Roaming Charges: Shelter From the Surge

Hurricane Ian as it tore into the Florida Gulf Coast. Photo: NASA.

Oceans soak up heat. Nearly all of the excess heat being generated by climate change is captured by oceans, where it is held in water a few hundred feet from the surface. Hurricanes need 80F° water for fuel. But as Hurricane Ian blew across western Cuba, it entered waters with some of the warmest sea surface temperature in the North Atlantic, allowing Ian to rapidly recharge as it vacuumed up energy and moisture into its vast spiraling rainbands. By the time it clobbered Cayo Costa with 155 mile per hour winds, Ian was one of the most powerful storms to hit Florida.

The storm surges that inundated Ft Meyers, toppling powerlines, traffic signs and trees, swamping houses and cars and flooding airports, power plants and water treatment facilities, reached 12 feet. The storm surge hit 18 feet at Longboat Key. Power was knocked out for 2.4 million people.

The sizzling atmosphere did its part. With every degree of warming, atmospheric water vapor increases by at least seven percent. In a mere six hours, Ian unloaded 12 inches of rain on the Ft. Meyers area. A day later, parts of the city were still under 4 feet of water and sharks were videotaped swimming up the streets of Naples.

+ Ian is the 46th Category 4 or 5 hurricane in the Atlantic over the past 20 years, nearly as many as occurred during the last 40 years of the 20th century. And the last five years have been the most active in history.

+ The size of Hurricane Ian’s eye and eyewall, compared with Charley’s in 2004 when it was in a similar location off the Florida Gulf Coast…

+ Since 1970 the population of the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area swelled 623 percent to more than 760,000 people. Similarly, the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton area grew by 283 percent to nearly 835,000 residents. Meanwhile, the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area experienced growth of more than 187 percent and is now populated by more than 3.1 million people.

+ Ron DeSantis on climate change: “When people start talking about…global warming, they typically use that as a pretext to do a bunch of left-wing things that they want to do anyways. We are not doing any left-wing stuff.”

+ Asked about the death toll, DeSantis said the estimate of “hundreds of fatalities” has not been verified and is based on “911 calls for people saying hey, the water is rising in my home. I’m going to go up in the attic, but I’m really worried.”

+ If by the Deep State (and it doesn’t really get much deeper, does it?), they mean the Oil Cartels, then they’re not wrong about its malign role in manipulating the weather, even if they might be misreading their motivations….

+ According to a report in The Lever, nearly three months before Florida was hit by Hurricane Ian, eight of the state’s Republican lawmakers pressured federal regulators to halt a proposed regulation that would require businesses to more thoroughly detail the financial risks they face from climate change. Those same lawmakers have banked more than $1 million of campaign cash from oil and gas industry donors.

+ On Thursday, as several major cities on the Florida Gulf Coast lay in ruins, one of the state’s US Senators, Rick Scott, voted against a stopgap funding bill that included $2 billion in disaster relief.

+ The record storm surge from Ian was driven largely by the rising sea level along the Florida Gulf Coast, which is now a foot-higher than the last major hurricane to area thanks to climate change.

+ According to the Insurance Information Institute, an insurance industry trade association, Floridians pay the highest property-insurance rates in the nation. The average premium is $4,231 — nearly triple the U.S. average of $1,544. It’s bound to be higher next year.

+ More than half of Puerto Rico’s electricity customers–over 700,000 people–were still without power more than a week after Hurricane Fiona hit the island.

+ There are currently more than 24,000 kilometers of fossil fuel pipelines planned around world, pretty much assuring that the planet won’t come close to meeting the meager climate goals set in the Paris Accords.

+ The US oil and gas industry deliberately releases methane into the atmosphere as part of their “normal operations” at a rate of approximately 1 Nordstream-sabotage-leak every two and a half weeks…

+ In fact, a new report out of the University of Michigan reveals methane emissions from oil and gas industry flaring are 5 times what we previously thought. 

+ The Nordstream leaks may well prove to be sabotage. But they needn’t be. Pipelines blow up all the time on their own. It’s one of the primary reasons we’ve been fighting them so fiercely. (In my case for 40 years, dating to a natural gas pipeline that cut across prime forest and farmland in southern Indiana.)  Since 1986, pipeline “leaks” have average 76,000 barrels of oil & natural gas a year. The pipeline companies–Russian and American–would much rather you believe all these incidents are the result of “sabotage” rather than a regular consequence of normal operations.

+ By 2025, Canada will experience $25 billion in losses relative to a stable-climate scenario, which equates to 50% of projected 2025 GDP growth. And those costs will mount rapidly over the following years and decades,  rising to $78 and $101 billion annually by mid-century for a low and high emissions scenario respectively, and $391 and $865 billion respectively by end of century.

+ On September 26, the Greenland Ice Sheet experienced a record late-season melt event, largely driven by the remnants of Hurricane Fiona. At the peak, more than 94,600 square miles had surface melting.

+ This week Nigeria was hit with its worst flooding in decades with more than 300 deaths and more than half a million people displaced. And it’s going to get worse before it improves.

+ According to a new study in the Journal of Climatic Change, under a 2 °C warming scenario, the probability of drought is projected to quadruple in Brazil and China; double in Ethiopia and Ghana; reach greater than 90% probability in Egypt; and nearly double in India.

+ Some mansions in Los Angeles consumed $50,000 a month worth of electricity during the recent heat waves. The next time there are rolling blackouts in LA start by shutting off these address and tens of thousands of other homes will be able to keep their lights on…

+ A study conducted by the Royal Botanical Gardens warns that more than half of the planet’s palm trees are now at risk of extinction.

+ As if we aren’t killing ourselves off fast enough, the Supreme Court seems ready tear up the Clean Water Act.

+ Half of the world’s bird communities are in decline, according to the latest State of the World’s Birds report. One in eight species are now at risk of extinction.

+ Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was published 60 years ago. In 1962, there were 37 pesticides available to farmers. Today, there are more than 1,000, and total use has increased tenfold.

+ A study (“Targeted Analysis and Total Oxidizable Precursor Assay of Several Pesticides for PFAS”) published this week in the Journal of Hazardous Materials Letters finds that PFAS in some pesticides at concentrations nearly one billion times higher than levels EPA says is safe.

+ PG&E (which has already copped to 84 homicides in previous fires) is under criminal investigation for reportedly starting yet another killer wildfire — this time, the 76,781-acre Mosquito Fire, which has destroyed at least 78 structures across two northern California counties. (This is the same company that Gavin Newsom just gave a $1.4 billion subsidy to keep running the Diablo Canyon nuclear facility for the next 8 years.)

+ Somewhat surprisingly, Texas has nearly as much wind, solar, and energy storage under construction (12,204 MW) than the next 5 states combined and over three times as much its chief rival California (3,757 MW).

+ Wolves, and wolf-killing, return to New York…

+ American Sickos: A Kalispell, Montana woman bragged about “smoking a wolf pup.” She skinned her kill and displayed the pelt to friends. It turned out to be someone’s pet Siberian Husky.

+ Meanwhile, the state of Washington just killed the real thing, knocking off two wolves in the Leadpoint pack for allegedly preying on domestic livestock.

+ A water manager in the Colorado Basin said the Southwest’s major reservoirs could run dry in the next three years. No cause for alarm…

+ Quantum physicist Jordan Cotler: “There are some configurations of the future that don’t correspond to anything in the past. There’s nothing in the past that would evolve into them.” I’m not sure precisely what Colter’s talking about, but it’s definitely not the election of Giorgia Meloni.

+ In the annals of child abuse, this represents the anti-thesis of “grooming”…

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+ Sixty years ago, southern segregationists seeking to embarrass JFK sent poor black people to Massachusetts.

+ Robin D.G. Kelley: “Fascism, it’s always about using nationalism, and the nation, as a bludgeon to generate support for death policies, on behalf of death governments. For violence and repression and exploitation, internationalism is the antidote, always.”

+ Incoming Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni wants to ban same-sex couples from adopting children, and possibly retroactively dissolve same-sex couples’ legal parentage over the children they’ve already adopted. Meloni’s party tried to ban a cartoon featuring a bear with two mothers, arguing that kids should not see same-sex adoption as “natural” or “normal, because it’s not.” Meloni also wants to ban gay Italians from traveling elsewhere for IVF and surrogacy. No wonder many gay parents are considering fleeing the country.

+ Porn consumption is usually a pretty good indicator of moments of political peril and it seems that Italian Pornhub users set a site access record on election day.

+ HRC, staying true to her identity politics roots, praises the Italian fascist Giorgia Meloni: “The election of the first woman prime minister in a country always represents a break with the past, and that is certainly a good thing.”

+ It’s not just her gender that prompted HRC to hail the ascent of Giorgia Meloni. I’m sure Hillary was also excited to learn of Meloni’s enthusiastic support for the NATO blood-spattered intervention in Libya. Sisters in arms!

+ Apparently, Meloni’s first action will be to repeal the Reddito di Cittadinanza, a subsidy for Italy’s poor which provides a measly 500 euros on average for those without a job.

+ She may be a fascist, but at least she opposes vaccine passports!

+ It took Giorgia Meloni to finally bring together Hillary Clinton, Glenn Greenwald and Jimmy Dore!

+ In 1995, Meloni’s father, Giorgio, was busted in Menorca for smuggling 1500 kilos of hashish on a sailboat and served 9 years in prison.

+ William Meaney, the CEO of Iron Mountain, a data management company with a $12 billion market cap, told Wall Street investors why he cheers inflation: “It’s kind of like a rain dance, I pray for inflation every day I come to work because…our top line is really driven by inflation. Every point of inflation expands our margins.”

+ Now, check out this graph from a new Congressional Budget Office report on the distribution of wealth in the US. The poorest half of America — ~150 million people — hold only 2 percent of the country’s total wealth. The almost indistinct line at the bottom of this graph represents half the country’s population.

+ From 2009 to 2019 total personal income grew by $37 trillion. Of that, top 10 percent took $8.7 trillion (24 percent) while bottom 10 percent got $25 billion (0.07 percent).

+ $1,900,000,000,000: amount the GOP (which is now suing to block Biden’s student debt relief plan) cancelled in taxes for rich people.

+ In the most Biden move yet (so far this week), his Department of Education just restructured its student debt relief plan to exclude millions of borrowers who had transferred their loans to private companies. You’d’ve though Biden would have at least waited until after the midterm elections to spring this entirely predictable bait-and-switch.

+ Yahoo Finance has published the entire list of stock trades made by Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul over the last two years. The Pelosis’ wealth is calculated at $46 million, making her one of the 25 richest members of Congress.

+ US infrastructure spending as share of GDP

1966: 2.5%
2015: 1.4%

+ Sleepwalking into WW3: Ukrainian troops can use weapons systems provided by the United States for strikes on territories they consider their own, including those that “join” Russia, says Ned Price, head of the press service of the US State Department.

+ In the Department of Unclean Hands: Has the US ever once said nuclear weapons are “off the table”? Usually, they’re the ominous centerpiece…

+ A survey conducted conducted by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs found that more than half of students in the US who have learned about the BDS movement support the boycott.

+ Mitch is to Sinema as Strom was to Biden: “Despite our apparently differences, Sen. McConnell and I have forged a friendship, one that is rooted in our commonalities, including our pragmatic approach to legislating, our respect for the Senate as an institution.”

+ Their mutual love of the filibuster brought them together because it allegedly protects the “institution” of the Senate. Protects it from what? How was “institutionalist” was it when the filibuster and cloture rule was adopted in 1917, 128 years after the senate’s first session?

+ Briefing DiFi: “This is a vote on the Continuing Resolution. Do you have any questions about it?” a male staffer asked Feinstein.

“I don’t even know what that is,” the Senator replied.

+ This is one of the first times I’ve ever sided with Feinstein, who, according to a quick check of the database of legislative actions, has voted for 161 CRs in her career. No one else knows what the hell “a Continuing Resolution” is either …

+++

+ According to Pekka Hämäläinen’s book Indigenous Continent: the Epic Contest for North America, in the first twenty years of the United States military campaigns against Native Americans Indians absorbed 5/6ths of all federal expenditures.

+ In 2020, per capita murder rates were 40% higher in states won by Donald Trump than those won by Joe Biden. 8 of the 10 states with the highest murder rates in 2020 voted for the Republican presidential nominee in every election this century.

+ During COVID, 11,000 federal prisoners were released early for home confinement. Only 17 of them reoffended, nearly all on drug charges. Only one committed a new violent crime (aggravated assault) , meaning the recidivism rate for violent crimes was 0.009%.

+ Ishtiaq Ahmed, a Pakistani-American taxi driver in Brooklyn, was enforcing social distancing rules at his mosque, when he told an NYPD officer she couldn’t enter. In response, she had him arrested for assault. CCTV footage showed there was no assault, but Ahmed’s taxi license was frozen until the case was dismissed. Now he’s suing, alleging that his arrest inside his own mosque was retaliatory.

+ In 2019, a Black man named Elijah McClain died after an  encounter with police in suburban Denver. An amended autopsy report publicly released last week disclosed that McClain died after he was injected with an overdose of ketamine (a powerful sedative) while being forcibly restrained by the cops.

+ Translation of Washington Post headline: Kidnapped girl escapes, runs toward the cops for help, who shoot and kill her thinking she’s attacking them.

+ A study published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics of the 2015-2016 Trump campaign used data on 35 million traffic stops and found the probability that a stopped driver is Black increases after one of his rallies.

+ Abortion in Arizona will now be governed under an 1864 law, first enacted by the state’s territorial legislature, which mandates a two- to five-year prison sentence for anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion.

+ Last Friday afternoon, all University of Idaho employees were informed that any discussion about abortion or birth control that was not completely neutral could result in immediate dismissal, a permanent ban from working for the State of Idaho, a felony charge and fines.

+ A new report on the geography of mass incarceration in Pennsylvania by the Prison Policy Institute shows that in Pittsburgh, 76% of the 17 majority-Black neighborhoods have poverty rates over 30%, compared to only 6% of the 50 predominantly white neighborhoods. Across the city, Black neighborhoods with high rates of poverty bear the brunt of mass incarceration.

+ New York’s Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul on the total surveillance program now being deployed on NYC’s subways: “You think Big Brother is watching you on the subway?’ You’re absolutely right. That is our intent.”

+ Roger Stone caught on tape two days before the 2020 elections: “Fuck the voting, let’s get right to the violence.” Must be an agent of Antifa.

+ Trump on NYT reporter Maggie Haberman: “I love being with her, she’s like my psychiatrist.” Move over Bob Woodward, there’s a new courtier reporter in town!

+ I’m always intrigued by political movements that chart their strategy according to the laws of numerology, such as Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam. There’s a new offshoot of QAnon which call themselves Negative48, which decodes meaning the meaning of Q-grams, Trump Tweets and MAGA-pronouncements using a form of gematria, an ancient Hebrew tradition of assigning numeric values to letters. (Forty-eight represents the numerical value of the word “evil.”)

+ In the state of Mississippi, where Brett Favre reigns as the biggest welfare queen, less than one percent of families in Mississippi who are eligible to receive TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) funds actually do so.

+ According to an affidavit filed in federal court, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton fled his McKinney, Texas home in a truck driven by his wife, state Sen. Angela Paxton, to avoid being served a subpoena on Monday. Later in the day, Paxton issued a statement saying the process server was lucky he wasn’t shot. (Paxton has been under indictment for the last seven years on security fraud charges that for some mysterious reason prosecutors have yet to bring to trial.)

+ For the first time since Pew began asking about public attitudes toward the Supreme Court in 1987, more people have an unfavorable than favorable opinion of the Court.

+ Federal Judge James C. Ho says he’s convinced that Yale Law School “actively practices cancellation” of conservative viewpoints. His response? To stop hiring (presumably conservative) young Yale Law School graduates as clerks.

+ 98 percent of Ohio charter school graduates are less prepared for post-graduate world than students in Youngstown City public schools…

+ Missouri Senator Josh (Haw-Haw) Hawley wants you to be very concerned about schools that teach there’s “more than one gender.”

+ The Tories are slowly strangling the life of the UK’s National Health Service and people are noticing. For the first time since the first time since the second Blair term, satisfaction with the way the NHS is being run has collapsed and is now net negative.

+ In the last tumultuous week popular support for the Tories is collapsing across the UK with Labour now holding a commanding 33 point advantage, according to the latest YouGov/Times poll:

Labour: 54 (+9)
Conservatives: 21 (-7)
Liberal: 7 (-2)
Greens: 6 (-1)

+ Of course, today’s Labour is yesterday’s Tory Party.

+ Speaking of Tories…

+ Reprise his role in the sequel, Olivia. Make Peterson cry again!

+++

Lynda Carter: “Sci-fi is when Wonder Woman fights villains from outer space, fantasy is thinking Wonder Woman will go on a date with you.”

+ When Jean-Luc Godard met his critics…

Woman in the audience: Why do you make films only about women prostitutes and not men?

Godard pauses for a moment, then replies: They are different things.

Woman: How can you claim to talk about a woman prostitute’s life?

Godard: Well, every time I hire a prostitute, I ask her about her experiences.

Audience: Stunned silence.

+ King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp on changing the world through music: “The background to King Crimson is in the counterculture. And we probably wouldn’t use the term today, but the aim was to change the world. Can music change the world? Well, back then, all the young players and probably most in the audience would say, ‘Of course it can.’ But moving 53 years later, we’d say, Well, that’s horse shit. But for me it’s not. It’s still an ongoing concern and a responsibility to the originating intention within King Crimson, which is something that is always possible when music is available. That is a continuing theme and a continuing imperative.”

+ Dylan on the composition of the songs in Time Out of Mind, which was released 25 years ago this week:

A lot of the songs were written after the sun went down. And I like storms, I like to stay up during a storm. I get very meditative sometimes, and this one phrase was going through my head: ‘Work while the day lasts, because the night of death cometh when no man can work.’

+ Maybe Dylan was staying up late as Ian approached Ft Meyers, writing a new suite of despairing flood songs…

+ James Madison owned 100 slaves at Montpelier and “rented” dozens more. In his will Madison, the architect of the Bill of Rights, refused to free his slaves and instead left them to the care of his wife, Dolley, with the written instruction that she not sell them so they could continue to live together at Montpelier. Despite being raised by anti-Slavery Quakers, Dolley Madison, who never shared her father’s aversion to human bondage, ending up selling them off to different plantations, breaking up slave families in order to alleviate her financial problems. Lillo, a classically trained flutist,  would have been entirely justified in breaking the flute over her knee, as the slave families themselves were broken apart. Instead, she treated it with great care and played it exquisitely, only to get trashed with racist bilge by the likes of the execrable Walsh.

+ Tweet of the Week (so far)….

+ On the eve of Woody Allen’s “retirement” from making films, let’s give Orson Welles the final word on his career:

Welles: I hate Woody Allen physically. I hate that kind of man.

Henry Jaglom: I’ve never understood why. Have you met him?

Welles: Oh, yes. I can hardly bear to talk to him. He has the Chaplin disease. That particular combination of arrogance and timidity sets my teeth on edge.

Jaglom: He’s not arrogant, he’s shy.

Welles: He’s arrogant! Like all people with timid personalities, his arrogance is unlimited. Anybody who speaks quietly and shrivels up in company is unbelievably arrogant. He acts shy, but he’s not.  He’s scared. He hates himself and he loves himself. A very tense situation. It’s people like me who have to carry on and pretend to be modest. To me, it’s the most embarrassing thing in the world–a man who presents himself at his worst in order to get laughs, in order to free himself from his hangups. Everything he does on the screen is therapeutic.

+ My “Hodor” Moment: I was in an elevator at the Hyatt-Regency in Indy (1977), when someone said, “Hey, man, can you hold that door?” It was Muhammad Ali, in the company of two dazzling women, one on each arm. I held that door with everything I had and rode it all the way to the top…

RIP Pharoah Sanders

Booked Up
What I’m reading this week…

Atomic Days: the Untold Story of the Most Toxic Place in America
Joshua Frank
(Haymarket)

Sentient: How Animals Illuminate the Wonder of Our Human Senses
Jackie Higgins
(Simon and Schuster)

Chasing Plants: Journeys with a Botanist Through Rainforests, Swamps and Mountains
Chris Thorogood
(University of Chicago)

Sound Grammar
What I’m listening to this week…

Solidaritine
Gogol Bordello
(Cooking Vinyl)

In These Times
Makaya McCraven
(Nonesuch)

Gotta Get a Good Thing Going: Black Music in Britain in the 60s
Various Artists
(Strawberry Records)

Money and Intolerance

“A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends.” (Henry Wallace)

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His most recent books are Bernie and the Sandernistas: Field Notes From a Failed Revolution and The Big Heat: Earth on the Brink (with Joshua Frank) He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net or on Twitter @JeffreyStClair3