Connecting the dots between climate change and extreme weather

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:15 PM GMT on May 04, 2012

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Connecting the dots between human-caused climate change and extreme weather events is fraught with difficulty and uncertainty. One the one hand, the underlying physics is clear--the huge amounts of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide humans have pumped into the atmosphere must be already causing significant changes to the weather. But the weather has huge natural variations on its own, without climate change. So, communicators of the links between climate change and extreme weather need to emphasize how climate change shifts the odds. We've loaded the dice towards some types of extreme weather events, by heating the atmosphere to add more heat and moisture. This can bring more extreme weather events like heat waves, heavy downpours, and intense droughts. What's more, the added heat and moisture can change atmospheric circulation patterns, causing meanders in the jet stream capable of bringing longer-lasting periods of extreme weather. As I wrote in my post this January, Where is the climate headed?, "The natural weather rhythms I've grown to used to during my 30 years as a meteorologist have become significantly disrupted over the past few years. Many of Earth's major atmospheric circulation patterns have seen significant shifts and unprecedented behavior; new patterns that were unknown have emerged, and extreme weather events were incredibly intense and numerous during 2010 - 2011. It boggles my mind that in 2011, the U.S. saw 14 - 17 billion-dollar weather disasters, three of which matched or exceeded some of the most iconic and destructive weather events in U.S. history."


Figure 1. Women who work on a tea farm in Assam, India hold up a dot in honor of Climate Impacts Day (May 5, 2012), to urge people to connect the dots between climate change and the threat to their livelihood. Chai is one of the most consumed beverages in India, but a prolonged dry spell and extreme heat has affected tea plantations in Assam and Bengal with production dropping by 60% as compared to the same period in 2011. Image credit: 350.org.

May 5: Climate Impacts Day
On Saturday, May 5 (Cinco de Mayo!), the activist group 350.org, founded by Bill McKibben, is launching a new effort to "connect the dots between climate change and extreme weather." They've declared May 5 Climate Impacts Day, and have coordinated an impressive global effort of nearly 1,000 events in 100 countries to draw attention to the links between climate change and extreme weather. Their new climatedots.org website aims to get people involved to "protest, educate, document and volunteer along with thousands of people around the world to support the communities on the front lines of the climate crisis." Some of the events planned for Saturday: firefighters in New Mexico will hold posters with dots in a forest ravaged by wildfires; divers in the Marshall Islands take a dot underwater to their dying coral reefs; climbers on glaciers in the Alps, Andes, and Sierras will unfurl dots on melting glaciers with the simple message: "Melting"; villagers in Northeastern Kenya will create dots to show how ongoing drought is killing their crops; in San Francisco, California, aerial artist Daniel Dancer and the Center for Biological Diversity will work with hundreds of people to form a giant, moving blue dot to represent the threat of sea level rise and ocean acidification; and city-dwellers in Rio de Janeiro hold dots where mudslides from unusually heavy rains wiped out part of their neighborhood. I think its a great way to draw attention to the links between climate change and extreme weather, since the mainstream media coverage of climate change has been almost nil the past few years. A report by Media Matters for America found out that nightly news coverage about climate change on the major networks decreased 72% between 2009 and 2011. On the Sunday shows, 97% of the stories mentioning climate change were about politics in Washington D.C. or on the campaign trail, not about extreme weather or recent scientific reports. You can check out what Climate Impacts Day events may be happening in your area at the climatedots.org website.


Figure 2. Front Street Bridge on the Susquehanna River in Vestal, NY, immediately following the flood of September 8, 2011. Image credit: USGS, New York. In my post, Tropical Storm Lee's flood in Binghamton: was global warming the final straw? I argue that during September 8, 2011 flood, the Susquehanna River rose twenty feet in 24 hours and topped the flood walls in Binghamton by 8.5 inches, so just a 6% reduction in the flood height would have led to no overtopping of the flood walls and a huge decrease in damage. Extra moisture in the air due to global warming could have easily contributed this 6% of extra flood height.

Also of interest
Anti-coal activists, led by climate scientist Dr. James Hansen of NASA, are acting on Saturday to block Warren Buffett's coal trains in British Columbia from delivering coal to Pacific ports for shipment overseas. Dave Roberts of Grist explains how this may be an effective strategy to reduce coal use, in his post, "Fighting coal export terminals: It matters".

The creator of wunderground's new Climate Change Center, atmospheric scientist Angela Fritz, has a blog post on Friday's unveiling of the new Heartland Institute billboards linking mass murderers like Charles Manson and Osama Bin Laden to belief in global warming. In Heartland's description of the billboard campaign, they say, "The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society. This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren't scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen." The Heartland Institute neglected to mention that the Pope and the Dalai Lama are prominent advocates of addressing the dangers of human-caused climate change.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting Neapolitan:
Yeah, that story is lighting up the internet. (Even WU's own Angela Fritz has posted a blog entry on the subject.) Definitely a 'jump the shark' moment for the fossil fuel-funded Heartland Institute; for those who still lend them even a little credibility, this should tell them everything they need to know about the group, and the deplorable depths to which they'll sink as they get more and more desperate for something, anything on which to hang their anti-science points of view.


Yes, I was checking to see if that blog issue was fixed and I noticed her blog and passed it on.
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nrtiwlnvragn, do you have the link to the pdf format by TSR? I ask because they released today the NW Pacific May forecast of 26/16/9.

Link
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WOUS64 KWNS 041827
WOU8

BULLETIN - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH OUTLINE UPDATE FOR WS 238
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
230 PM EDT FRI MAY 4 2012

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH 238 IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1000 PM EDT
FOR THE FOLLOWING LOCATIONS



. ILLINOIS COUNTIES INCLUDED ARE

EDWARDS WABASH WHITE




IN
. INDIANA COUNTIES INCLUDED ARE

BARTHOLOMEW BROWN CLARK
CRAWFORD DAVIESS DEARBORN
DECATUR DUBOIS FLOYD
GIBSON GREENE HARRISON
JACKSON JEFFERSON JENNINGS
KNOX LAWRENCE MARTIN
MONROE OHIO ORANGE
PERRY PIKE POSEY
RIPLEY SCOTT SPENCER
SWITZERLAND VANDERBURGH WARRICK
WASHINGTON


KY
. KENTUCKY COUNTIES INCLUDED ARE

ANDERSON BOONE BOYLE
BRECKINRIDGE BULLITT CARROLL
DAVIESS FAYETTE FRANKLIN
GALLATIN GARRARD GRANT
GRAYSON HANCOCK HARDIN
HENDERSON HENRY JEFFERSON
JESSAMINE LARUE MARION
MCLEAN MEADE MERCER
NELSON OHIO OLDHAM
OWEN SCOTT SHELBY
SPENCER TRIMBLE WASHINGTON
WOODFORD


ATTN...WFO...PAH...LMK...ILN...IND...



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Quoting RitaEvac:


The only messages getting across are political debates, dancing with the stars, kardashians, who's doing what in the NFL, NBA, MLB, stock prices, and the latest update on Facebook.

Manmade catastrophic doomed to fail society is in full swing

Here's one example:

Baby dies after being left in the back of hot pickup truck in Houston


So I clicked this link to read it and the wunderground prompt comes up "only click ok if you trust this link, www.foxnews.com" needless to say, I clicked cancel.....
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Quoting PedleyCA:
Anybody see this? They are at it again.



Link
Yeah, that story is lighting up the internet. (Even WU's own Angela Fritz has posted a blog entry on the subject.) Definitely a 'jump the shark' moment for the fossil fuel-funded Heartland Institute; for those who still lend them even a little credibility, this should tell them everything they need to know about the group, and the deplorable depths to which they'll sink as they get more and more desperate for something, anything on which to hang their anti-science points of view.
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65 jeffs713: Just in the Houston area, there is a push to make some sections more "walkable" with features just like described. But then there are subdivisions going up with cheap homes packed onto tiny lots well away from jobs and mass transit. Or there are large industrial areas that require lots of employees... but the nearest residential area is across a freeway. Not many people want to live next to a steel foundry, oil refinery, or port facility.

That's just due to deliberate political choices: and deeply corrupt political practices at that.
If one can create and enforce eg hurricane-standard building codes, then one can also create liveable industrial areas. Insisting that subdivision developers provide job-creating space along with excellent mass transit is little different than insisting that they provide electricity and a decent sewage system.
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Have a Good Day Nigel
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Anybody see this? They are at it again.



Link
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Later all
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 12 Comments: 8424
52 wxmod: Productivity is not a sustainable business model. That should be obvious to you after the 2008 crash. Resources end. This time it was bank loans. Next time it will be water. The time after that, if there is one, there will not be enough air. Pretty basic math.

PLUSed, but it should be modified with "Ever-increasing gains in true productivity..."
And running outta air in less than geological eons is a bit too hyperbolic.
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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:


...my understanding is that the servers and administration offices are for WUnderground are indeed in California.


I think I heard someone remark awhile back that they are in the San Francisco Bay area. Good to see they finally got to it. Hows your weather down there?
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Quoting PedleyCA:


Good morning CRS, why you gotta go blame it on Calif?


...my understanding is that the servers and administration offices for WUnderground are indeed in California.
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;
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 12 Comments: 8424
50 jeffs713: What you described was a pretty utopian vision.
Think about it... no need for cars (reduced expenses), you are close to work/school, less pollution, more greenery, better lifestyles.... and completely irrational and nigh impossible to implement given the complexity of today's society.


Try Manhattan, where the main obstacle to more greenery and even greener living than currently practical is providing that extra road&parking space wasted for use by owners of personal automobiles.
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Quoting sunlinepr:


Get that rain while you can as the rain tap will shut off on you guys before you know it. Could be a dry several months coming to PR and the rest of the eastern Caribbean Islands. While things will likely get very stormy on the western side of the caribbean over the coming weeks and staying that way. Also lots of African Dust is causing significant drought across S America so watch out as it's a matter of time before this dust moves north.
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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
...looks like "ADMIN" woke up out in Calif and fixed the blog index : )


Good morning CRS, why you gotta go blame it on Calif?
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Quoting jrweatherman:
No doubt that global warming is real. Human caused, na. In the 1970's scientists said we were heading for the next ice age. I find it impossible to believe that in 25 short years that humans have altered the earths climate forever for an earth that is 15 billion years old.


jrweatherman, the seventies were at best about 32 years ago. A lot has changed since then.
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When you're outside tomorrow night don't forget to look up in/and wonder. :)




Science behind "Supermoon"
Posted: May 04, 2012 10:46 AM CDT Updated: May 04, 2012 11:05 AM CDT
By Bert Charan

(CNN) Many of you are likely contemplating weekend plans since Saturday is Cinco de Mayo, but there may be another event to pencil into your calendar: viewing the "super moon." At 11:35 p.m. ET Saturday, the official full moon will occur at the same time its orbit brings the familiar white globe closest to Earth.

The moon will appear very large and bright in the sky, about 16% brighter than usual. The best location to view the moon at its largest is when it is along the horizon after rising and just before setting. Viewing the moon behind buildings and trees creates an optical illusion so it appears even larger, making it a perfect time to try and grab some beautiful pictures.

So why is this full moon "super"? As the moon orbits the Earth, there are specific times when it is closest to and farthest away from our planet. Apogee occurs when the moon is farthest away from Earth, and perigee occurs when it is closest. On Saturday, the moon will be at its perigee and thus very close to Earth – about 221,000 miles away.

The perigee on Saturday night will also be the closest one to Earth all year, about 3% closer than any other approach in 2012. This is due to the fact that the orbits in our solar system are elliptical instead of circular. There is a bit of wobble in these orbits as well, explaining why we see some perigees closer and some apogees farther away than others.

Those along the coasts wondering, "Do I need to worry about huge high tides?" will notice more exaggerated high and low tides but nothing extreme. In most places, the perigean tides raise tidal levels about an inch. In some locations, the tide could rise possibly up to 6 inches, depending on local geography.

This full moon will be big, bright, beautiful and certainly worth a look. The timing to see it will be perfect when many people already are out and about on Saturday night.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 253
Moderate El-Nino by October? CFS & Euro think so.

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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


Good afternoon Nigel. Also in Puerto Rico it has been rainy in the past 2 days.


Is there a working Dominican Republic radar working?
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...looks like "ADMIN" woke up out in Calif and fixed the blog index : )
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12Z CMC consistent with the same low for several runs and yes its the CMC..interesting just the same









this was the OOZ had it on the east coast of florida then heading out to sea
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Good news as the blog page is working again.

Link
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Quoting LargoFl:
hmmm off topic a tad, but it has been discovered that ALL species on this planet with a spinal cord..hmmm..evolved from THIS creature....................................


hmmm..not sure im understanding the point of this post. hmmm....
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Anyone using Chrome might want to view this and update as needed. I don't use Chrome and not sure of the update mechanism.
Secunia has flagged it as insecure and there is an update to 18.0.1025.168..

Link
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


Good afternoon Nigel. Also in Puerto Rico it has been rainy in the past 2 days.


Good afternoon TWpr. Yeah, i've notice that
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Quoting nigel20:
Very wet in the eastern Caribbean

Barbados radar


Good afternoon Nigel. Also in Puerto Rico it has been rainy in the past 2 days.

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Okay, time to put up or shut up. This guy has set a lifestyle standard.

"He was born into an Evangelical Christian home in Grand Junction, Colo., and took his religion seriously. Eventually, he started wondering why "professed Christians rarely followed the teachings of Jesus--namely the Sermon on the Mount, namely giving up possessions, living beyond credit and debt--freely giving and freely taking--giving, expecting nothing in return, forgiving all debts, owing nobody a thing, living beyond payback of either evil-for-evil or good-for-good, living and walking without guilt (debt), without grudge (debt), without judgment (credit & debt), living by Grace, by Gratis, not by our own works but by the works of the true Nature flowing through," he said. "
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Quoting aspectre:
There's always been the choice of not living a jillion miles away from where ya work.
But people are perverse.
Without living a jillion miles away from work, how will one waste time&resources growing a fake pasture that nobody uses for any purpose other than wasting time&resources maintaining?


There are some things that make life worth living. For some people it's not having to live cheek to jowl with others. A bit of green, a garden, even a patch of country land is important to some.

How about we allow people a choice of where and how to live and concentrate on providing them green transportation?

Living far in the country one can use EVs or PHEVs fueled by clean energy.

If you're 'closer in' then options such as light rail become feasible. Put a bike or 'neighborhood EV' on the suburban end of light rail and good public transportation on the urban end and all that movement could be done with no fossil fuels.

Inside cities we need good, fast people movers. I've just come back from a couple of weeks in France and must say that the Metro, Paris's subway system, is a magnificent solution. Another system which I've used often and which works great is Bangkok's SkyTrain, and elevated system much like a subway train but rides above the city streets.

With today's technology there needs be no 'wasted' time while commuting. Read a book on your e-reader, catch up with your friends or the news on your tablet, get some work done on your laptop.

We can power all this stuff with clean, renewable energy. And provide people choices....
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Very wet in the eastern Caribbean

Barbados radar
Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 12 Comments: 8424
hmmm off topic a tad, but it has been discovered that ALL species on this planet with a spinal cord..hmmm..evolved from THIS creature....................................
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Quoting PedleyCA:

I'd say that qualifies as a flash flood.
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Quoting RTSplayer:


People live in homes where land is available, so that they are at least working towards owning something of their own, instead of giving all their money to a landlord and having nothing to show for it at the end of life.

As for lawns, I don't know why anyone would actually choose that. I'ts always bothered me how insane most home owners actually are when it comes to that, because all it amounts to is more work to do for no good reason.

Its pretty.

I personally enjoy gardening and working outside (just look at my blog - which I need to update - for evidence). Yes, mowing the lawn once a week is a pain. But it is a source of pride for me.
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28 streamtracker: The Myth of the 1970's Global Cooling Scientific Consensus
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Quoting greentortuloni:


I don't see the relationship between this part: "The issue is that our hunger for more space to live and our materialistic culture" and this part: "pretty much defeats large-scale cycling."

Biking is biking. The world could be just as it is today and most everyone could bike. Much harder to get rid of are semis delivering food, farm and construction equipment.

Commuting is easy. It just requires people, especially those who would be leaders, to care.

I know. My wife and I carpooled today, too. I would LOVE a job that allowed me to ride a bike to work, but in my current line of work (and my future one), that won't happen without my wife and I buying a new house. And even then... one of us still has to drive.

As for my apparently contradictory statement... There is a large drive for people to move into the suburbs, or master-planned communities. We are also addicted to buying more "stuff", whether that be a house on a 3-acre lot, or the newest SUV, or the super-mega 114" LED TV. (yes, I know those don't exist) Those factors - moving out of the city center and wanting more stuff - lead us to be more isolated from commerce, which by its very nature goes towards the center of a population area. For many people, their chosen housing locale is a priority over their employment's location. Jobs change. Heck, my wife and I both changed jobs in the last 18 months. My dad just got a job after being unemployed for almost a year.

Building a society that is completely car-less isn't feasible on a large scale with how our society currently operates. I'd love to see it, but until we have a major paradigm shift (caused by building a few of these communities as described for positive examples)... thinking that we can just change to this new ideal in the matter of a decade or two is lunacy.

People resist change. People don't want to change their way of life for abstract ideals that don't have immediate benefits. They have to make those abstract ideas concrete, see the benefits, then they will buy into it.
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FLOOD STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DETROIT/PONTIAC MI
1241 PM EDT FRI MAY 4 2012

...A FLOOD WARNING CONTINUES FOR THE FOLLOWING...

THREAD CREEK

.NO ADDITIONAL SIGNIFICANT RAINFALL IS EXPECTED ALLOWING THE
THE CREEK TO CONTINUE TO FALL.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

SAFETY MESSAGE...TURN AROUND DONT DROWN.

&&

MIC049-050041-
/O.EXT.KDTX.FL.W.0001.000000T0000Z-120505T0113Z/
/FTCM4.2.ER.120504T0718Z.120504T1345Z.120504T1913 Z.NR/
1241 PM EDT FRI MAY 4 2012

A FLOOD WARNING CONTINUES FOR
THREAD CREEK IN FLINT.
* FROM NOW UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
* AT 12 PM FRIDAY THE STAGE IS 7.3 FEET AND FALLING.
* FLOOD STAGE IS 7.0 FEET.
* MODERATE FLOODING IS OCCURRING.
* FORECAST...THE RIVER CRESTED AT 7.7 FEET AT 10 AM FRIDAY
AND SHOULD FALL BELOW FLOOD STAGE LATE THIS AFTERNOON.


$$
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Anyone here from Michigan? just saw some really bad pics on the news about the terrible flooding going on up there..hope everyone is safe...
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Quoting aspectre:
There's always been the choice of not living a jillion miles away from where ya work.
But people are perverse. Without living a jillion miles away from work, how will one waste time&resources growing a fake pasture that nobody uses for any purpose other than wasting time&resources maintaining?


People live in homes where land is available, so that they are at least working towards owning something of their own, instead of giving all their money to a landlord and having nothing to show for it at the end of life.

As for lawns, I don't know why anyone would actually choose that. I'ts always bothered me how insane most home owners actually are when it comes to that, because all it amounts to is more work to do for no good reason.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting greentortuloni:


Not really. It is happening in a lot of places. Some places people still plan and innovate and want a better future.... instead of whining and saying how it can't happen because of some emotional proclivity.
Dude... I'd love to see what is described actually happen. I've seen signs of people trying to make it happen. But it is a fairly radical change from how our society currently works. Just in the Houston area, there is a push to make some sections more "walkable" with features just like described. But then there are subdivisions going up with cheap homes packed onto tiny lots well away from jobs and mass transit. Or there are large industrial areas that require lots of employees... but the nearest residential area is across a freeway. Not many people want to live next to a steel foundry, oil refinery, or port facility.
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There's always been the choice of not living a jillion miles away from where ya work.
But people are perverse.
Without living a jillion miles away from work, how will one waste time&resources growing a fake pasture that nobody uses for any purpose other than wasting time&resources maintaining?
Member Since: August 21, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 4860
Quoting jeffs713:

What you described was a pretty utopian vision.

Think about it... no need for cars (reduced expenses), you are close to work/school, less pollution, more greenery, better lifestyles.... and completely irrational and nigh impossible to implement given the complexity of today's society.


Well, that's not my "vision", nor do I advocate it. But, I'll tell ya, that's how radical we're going to get. It's going to get dumped on us. And if that's utopia, I'd hate to see paradise. But we will learn how to deal with it. And it eventually won't seem out of the ordinary.
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speaking of which, I am out of here for a ride w/ my better half as well.

Ciao
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Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 12 Comments: 8424
Quoting jeffs713:
Oh, I know. My wife and I went bike riding last night, actually.

The issue is that our hunger for more space to live and our materialistic culture pretty much defeats large-scale cycling. I live near the 4th largest city in the country, and I drive *only* 17 miles to work daily. My wife used to drive 34 (now she is 2 miles from my office). I'm in school to be a nurse, and the nearest hospital to my house is 4 miles - right on the edge of reasonable biking distance. (and that hospital is crap, too)

But I have a gas station literally around the corner, and 3 grocery stores within 5 miles.


I don't see the relationship between this part: "The issue is that our hunger for more space to live and our materialistic culture" and this part: "pretty much defeats large-scale cycling."

Biking is biking. The world could be just as it is today and most everyone could bike. Much harder to get rid of are semis delivering food, farm and construction equipment.

Commuting is easy. It just requires people, especially those who would be leaders, to care.
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And the heat continues.

According to HAMweather records, during the week from April 27, 2012 and May 4, 2012, 169 low temperature records were equaled or bested while 547 high temperature records were equaled or bested.

One of those new records was on April 28, when Paint Rock, TX, hit 103 degrees. Previously, the record was 98 degrees set in 1946.
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Dr. Masters, the picture you included in your post which carries the caption, "Front St. Bridge on the Susquehanna River in Vestal, NY" is incorrect. The bridge pictured is the Front Street bridge over the Choconut Creek, which flows into the Susquehanna River around 300 yards downstream of the bridge.

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Member Since: November 6, 2010 Posts: 12 Comments: 8424
Quoting nigel20:

Generally fair with afternoon showers as a result of day time heating. What's up pedley?

Last cool day for awhile (75) 66.6 right now and supposed to go between 86-95 for the next 4 days(ouch). Gonna be warm but the humidity will be low here, so that is good.
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Quoting jeffs713:

What you described was a pretty utopian vision.

Think about it... no need for cars (reduced expenses), you are close to work/school, less pollution, more greenery, better lifestyles.... and completely irrational and nigh impossible to implement given the complexity of today's society.


Not really. It is happening in a lot of places. Some places people still plan and innovate and want a better future.... instead of whining and saying how it can't happen because of some emotional proclivity.
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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.