It took me a while to find the source for this mindbending photo, which has been going around the internet labeled as a pic from Sandy. I kind of suspected it of being an old picture getting new life through spurious association with current events, though I probably still would have posted it, because WHOA. But it appears to be the work of Reddit user Nirnroot, who doesn't say where he lives -- clearly somewhere that was hit hard enough for tree damage, but not hard enough to make jokes turn to ashes in the mouth. He does give the useful context that he was resting "93% of my body weight" on his hand to create this optical illusion.
Near my home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, there's a row of cars double-parked, running about six blocks long. At the end of the line, there's a gas station that finally has fuel in stock.
One week after landfall, Sandy lingers in New York, even in areas like mine that were relatively unaffected. On the fringes, the parts bordering the ocean, the effects are immediate and visceral. The Rockaways, the thin spit of land stretching southeast along the Atlantic, was ripped apart by the storm. Staten Island looks frayed, its southern and eastern edge in shambles while the middle of the island is relatively normal.
Over the weekend, The New York Times ran several articles outlining the challenge the city faces in rising sea levels.
Of all of the reasons that climate change is a drag, perhaps the biggest is that the weather effects we currently see are the result of carbon dioxide pollution from decades ago. There's a lag between when we pollute and when the climate gets warmer. So when we see things like Sandy, and consider how the superuberstorm could have been lessened, or the record temperatures in California (90-plus degrees in November!), we should probably be chastising our parents. (You know, for those of us who are young enough.)
It will now be almost impossible to keep the increase in global average temperatures up to 2100 within the 2C target that scientists believe might avert dangerous and unpredictable climate change, according to a study by the accountancy giant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
An analysis of how fast the major world economies are reducing their emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels suggests that it may already be too late to stay within the 2C target of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it found.
To keep within the 2C target, the global economy would have to reach a "decarbonisation" rate of at least 5.1 per cent a year for the next 39 years. This has not happened since records began at the end of the Second World War, according to Leo Johnson, a PwC partner in sustainability and climate change.
In the latter days of the George W. Bush presidency, I found myself nursing a hangover on an early-morning flight from Missoula, Mont., to Denver. I’d missed my plane the day before and decided to spend the evening with an old friend, finding our way to the bottom of a bottle of whiskey.
Much to my horror, the woman who plopped down in the seat next to me that woozy morning-after turned out to be a high-level official in Bush’s Interior Department -- the branch of government that keeps an eye on the national parks and monuments and other public lands, from Ellis Island to Yosemite.
I was the editor of an environmental magazine at the time, and I’d skewered this woman and the administration’s drill-mine-log-everything policies in print. Now here I was, strapped into a chair right next to hers -- and battling a mean case of crapulence to boot.
Come to find out, this woman was feeling a little hungover herself -- not from too much drinking, but from the development binge she’d helped facilitate on the public domain. (A binge that, incidentally, included a few well-documented benders featuring Interior Department staffers and oil company employees.)
Hurricane Sandy caused unprecedented flooding in Lower Manhattan and coastal New Jersey, as a larger-than-expected tidal surge washed over the area. In the aftermath, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) said that we will need to address the challenges of climate change and rising sea levels, in part, by building levees and structural storm protection systems. The city’s future might depend upon structural defense systems to keep the Atlantic Ocean from inundating low-lying New York City.
The temptation to build levees, storm walls, and sea gates and to deploy other technological solutions to the problem will be very tempting. It seems obvious that in the face of flood risks, structural barriers and sophisticated pumping systems are key to a city’s safety. However, the history of such technologies suggests they are not without peril and have the potential to increase risk and vulnerability.
At a campaign event today in Etna, Ohio, Gov. Romney was asked, “Do you still think the rising of the seas is funny?” Romney responded, “I never imagined such a thing is funny,” despite using rising sea levels as a punchline in his speech to the Republican National Convention.
For years, the primary critique of Wikipedia was that it was subject to the whims and obsessions of its users. The robustness of the end product has been the best argument against that concern; a study (a few years ago) found that its articles were are accurate as Britannica's. (Kids, ask your parents about Britannica.)
Sometimes, though, a rogue idiot can still hold sway over the truth. From PopSci:
In an unpaid but frenzied fit of news consumption, editing, correction, aggregation, and citation, [Ken] Mampel has established himself as by far the most active contributor to the Wikipedia page on Hurricane Sandy, with more than twice the number of edits as the next-most-active contributor at the time this article was written.
And Mampel made sure that the Hurricane Sandy article, for four days after the hurricane made landfall in New Jersey, had no mention of "global warming" or "climate change" whatsoever.
As we mentioned this morning, the city of New York has been split on whether or not to go forward with the annual New York Marathon this Sunday. And by "split," we mean "overwhelmingly but not unanimously opposed to." Concerns about resource allocation, lodging, and deployment of police and emergency personnel made the marginal bonus of tourist dollars seem like a poor counterargument. (That the media tent generators are already humming didn't help.)
When Sandy hit BK Farmyards' youth farm site at a school in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, it was especially frustrating for the site's farmers. The foursome of young women are committed to providing fresh food alternatives in an under-resourced community, and they had already weathered what they'd thought to be their toughest obstacle: a Department of Education-mandated freeze on selling the produce they'd been growing all season long, right at the height of the harvest.
According to BK Farmyards' co-manager Bee Ayer, the sales freeze had wiped out the majority of their proceeds for the year, and might force them to cut positions. But they had worked with the Department of Education on new standards for school garden food, and managed to pickle and preserve some of the produce, hoping for a better year ahead. So when Hurricane Sandy blew over the kale and collard beds in their school garden, it was yet another strike to bear.
Not everyone might demonstrate the same courage and creativity given the circumstances. Although the harvest season had just come to a close when Sandy took its aim at New York City, many gardeners, beekeepers, and urban homesteaders suffered damages. Unforeseeable weather challenges have always been an inevitable part of the farmer's job. Add to that slim proceeds, institutional interventions, limited space, and soil quality questions, and the future of city farming may be thrown into question for some.
ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell, No. 1 and No. 2 on the Fortune 500 Global companies list, announced their third-quarter earnings on Thursday. Compared to last year’s earnings, both companies’ profits are down slightly -- 7 percent for Exxon and 15 percent for Shell -- on weaker oil prices. However, ExxonMobil and Shell earned $9.6 billion and $6.1 billion respectively, bringing their total 2012 profits to $35 billion for Exxon and $18.9 billion for Shell. …
Exxon received an estimated $600 million in annual tax breaks. It paid just a 13 percent federal tax rate. …
Shell received a $200 million annual tax break in 2011.
Chevron, the second largest oil company in the United States and eighth largest in the world, earned $5.3 billion in profits in the third-quarter of 2012. This brings their total profits for the first nine months of this year to $19 billion. …
Chevron paid a 19 percent effective federal tax rate in 2011, after making $26.9 billion profit.