#Ian Monday (26 Sept) Morning

TLDR: Ian has started the expected turn and intensification process. Western Cuba will be hit hard tomorrow, Tampa area in crosshairs Wednesday?, but tracks still have a lot of spread. Coastal GA/SC minor impacts Friday. Here are the details and impact estimates …

Overnight Ian became much better organized. As I write this the sun isn’t up, but here is the latest (5:50am) Infrared image:

IR view of Ian, 5:50am Monday Morning.

As usual a reminder, the best quick overview of the official forecast and impacts is the National Hurricane Center’s Key Messages regarding Hurricane Ian (en Español: Mensajes Claves). Here is the TAOS/TC “plain language” impact estimate map based on the 5am forecast:

click to enlarge.

On this track Cuba is likely to see about $1.7 Billion in impacts. It’s hard to assess impacts in Cuba, given the different structure of their economy, but it’s likely the equivalent of a $150 Billion dollar storm hitting the US. There is no doubt about the humanitarian impact – there are 2.7 million people in the way. However, Cuba does have a well organized system for emergency response.

The impacts on the US are still somewhat fuzzy. This kind of track is is extremely difficult for forecasters. It is important to keep in mind that the area of intense damage for even a large hurricane isn’t, in the great scheme of things, all that large. Most of the models have the storm tracking 70 to 140 miles offshore from the Tampa/St. Pete area. For comparison here are the various tracks:

If you look at the GFS track, that would put the winds at around 60mph on the St. Petersburg peninsula. While the models have in the last cycle become a bit more consolidated, there are still a few (like the European and UK Meteorological Centre models) that bring the storm close (and for the UK model into the coast as far south as Sarasota). The official track splits the difference, and brings the storm only 30 miles from the coast off of Tampa, which would put winds at double that speed – 125mph. Recall that wind damage is proportional to the cube of the wind speed, so that’s the difference between minor damage and power outages and catastrophic damage. Another issue is storm surge – a track just offshore from the coast (like the current NHC track) puts 14-15 feet of storm surge up Tampa Bay. A wobble even 30 miles further out drops that value by five feet. On the current track economic impacts in Florida would be $25 Billion USD. But the wobbles can cut that by 2/3 – or bump it up higher. As the storm treks into south Georgia, impacts will be felt on the Atlantic coast of Florida as well, squalls and gusty winds for sure. It’s time for Floridians to pay attention and start implementing their hurricane plans if advised by emergency managers.

What about coastal Georgia/SC? The potential impact estimate hasn’t really changed that much, although the impacts may be a bit later than thought yesterday. It’s likely that the coast, from Jacksonville to Charleston, will see high onshore winds for a day or two with conditions deteriorating late Wednesday and in to Thursday morning, with tropical storm conditions offshore with the appropriate marine advisories. The worst of the impacts will likely be Thursday night into Friday. On the barrier islands that means gusty winds, rain, and a likelihood of some shallow coastal flooding at high tides. Nothing terribly dangerous is expected, but as we all know even a foot or two of extra water causes a lot of damage and can be hazardous if you aren’t careful (like not testing a downed power line to see if it’s live the way you would a 9v battery). How bad depends on how close and slow the storm moves by. Hopefully that will become clearer in the next 24 hours or so.

It wouldn’t surprise me to see school closures and other impacts for Thursday or Friday spreading across the region. Depending on the exact track, conditions inland will likely be rain and gusty winds, depending again on how far inland and how rapidly the storm decays. Right now, Thursday night into Friday looks to be the worst day in the Savannah/Beaufort area, with winds 20mph gusting to 30mph and some rain squalls. Inconvenient, hazardous if you lack common sense, but not dangerous. Further south, in Brunswick conditions might flirt with tropical storm conditions, starting late Wednesday. So inconvenient (especially if power outages!), and more of a chance for downed trees, etc., but not at this point looking at much in the way of actual damage or danger. Again, this is all still uncertain, hopefully it will be clearer by tomorrow (because the storm slowed down) but that is to give you an idea of what to expect. It will be worth paying attention to local advisories for later this week to see what actions local emergency managers recommend. No need to wear out your refresh key at this point, but worth checking local news for what your local community is doing. Just don’t get duped by the hype, panic, and avoid the brawls over the last package of beer jerky at the local mini-mart.

Important Note: there is some new guy on the radio (WTKS) in Savannah, who took the place of the loved/reviled Bill Edwards morning show. This guy had a “discussion” of the how forecasting “works” as he started the 6am hour. Well, to be blunt …

I don’t even know where to start with how wrong a lot of the things he was saying was. Sigh. So be careful where you get your information.

Catastrophic flooding on #PuertoRico from #Fiona

Hurricane Fiona is moving away from Puerto Rico this morning, with the now well defined eye inland over the Dominican Republic, but heavy rain continues to trail across the island:

click to enlarge.

Rain totals as of just after 6am ET were upwards of 30 inches in places. A quick look at the local storm reports has 42 damaging mudslides, some with people trapped, and about as many reports of flooding. Electricity has been out across the entire island since mid-day yesterday. The computer models are currently estimating about $2 Billion in damage, but they tend to underestimate damage to Puerto Rico due to the ongoing electrical problems (they should have been fixed long ago) and the utterly astounding statistic that over 3,000 homes have not yet been repaired from Maria, five years ago. It wouldn’t surprise me if this ends up as a $5 to $8 Billion event or more, and of course that says nothing about the human suffering. No word on fatalities yet but I’d guess there have been some.

Dominican Republic is also experiencing damage, and will likely also have a damage toll in the $1 to $2 Billion USD range. The Turks and Caicos and southern Bahamas should just get a side-swipe with minimal damage. Bermuda will be in the storm swath as it rapidly moves north – the extent of the impacts will depend on the exact track, but warnings are sure to be posted soon. Nova Scotia and Vinland (Newfoundland) will likely feel the effects of Fiona as it transitions from being a hurricane to an extratropical cyclone.

#Fiona to make landfall in #PuertoRico, #Nanmadol and #Japan

We have two tropical cyclone landfalls today (and a weak near miss on the west coast of Mexico). First lets look at Tropical Storm Fiona. Here are links to NHC’s Key Messages regarding Tropical Storm Fiona (en Español: Mensajes Claves). Fiona continues to organize and eye-like feature is seen in the radar from San Juan …

San Juan NEXRAD, 5:25am Saturday. Click any image to enlarge.

By this afternoon, shortly before landfall in western Puerto Rico, Fiona might be a hurricane. It’s a race between strength/organization and the impacts of land as it gets closer to the mountains of the island, which disrupt the circulation. The thinking is that it won’t hurt too much as a lot of the circulation will stay over water on this track and the time over land brief. Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are likely to get a lot of heavy rain and gusty winds – the winds at higher elevations and over ridge lines will almost certainly exceed hurricane force. Flash flooding and power outages are inevitable. Here are the projected impacts from my TAOS/TC model, based on the Hurricane Center official forecast:

On this track, over six million people are in the damage swath, and Puerto Rico will likely have economic impacts over $1 Billion USD. The Turks and Caicos and southern Bahamas will likely feel impacts from Fiona tomorrow, which will probably be a hurricane by the time it passes them. After that the models show a lot of intensification, and Fiona may be a major hurricane (cat 3 or higher) by the time it threatens Bermuda late this week. To be clear, there is no risk to the mainland US on this track, aside from rip currents at the beaches due to waves. Vinland (Newfoundland) and maybe Nova Scotia might get some impacts in 10 days or so but that’s a long ways out and uncertain.

On the other side of the world, Japan is bracing for Typhoon Nanmadol (Link to NHK/Japan coverage in English, live video is here). This has the potential to cause major damage across most of the main islands depending on the exact track and how quickly it decays. On the current Joint Typhoon Warning Center (US Military) track, shown below, the storm is expected to cause about $6 Billion in damage, with 70 million people in the tropical storm force wind swath.

The official Japan Meteorological Agency forecast has the storm a bit more intense and to the west, with impacts correspondingly higher – on the order of $23 Billion USD! This goes to show how much the forecasts by two different, experienced teams of meteorologists can be for the same storm … here is what the impact swath looks like using the JMA forecast:

click any image to embiggen.

Oh, and if that’s not enough, there was a strong earthquake in Taiwan with several hundred million dollars in damage. Not a great weekend …

Typhoon #Muifa and #Shanghai, #Ningbo #China

The situation with Typhoon Muifa has become more dangerous over the last 24 hours. The storm does not seem to be decaying as rapidly as originally forecast, and the track has shifted to indicate a direct hit on the Shanghai/Ningbo area tomorrow as a strong Category One (Saffir Simpson Scale) storm:

click for detailed image.

The ports are shut down (Link to Reuters article and see this previous post one what that means for global container traffic). If this track and intensity holds up (note in the past JTWC tends to overestimate intensity), there will be over 105 Million people within the tropical storm wind swath, and damages approaching $10 Billion USD. So this is a potentially serious situation.

Supertyphoon #Hiinnamnor to hit #Korea today; #Japan also in damage swath

Supertyphoon Hinnamnor is currently a Category 3 storm, will likely still be close to that as it makes landfall near the port city of Busan, South Korea today. Impacts are likely to be significant if not catastrophic. Here are the details …

click to enlarge map.

On the current track the storm is forecast to pass very close to the resort island of Jeju then make landfall at the worst possible location for Busan, just west of the city. This will put the “eyewall” across the most populated areas of Busan and Ulsan, and storm surges will likely reach over 4 meters (14 feet) in the many bays and inlets along the coast east of the track, including the ports and river delta. Economic impacts are likely to be over $20 Billion US Dollars, with estimates ranging from $15 to $27 Billion depending on the exact track and how strong the storm is at landfall. Using the US Joint Typhoon Warning Center forecast yields $23.4 Billion, using the slightly weaker official forecast from the Japan Meteorological Agency produced $18.5 Billion. So it is safe to say this will produce severe if not catastrophic damage. Japan itself is in the fringes of the storm, and will probably see impacts in the $1 Billion range, largely from rain impacts and disruptions although Tsushima Island, in the middle of the Korea Strait and home to 30,000 people, will likely be hit hard and suffer severe if not catastrophic damage. Effects will not be confined to the coasts of either country – flash flooding in the mountainous areas of both Japan and Korea are certain.

This is shaping up to be a major event for South Korea, with impacts amounting to at least one if not several percent of the annual GDP. As a comparison, this would be the economic and population equivalent of the US being hit by about three or four Katrina type storms at the same time. Evacuation are underway although the numbers are surprisingly low if reports are to be believed; hopefully any loss of life can be avoided or at least minimized.

An assassination in Moscow and the continually escalating crisis

First some brief comments on the progress of the “Special Military Operation” or Invasion of Ukraine, depending on your perspective. The “fog of war” is incredibly thick. There are no reliable public sources of information – it seems to me that even “insiders” are being duped by their own narratives and are being driven as much by their desires rather than facts on the ground. That seems to apply much more to the pro-Ukrainian side than the pro-Russian side, and while both public faces are pushing competing narratives the US, NATO, Ukrainian side seems outright delusional. So where do things stand? For what it’s worth, here’s my “multi-source integration” perspective …

The forces of the Luhansk and Donetsk Peoples Republics, supplemented with Russian troops and backed by huge amounts of Russian supplied indirect fire (artillery, rockets, air strikes) continue to grind down the NATO backed forces in Ukraine. Russia isn’t by any stretch “all in”; it does not seem they have committed the bulk of their military to this operation. The US/NATO aid is increasing Russian casualties (and resentment) and slowing things down, but not really changing the ultimate outcome. Advances on the ground may seem small, but Ukraine has spent eight years digging in on this front line, and was supposedly preparing for an invasion of Donbas according to some reliable sources so had large forces on that front. Ukrainian advances have the feel of “Lucy and Charlie Brown kicking the football” – Russian and allied forces pull back, Ukrainian forces are pushed to leave their trenches as much for propaganda purposes as military strategy, then get mauled by indirect fire, and Russian allied forces advance. So be a bit skeptical of Ukrainian “counterattacks” – aside from the areas reoccupied after Russia’s initial feints towards Kiev in the beginning of conflict, on the Donbas front Ukrainian “counter attacks” appear to have been fairly quickly reversed, leaving the Ukrainian forces worse off than before. It appears a new Russian allied offensive started yesterday, so things may lurch forward after a somewhat quiet period.

This kind of war isn’t like any faced by the US since Korea, so even if they weren’t embedded in the narrative machine, the vast majority of US analysts (much less reporters) who do not have a long historical view don’t really have a good grasp on the conflict in military terms. This is an old school ground war of attrition, and Ukraine (and indirectly NATO at large) are arguably bleeding out faster than Russia and allies (LDR/DPR). At some point Ukrainian organized military resistance is likely to collapse. Once past the fortified areas, movement across the areas of Ukraine that Russia wants to ultimately occupy should be rapid (which again contrary to belief in the west, probably isn’t the whole country). That’s not to say all is wonderful in Mother Russia: as I have said previously, the hoped for initial collapse didn’t happen, the slog is more costly and isn’t going as fast as Russia would like, but it’s still progressing toward their objectives. What are they? I suspect the re-integration of historical and economically important and viable “novorossiya.” When? I would guess by winter, although it could well drag in to next year.

Could the narrative above be wrong, and Ukraine doing as well, and Russia as poorly, as the Western governments are saying? Possible, but what independent data there is says otherwise. I think there is a 60% chance the above is reasonably correct, and only a 10% chance the prevailing media narrative in the US correct. That leaves maybe a 30% chance something else is going on.

But the military conflict is only one part of the picture, and maybe not even the most important part. This conflict is mostly an economic and resource war, and in that respect it’s hard to come to any conclusion except that Russia is inflicting severe damage on the “West”. We tend to focus on Europe and Japan, but far from being isolated, the rest the world continues to do business as usual with Russia either directly or indirectly. The sanctions have arguably failed, and the Russian economy seems stable. Contrast this with the run away inflation in the US and Europe, looming recession, and pending collapse of energy markets this winter that have the potential to cause major unrest across Europe.

Worst, from the US perspective, parallel financial systems are being put in to operation that bypass US and European financial structures, and are decoupled from the dollar while linked to hard resources. In that context, the “go slow” approach that Russia seems to be using makes more sense. As one Russian analyst said, loosely translated, why end this before winter when it is likely the US led financial system will collapse if it continues? If that is the strategy, it’s an interesting one, potentially successful, but playing with fire – the longer this goes on, the greater the potential for an “Archduke Ferdinand” moment and miscalculation. Which brings me to the main point of this post.

Darya Aleksandrovna Dugina

The attempted assassination of Alexander Dugin, resulting in the death of his daughter Darya, may be an inflection point in the conflict. I never met her, but those who know her said she was an intelligent, vibrant young woman with a bright future in either journalism (her current field) or politics. Was she herself the target? Was it from a Russian government or internal dispute? I seriously doubt it, but some have floated that idea, most likely to muddy the water. Was this terrorism, or collateral damage from a justified target, and how does it fit within the wider war? Complex issues. I would argue he was not a legitimate target (she certainly was not), and this was terrorism. The Ukrainian Nationalists are obsessed with her father in some ways, so I can see elements of Ukrainian intelligence (with, perhaps, the support of some misguided NATO operatives) as the most likely scenario. Either way, what concerns me here is what the coverage says about western understanding of Russian internal politics and where this is going.

I know quite a bit more about her father than Darya Aleksandrovna. Alexander Dugin was good at self promotion outside Russia, but it does not seem he was so respected within and was considered a bit of an extremist. It seems that most of the people in the west commenting on Dugin’s writings and philosophy haven’t actually read any of his works. I have two of his books on my Russian Bookshelf, Основы геополитики (Foundations of Geopolitics) and his most infamous work, Четвертая политическая теория (The Fourth Political Theory). The first is used as a University textbook and studied in Russian military circles, and is somewhat respected, (although not of course in the West, where it is seen as a blueprint for Russian Manifest Destiny). The second is a bit more rambling and polemic, and more popular with various nationalist groups across Europe. In 2014 his colleagues at Moscow State University rebelled at Dugin’s proposed appointment to as Head of the Department of Sociology of International Relations due to his extreme comments over Crimea and Ukraine, and the appointment was withdrawn. Rumors are that Putin was behind his rejection, but any time anything happens in Russia people attribute it to Putin (often incorrectly) so that’s not diagnostic one way or the other. It is clear he is not part of Putin’s inside circle, although some of Putin’s advisors and supporters do adhere to some of Dugin’s philosophies.

So the US media depiction of Dugin as “Putin’s Brain” is absurd; an analogy might be saying someone like Derrick Bell (one of the creators of Critical Race Theory) is “Biden’s Brain” because some of his circle or supporters use CRT based interpretations of society to inform their worldview.

In context trying to assassinate Dugin seems to me to be one of the more idiotic things Ukraine (or their supporters) could possibly do. I can see why elements might feel it is justified, Dugin was vehement that Ukraine should cease to exist and that “Ukrainians” should be destroyed. Assassinating him would certainly would be popular among Bandaraists and ultrnationalists, as well as certain segments in the West who see Dugin as a boogie man. But it reflects a serious and potentially dangerous misconception of Russian internal politics and may end up making things worse for Ukraine and the world.

At the risk of simplification of a complex set of dynamics, throughout his career in order to maintain power Putin has been trying to balance three broad foreign policy groups, as well as trying to keep the Oligarchs who back and profit from these groups under control. First there are the “Europeanists” who wanted closer ties with the West. While Putin was originally one of these, they have been increasingly marginalized since 2008 and became mostly irrelevant after 2014. The second, currently largest force are the “Pragmatists” who feel a measured approach balancing improved internal self sufficiency, military ops (like the SMO) where essential, avoiding provocations while only responding to western provocations where also essential. This is where Putin has been since probably the 2004 time frame.

Then there are the Nationalists. They argue Russia is in an existential battle with the west, both over values as well as practically. Dugin is a significant figure with some in this movement, and Darya was becoming more popular. It should be noted that Dugin was demoted from his position at Moscow State University supposedly on Putin’s “suggestion” because he was encouraging too many radicals, and stirring up trouble for a stronger move in Ukraine post 2014. They want to go all-out against NATO, reclaim Ukraine using all available force – and the Baltics as well. The most radical want to create a Russian hegemony from “Dublin to Vladivostok”, but these are a fraction of a fraction. Originally the smallest of the three groups, they have grown over time as it has become increasingly clear that the West will never accept an economically strong and independent Russia. Since 2014 Putin has had to constantly watch his nationalist flank as their criticism of his lack of more forceful responses – including strong words from Dugin himself – have started to resonant in certain circles.

This assassination by a terrorist attack in the heart of Russia may have given the Nationalists a boost, worse than if the Ukrainian agents had succeeded in killing Alexander Dugin himself. In one sense Darya is just another young victim in a cynical geopolitical game. But she risks becoming a highly emotional symbol; “За Дарья” – for Darya – slogans have appeared within the Russian military. It has certainly put Putin in a bad place. A key misunderstanding in the US is that in compared to what many believe, Putin has been restrained in Ukraine as well as in other conflicts and has been criticized for being too timid. Against those (like Dugin) who were pushing him to invade Ukraine in 2014, he only did the minimum he felt required to preserve Russia’s key strategic interests (the bases in Crimea) and tried for eight years to negotiate (Minsk/Minsk II accords). He has been trying to avoid going “Full Chechnya” on Ukraine, but now will probably have little choice but to escalate. He can’t risk terror attacks in Moscow, stopping the wave of terror attacks in the early 2000’s is why he is in power. If he doesn’t respond with a major, violent, action, Putin won’t be around much longer, and his replacement will certainly be likely to be more confrontational, and less restrained.

Added Note: Just to be clear, again, I think the Ukraine situation is a tragedy that should never have happened. The above comments on the progress of the conflict aren’t what I hope happens, they are what I think is happening. The ship carrying my hopes with respect to Ukraine and Eastern Europe was torpedoed, crashed in to a rock, exploded, and sank a long time ago, circa 2008. At this point all we can hope for is one of the least bad outcomes that leaves the world less unstable than it is at the moment. As for Dugin, no, I don’t agree with his philosophy. But some do, and it is important to understand them. And you can’t do that without reading and trying understanding that perspective … as I constantly harp, understanding is not sympathy or agreement.

Don’t look in the mirror …

Last night we watched the new Netflix movie “Don’t look up.” It was a bit of a surreal experience. It’s billed as a “dark comedy” or “parody”, but to me it was more than that. The critics don’t like it much, I suspect because
a) it hits too close to home; and,
b) the critics probably don’t get it.

Parody or Documentary? Marketing shot for Don’t Look Up by Netflix.

The scariest thing to me is that despite the obvious attempts to be “over the top” it was far too often “close to the mark.” I won’t do any real spoilers here, except this brief note from the first few minutes of the film: the scientists discovering an urgent threat are bundled up and flown to Washington DC to brief government officials (including the President). They they wait outside the oval office, are finally sent to stay in a hotel overnight as political stuff came up, and have to come back the next day. They are then misunderstood and ignored, and go home on the train. Been there, done that. Except I got stuck paying for my own hotel room due to a paperwork screwup.

Pick a topic: foreign policy/nuclear war, climate, resource depletion, economics, pandemic, whatever, and the attitudes in Don’t Look Up are played out in our society every day. Scientists getting hijacked by the DC/Media Culture, ratings driven “news” stories, the “if it didn’t come from the Ivy League it can’t be worth much” worldview, politicians with one eye on the polls and the other on their billionaire backers, it’s all here. And far too real.

Doomwatch give this five stars. It does for the current politics/media/high-tech-billionaire society what Dr. Strangelove did for the Cold War. A lot of people won’t like it, and certain political parties will take offense by thinking it is about them, and the “other side” will smugly make the same assumption, rather than in fact about the whole system. But give it a try, and consider if you too are “feeding the beast” and try to think of ways of changing our society to get away from this train wreck. Because even if you avoid the end of the world, you might be eaten by a Bronteroc.

Here’s DiCaprio discussing the movie …

Why #climate change isn’t the problem.

With the COP26 meetings starting today, lots of angst will be generated about the state of Earth’s climate system and human impacts. Although this post talks a lot about climate, it may surprise you that at this point I’m not really “worried” about it; like the pandemic, at this point I’m much more worried about how badly world leaders are screwing up the response. By far the greatest threat to humanity is our flawed system of governance and, in particular, the collapse of the US as a superpower. That is a much more immediate threat to the planet than the most likely climate change scenarios. So you’re still doomed, just not because of anthropogenic climate change. Here’s why …

What clouds might look like …

If you’re not familiar with my background and position on all this, you might want to start by reading a couple of previous posts. If you’re too impatient to do that, I’d gently point out that this is a very complex subject that involves politics, economics, engineering, and science, and you’re going to have to work to create an informed opinion. The climate problem isn’t an existential crisis, but it isn’t a hoax either. Be very careful of hand waving and simplistic points of view that exist in sound bites. As for my background and views …

The post in that last link discussed things from the perspective of COP25 and the US withdrawal under Trump, but Democrats often are equally problematic, and so far the Biden Administration has followed the destructive trends of prior (pre-Trump) administrations such as Obama, Bush II, and Clinton. I’ll add that the current US positions in most international organizations are (as always) more about internal US politics than the actual global problem. But that would be another long blog post.

With respect to the science, our understanding continues to improve. There is no doubt humans are altering our climate system. But the key is what is going to happen in the future; that will drive, in part, our solutions. The future scenarios used by the IPCC and echoed by decision makers and activists are weighted towards more extreme carbon production and economic activity than is possible given resource and growth limitations. That is a complex issue, but it’s not likely that most of the scenarios (“Shared Socioeconomic Pathways” or SSP’s) are even possible; they are certainly not likely for the medium to distant future (50-100 years). We know the models “run hot,” so that is another potential bias. Forming policy around extreme scenarios is always dangerous, especially when based on modeling. Some of the better performing configurations with respect to history combined with reasonable scenarios do not forecast nearly the severe outcomes that are being repeated and promoted by advocates for radical action on climate (not that they don’t forecast Bad Things, just not Horrific Things). So I’m increasingly skeptical about the more extreme outcomes.

Cloud microphysics is a vital component of climate modeling. Here at the top of the cloud, where water droplets, ice crystals, sunlight and clear sky meet are extremely important and complex small scale processes that have to be parameterized since they can’t be simulated from first principles. Small changes in these assumptions and models can cause huge swings in predicted temperatures.

This weighting towards extreme scenarios has a toxic effect on any attempts to do something about the real problem. First, it opens the door to both healthy skepticism and unhealthy dismissal of the reality of the problem as ideological. Second, it pushes potential solutions away from those that are practical and less disruptive towards more radical and harmful economically actions, which is therefore unacceptable to the majority of people and countries. But it fits in well with the current mode of human governance, where in order to get anything done, it has to be a “crisis,” and somebody (preferably the existing oligarchs) need to profit.

To be clear, we have and continue to alter the earth’s climate system, and we need to stop it. But I don’t think the climate problem is a “crisis” or “emergency” that requires (or is even amenable) to radical immediate action in and of itself – especially if those actions are themselves not sustainable or risk destabilizing societies and economies. It is intimately entangled with politics, economics, and therefore lifestyle. Solving these interrelated aspects will take long range, multidecadal, multilateral, consistent and careful action (action that should have started 20 years ago). Unfortunately, that kind of planning and action is impossible in the US political system which is incapable of looking beyond the two year election cycle in the House of Representatives. And if it is impossible in the US, it is even more impossible globally given the fact that the US is so vital to the global system of governance, and the dis-functionality of the US political system means that humanity itself is at risk, in part from climate, but more so from geopolitical instability and the threat of global war, including something we thought left in the 1960’s but is now more likely than ever, nuclear war.

In the US, “solutions” to problems often boil down to two competing narratives believed with almost religious fervor by the bases of each party, neither of which is true, and more often than not neither of which will actually solve the problem. So climate change is either Crisis or Hoax. The political objective is the next election cycle – and the “news” media is an enabler because they profit from that system, and horse race reporting with two sides yelling at each other is easier than trying to explain cloud microphysics. Social media didn’t start this, but it is making things worse. So an emotionally driven deeply split and angry electorate with mutually exclusive policy positions are the “optimal” way to win election cycles and keep ratings high. But they make it nearly impossible to govern. And policy radically swings depending on who is better able to scare the fraction of the electorate that changes sides from year to year, and is thus able to seize power. This is catastrophic since almost all of the problems we face require a consistent approach measured in years or decades, not election cycles. Even if the Biden Administration had policies that would work (TLDR: they don’t), it wouldn’t matter: the political pendulum will likely swing, and they will be scuttled, just as the Trump Administrations policies (also bad) are being scuttled.

To sum up, just like what happened last year with the pandemic, any estimates I might make as a scientist about the potential impacts of climate change will more than likely be totally swamped by the impacts of the horrible decisions and policies implemented by human leaders, based on short term thinking, lack of understanding of the complex technical issues, and their greedy and narcissistic values based on gaining and holding power.

#Nicholas, #Chanthu and #China ports, Atlantic watch Wed 15 Sept

TLDR: Nicholas continues to dump on the Gulf Coast, Shanghai/Ningbo starting to reopen, and why you shouldn’t get excited about models episode eleventy-billion or something.

Nicholas is still being tracked as tropical depression. By far the biggest impact of this thing has been rain and ongoing flooding along the Gulf Coast. Here’s the forecast rain swath for the next few days as the remnants drift east …

click an image to embiggen.

Tropical Storm (formerly Chanthu) is wrapping up it’s S turn off the coast from Shanghai and is headed towards Kyushu (the southernmost main island of Japan) as a tropical storm. It will bring rain across Japan over the next couple of days, but winds should remain well below hurricane (typhoon) intensity. Operations are starting to resume in the ports of Shanghai and Ningbo, which is important as these two port are responsible for over 10% of the entire world’s container traffic. A three or four day disruption may not sound like much, but a four day outage equates to around one million TEU’s of disruption in traffic, which has a rippling effect especially given the already messy situation in global shipping.

NHC is watching a couple of disturbances in the Atlantic. One, off the US East coast, might move north and impact North Carolina and points north as a tropical system. The usual suspects seem excited about AL95, the disturbance off of Africa. The last couple of GFS runs have it spinning up in to a fairly organized/intense system, but the intensity and track have a lot of uncertainty. Here is a comparison using the cool slider thingee function in wordpress, showing the 00z and 06z runs, forecast for Friday night about 10 days from now (the 24th). Grab the <> thing and slide back and forth to see the difference …

Comparison between 00z and 06z GFS run forecasts for 8pm Friday, 24 September 2021

That’s actually pretty tight, but reinforces the fact that any speculation as to who (if anyone) is doomed based on this kind of thing is pointless. I can’t say this enough: until the hurricane center uses the magic words (“interests <somewhere> should <do something>”) in their outlooks or advisories, please don’t stress out over it. If you have a hurricane plan then you’re fine – it’s 5 days from the leeward islands, and nearly two weeks away from the US even if it does spin up (which is likely but not certain yet) or come this way (which is very uncertain – a track offshore is more likely). And to the media people: stop with the fear mongering. Recall the fable of the irresponsible kid and the wolf who heroically ended his reign of terror …

#Nicholas hits #Texas, #Chanthu blocks #Shanghai/#Ningbo

NHC upgraded Nicholas to a hurricane just before landfall, based on an isolated hurricane wind report. In reality that’s just a technicality, the impacts were that of a strong tropical storm, and the major threat continues to be inland rain and flooding. In the Pacific, Typhoon (now tropical storm) Chanthu missed a landfall at Shanghai, but has spent the last day doing a slow “S” turn just offshore from Hangzhou Bay …

modeled Wind Waves off of coast of China; click to embiggen.

This matters a lot because two of the three largest container ports in the world are blocked by the storm: Shanghai, that last year moved over 43 million TEU (Twenty foot Equivalent Units), and Ningbo, that moved almost 29 million TEU. The storm is likely to disrupt traffic for a total of for or five days. The impact on global supply chains is significant – these two ports combined move an amazing 10% of the world’s container units (73 million TEU of the global total of 775 million last year).

Back in the Atlantic, there are a couple of disturbances but none are a threat in the immediate (5 days) future and beyond that, well, there isn’t much skill in forecasting that so don’t worry about it. As a reminder, if the magic words “Interests <somewhere> should <do something>” don’t appear in the hurricane center’s Tropical Weather Outlook, ignore what any sites or media outlets are saying about them.