Flooding

Responding to Collapse, Part 2: Climate Change

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Published on The Easiest Person to Fool September 15, 2018

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These squash just climbed up and helped themselves to a seat.

The title for this series of posts started out as "Preparing for collapse", but in my last post I immediately went into a rant about how I see a hard, fast, world-crippling collapse as pretty improbable. What I'm observing instead is a slow collapse that has already been happening for several decades and will continue for several more, albeit with much the same end result as a fast collapse. KMO, one of my favourite podcasters and a follower of this blog, suggested a better title would be Responding to Collapse, and that's what I'll be using from now on. Thanks, KMO.

Of course, I expect that the degree of collapse will become more intense as time passes, and it is that which we should try to prepare for (or respond to). Times will become gradually harder and occasionally bad things will happen that make things quite a bit worse all at once. But things will be much worse in some areas than others and if you are clever you can arrange to be where you'll miss the worst of it. Though if you think you can arrange to miss all of it, you're kidding yourself.

Over the next few posts I'll be offering some rules of thumb for surviving collapse. But always remember not to follow any rule off a cliff. Look at your own current circumstances and adjust my ideas fit.

All of what I am suggesting here only works if the great majority of people ignore my advice or, more likely, never hear it in the first place. One of our biggest problems, now and for quite a while yet, is that there are too many people living on this planet. If a great many people where to head in the direction I am pointing, the advantage of being there would immediately go away.

This is already starting to play out in some parts of the world where things are getting bad enough politically, economically and/or climate-wise that many are leaving in desperation. I am talking about places like the Middle East, North Africa, Venezuela and to some extent even Puerto Rico, where people are leaving for the mainland U.S. in droves. As the numbers of refugees mount the welcome they receive gets less enthusiastic. But bear in mind that the only real choice you will have in this situation is to be part of the influx of refugees or to be among of those who are welcoming it. I would say that the latter role is very much preferable. A timely move, before things get serious, can put you on the right side of things.

And those of you who applaud their government for clamping down on immigrants and immigration, consider this: if your government is so ready to mistreat "those people", how long will they hesitate to treat you similarly when it becomes convenient? Better to take part in the political process (vote, as a minimum) and work towards a government with more humane and progressive policies.

Some of those bad things that might make you want to move will be caused by climate change and today I'd like to focus on the negative effects of climate change, specifically higher temperatures and changing rainfall patterns.

I should say in advance that if you are in denial about climate change, please go somewhere else where you'll be more welcome. I simply don't have the energy or inclination to engage with you. As far as I am concerned it's happening, we're causing it by adding CO2 and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, and it's going to get worse for quite a while yet. Especially since it doesn't seem like we are going to do anything about reducing green house gas emissions until collapse forces us to drastically reduce our use of fossil fuels and our level of consumption in general. At the same time, I give very little credence to those who talk about near term extinction of the human race. That's way too much of an easy way out, and little more than an excuse for inaction.

Much of how we have come to live over the last few thousand years was determined by the climate, which has been fairly stable and accommodating to the way we practice agriculture. Based on this, we have been a very successful species, at least if you judge by how we have spread over the planet and how our population has grown. During the last couple of centuries energy from fossil fuels has enabled us to become even more "successful". We have overcome some challenges that had previously been insurmountable and managed to feed an ever growing population.

The Green Revolution involved some "improved" plant varieties that give startlingly better yields in response to optimized irrigation, fertilization and pest control, all of which have been facilitated by the ready availability of cheap energy. Unfortunately, this has involved the use of non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels, the water in fossil aquifers, and deposits of potash and phosphorous.

We've managed to live and even farm in areas that were previously deserts. and we've been able to ship food from all over the world to areas where the population couldn't even remotely be supported by local agriculture. But the days of cheap fossil fuels, fertilizers and pesticides, abundant fossil water, and low cost worldwide shipping (with refrigeration as needed) are coming to an end at the same time as the climate is going crazy. We're are going to have to adapt as best we can.

So, let's have a closer a look at the consequences of climate change.

There is no doubt that the climate is warming worldwide and will continue to do so. That warming is much more intense in the high latitudes, leading to melting of major ice shields in Greenland and Antarctica. Mountain glaciers are also melting and disappearing at an alarming rate. To make matters worse, the water and land exposed by melting ice is much less reflective that the ice was and retains more of the heat from the sun rather than reflecting it back into space, leading to even more warming.

Ice is only about 89.5% as dense as sea water. This is why about 10% of the mass of an iceberg sticks out of the water, and why when ice floating in sea water melts, it does not change the level of the water. So the ice covering the Arctic Ocean will have no effect on sea level as it melts. But ice sitting on land does increase sea level when it melts and runs into the sea. This is true of the ice in Greenland and in mountain glaciers, and of much of the ice in Antarctica.

The loss of mountain glaciers also effects the way in which precipitation is stored and flows into rivers and we'll get to that in a moment, but for now, let's concentrate on sea level rise.

Interestingly, sea level isn't the same everywhere. When we speak of altitudes "above sea level" we are talking about "Mean Sea Level", which is an average level of the surface of one or more of Earth's oceans. But what we are concerned about here is the actual sea level at any particular location, and this can differ quite a bit from one location to another, and from one time to another, as the sea is in constant motion, affected by the tides, wind, atmospheric pressure, local gravitational differences, temperature, salinity and so forth. In addition to melting ice, sea level has been increasing during at least the last century as the oceans have heated up due to climate change. Further, many human settlements are built on river deltas, where subsidence of land contributes to a substantially increased effective sea level rise. This is caused by both unsustainable extraction of groundwater (in some places also by extraction of oil and gas), and by levees and other flood management practices that prevent accumulation of sediments from compensating for the natural settling of deltaic soils.

Here is an interactive map that illustrates what areas will be flooded as sea level rises. You can select the amount of rise and scroll around and zoom in to see the effect on the parts of the world that interest you most.

When I initially looking at that map, even with the sea level rise set to the highest level, it didn't seem all that bad—there will be lots of dry land left. But, zooming in and giving it a little further thought, I realized that the missing piece of information is what currently occupies the relatively small areas that would be flooded—a whole lot of people, many of whom are living in the world's largest and most economically important cities.

It's hard to nail down how many people will get their feet wet for any particular increase in sea level, but I did find one article that discusses this in some detail.

The writer says,

"Current estimates for the absolute maximum sea level rise, if the glaciers at both poles melted, range from 225 to 365 feet, with the latter being more likely accurate. If sea levels rose that much, coastal lands would be depressed several meters and transgressive erosion would also occur. So, for instance, even though Long Island has many points that are above 300 feet or so, none of it would survive the transgressive erosion because it is all glacial till. It is hard to extrapolate from the numbers above to a 100+ meter rise, and improper to do so, but consider that if the human population is concentrated near the seas, and 10% live below the 10 meter line, then it is probably true that well more than half live below the 100 meter line, and many more within the area that would be claimed by the sea through erosion and depression."

But while all that ice may well melt eventually, most sources predict that sea level will only go up a few feet during this century. That would be less destructive, but even moderate increases in sea level combined with more severe and more frequent storms, and with tides (if the timing of those storms is bad), will result in previously unheard of damage to seaside settlements. We've already seen some of this with Katrina, Sandy and several storms (Harvey, Irma, Maria) in the fall 2017, that hit the Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico and Florida. As I write this, Hurricane Florence is heading for the Carolinas. It promises to last longer and bring with it a lot of rain due to the unusually high temperatures associated with it

Clearly, you'll want to be away from the seashore. But you don't want to jump from the pan directly into the fire, so we need t look at what other climate change related problems you might face farther inland. In an attempt to increase the content value of this post, I found some more maps which illustrate the effect climate change is going to have over the coming decades.

Climate change is a global problem, but in my search it became obvious that quite a lot more information is available for the U.S. and Canada, and since many of my readers are from North America, I'm including some of that information here.

Looking at those maps and a lot of other study led me to the following conclusions:

Tropical storms can do quite a bit of damage fairly far inland—look at what Maria did to Puerto Rico—even the mountainous inland parts of the island. This is something to take into consideration if you currently live in the Caribbean, near the gulf coast of the U.S. or near the eastern board of the U.S. Tropical storms in the Pacific and Indian Oceans are not something we hear much about in the mass media in North America, but they do happen and have lots of potential for damage to human settlements. If you live where this happens you're probably well aware of it and can take it into account in your plans.

People are often proud of the way they have managed to rebuild after storms, and this is fine if you're talking about storms that only happen once a century or so. But as storms become more frequent the financial resources to rebuild every few years will dwindle away. The best time to move is when things have recovered nicely from the most recent storm, but well before the next one. Of course, if it looks like recovery isn't going to happen, then it's time to get out, regardless of the cost.

It always astonishes me the way people are willing, perhaps even eager, to build or move into accommodation on the floodplains of rivers. The story is always that the river floods only very rarely and hasn't flooded in a long time. Now that sounds to me like a promise that flooding can be expected shortly even without climate change. But as climate change brings more violent storms even outside the tropics and changes in the pattern of precipitation and spring melting of the winter snow pack, more frequent floods are a certainty. So don't be fooled when moving into a new area—stay away from floodplains and areas likely to be undercut by erosion.

Heat waves are becoming more common everywhere, but particularly in the tropics. Many areas will eventually get to the point where they will be uninhabitable for large parts of the year if you don't have air conditioning or housing designed to cope. As always, the poor will be hardest hit.

The lack of water can be just as much of a problem as too much.

Already deserts are expanding and they will continue to do so, consuming the semi desert areas surrounding the desert where people have been living and are now forced to leave. This is already happening in North Africa and the Middle East and is the root cause of a lot of political unrest.

Droughts are becoming more common and are striking areas that traditionally have not suffered droughts. The Pacific Northwest, including California and British Columbia, is one such example. Even areas such as the one where I live, which is getting slightly more precipitation overall, are suffering from changes in when the precipitation happens. In the case of southern Ontario, we're getting more precipitation in fall, winter and spring but less in the summer. This is a problem for agriculture hereabouts, which has traditionally relied on getting a sufficient rain in the summer.

There are areas in the southwest of the U.S. that have traditionally been seen as deserts, but during the twentieth century were made to bloom, using water from pump from fossil aquifers and rivers dammed and diverted. Unfortunately the aquifers are just about depleted and all the water in the rivers is being used while demand still grows. As precipitation decreases and temperatures increase even at higher altitudes, there is less accumulation of snow and glaciers melt away, meaning that rivers fed by melting snow and ice run dry earlier in the summer, if they run at all.

There is a great deal to be said about areas outside of North America, but this would require a lot more research on my part and delay the publication of this post even more. But I was reading recently that Spain and Portugal are experiencing a severe drought, and it is expected to get worse.

People have difficultly responding rationally to these sorts of problems. Slowly increasing temperatures, slowly rising sea levels and slowly spreading desertification are the kind of thing that we tend to let future generations worry about, thinking it's not going to happen here, not just yet anyway. Then one day it does happen and many are caught unprepared.

Catastrophes that happen irregularly and unpredictably, like storms, heat waves, droughts and forest fires, are the kind of thing we live through and convince ourselves won't be happening again anytime soon. But as climate change progresses, they will become ever more frequent and more difficult to recover from.

Don't be caught in denial—where ever you are, you'll be experiencing some negative effects from climate change. But in some places, those effects will be overwhelming and the only viable response is to move away. Better to be well ahead of the rush. If you own property, better to get it sold while there are still buyers who haven't caught on to what's happening.

So, you're looking for a place that is, and will continue to be:

  • well above sea level
  • not at the top of a bluff overlooking the sea that is being gradually eroded away
  • not situated so as to take the full brunt of tropical storms
  • not in the floodplain of a river
  • not in a desert or semi-desert that relies on water from fossil aquifers that are being depleted faster than they are replenished or rivers fed by glacial melt water
  • not subject to hot season temperatures or heat waves that are not survivable if the power goes out or you can't afford air conditioning
  • receiving enough rain to allow for agriculture
  • with a growing season and soil that will support agriculture

In addition to the problems caused by climate change, the other two main concerns of this blog (resource depletion and economic contraction) are going to see most of us becoming quite a bit poorer, and not relying on anything that uses much energy, including shipping things in from far away. Most of our own food will have to be grown locally and the smaller amount of "stuff" we consume will be made locally.

In a future post (coming soon) I'll be talking about coping with the challenge of finding and fitting into a community that can survive under these conditions. For now I'll just say don't assume that collapse will relieve you of the necessity of earning a living in the growth based capitalist economy. It's going to take a long time to switch over to a low energy, low consumption, non-growth economy and in the meantime, most of us will have to keep a foot in both worlds, and initially mainly in the currently existing world.

So any plan for a move will have to take into account the necessity of earning a living where ever you go. You may well find that the pressure of earning a living pushes you in the opposite direction from what collapse related planning would indicate is best.

Next time I'll look at the socio-economic side of things—the problems caused when we are surrounded by too many people and by too few, often at the same time.

 

Weather Gone Wild 1: The Floods

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noaharkAired on the Doomstead Diner on January 6, 2016

 

Cometh the Floods

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In our newest feature on the Diner, Weather Gone Wild TM, we're going to be taking a closer look at all the Wild & Wacky Weather events transpiring around the Globe these days.  We'll be speculating on the causes, possible outcomes, better & worse locations and timelines to be aware of.  In depth research by the Diners will provide the underpinning of this analysis. 🙂

Now, onto the FLOODS!

Discuss this Video Rant at the the Diner TV Table inside the Diner

Audio Only (mp3 download available on Diner Soundcloud)

Snippet:

In this series, I am going to look at the various climatic issues we are facing down as the Ocean Heat Content continues its inexorable increase as the earth produces more geotectonic energy and as Homo Sap loads up the atmosphere with more CO2 by burning fossil fuels.

 

The two effects are synergistic, although IMHO the greater factor here is Geotectonic energy release rather than the Anthropogenic causation. Either way though, it really doesn't matter, the overall effect is a rapidly changing climate which there is little to nothing we can do to stop it from occuring. So again IMHO, what we need to do now if we expect to survive this period is to figure our means and methods to ADAPT to a changing climate, rather than trying to stop the climate from changing, although certainly changing our overall behaviors and not exacerbating the problems would be a good idea at the moment.

 

The effect of more energy available in the system, from wherever it is coming is to make all sorts of weather events more extreme or more frequent. We no longer just have Typhoons, now we have “Super Typhoons”. We no longer have Droughts, now we have “Extreme Droughts”. We no longer have Tornadoes, now we have tornadoes popping up every other day in places they never popped up before, like Boston for instance. Boston is a bit removed from Tornado Alley you know. Nowadays we don't just have Floods, we have 500 year floods that occur every year. LOL.

Bayman Beachfront Blues

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As most people are aware by now,  most of the damage caused by Sandy came along the shoreline due to an impressive Storm Surge over a very long stretch of coast, one of the most densely populated coastlines on any continent.

Numerous iconographic Beachfronts were hit, the Boardwalk in Atlantic City basically destroyed and I suspect the newly renovated Coney Island Amusement Park did not fare much better.  The beach in the Rockaways where I made Sand Castles as a kid was hit hard, and many homes and biznesses in this aging beachfront community were simply washed out to sea.

Sandy didn’t just hit the poor and the middle class though, she was equally destructive of the multi-million dollar Mansions in the Hamptons where the Masters of the Universe go to play each weekend, sutffing themselves with Canapes and 500 year old bottles of Pinot Noir while they stuff the noses of Ford Models with coke prior to doing Channel Stuffing they practice on the Stock Market during the week.

Although there is no Beach on the Southern Tip of Manhattan Island, it’s not much more above sea level than the typical Beach is and also went under water for several hours, long enough to fill some Subway Stations and Tunnels with seawater, along with the basement Safes of some Securities firms holding $trillions$ in Stock Certificates in them, with some estimates putting the value of this Toilet Paper in the $36T range.

Hindsight is always 20-20 Vision of course, and after the fact here all the talk is about how to Build it Bigger and Better for Next Time, robust enough to fend off the worst that Mother Nature can throw out.

In terms of Large Public Works Projects, some impressive ones are being bandied about.  One is to build a huge underwater Seawall around lower Manhattan and the Port of NY/NJ that would deflect most of the energy of a storm surge.  Said Seawall would have some breaks in it that Tanker Ships could pass through.

This of course is similar to the Dykes built around the Netherlands holding back the Sea there, and overall on the engineering level this is some pretty impressive stuff for sure.  In the Dutch case though, the Dykes were built up over many Centuries of time and the marshy areas which were reclaimed were not very deep.  Although I am sure with modern heavy equipment, lots of Fuel and GOBS of Money the Army Corps of Bozos probably could build something like this it sure would not happen overnight, even if they do Print new Debt Money to do it.  The estimate on cost I read for this brainstorm is around $6B, but I am sure that estimate is made with the assumption Oil stays at $100/barrel for the decade it would take to complete it.

Thing is here, while this might prevent the worst Storm Surge from overrunning Wall Street, the deflected water is going to go somewhere, likely the Jersey shore to the left and the Brooklyn shore to the right.  So they will end up WORSE off after it gets built.

Another somewhat more reasonable Infrastructure Improvement I read about was to put Storm Doors on all the vulnerable Subway entrances and Air Vents and create “plugs” or “corks” to stuff in the ends of tunnels which exit into low lying areas.  Apparently Bangkok has such a system in place which allowed their subway system to keep running even during the regular and heavy flooding events they have been subject to the last few years.

Again though, nobody really explains where all the MONEY is going to come from to make all these improvements or how it would ever be paid off if you issue Debt to do it.  In the case of the Subway improvements, how high do you have to hike the Fare the Straphangers pay to actually pay this stuff off and then maintain it?  The subway system is ALREADY subsidized heavily, by you guessed it BROKE Goobermint.  The reason the system never gets Upgrades is BECAUSE it doesn’t pay for itself already.

Although little Newz is trickling out from the devastated Beachfront communities along the Jersey Shore and Long island, the pictures alone tell you that the rebuild costs are Unimaginable, and Goobernator Chris Christie has already said it will be “a long time” before these communities get their lights back on.  He should have added, “if ever”.

So, SHOULD people actually be LIVING so close to the shore in such vulnerable spots to the destructive Power of Mother Nature?  On the surface Common Sense says no, but there are many reasons why MOST of the population of Homo Sapiens does in fact live close to the shore.

First off, going right back to Ancient Civilizations which first used Boats for fishing and then trade, a large portion of the population has always made its living from the Sea.  So you naturally get towns and cities forming up at locations where boats can port up in relative safety, and in fact the Port of NY/NJ is one of the best protected harbors in the whole world on a geographic level.  That is WHY the Dutch dropped the settlement in New Amsterdam at the bottom of Manhattan Island.

Prior to the Railroads, once you got interior to a land mass to any great degree, any trade goods from other places became quite scarce and expensive.  Evne once you HAVE Railroads though, you need to have substantial numbers of people at the terminal end near the Seaport.  Still, you probably could organize it so only a Skeleton Crew of people are at the shoreline, and most of the people are far enough inland that they won’t get nailed with a Storm Surge.

The problem here is that people LIKE the Ocean.  they like swimming in it, surfing on it, tanning on the beach and Ogling the Girls in their Bikinis also.  Recreation is BIG BIZNESS, and there are Seaside Resorts in just about every Country and Island in the WORLD, and Seaside Communities that grow up around them to service the Tourist trade.  For some places like Hawaii, this Recreational tourist Trade is pretty much the only real economic driver they have, you just don’t earn all that much FOREX growing Pineapples and Macadamia Nuts.

Even for pitiful and aging Seaside Communities like Atlantic City, the Boardwalk and the Beaches are what set it apart from the Indian Reservation Casinos and Las Vegas.  In terms of Tax Revenue, it was a main source for New Jersey and that revenue is not coming back anytime too soon, and not until NJ spends a small fortune to do a rebuild.  Can they ever recoup what the spend in Taxation of a refurbished Atlantic City?  Highly unlikely of course.

Probably the most important econonomic driver for our Industrial Societies centered along the coastlines are all the Refineries and offload points for Tankers carrying the Crude from underneath the Desert Sands of Saudi Arabia and off the shore of Brazil and Venezuela.  The VLCC Super Tankers require specialized deepwater ports like the LOOP to function, and moving heavy unrefined crude through pipelines from them is costly on EROEI.  The closer you can make the Refinery to the offload point for the crude, the more profitable it is.   So you have many FSofA refineries near the shores of Lousiana and Texas, and on the Jersey shore also.  You need workers for those refineries who live nearby them, and again communities sprout up in vulnerable locations.

Trying to move all this infrastructure away from the shorelines is an impossibility as long as you want to maintain this sort of Industrialized culture, and overall most people who live inside such societies want them to continue onward as they have known them.  They want Lights On in their McMansions, they want Running Water in their Toilets.  They want the I-pads, Plasma TVs and SUVs too, but they at LEAST EXPECT that they can live in a heated home with running water.

While it does appear that the NY Shity Subway System has been brought back online for the most part, underplayed in NEWz Reports to date is just how much OTHER infrastructure has not been brought back yet.  As the Major Financial Hub of the Empire, Wall Street is the first one to consider on the Economic Loss level here.  Even though CONedison has brought Power back to Lower Manhattan, MANY Coomercial and Residential Skyscrapers can’t accept that power.  Why?  Because their basements were not hardenned against such a massive Flooding even tlike the Subways are, and most of their Electrics and Heating mechanisms are housed in their BASEMENTS, which in many if not most cases WERE Flooded Floor to Ceiling.  These include buildings like 125 Maiden Land &  55 Water Street, which houses offices for companies like S&P and services like UNICEF and Planned Parenthood:

At 125 Maiden Lane in Lower Manhattan, a 17-story building not far from the East River, a disaster recovery company official involved with work on the building said that it would be months before it could reopen. Like many other buildings in the vicinity, he said, it was flooded and would need new transformers, boilers and other equipment.

Tenants include the United States Fund for UNICEF and the International Planned Parenthood Federation.

 

At 55 Water Street, where Standard & Poor’s has offices, the “restricted use” sign listed “severe flooding in basement, no fire alarm, no power, damaged face brick at loading dock.”

On Sunday night, water gushed from hoses that snaked inside the shuttered towers. Workers scrubbed and mopped lobbies.

Brookfield Office Properties, which operates One New York Plaza near Battery Park, where Morgan Stanley is a tenant, estimated that it would be three to six weeks before the building reopens.

These towers are not all strictly Bizness either, some are residential, often housing Eledrly people:

Many of the residential buildings in Lower Manhattan without heat house significant populations of elderly people, including Smith/Vladeck Houses and Southbridge Towers, a Mitchell-Lama building, according to Julie Menin, former chairwoman of Community Board 1.

A rapid Cleanup for many of these buildings is unlikely, because besides the damage to the electrical and heating systems, they also  have been contaminated with Oil and Gas Seepage from Sunken Carz:

Because cars and other vehicles were submerged, gasoline, oil and other chemicals poisoned the waters that entered the buildings. As a result, the buildings themselves will have to undergo special cleanups before people are allowed in. These cleanups could take weeks.

Precisely where the Management Companies for these buildings is getting the MONEY to do this Cleanup remains unclear.  Also unclear is whether Commercial or Residential Tenants inthese buildings will continue to pay Rent/Mortgages on spaces they can’t Work or Live in.

Larger companies in NY Shity have Multiple Office Spaces distributed through many Towers, so these companies are no doubt shuffling people around to some other spaces they have “doubling up”.  For the smaller companies though, they have to quickly find alternate locations to workout of, or else go Outta Biz.

So beginning with Wall Street on the Economic Level, you have huge hits here in 3 areas, Clean Up cost,  Insurance Liability and Payout and Lost Tax Revenue.  Those spaces don;t come cheap, and there are a lot of them “underwater” here now, around 400 large buildings in this Nabe “Yellow Tagged” by the Department of Buildings as Unsafe.

While Individually  not as costly, the AGGREGATE cost of all the Residential and Comercial Real Estate that went Underwater on Long Island and the Jersey Shore, along with the Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island Real Estate is likely much GREATER than even the cost of Out-of-Service Wall Street buildings.  An important factor to consider is how many people will continue to Pay Mortgages on housing and commercial structures which either no longer EXIST, or have been declared so Unsafe as to be Uninhabitable now.  Would YOU keep paying your mortgage on a McMansion so damaged you cannot live in it anymore?  Many if not most of these folks will eventually here walk away from these Properties.

Calculating the precise total here of lost revenue, lost taxes and cleanup costs is basically impossible at this point, and true Numbers as they come in will certainly never be reported.  The $50B “estimate” for damage here is a crock of shit, it is WAY higher than that, even NOT taking into account the possibility of $Trillions$ in Securities being “lost” in some Basement Safes.

One thing you can be certain of as the Money to Rebuild is distributed out, it will NOT be distributed out to the Individual Homeowners and Small Bizmen who lost their homes and livelihoods here.  The Money will be distributed out to Well Connected Corporations, Big Bizmen & Contractors with good Political Connections who get Cleanup work.  A bit of this will Trickle Down to J6P Construciton Worker who has been UE for a while and now will have Cleanup work for a few months, but once done those jobs will disappear as fast as they appeared here.  Those New Jobs are more than balanced out by the many people who LOSE their jobs here because their workplaces no longer EXIST at all, or the companies they work for are not on the Gravy Train to get the Big Loans to “rebuild”.

What many people on the Jersey Shore and Long Island just found out is that you CAN’T expect that Electric Power and Heat for your Biz or Domicile will remain in place, just as a whole bunch of people found that out when NOLA got hit by Katrina.  If you are not Well Connected enough to get the Big Money Handouts from Da Federal Goobermint to “rebuild” you are basically SOL here.  I am quite SURE S&P will be floated a $100M or $1B Loan from Helicopter Ben to repair THEIR Building, I seriously DOUBT  Emilio or Mohammed gets a $100K loan to repair his Bodega.

So across the board here, we at the very LEAST are looking at a version of Jimmy Kunstler’s Long Emergency, and incremental Spin Down of the quality of life for MANY formerly Middle Class people in the NY Shity Nabe.  Staten Island is QUINTESSENTIAL “Middle Class” Working Man territory in NY Shity, probably half the NYPD, Sanitation Department and NYs Bravest Firefighters live on Staten Island.  These are not “Welfare Leechfucks”, they were hard working people who bought into the Amerikan Dream, now turned Amerikan Nightmare.  Now they ALSO are the Underclass, and will be left Hung Out to Dry as the Big Money is passed out to Big Corporations in the Capitalist system to “rebuild”.So it has always been here in the FSofA, since Alexander Hamilton openned the First Bank of the FSofA, since Andrew Jackson tried to “Kill” the Second Bank of the FSofA and since Paul Warburg and Nelson Aldrich SUCCEEDED in resurrecting said Banking System for the Illumati on Christmas Eve of 1913 with the passing of the Federal Reserve Act after Secret Meetings on Jekyll Island.  Anyone who believes that “Freedom” & “Dmocracy” have EVER existed inside the borders of the FSofA is seriously deluded, victim of 300 years of solid and continuos BRAIN WASHING.

The thing is, once the Coastal Shities fail, the Interior Shitieshere in the FSoA will also FAIL,  though not necessarily from the direct attacks of Mother Nature from Hurricanes and rising Sea levels with bigger Storm surges.  They will fail as the energy supplies they need to operate fail to reach them from the coastline.  They will fail as the huge ports which service the Container Ships are damaged and destroyed by Mother Nature.

Here in Alaska the Port of Anchorage is aging and decaying, it hasn’t been rebuilt or even maintained all that well since the Big Quake in ’64.  Next decent quake we get there, it’s all rubble and I seriously doubt will be rebuilt.

The small Fishing Boats and Kayaks will last a while longer though, and people will still live and work near the Sea, from which ALL LIFE comes, until the Sea itself has life no more.  A dangerous place to be for sure as Mother Earth becomes more Geologically and Atmospherically unstable, you never know if you picked the WRONG day to go out Dip Netting the Kings when the run and a Tsunami comes your way here on the Ring of Fire.

If you do see the tide run out real fast though, drop the dip net, drop the fish and RUN LIKE HELL for the High Ground.  At least it slopes up pretty quick here in most places and you can get up 30 meters pretty quick.  Not so true on Long Island, where you gotta get inside a good mile from the shoreline to be up more than a few feet above Sea Level.

Anyhow, you can second guess all you like all the people who lived once on the Jersey Shore and in Coney Island and Rockaway Beach and on Fire Island too, but who will live there no more even if they did escape with their lives this time.  While you are at it, you might also second guess all the folks who live in Tornado Alley on the Texahoma border.  Not to mention all the folks who live in the Flood Plain of the Mighty Mississippi.  Not to mention all those folks living on top of the San Andreas Fault or in range of Sparks from tinder dry Forests in New Mexico and Colorado.  Wherever you are, eventually the Odds catch up with you, and you never know the day the Big Show will Come to a Theatre Near You.  The odds don’t appear to be improving here either, apparently 500 year floods now arrive 2 or 3 times a decade, and we get a new “Freak” event all the time like “Derechos”, “Haboobs” and “Frankenstorms”.

Perhaps the most IMPORTANT Second Guessing to be done here is WRT the Nuke Plants distributed out worldwide in ALL of these vulnerable locations.  Nuke Plants need a HUGE amount of Water for cooling, so they are always nearby major rivers or near the coast.  The cities and Ag Land these Nuke Plants provide energy for quite often are over geological fault lines and/or subject to drought or flooding.  There is nowhere “safe” to put something that has toxins that will last for Millenia, on a Millenial Timescale just about EVERY neighborhood gets hit with some kind of major disaster.

All Nuke Plants need to be Decommissioned, and all the spent fuel collected and sequestered off where it can do the least damage, perhaps in Antarctica or perhaps by sinking it into a subduction zone around the Marianas Trench, but it MUST be moved BEFORE, not AFTER the disaster strikes.

Will we have to sacrifice the Lights and the Flush toilets?  Most probably so, but at least perhaps then we will survive as a species and eventually come up with some better ways to manage the resources of the Planet we live on, and which gives us ALL life.  Its the only one we got, and we ain’t making out to any Exoplanets anytime too soon either.

RE

The Flight of the Bumblebees

Off the keyboard of Steve from Virginia

Published on Economic Undertow on November 2, 2012

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

In the North-East, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, there are emergency workers, linemen, construction crews clearing roadways of fallen trees and sand, pumping water, replacing electric lines, and trying bring back services to the stricken New York-New Jersey areas. Meanwhile, thousands of irate drivers are waiting in long gasoline lines such as this one pictured below:

 

 

Gas lineup of cars in New Jersey (Jeff Jarvis) Heaven forbid that Americans be deprived of the means to drive where and when they please! Certainly, the citizens of New York and New Jersey have the God-given right to cruise around and ‘see what’s open’/what’s destroyed.

Question? How will the same citizens cope with permanent crude oil shortages? If not during a disaster, when? Here is what James Howard Kunstler’s ‘long emergency’ looks like in its initial stages. Americans are indoctrinated to where cars are central to every possible activity. No gas = no car = (c)armageddon.

Notice the gasoline shortage that first appeared in California has migrated to the East Coast. The proposition is always the same: a defect in delivery mechanism, a refinery- or refineries shut down for various reasons yet with ‘plenty of gas’ in the delivery pipeline.

Is there really plenty of gas? If there is, why lines?

In California there were very high pump prices in areas with less gasoline, in New Jersey the gas is still cheap by mandate … where gasoline can be found. Why not market clearing prices? $20/gallon gasoline and there are no lines, and no frivolous waste of gas, either.

After the storm the river crossings into New York City were reopened to traffic, the streets were immediately jammed with single-occupant vehicles. Service vehicles and buses were unable to move until authorities began turning away all cars with fewer than three occupants, the 2d day after the storm.

– The city should ban all private vehicles from operating on New York City streets except for transit, emergency and delivery vehicles. The city should also ban any parking on arterial streets and free up space for buses. Oops! Can’t be done, the governments are all too ‘pro-car’.

– People waiting in long lines suggests the need for a rationing regime: odd-even days with the last number on the license plate being the determinant.

– People waiting in long standee- lines with gas cans in hand represents the triumph of marketing over common sense. The ongoing sequence of damaging storms since 2000 has convinced tract-house residents to ‘invest’ in portable generators. Users don’t realize how much fuel even a small, 3kw generator uses … A generator large enough to supply a tract house ‘normal’ power (Watts) uses more fuel in a day than a person can carry easily. People buy generators the way they buy cars: they obtain the largest and most powerful units they can afford … they run the refrigerator and the big-screen television and have lights on all over, they must also burn a gallon of gasoline per hour while doing so … a five-gallon Jerry-can weighs 45lbs filled … which is too heavy for most to carry more than a few hundred feet … this means daily trips in the car looking for large amounts of gas.

– The sensible approach is to use the smallest generator rather than the largest … run it sparingly … only when needed to charge telephones and laptops and use essential devices … the television is not essential.

– Keep yourself and your car off the roads until the emergency is over, period! Emergency services have enough to do without dealing with YOUR car wreck. In an emergency there is no need to drive anywhere … provided driving isn’t necessary to escape immediate danger.

– In an emergency stick close to your house. Check on your neighbors and make sure they are not ill or hurt. After hurricane Katrina, a great problem in New Orleans was the 100+ degree heat, high humidity and absence of water and power. Neighbors helped neighbors, there was no one else to whom to turn.

– Comparisons will be made between New York and New Orleans post- their respective hurricanes.

– The level of damage to both places and surrounding areas is very similar. The actual level of physical destruction won’t be accurately determined for months (if New Orleans is a guide).

– The bosses have learned: New Jersey, New York and Connecticut governments plus FEMA are more effective now than Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama plus FEMA were post-Katrina. In New Orleans many police ran away, others looted or formed ad-hoc death squads that randomly shot at- and killed negroes. Later, ‘security duties’ were given over to private security goons who harassed and abused inhabitants. Meanwhile, road-blocks and miscommunication kept food and water trucks out of the city.

– Many rooftop rescues took place because Louisiana locals ignored police/military commands to stay out of the city and patrolled areas with small boats.

– Cleanup after the storm was a bonanza for well-connected ‘contractors’ who subcontracted- and subcontracted again and again much of the public work. So far, none of this seems to be taking place in the NY-NJ area … but it is too soon to claim that such abuses won’t take place in the future.

– Most of the storm destruction in the south was outside of New Orleans: coastal Mississippi was particularly hard hit. Ditto the coastal areas of New Jersey and Long Island. Right now there is little information about LI damage but it is likely to be severe.

– Reports of looting made no mention that even rescued persons lacked access to food or water or means of travel (boats). There was no violence @ Superdome or Civic Center even with these places packed with thousands without food, water or working toilets … despite numerous wild tales of violence at these places in the news media.

– New Orleans was closed to all for about 6 weeks … this allowed for a second major hurricane to smash the city and add more flood water … but kill no more people.

– Much of the traffic on New York-area roads is gawkers. How about arrests?

– A household should have enough basic supplies, food and water to function without refrigeration/power for at least 30 days without needing trips to the store. 30 days isn’t an extreme period of time and was considered basic household preparation only a couple of generations ago. Dried vegetables, starches, grains, smoked and salted meats keep intact for long periods without refrigeration. In cold weather, perishable items can be put outdoors in sealed containers (to keep roving pests out of your food).

– Every household should have a good supply of soap, salt, toilet paper, water, towels and blankets. Sweaters, long woolen undergarments and blankets are zero-energy solutions to cold/wet weather. They are more effective than running a 7KW generator to power a space heater. A small fan can be a life-saver in hot climates.

– Water should be stored in glass bottles not plastic or plastic-coated metal containers. Plasticizers contained therein leach into the water and accumulate, these are highly toxic. One-gallon glass bottles for vegetable oil are good after cleanup for water storage. Rotate your water storage periodically and keep it away from light … this keeps algae from growing in the water and making it slimy. Stored water can be rendered potable by use of purification tablets or by boiling.

– Before a disaster, seal and fill the bathtub to the overflow. This will be a source of washing and toilet-flushing water. 2 gallons of water are all that is needed to flush the modern toilet. Use the tub water for cleaning and rinsing first, then the wash water for toilet flushing. Flush the toilet once a day, close the lid when not in use.

– In any emergency closely ration your drinking water! DO NOT WASTE WATER you don’t know when clean water will be available. New Yorkers are learning the hard way how little fun it is to hump five gallon buckets from fire hydrants up twenty or more flights of stairs in the dark in high-rise buildings …

– Backup heating: a woodstove or fireplace with some firewood is the best backup. If there is no fireplace, the wick-type kerosene heaters are thrifty and newer models are safe. Do not use ‘salamanders’ or job-site kerosene heaters as these gobble electricity. Neither the generator nor the heater should be used in confined spaces due to carbon monoxide emissions. Do not use electrical space heaters.

– In a hurricane, there is little a homeowner can do when the storm is raging outside. Inside, some tarps, drop-cloths, duct tape, plywood, a hammer and some nails can be used to temporarily close an opening that allows the wind and rain to enter.

– In a snowstorm, the owner should be aware of snow loading his roof and be ready to shovel snow.

– During emergencies, commuters form car pools. Fortunately, the surface commuter rail systems in the New York City area are likely to be back in operation next week.

– In an emergency, the most useful tool is the shovel. It can be used as a pry bar, to remove mud, sand and water and to dig snow and ice. The second most useful is a flashlight.

– In an emergency, the greatest problem is not danger but boredom. Americans are used to being continually entertained. The demand for entertainment is such that content sources are exhausted … Keep some ‘old-fashioned’ games, cards, books (the paper kind), drawing materials, musical instruments and puzzles. Everyone in a household should be given chores to do including cleanup which is essential. Provided the house isn’t destroyed or seriously damaged, an orderly environment is helpful for morale, particularly over extended periods. Looking after neighbors is part of expanding the orderly environment beyond the house.

It is likely that most filling the roads in the New York-New Jersey hurricane zone are simply bored with being in a house with no lights, a droning generator and no junk food to gobble … Americans need to get over this need for outside stimulus … most will be spending extended periods inside one house … within one town … likely to be a small and boring town … for their entire lives. The gasoline shortages will be permanent … what then?

???

Katrina & Isaac: Anniversary Issue

Off the Keyboard of RE

Discuss this article at the Geological and Cosmological Events Table inside the Diner

As Isaac bears down on NOLA on the 7th Anniversary of the landfall of Katrina, I though it would be a good idea to make a comparison of these two Hurricanes.  Above you see one of the last of the radar images taken before the Outer bands of Katrina made landfall, one of the most perfectly organized Cyclonic Storms of all time.  Well, at least what we have Satellite Imagery of anyhow.   Below is the most recent Satellite Image of Isaac I can pull up with a permalink:

As is obvious, at this stage of the game, Katrina was a much more Organized Cyclonic Storm, and packing much higher wind speeds as well.  Katrina was at this stage between Cat 3-4, and the Doomsday scenario was that she would continue to strengthen to a Cat 5 before landfall.  That did not happen, she in fact weakenned to around a Cat 2 at landfall.

Isaac by comparison is just barely making Cat 1 wind speeds now, and may strengthen to a Cat 2 before landfall.  In the end the wind speed differential between the two storms on landfall probably will not be more than 20-30MPH.  What should be remembered however is that the damage and loss of life Katrina caused was not a result of high wind velocities, it was a Flooding Event caused by failure of the levee system in a neighborhood that has much of its land below Sea Level.  What is above Sea Level is only barely so.

The main question here is whether with the improvements made since 2005 by the Army Corps of Bozos the levee system will hold its integrity this time?  One suspects the ACoB has positioned more Troops and more Heavy Equipment along the levee system to plug any levee breaches as soon as they occur.  Imagine a few hundred Little Dutch Boys equipped with Caterpillar Back Hoes and Daiwoo Front End Loaders here ready to Spring into ACTION to stick a Finger in the Dyke hole.

This is a Water Level and Pressure problem overall, which can’t really be predicted by any model since you don’t know precisely how much water vapor the system holds, and how much it will drop how fast at any given spot once the system is over land.  That in turn depends on Ground Level Temperatures and Upper Air temperatures above the system itself.  If it is getting overlaid by cooler and drier air above as it rolls ashore, that is what will spawn Tornadoes, and if any one of those Touch Down on a Levee or Lock along the Mighty Mississippi, you definitely get a breach.

To get some idea of what the comparative  Water situation might be like, let’s look at the respective Storm Tracks  of Isaac and Katrina roughly One Day before Landfall.  First, Isaac:

Now the Storm Track for Katrina:

As you can see, both storms are making landfall at just about precisely the same location, but the Angle of Attack is different.  These models 48 hours out are quite accurate, so we can pretty much assume this is how it will go.

Because of the Attack Angle, the Storm Surge which could hit Lake Ponchartrain from Isaac could be bigger than that of Katrina, it depends there on the precise timing of landfall and High Tide.  Also depends on the absolute Speed the storm center is moving, and if you look at the chart, Isaac is not moving as fast as Katrina was at the same relative time.  This means a longer time period with high wind speeds over the water, which translates to more water piling up in higher waves.  The current strom surge is predicted to be about 12 feet, but IMHO there is a significant Error Margin there, probably +-6 feet depending on the time of day Isaac actually hits.

Levee Breach in NOLA, Katrina 2005

Now, overall as opposed to last time with Katrina, IMHO the Army Corps of Bozos is probably prepared to go the full 9 yards to keep the levee system intact,  insofar as their equipment will allow them to do that anyhow.  They also have had 7 YEARS to plan for such a scenario, so if they haven’t figured out how to keep it from occuring again here, they are going to look like, well, BOZOS.  If NOLA Floods AGAIN here, that Big Shity is about Done, Outta Biz.

Lousiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP)

Next main issue here is the Oil Patch, the LOOP and Refineries and Pipelines streaming out from southern LA.  If you remember back to 2008, the damage caused by Gustav and Ike made a mess of this system, and Gas prices spiked up about $.75/Gallon.  That was when Gas was running around $2/Gallon.  If Isaac causes anywhere near the amount of ancillary damage to the whole Oil Production system that Gustav and Ike did, given we also have all the Shit Going Down with Iran and the rest of MENA and total global production capacity is MORE compromised now than in 2008, a hit to this portion of Global Oil Supply now probably drives up the GasDiesel Price $1/Gallon.  That moves it from near the $4 range in the FSoA to around the $5 mark.  The Automobile Industry is already in Collapse now, the “New” GM is on the verge of ANOTHER Bankruptcy.  $5/Gallon Gas puts the Final Nail in the Coffin for Happy Motoring here in the FSofA, and guarantees full blown Recession again, no matter how much Funny Money Helicopter Ben dishes out to the TBTF banks.

Hurricane Damaged oil Platform, Port Fouchon

Beyond those Physical Problems is the Debt Problem, which overall now is an Order of Magnitude or perhaps two greater than it was in 2008.  In the interim time, big Insurers like AIG and Lloyds of London have basically gone BK and are on Goobermint Life Support.  Goobermints that themselves are in deep Debt Problems even without another “Natural Disaster” induced Oil supply problem.  Any projections at all made for the various Industrial Economies to work their way out of the Debt Problem all depend on GROWTH, which is pretty hard to accomplish if Mother Nature keeps taking out your Industrial infrastructure every few years.  Mortagages for instance are issued out on 30 year cycles, and these days you have some Goobermints issuing out Bonds of 50 year durations!  If what you bought with a 30 year Mortgage gets DESTROYED in 7 year increments, the DEBT remains, the COLLATERAL does not.  No McMansion to Repo if it got washed down the Mighty Mississippi and out to sea of course.  Similarly, repairing a damaged Refinery every 7 years is a very pricy deal overall.

So, what is the DANGER as far as Isaac is concerned?  Is it the likelihood of another Flooding Event of the Magnitude of Katrina in NOLA?  Not really, though that would cause not only Economic Havoc but Political Havoc as well here in the FSofA.  If NOLA Floods, you can GUARANTEE Obama-sama loses the Election.  He’ll look like as big a BUFFOON as Dubya did during Katrina.  Romney will be all over that one.  If it does NOT Flood, Obama-sama will crow about how well HE prepared for this as opposed to the poor job done by Dubya, so that enhances his re-election possibilities.

Where the real DANGER though lies is in another “Black Swan” hitting an already very fragile Economic system and Energy Delivery system on the verge of collapse from many other directions not present in 2008 when Gustav & Ike hit the Oil Patch of the GOM.  Greece wasn’t on the verge of being ejected from the Eurozone in 2008.  Spain wasn’t coughing up 7% on its Bond Issues in 2008.  Helicopter Ben wasn’t Doing the Twist and Super Mario Dragon  wasn’t creating Schrodinger Money from Nothing in 2008 either.  A perturbation in the House of Cards created here now has a much more powerful Knock-On effect than it did in 2008.  The system is simply less resilient to SHOCK.

Can you really call this a Black Swan though?  It is not, because Black Swans are not predictable, whereas this one was completely predictable, within a timespan of a decade anyhow.  Another Hurricane hitting this stretch of the GOM is completely predictable now over such timespans.  If the Oceans churn them up at a given rate, you will get a given number hitting the GOM and at least one of them each decade will hit on NOLA and the LOOP or the Houston Ship Channel.  It is GUARANTEED.  How many times can you rebuild this stuff, issuing out still MORE debt to do so?

If Isaac turns out to be a Big One for damage to the Oil Infrastructure of the GOM and Lousiana, this may be the last time.

To finish this 7th Anniversary of Katrina and the oncoming Marriage betwen Isaac and NOLA, let us review an Independent Documentary of  Katrina’s effects and consequences from one competely INSANE Storm Tracker.  That this dude’s SUV held up long enough for him to make his ESCAPE is nothing short of MIRACULOUS.

RE

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