Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Live blogging the apocalypse -- Part two

So far (8:00 am eastern time) I'm cool. It's getting a bit breezy but not so as to bring down any timber. I've got my 'lectric, just had my morning cup of joe, and . .. whoops, there goes a big gust. The National Weather Service is promising me tropical storm force winds soon enough, so I'm staying home.

I hereby command you to read Joe Romm on this situation. He very much likes the term Frankenstorm. My grandfather was a professor of English literature, who had a wide range of interests from Chaucer to Faulkner. Along the way he wrote about Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. The novel's central metaphor is taken to represent the ways in which scientific and technological advances can unleash unforeseeable consequences. (It's subtitle, in case you didn't know, is The New Prometheus. The Gods punished Prometheus for giving fire to humanity but we're all getting it on the chin for our collective folly in this world.)

Romm explains why this unprecedented event is happening now. What is unprecedented about it? It starts out as the largest hurricane in known history. That means, not the hurricane with the most powerful central winds, but the hurricane with the largest extent of tropical force winds, hundreds of miles in width. It could form as late in the season as it did, and retain its power as a hurricane, because the ocean is much warmer than it has been previously -- some 5 degrees Fahrenheit off the mid-Atlantic coast. At the same time, the disappearance of arctic sea ice and the reduced arctic temperature gradient causes the jet stream to develop deep southerly loops. An unprecedented blocking high off of Greenland and a powerful winter storm with its central low pressure moving into the central U.S. are causing the hurricane to make a highly unusual west turn into New Jersey, where it is colliding with the winter storm to create a hybrid which has never been seen before.

We'll see how extensive the wind damage, including power outages, really turn out to be, and whether Manhattan is inundated by the surge. Meanwhile, I'll be catching up on my reading. I'll let you know what Habermas says about Lifeworld and System. And I'll try to get back to you once the woods start crashing down around me, if the technology holds up well enough.


kathy a. said...

i'm reading romm.

and -- in case people don't know, good and critical thinking does get passed down through generations. i'm passing this along.

Tony Mach said...

Yes, it seems to me that one needs critical thinking when reading Romm. Truly, it was no hype to label the "Warming-Driven Monster" as an "Frankenstorm" . I can see that people in the US are much more concerned about dangers from global warming and climate change now, after such good work by the good people like Romm and McKibben. And one can not overstate the importance of "largest atlantic storm in history" with proper satellite imaging going back at least an impressive couple of decades – I wonder how anybody can be so stupid as to deny the catastrophic impact of CO2 now.