can comb your hair and look quite cute
You can hide your face behind a smile
One thing you can’t hide
Is when you’re crippled inside

You can wear a mask and paint your face
You can call yourself the human race
You can wear a collar and a tie
One thing you can’t hide
Is when you’re crippled inside

Well now you know that your
Cat has nine lives
Nine lives to itself
But you only got one
And a dog’s life ain’t fun
Momma take a look outside

You can go to church and sing a hymn
You can judge me by the color of my skin
You can live a lie until you die
One thing you can’t hide
Is when you’re crippled inside

Well now you know that your
Cat has nine lives
Nine lives to itself
But you only got one
And… 

Sara Bloom Raskin in the New York Times:

The Fed is singularly poised to seed strategic investments in future economic stability. Oil, gas and coal companies are set or are seeking to receive billions in federal aid — including at least $3.9 billion from the Paycheck Protection Program and at least $1.9 billion in tax credits tucked into the CARES Act passed by Congress. Their allies in Congress and the administration have lobbied for changes to several of the Fed’s lending programs, including relaxing the Main Street Lending Program. Among those eligible for government assistance are many fossil fuel companies that were in deep financial trouble long before the pandemic began.

These concessions to the fossil fuel industry are a risky investment in the past. The Fed is ignoring clear warning signs about the economic repercussions of the impending climate crisis by taking action that will lead to increases in greenhouse gas emissions at a time when even in the short term, fossil fuels are a terribleinvestment.

Parts of the industry are awash in hundreds of billions in risky debt. Many fossil fuel companies spent the past decade recklessly expanding production even as they failed to turn a profit. Oil and gas companies now hold $744 billion in bonds and debt, much of it below investment grade or close to it. Almost 83 percent of the industry’s debt is now eligible for cheap refinancing by the Fed.

For taxpayers, shouldering these liabilities is a bad deal. Buying this bad debt is not likely to support the creation of jobs or even ensure that existing jobs survive. Moreover, the Fed-subsidized loans come with no strings attached regarding the retention of jobsC.E.O. bonuses or stock buybacks.

The decision to bring oil and gas into the Fed’s investment portfolio not only misdirects limited recovery resources but also sends a false price signal to investors about where capital needs to be allocated. It increases the likelihood that investors will be stuck with stranded oil and gas assets that society no longer needs. It also forestalls the inevitable decline of an industry that can no longer sustain itself. And finally, it undermines urgent efforts to counter surging carbon dioxide and methane emissions, which are bringing us closer to the catastrophe of an unlivably hot planet.

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Planet of the Humans, is of course, Michael Moore’s dumpster fire of a movie that’s been taken to the bosom of the fossil fueled, climate denial, and white supremacist internet.

A few weeks ago I posted the message from Joanne Doroshow, former fact checker for Michael Moore’s TV show and several movies (Fahrenheit 451, Sicko) who was so appalled by the “excruciating” lack of honesty (and I would say, even sentience) in the film, she messaged me on facebook to express disappointment.
In a follow up phone call, she mentioned her previous associations with the Moore organization, and that she had been named in the acknowledgments in one of the books, of which she said she helped write several chapters.
“I think it was Downsize This..” she told me.

A couple clicks on Amazon, – actually more than a few because it was deep in the remainder bin zone, -= wait a few weeks, and the book showed up today.

Sure enough, as Joanne mentioned, Mike called her “one of the most honest people I know”. So I guess she has some cred.


She writes, “The director of this new film was someone we never let near the fact checking process. he seemed attracted to conspiracy theories and information that was not factual,”

Doroshow is Founder and currently Executive Director of the Center for Justice and Democracy at New York Law School.

Joanne Doroshow on Facebook:

I was not going to step into this mess, which many people have contacted me about over the last couple weeks. But because of my anti-nuclear background and my familiarity with all that went down in Midland, this one particularly pained me. So I am breaking my silence. I was involved in the research and fact checking process for various of Michael’s film, TV and book projects from the 1990s through 2007. During that period, Michael cared enough about the accuracy of his films that he complied when others told him he had to make changes to reflect facts and reality. I personally factually annotated some of these films and put entire “fact check bibles” on film websites. I dealt with studio lawyers doing fact and libel checks until they were satisfied. Believe me, by the time these projects saw the light of day, they were airtight. The director of this new film was someone we never let near the fact checking process. In my experience, he seemed attracted to conspiracy theories and information that was not factual, and I believed his influence on Michael could be damaging to his films. I cannot speak to what happened to Michael’s films after I stopped helping to ensure their accuracy but it is excruciating to see what has happened now – although it is not surprising. People disturbed by inaccuracies in this film are not “haters.” They, like I, are pained by them. The factual errors should never have happened.

Below, clip from Best of the Left podcast, which basically reads Doroshow’s post and concurs.

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More here from my interview with Andrea Dutton in December, at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting.

Scientists keep telling me about the emotional challenges of breaking bad news about climate change. It’s a tightrope.
There’s hope we can steer away from the cliff as a planet, but changes already in the pipeline are going to be devastating to vulnerable areas.

Bud Ward in Yale Climate Connections:

Projections point to more than three feet of sea-level rise by 2100, posing deep challenges for one of the U.S.’s most iconic tourist sites – the Florida Keys, where in many places residences, highways, and infrastructure are at less than three feet.

Moreover, those 2100 projections “almost give you a false sense of complacency,” cautions scientist and 2019 MacArthur “genius” fellowship winner Andrea Dutton. She says in this month’s Yale Climate Connections “This Is Not Cool” video that extreme storms affecting the Keys will occur “with increasing frequency as you approach 2100,” and well before that three-foot average rise takes hold.

Dutton expresses concerns that the public may not be “in the right mindset” concerning time projections for rising sea levels. “You can’t just pick up cities and move them,” she says. “There’s going to be some amount of adaptation, there’s going to be some amount of retreat” leading up to the period when that overall three-foot average is, as they say, “the new normal.”

Dutton, for eight years with the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Florida, now continues her research with the University of Wisconsin’s Geoscience Department. “Snow is fun,” she said in a fall 2019 U.W. announcement of her move from sunny Gainesville to often frosty Madison. Explaining to those curious about her move from the Atlantic coast to the Midwest, she said “I look at these sea-level projections all the time. I can see what’s coming, and it’s miserable.”

Dutton is far from alone in expressing concerns about the impacts of sea-level rise for the Florida Keys. For instance, another scientist, Maya Becker, now with Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla California, recalls growing up on Key Biscayne barrier island, just south of Miami Beach. She says she worries that parts could be “completely submerged” in the next 50 or so years.

A local CBS affiliate TV station has reported that “some roads there will be surrendered to the sea,” and that it may not be economically feasible to save some homes in Monroe County. A county administrator weighs the pros and cons of publicly buying-out some private residences doomed by rising seas, or letting landowners know “that we’re just not going to provide services.” Local planners also are reportedly discussing perhaps having to substitute boats for roads in some areas. They are considering issues like increased taxes (resiliency taxes) and seeking legal counsel advice on whether counties are required by law to try to raise roadways to protect specific neighborhoods, and legally authorized “to let a neighborhood go under water.” The video features a local county executive worried that saving some of the 300 miles of vulnerable roads in the Keys will cost “a billion, possibly even billions, of dollars.”

There is a cult of ignorance in the US…. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.
– Isaac Asimov

Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post:

In a reflexive impulse to defy all experts and to glorify know-nothingism, President Trump and his cult followers made mask-wearing verboten for many who identify themselves as “conservative.” Like the Gadsden flag for the Tea Party, the unmasked face in the pandemic is now an identity statement for many in the MAGA crowd. It tells the world the person is anti-liberal, anti-media, anti-elite, anti-expert. When in public, Trump does his very best to not be seen in a mask, even if that means defying safety rules and state law.

Being anti-mask is entirely unnecessary politically, not to mention dangerous to one’s health. Super-majorities say they wear a mask and understand that it provides protection for others. Trump and his brand of Republicans now extol a habit that is risky, unpopular and emblematic of why so many Americans (e.g., the elderly, suburban women) have abandoned him.

Grant Woods, the former chief of staff to the late Sen. John McCain (R), told CNN’s Ron Brownstein: “If the Republican Party wants to continue to push in the direction of being anti-education, and they want to be the party of … the bigoted, then they are going to go down the drain in the Southwest, because that’s not what the Southwest is.” Nothing says anti-education like making refusal to wear a mask a defining symbol of your movement.

The irony of the mask defiance is that the mask is actually a symbol of personal responsibility, previously claimed as a Republican value. The Democrats have snatched that away faster than you can say PPE. At his daily news conference, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) proclaimed that wearing a mask is “cool” and unveiled the winners of a state contest to create a public service announcement urging mask use. “Government this, government that,” he said mocking the notion that the pandemic is fought by government. “Forget government. This whole trajectory is decided by people. It’s personal behavior.” The value of personal responsibility —government must leave us alone so people will do the right thing! — has now become a (capital “D”) Democratic value.

In essence, Republicans tell anyone who believes in basic science that they are chumps and stooges of the elites. That is not a great message to attract suburban mothers, high-tech millennials or older Americans who are especially vulnerable to contracting the virus. In one sense, mask repudiation is no different than Republicans flaunting their climate-change denial. But here, the defiance of consideration for others and rejection of science is visible without them uttering a word; the harm they would inflict on others is immediate and, in some cases, fatal.

A new USA Today/Ipsos poll shows that “1 in 5 teachers say they are unlikely to go back to school if their classrooms reopen in the fall, a potential massive wave of resignations.” The majority of teachers are women. They have not lost their love of teaching; they are understandably afraid. And they are not alone. “A separate poll of parents with at least one child in grades K-12 finds that 6 in 10 say they would be likely to pursue at-home learning options instead of sending back their children this fall.”

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I’ve met and interviewed Jason Samenow of the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang several times, most recently at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in December.

When the dam failures near me hit the wires last week, he bumped me to see if I had any observations or comments, and I did an interview with Andrew Freedman for their quick take article.

As people started in with analysis, I asked Jason if he’d be interested in a more personal response, and he said sure.
So this is it.

Washington Post:

In the past decade, I’ve spent a lot of time working as a videographer in Greenland, a place where climate change was, at one time, perhaps more obvious than in temperate zones. In this pandemic year, however, there will be no fieldwork in the Arctic.

As it happened, climate change came to me.

The dam catastrophe in Midland County, Mich., my home since birth, was a huge blow to the local economy and an emotional gut punch for those who live here. The very geography of our lives and memory has changed.

[Michigan dam disaster an example of what could happen in many other communities]

Walking through the battered, mud-covered main street of Sanford, Mich., flooded from a breached dam, and the dry moonscape that once was Wixom Lake, held back by the Edenville Dam, brought me a visceral sense of dread.

The story that has been well covered in recent days is one of finger-pointing between the lake homeowners, the dam owner, and the city, county, state and federal authorities: to assign blame for the tragedy and the damage.

But a key underlying dynamic has gotten a lot less attention. According to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, heavy precipitation events, fueled by more moisture in a warming atmosphere, have increased almost 40 percent across the upper Midwest in recent decades.

Like sea level rise, ice-sheet loss, ocean acidification, desertification and deforestation, the change has been, in human terms, gradual, and for those not paying attention, easy to ignore.

Most of our infrastructure — the roads, dams, bridges, hospitals, airports, harbors, power plants, pipelines, businesses, storm sewers and homes — was built for a planet that no longer exists. Climate change is not something that will only take place in the future. The climate has already changed in large because of human actions, and the sooner we recognize this and adapt, the better.

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