“Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men for the nastiest of motives will somehow work together for the benefit of all.”  –   John Maynard Keynes

Philadelphia Inquirer:

It didn’t take long. Shortly after Hurricane Dorian damaged countless homes and businesses in the northern Bahamas, real estate investors started calling local agents in search of bargains.

“We’ve surprisingly had several calls,” said Colin Lightbourn, who manages real estate company Engel & Volkers’ Bahamas office in Nassau. “People are asking if there is anybody selling properties in any of those cays and to keep them on our list.”

“They say, ’I don’t want to sound heartless, but if any properties come up, I’m a buyer.’”
While the timing of the phone calls may appear awkward, the inquiries from would-be buyers is not new for a region whose island nations and territories are often roughed up by hurricanes.

In 2017, investors scanned the Caribbean for bargains after Hurricane Maria pounded St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, and even Barbuda, the latter of which was declared uninhabitable by its government.

There were discounts to be had. On Dutch St. Maarten, for example, a five-bedroom home with an ocean view was on the market for $3.5 million before the storm but was reduced to about $1.9 million in damaged condition after the storm passed through, the Wall Street Journal reported at the time.

Some of the would-be buyers include investors in search of profits, foreign nationals seeking vacation homes, or hedge fund operators who see future profits in apartment buildings and hotels.
Overall, agents say, investors are attracted by depressed prices, and a possible upside fueled by government disaster funding and new capital from the private sector.

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Circle of Blue:

It’s a gentle intruder, moving stealthily underground, out of sight but not undetected. Salt water continues to move farther inland in Florida’s Miami-Dade County, albeit at a slower rate, according to new U.S. Geological Survey mapping.

Researchers and water managers in southern Florida keep a wary eye on the ocean’s landward thrust because of the region’s precarious freshwater balance. All of Miami-Dade County’s municipal water, which serves several million residents and visitors, comes from groundwater, primarily from a thin lens of fresh water called the Biscayne Aquifer.

Rising seas are a visible threat to coastal areas. But the danger above is mirrored below in the form of rising salt concentrations in many coastal aquifers. In Miami-Dade County, the USGS study mapped the boundary where salt water meets the base of the Biscayne. Because it is less dense, fresh water sits on top of the saltwater wedge, which is thickest near the coast and thinner inland.

The leading edge of the saltwater layer in the southeastern part of the county, the area of greatest intrusion, moved inland at a pace of 102 meters per year between 2014 and 2018.

Salt water can be pushed inland because of rising seas or infiltration from the region’s drainage canals. It can also be pulled by groundwater pumping that lowers the level of fresh water in the aquifer. Rainfall plays a role, as do the geological properties of the aquifer, such as how freely water flows through pores in the sand and limestone layers.

“The balance of these factors varies throughout the county,” Scott Prinos, the USGS hydrologist who did the mapping, told Circle of Blue. The aquifer, for instance, is 275 feet thick in the county’s northern reaches, but only 80 feet in the southeast.

Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department, which supplies 2.3 million people, is keenly aware of the threat, and it works with federal researchers to assess the risk. Salts in the aquifer are not welcome. They can spoil the supply or result in expensive treatment. For now, though, saltwater intrusion “is not a concern,” according to Jennifer Messemer-Skold, a spokesperson.

The department’s “primary wellfields are located significantly west of the salt front, and no impacts are anticipated as a result of salt water migration inland to [the department’s] drinking water supply sources,” Messemer-Skold told Circle of Blue.

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We’re used to the idea that oil and fossil fuel companies have interests in renewable energy. This makes sense for a number of reasons.

It’s good PR greenwashing. It gives them a window into emerging (competing) technology. It gives them a small lever to control and steer that technology. It hedges their bets as renewables look more and more like the onrushing wave of the future.
It might give them some ability to manage their own decline, so as to maximize their profits from the fossil and fissile resources they still hope to exploit as the world goes to sun and wind power.

And it makes them some money.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that some of the deepest pocketed entrants into the exploding “meatless meat” market, are meat companies.

New York Times:

..with plant-based burgers, sausages and chicken increasingly popular and available in fast-food restaurants and grocery stores across the United States, a new group of companies has started making meatless meat: the food conglomerates and meat producers that Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods originally set out to disrupt.

In recent months, major food companies like Tyson, Smithfield, Perdue, Hormel and Nestlé have rolled out their own meat alternatives, filling supermarket shelves with plant-based burgers, meatballs and chicken nuggets.

Once largely the domain of vegans and vegetarians, plant-based meat is fast becoming a staple of more people’s diets, as consumers look to reduce their meat intake amid concerns about its health effects and contribution to climate change. Over the last five months, Beyond Meat’s stock price has soared and Impossible Foods’ deal to provide plant-based Whoppers at Burger King has prompted a wave of fast-food chains to test similar products. Analysts project that the market for plant-based protein and lab-created meat alternatives could be worth as much as $85 billion by 2030.

Now, at supermarkets across the United States, shoppers can find plant-based beef and chicken sold alongside the packaged meat products that generations of Americans have eaten.

“There is a growing demand out there,” said John Pauley, the chief commercial officer for Smithfield, one of the largest pork producers in the country. “We’d be foolish not to pay attention.”

In September, Nestlé released the Awesome Burger, its answer to the meatless patties of Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. (“We do feel like it’s an awesome product,” a Nestlé spokeswoman said.) Smithfield started a line of soy-based burgers, meatballs and sausages, and Hormel began offering plant-based ground meat.

There are also blended options — a kind of faux fake meat that falls somewhere in the existential gray area between the Beyond Burger and a cut of beef. Tyson is introducing a part-meat, part-plant burger. And Perdue is selling blended nuggets, mixing poultry with “vegetable nutrition” in the form of cauliflower and chickpeas.

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Sobering warning from one of the 20th century’s most insightful human beings.  Only more vivid with passage of time and the emergence of climate change.

Video of Trump shooting media and political enemies comes to mind in the discussion of ‘projection” above.

Hagibis Drowns Japan

October 14, 2019

My next video will be about how climate change is weaponizing tropical cyclones.
For now..

Washington Post:

Typhoon Hagibis proved to be extraordinarily devastating for northern Japan when it struck this weekend, unleashing more than three feet of rain in just 24 hours in some locations, causing widespread flash flooding as well as river flooding. The storm has killed at least 58, according to the Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

In addition, high winds lashed Tokyo and Tokyo Bay, along with pounding surf and storm surge flooding as the storm, once a Category 5 behemoth, barreled across Honshu as the equivalent of a Category 2 and then a Category 1-equivalent storm.

One reason the storm caused such severe impacts is that the inner core of the typhoon, with its heaviest rains and highest winds, remained intact as it swept across Tokyo and dumped heavy rains across northeastern Japan as well. According to reporting from The Washington Post’s Simon Denyer, by Sunday, more than 20 rivers in central and northeastern Japan had burst their banks, flooding more than 1,000 homes in cities, towns and villages.

In Hakone, in Kanagawa Prefecture, 37.1 inches of rain fell in 24 hours on Saturday, setting a record for that location, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. In addition, 27 inches fell in heavily forested Shizuoka Prefecture southwest of Tokyo. In higher elevations just west of downtown Tokyo, 23.6 inches of rain fell, which was also a record.

Some of the rains fell ahead of the storm, beginning Friday as warm and moist air moved into Japan from the southeast, with clouds from the typhoon covering nearly the entire Japanese archipelago. As the tropical air collided with higher elevations the air was forced to rise, cool and condense in a process known as orographic lift, causing a deluge that resulted in mudslides and sent rivers bursting over their banks.

As the core of the storm pulled away from Tokyo on Sunday, it dumped heavy rains across Toshigi as well as Fukushima Prefecture. Floodwaters there have raised concerns about radioactive contamination following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.


Above, worth a review.

I spoke to Glacier specialists Lonnie Thompson and Konrad Steffen,
one a specialist in tropical glaciers, another in the arctic.
Worthwhile thumbnail of climate science history, and prospect for the future.

Below, former New York Times climate reporter (now opinion writer) Justin Gillis takes stock of our current avalanche of climate karma.

New York Times:

SAN FRANCISCO — Now we suffer the consequences.

In Northern California, power was cut to more than a million people this week. Near Houston, houses that flooded only two years ago just succumbed again. The South endured record-shattering fall heat waves. In Miami, salt water bubbled through street drains yet again as the rising ocean mounted a fresh assault.

All of it was predicted, in general outline, decades ago. We did not listen. Ideologues and paid shills cajoled us to ignore the warnings. Politicians cashed their checks from the fossil fuel lobbyists and slithered away.

Today, we act surprised as the climate emergency descends upon us in all its ferocity.

The scientists knew long ago, and told us, that the sea would invade the coasts. They knew a hotter atmosphere would send heavier rains to inundate our cities and farms. They knew the landscape of California, which always becomes desiccated in the late summer and early fall, would dry out more in a hotter climate.

But even the scientists did not quite foresee the way that bone-dry vegetation would turn into a firebomb waiting for a spark. California is the state that has done the most to battle the climate crisis, but that has not saved it from recent fires so ferocious they burned people alive.

In high winds, ill-maintained power lines strung across aging poles are often the source of the spark. The largest utility in the state, Pacific Gas & Electric, has already been propelled into bankruptcy by fire liabilities it calculates at $30 billion. Now PG&E, far behind in basic tasks meant to make its system safer, is pre-emptively shutting down power lines on windy days to try to prevent more death and destruction.

If there is any fix for the fire situation, it will not be cheap or easy. True, the people who were running the power company deserve some blame — but not all of it. We now know that power rates in California, high as they may have seemed, were a false economy. The public was not paying enough to harden the electric grid against rising climate risks.

Nationwide, you can say the same about the fossil fuels we burned so heedlessly these last decades. They seemed cheap and convenient at the time. Only now are we learning the true cost.

As tempting as it is to blame the politicians and the fossil fuel executives for the fix we find ourselves in, that is too easy. At any time in these last three decades, we could have woken up. We could have heeded the warnings of scientists like James E. Hansen of NASA, who told Congress in 1988 that the planet was warming sharply and would continue to do so if we persisted in burning fossil fuels. We could have voted James Inhofe, the climate-denying senator from Oklahoma, out of office. Had we been aroused and angry, we could have wielded our democratic power to bring the fossil fuel companies to heel.

I remember sitting with Dr. Hansen in his NASA office the week he retired, in 2013, wondering along with him when the public revolt over the climate crisis would finally begin.

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Gas tanks hydrogen

After a brief flurry of interest 20 years ago, hydrogen as an energy carrier has been somewhat eclipsed by the rise of solar and wind renewable energies.
However, now that renewables are booming, carbon free hydrogen production is a viable option in more and more areas.

That makes a number of ideas suddenly practical.


Hydrogen from renewable energy could play a central role in the global energy transformation, the latest report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) finds. ‘Hydrogen: a renewable energy perspective’ estimates that hydrogen from renewable power, so called green hydrogen, could translate into 8 per cent of global energy consumption by 2050. 16 per cent of all generated electricity would be used to produce hydrogen by then. Green hydrogen could particularly offer ways to decarbonise a range of sectors where it is proving difficult to meaningfully reduce CO2 emissions.

Decarbonisation impacts depends on how hydrogen is produced. Current and future sourcing options can be divided into grey (fossil fuel-based), blue (fossil fuel-based production with carbon capture, utilisation and storage) and green (renewables-based) hydrogen. Blue and green hydrogen can play a role in the transition and synergies exist.

With falling cost of renewables, the potential of green hydrogen particularly for so called ‘hard-to-decarbonise’ sectors and energy-intensive industries like iron and steel, chemicals, shipping, trucks and aviation is rapidly becoming more compelling given the urgency to limit CO2 emissions. This includes direct hydrogen use but also the production of liquid and gaseous fuels such as ammonia, methanol and synthetic jet fuel from green hydrogen. Electrolyzer deployment is currently ramping up from MW to GW-scale as witnessed by dozens of projects worldwide.

Large-scale adoption of hydrogen could also fuel an increase in demand for renewable power generation, IRENA’s report finds. In total, IRENA sees a global economic potential for 19 exajoule (EJ) of hydrogen from renewable electricity in total final energy consumption by 2050. This translates into around 4-16 terawatts (TW) of solar and wind generation capacity to be deployed to produce renewable hydrogen and hydrogen-based products in 2050.

However, deployment of hydrogen-based solutions will not happen overnight, IRENA’s report cautions. Hydrogen might likely trail other strategies such as electrification of end-use sectors, and its use will target specific applications. The need for a dedicated new supply infrastructure may also limit hydrogen use to certain countries that decide to follow this strategy. Existing natural gas pipelines could be refurbished, but implications must be further explored.


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