To paraphrase comedian George Carlin "between asteroid near-misses and giant solar flares - don't sweat the snow flurries!" Today 2012 DA14, a 150 foot wide chunk of rock, passes 17,500 miles above the Earth. In astronomical terms that's a very close call.
My friends in emergency management remind me that the solar cycle peaks in 2013. Apparently there's a 1 in 9 chance of a once-in-a-century solar super-storm capable of bringing down portions of the grid. Imagine a world without reality TV, e-mail spam or Facebook?
Some days the 19th century sounds pretty good.
We live with relative risk every day. And for the record the odds of succumbing to stroke, cancer, heart disease or firearms are astronomically higher than asteroid strikes, or even natural disasters. Details on the blog below.
The latter half of February looks colder than average, a swipe of (fresh!) Canadian air today & Saturday, again the middle of next week. It won't be as Nanook as January; a higher sun angle already having an impact. A big eastern storm may brush us with light snow late next week; perhaps a few inches.
Glass half full: having cold air in place increases the potential for big storms into March.
From The National Safety Council - source here.
|Cause of Death||Lifetime Odds|
|Motor Vehicle Accident*||1-in-100|
|Intentional Self-harm (suicide)||1-in-121|
|Assault by Firearm||1-in-325|
|Fire or Smoke||1-in-1,116|
|Natural Forces (heat, cold, storms, quakes, etc.)||1-in-3,357|
|Air Travel Accident*||1-in-20,000|
|Flood* (included also in Natural Forces above)||1-in-30,000|
|Tornado* (included also in Natural Forces above)||1-in-60,000|
|Lightning Strike (included also in Natural Forces above)||1-in-83,930|
|Snake, Bee or other Venomous Bite or Sting*||1-in-100,000|
|Earthquake (included also in Natural Forces above)||1-in-131,890|
Image credit here.
* Sandy was America's second costliest storm, second only to Katrina in 2005. Details from Huffington Post.
Image credit above: "Artist's impression of the interaction of the Sun and the Earth's magnetosphere." (Image: NASA)
Image credit above: Photography by Travis Anderson. "Engineer and Emprimus founder George Anderson".
· Be careful supplying personal information - Unless you trust a site, don't give your address, passwords, or financial information. Look for indications that the site uses SSL to encrypt your information (such as the ‘s’ in ‘https’).
· Limit cookies - To make sure that other sites are not collecting personal information about you without your knowledge, choose to only allow cookies for the web site you are visiting and block or limit cookies from a third-party. If you are using a public computer, you should make sure that cookies are disabled.
· Do not use your primary email address in online submissions - Submitting your email address could result in spam. If you do not want your primary email account flooded with unwanted messages, consider opening an additional email account for use online.
· Avoid using debit cards for online purchases - Credit cards usually offer some protection against identity theft and may limit the monetary amount you will be responsible for paying.
· Devote one credit card to online purchases - Consider opening a credit card account for use only online. Keep a minimum credit line on the account to limit the amount of charges an attacker can accumulate.
* photo above from Lewiston, Kentucky courtesy of Mike Hall Photography and WeatherNation TV.
Here's what Bill is saying about the Birkebeiner Ski Marathon and his efforts to preserve winter for future generations:
"The Birkie is one of the temporary and unofficial - but completely wonderful - capitals of North American Winter. So it's the perfect place to talk about what we have to do to keep this season skiable forever!"
In McKibben's presentations at the University of St. Thomas (2/20, 7 pm) and Macalaster College (2/21, noon) he'll talk about the current state of climate science, and the necessary scale and pace of our efforts to do something about global warming. In particular, Bill will discuss the leading role colleges can play now as fossil fuel divestment has become the hottest student movement in several decades. We hope to see you there. Details at coolplanetmn.com.
- Would Keystone XL contribute to climate change?
- Does the new pipeline route resolve local environmental concerns?
- How would the pipeline impact U.S. energy security?
- How many jobs would building the pipeline create?
- Would Keystone XL affect gasoline prices?
* The GAO (General Accounting Office) report is here. An excerpt:
- Limiting the Federal Government's Fiscal Exposure by Better Managing Climate Change Risks. Climate change creates significant financial risks for the federal government, which owns extensive infrastructure, such as defense installations; insures property through the National Flood Insurance Program; and provides emergency aid in response to natural disasters. The federal government is not well positioned to address the fiscal exposure presented by climate change, and needs a government wide strategic approach with strong leadership to manage related risks.
- Mitigating Gaps in Weather Satellite Data. Potential gaps in environmental satellite data beginning as early as 2014 and lasting as long as 53 months have led to concerns that future weather forecasts and warnings--including warnings of extreme events such as hurricanes, storm surges, and floods--will be less accurate and timely. A number of decisions are needed to ensure contingency and continuity plans can be implemented effectively.
Two-Thirds Of Americans Want Obama To Act On Climate Change, Says Poll. Here's an excerpt from the U.K. Guardian: "Two-thirds of Americans want President Barack Obama to act now on climate change, adding momentum to his state of the union promise to take up the challenge with or without Congress. Two new polls commissioned by environmental groups and released on Wednesday showed clear majorities of Americans supporting Obama taking significant action on climate change. A poll for the League of Conservation Voters showed that 65% of Americans want Obama to take "significant steps" to prevent climate change. Pollster Joel Benenson said public support – which cut across race and age – gave Obama extra leverage on his central promise to make climate change a central component of his second-term agenda. "This is across a broad spectrum of Americans," Benenson told a conference call..."
1. Negotiate a bilateral agreement with China
New Secretary of State John Kerry declared climate change a "life-threatening issue" at his confirmation hearing. Obama should make his chief diplomat's top priority the crafting of a bilateral agreement with China to reduce carbon pollution and accelerate clean energy..."
Photo credit above: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool
Photo credit above: "The author says this isn't a time for hesitation and half-hearted measures". | John Shinkle at POLITICO
Why Tokyo Has More To Fear From Sea Level Rise Than Vancouver. Not all coastal areas are (equally) threatened by rising sea levels, the result of warming/expansion and melting of Greenland and Antarctic ice. Here's an excerpt of a story at The Washington Post: "...Some coastal areas have more to fear from climate change than others. Tokyo and Sydney, for instance, are likely to see bigger sea-level rises than Vancouver or London. That’s according to a new study that attempts to model the oddities of the rising oceans. Climatologists have known for many years that the seas are creeping up on us. As humans warm the planet, the world’s ice caps and glaciers are melting and the oceans are expanding. Various projections have sea levels on pace to rise between 2 and 7 feet by 2100. What makes this so tricky to prepare for, however, is that sea levels won’t rise evenly everywhere. There are huge variations. In some regions, like the Mississippi Delta, the land is sinking, due to sediment erosion or oil drilling. In other places, strong wind and ocean currents can warp the waters and affect local sea levels. Meanwhile, the shrinking ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica have their own gravitational pull, creating further imbalances...."
* graphic above courtesy of New Scientist, which has an interactive graphic showing how sea level rise will vary across the globe. Coastal New England is much more vulnerable than the Pacific Northwest.