Washington Post:

Scientists with Saildrone and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration managed to drive a robotic surfboard into the core of Category 4 Hurricane Sam on Thursday, in a first-of-its-kind scientific mission as they try to better understand hurricanes.

The video, captured just northeast of Hurricane Sam’s monstrous eye, depicts eerily dark skies, screaming winds and a thick veil of sea spray and mist lofted into the air. Enormous waves can be seen swinging the probe like a pendulum.

Saildrone is a company that manufactures probes that collect ocean data for use in environmental studies. Saildrones come in three different sizes, and can be fitted with devices to measure weather and ocean conditions, map the seafloor and even track “biomass,” or fish and other organisms, that live in the waters.

“Saildrone is going where no research vessel has ever ventured, sailing right into the eye of the hurricane, gathering data that will transform our understanding of these powerful storms,” said Richard Jenkins, Saildrone’s founder and chief executive, in a news release Thursday. The company is working to learn more about the link between the ocean and atmosphere, and the exchange of heat energy and chemical compounds between the two.

Saildrone units have been used to study the infamously hostile Arctic Ocean and Southern (or Antarctic) Ocean. Jenkins described hurricanes as the “last frontier for Saildrone survivability.”

Greg Foltz, a scientist at NOAA, said he hopes the data collected by Saildrone can offer insight into the dynamics of rapid hurricane intensification, which occurs when a storm strengthens by 35 mph or more within 24 hours. Rapidly intensifying storms pose a grave hazard to coastal communities and are particularly challenging to forecast. Scientists see a link between human-induced climate change and the propensity for storms to intensify rapidly.


The “Correspondent” is a bit of a dick, but the piece underlines desperate times in the American west.

Flash Drought in Oklahoma

September 30, 2021

“Flash drought” – becoming more common under climate-changed regime. A relatively short period of dryness can pull a lot of moisture from soil.

Below, Kevin Trenberth on droughts, from 2015.

But I thought is was “windmills” that killed birds?

New York Times:

The Biden administration on Wednesday restored protections for migratory birds that were loosened under former President Donald J. Trump, a move celebrated by conservationists but expected to exacerbate tensions between the administration and the oil and gas industry.

The move comes as some bird species have been disappearing from the planet. North America has lost almost three billion birds in the past 50 years, scientists said. In addition to suffering from habitat loss and climate change, they are killed by collisions with buildings, power lines and communication towers. They die in oil waste pits and oil spills.

Deb Haaland, the secretary of the Department of Interior, said the agency will formally revoke a rule enacted in the waning days of the Trump presidency that shielded businesses, landowners and others from legal consequences if their activities unintentionally killed birds.

That meant a construction crew that knocked down a barn with owl nests, or an oil company responsible for a catastrophic spill that killed thousands of birds, could not be punished.

Instead, the Biden administration will return to a longstanding interpretation of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act that prohibits “incidental” harm to birds, Ms. Haaland said. She said reinstating federal protections is a critical step because while some industries have taken voluntary measures to protect birds, populations are still declining.

The losses are part of a growing global biodiversity crisis — driven by habitat loss, climate change and other human activities — that puts a million species at risk of extinction. Earlier on Wednesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing 22 animals and one plant from the endangered species list because they have gone extinct. One, the Bachman’s warbler, was a migratory songbird that hasn’t been seen since 1988.

“This moment, as sobering as it is, can serve as a wake up call,” Ms. Haaland said during a call with journalists. “Our children and grandchildren will not know the Earth as we do unless we change the status quo.”

But restoring protections that were lost under former President Trump are not enough, said Erik Schneider, policy manager at the National Audubon Society. He wants the Biden administration go beyond the new regulation.

Read the rest of this entry »

So, friends, every day do something

that won’t compute. Love the Lord.

Love the world. Work for nothing.

Take all that you have and be poor.

Love someone who does not deserve it.

Denounce the government and embrace

the flag. Hope to live in that free

republic for which it stands.

Give your approval to all you cannot

understand. Praise ignorance, for what man

has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.

Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front, by Wendell Berry

There are going to be a lot of coal, and eventually gas, turbine generators decommissioned in the coming years. Those facilities and the transmission lines that lead out of them are hugely valuable resources that are going to be rehabbed.

There’s no shortage of ideas for how to do it, primarily as energy storage.

Daniel Yergin on Gas Markets

September 29, 2021


If there’s any country that might’ve been in a position to rescue Europe from its energy crisis, it’s the U.S. — home to vast shale fields holding a seemingly endless supply of natural gas and giant terminals capable of liquefying it and shuttling it abroad. 

Instead, for a multitude of reasons, U.S. shale is in no position to bail out Europe. Indeed, supplies are so tight that Americans are staring down their own supply squeeze — and the accompanying sky-high utility bills.

U.S. stockpiles haven’t been replenished as much as usual in recent months after summer heatwaves sent energy demand soaring and the post-pandemic industrial recovery diverted fuel to power plants and factories. Meanwhile, many major shale drillers have been funneling cash to shareholders and focusing on climate goals rather than boosting production.

The result: There’s very little supply cushion in the U.S., and whatever is available for export as liquefied natural gas is going to be fought over — not just by desperate European importers, but also by buyers in Asia, who face an energy crunch of their own and are willing to pay a premium.

This reality is a stark change from recent years that saw a steady domestic surplus and government efforts to promote exports as “molecules of U.S. freedom.” Americans are likely to face some of their highest energy bills in years. New York-traded gas futures have more than doubled so far in 2021, and the peak-demand season hasn’t even begun. The U.S. benchmark price jumped to a seven-year high this week, and it could more than double in the next few months, according to research firm BTU Analytics.

“In theory, the U.S. is the Saudi Arabia of natural gas, but the reality is we have no new gas coming online,” said Campbell Faulkner, the chief data officer at OTC Global Holdings LP who formerly worked in risk-management and analysis at Royal Dutch Shell Plc and JPMorgan Chase & Co. “These prices tell you how worried people are about not having enough gas.”

The consequences could go well beyond household heating bills. Europe stands as example of what could unfold, with its disastrous supply shortage leading to record prices, widespread corporate failures in the U.K. power market and the continent’s biggest chemicals producer BASF SE cutting output as its feedstock costs soar. And of course, prolonged gains for energy prices are compounding concerns about inflation and adding to the rising costs businesses are already shouldering for raw materials.