New York Times Week in Review: April 30, Mathew Ericson: "...Unnerved by those violent storms? Or the prospect of an earthquake rumbling through California with the force of the one that devastated Japan? Or a hurricane as deadly as Katrina in 2005 battering an American coastline again?
"Then you might want to think about moving to safer ground. But where to go? Here are maps that might offer some ideas...."
"...National Geographic's multiple winners include photographer Lynsey Addario for best photo reporting from abroad. She fought hard for access to deliver a comprehensive and intimate portrayal of Afghan women. Writers Alma Guillermoprieto and Shaul Schwartz earned the best magazine reporting honor for their fresh and vital work on life inside Mexican prisons and shrines...."
Anahad O'Connor and Timothy Williams: "A deadly tornado stretching a mile wide tore through downtown Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Wednesday evening, killing 15 people, flattening homes and buildings, and bringing further damage and fatalities to a region already battered by storms...."
CNN April 27, 2011: "A rare mix of factors combined to cause widespread severe weather and dozens of reported tornadoes across the southern United States Wednesday, experts said.
"The worst tornado outbreak in U.S. history occurred in April 1974, when 148 twisters touched down in 13 states over a 16-hour period, according to the National Weather Service. The agency said 330 people died and 5,484 were injured in a path of damage that covered more than 2,500 miles...."
11 p.m. EDT: Accuweather reports 135 tornado sightings on April 27, 2011
"...As of 11 p.m. EDT, there have been 135 reports of tornadoes, according to the Storm Prediction Center. Most of these tornadoes have touched down in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, and many have been large, powerful twisters....'
Peter Gleick, Pacific Institute, in The San Francisco Chronicle, April 25, 2011: "Where have all our drinking water fountains gone? They have been disappearing, one by one, from our public spaces, parks, offices. And yet, it has become easier and easier to find expensive and environmentally damaging commercial bottled water. Safe, free drinking water used to be common: we all used public water fountains. Now they are hard to find, dirty, or broken. The average American now drinks nearly 30 gallons of commercial bottled water per year, up from 1 gallon in 1980, creating plastic waste and wasting energy. One of the reasons for this explosive growth in the sales of bottled water is the disappearance of public drinking water fountains.
"It is time for a water fountain renaissance and new technology is available to help. The Pacific Institute, working with Google application developers, is about to launch a new, free smartphone application called WeTap. This tool makes use of "crowd-sourced" mapping: the ability to tap into the knowledge of crowds to provide free information about issues of public concern. WeTap does two things. It lets smartphone users:
"1. Add public drinking water fountains to a national database of fountains, with information on their location, condition, and quality, including uploading a photo and comments; and
"2. Find a working fountain when they want one....."
(They need a probono iPhone developer...Android phone users in the SF bay area interested in testing WeTap send email to email@example.com.)
Gleick is author of Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water
"...the West is getting warmer, and while the effects vary depending on geography, the places that are feeling water stress now are going to feel more in the future because snow will melt faster, bringing a decline in summertime stream flows...."
"Interior Releases Report Highlighting Impacts of Climate Change to Western Water Resources - This report assesses climate change risks and how these risks could impact water operations, hydropower, flood control, and fish and wildlife in the western United States. The report to Congress represents the first consistent and coordinated assessment of risks to future water supplies across eight major Reclamation river basins, including the Colorado, Rio Grande and Missouri river basins..."
Dept. of Interior PR: Interior Releases Report Highlighting Impacts of Climate Change to Western Water Resources
NASA Earth Observatory April 22: "So far in 2011, more than 1.4 million acres have burned in Texas. Some 800 fires have occurred throughout the state, burning 401 structures and costing two firefighters their lives. Why is fire activity so extreme in Texas this year? This image, made with data collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite, reveals high temperatures that contributed to hazardous fire conditions...."
also see: 1M Acres Burn: Southern Plains Drought Expands Rapidly, No Relief Soon (via @usnoaagov @USDA etal )
Keith Kloor writing at Climate Central (link above) on an essay by Jonathan Foley "Becoming a Climate Pragmatist," which appears in the spring issue of Momentum (issue link below) from the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment:
Kloor: "Last week I read a short essay that washed over me like a fresh breeze. It was a plea by Jonathan Foley, an ecologist (he's a climatologist by training) and director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, to move the climate debate beyond partisan politics and a "rhetorical stalemate"..."
Momentum: Jonathan Foley: Becoming a Climate Pragmatist
Foley: "...Let's face it: we're stuck in the infinite loop from hell. Scientists and environmentalists are on one side, repeating our well-rehearsed lines, while conservatives, talk show hosts and business lobbies are on the other, repeating theirs. Nothing has changed in decades. In fact, the divisions seem to be getting deeper. And Rome burns while we fiddle.
"Why are we repeating the same old lines? Does each side expect the other to finally give in and say, "We were wrong! Can you forgive us?" and everything will suddenly be okay?
"Don't hold your breath. As with many issues in America today, participants in the climate debate have dug in and stopped listening to each other.
"Hoping to move beyond this rhetorical stalemate, I've decided to try a different approach. Here's how it goes...." (read the essay at link above)
Andrew Revkin at Dot Earth has also cited Foley's essay (at very end) in an April 25 posting "Beyond the Climate Blame Game":
Lester R. Brown: "Civilization can survive the loss of its oil reserves, but it cannot survive the loss of its soil reserves." Soil erosion on cassava plantation in Thailand. Photo from Creative Commons by Neil Palmer/CIAT/flickr
"From the Middle East to Madagascar, high prices are spawning land grabs and ousting dictators. Welcome to the 21st-century food wars."
Foreign Policy Magazine, May-June 2011: Lester R. Brown: "... the new food economics of 2011: Prices are climbing, but the impact is not at all being felt equally. For Americans, who spend less than one-tenth of their income in the supermarket, the soaring food prices we've seen so far this year are an annoyance, not a calamity. But for the planet's poorest 2 billion people, who spend 50 to 70 percent of their income on food, these soaring prices may mean going from two meals a day to one. Those who are barely hanging on to the lower rungs of the global economic ladder risk losing their grip entirely. This can contribute -- and it has -- to revolutions and upheaval...."
Part of a Food Issue:
More Than One Billion People are Hungry in the World: But What If the Experts are Wrong?
Worth a listen: U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu on April 25 talks with Diane Rehm: He discusses why rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are trackable back to fossil fuel combustion by explaining the difference between radioactive and non-radioactive carbon dioxide. Secretary Chu also discusses the quest for renewable energy, oil supplies and price, the Gulf oil spill, and "hydrofracking" natural gas in the Marcellus Shale.
You can always download the podcast later today and listen at your convenience.
In a column for the Washington Post Outlook section April 24, Steve Hallett and John Wright ponder a world after the oil runs out. It is the first in a series about "A World Without..."
"...It's not just at the drip of the final drop that the oil crisis begins. It is when production stagnates and begins its inexorable fall. That perilous moment, alas, is now. Our oil supplies are about to begin to fail us. As oil becomes more scarce, we have to get serious about finding new solutions to power our world.
"We have time to plan -- but not that much time. And so far, we've done very little to prepare for a world without oil."
Hallett is a botany professor at Purdue University, Wright a news editor at Energy News today. They are co-authors of "Life Without Oil: Why We Must Shift to a New Energy Future."
New York Times Week in Review, Kim Severson: "...events both at home and internationally are conspiring to shake the confidence of eaters. Global famine, war and disaster are no longer so easy to keep from the table.
"...Prices for the most basic staples are also going up. Domestically, wholesale food prices rose 3.9 percent in February, the largest increase on record for one month since 1974.
"...Fuel costs are to blame, and so is a shift in how the rest of the world eats. The demand for food is up around the globe, driving prices up. The cost of food worldwide rose 37 percent from February 2010 to this year, according to figures compiled by a United Nations organization..."
The Guardian: Comment is Free: This will be the Arab world's next battle
"Population growth and water supply are on a collision course. Hunger is set to become the main issue."
Lester Brown: "...in the Arab Middle East, where populations are growing fast, the world is seeing the first collision between population growth and water supply at the regional level. For the first time in history, grain production is dropping in a region with nothing in sight to arrest the decline. Because of the failure of governments to mesh population and water policies, each day now brings 10,000 more people to feed, and less irrigation water with which to feed them."
"...China's farmland shrank by 8.33 million hectares (20.6 million acres) in the past 12 years, Premier Wen Jiabao's top agriculture adviser Chen Xiwen told reporters March 24. Land under cultivation has already fallen almost to the government's 120 million hectare limit after being consumed by apartments, factories, desertification and a forestation campaign. Drought has also hit the country's main wheat-growing region.
""China's increased demand for agricultural commodities will mean an increase in prices for the entire world market," said David Stroud, chief executive officer of New York-based hedge fund TS Capital Partners. "China can outlast any other bidders for the commodities it desires."..."