Skip to main content

Global warming we can handle... Drier and a couple degrees warmer, just farm like it's Nebraska instead of southwest Minnesota. Maybe have to irrigate and actually rotate beans with the corn, but we'd get a longer growing season in the bargain. If only climate change was so simple....

Had a couple years of great crops up here on the Buffalo Ridge on the northern plains- plentiful precipitation, even a little too plentiful, more on that later. Early springs and late falls with hot summers to make the corn skyrocket. 'Twas a couple years of silobusters that came out of the field dry, high test weight too. But last spring the drought moved north, with the spigot being turned off from July through December. We made it through on some residual soil moisture, and for the lucky farmers that had a crop to harvest, the higher prices made up for the smaller yields. On my own little homestead and my neighbors gardens, we low tech "irrigated" from the nearest lake and managed a respectable vegetable crop, and my little vineyard overflowed with juicy grapes.

So I come back from a few weeks in the Everglades in February, expecting another global warming early spring riding my motorcycles... Not! We've seen a steady bombardment of snowstorms and even a couple NOAA certified blizzards, even snowed again today! The good news is that the drought is over... The bad news is that today's updated flood forecast for the Red River of the North at Fargo is for a crest of 38 to 40 feet, just shy of the all time record. Even 38 feet will put this years flood in the highest five crests ever, with three of those five occurring in the last five years- The 2009 crest set the record at 40.84 feet, followed by a 2011 crest of 38.81 feet. With over a century of records and what looks to be 60 percent of the highest crests occurring in the last five years, we got some weird weather goin' on here!

And the cost of all this global weirding? Ever been in Fargo for a flood? I have. Figure on a hundred dump trucks with police escorts hauling dirt to build the dikes, plus a couple dozen loaders, 'dozers, and 'hoes working day and night at a cost of upwards of  $10,000 an HOUR. Easy to see why the near annual flood fight in the Red River valley alone runs well into the millions. The (maybe) fix: A billion dollar bypass channel around Fargo that should be able to handle a hundred year flood. But given that we're seeing hundred year floods about every other year, an elementary application of Stats 101 suggests that a real hundred year flood would see downtown Fargo become an island between the river and a new back channel down the I-29 trench.

This year's and 2011's floods sandwich a drought that saw our rural water systems in southwest Minnesota and the Buffalo Ridge stressed to the point that new industries requesting water had to be turned down. The (maybe ) fix for that is the unfinished Lewis and Clark water system, a better part of a billion dollar bunch of pipelines and pumps to bring water from the aquifers along the Missouri as far as south central Minnesota. Good luck getting that funded with the GOP halting all "pork" except their own.

So yes, we can maybe mitigate global warming for a few billion dollars just for the Buffalo Ridge and a bit beyond. But this ain't global warming, it's global weirding, with a return of the dust bowl, the flood that swallowed Fargo, and the Hurricane that dumped the built environment from Miami to Naples back into the Everglades in the offing...

Maybe it'd be a little cheaper to cut back on our greenhouse gas emissions?

(crossposted from my Buffalo Ridge Blog )

Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 2:16 PM PT: Thanks for the spotlighting, I'll try to hang around and join the discussion!

Originally posted to RuralRoute on Wed Apr 24, 2013 at 07:57 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  I attended a lecture a while ago with the former (15+ / 0-)

    ARPA-E director Arun Majumdar, at the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment in which he played a nice video showing the growth in the number of events outside the standard deviation for various kinds of weather anomalies.

    The problem is unimaginably getting worse, and getting worse quickly.

    It was pretty telling, but I haven't been able to find a link to it.

    I believe that Hansen has submitted a paper along these lines to PNAS, but to my knowledge it hasn't been published.

    2013 is on track to be the worst year ever observed for increases in dangerous fossil fuel waste in the atmosphere, this by a long shot.   2012 was the second worst year, after 1998.

    I'd like to thank all my anti-nuke friends for the wonderful way they helped the environment by continuously spreading fear and ignorance about nuclear energy.

    That worked out very well for the environment, apparently.

    Have a nice day tomorrow.

    •  There are other alternatives. (6+ / 0-)

      While I'm not going to automatically discount the potential for nuclear to play a carefully-scrutinized and limited role, there are other and safer technologies.  For instance, consider this diary, which discusses open-source work on re-adapting the steam engine to work on purely solar power, an idea which has been theoretically feasible for decades and yet nobody has bothered working on until now.

      •  I have read thousands of papers along these... (6+ / 0-)

        ...lines, not diaries, but papers from the primary scientific literature.

        For various reasons, many of which have to do with economics, and physics, this is not even a remotely serious approach to climate change.    I note that more than 50 years of cheering for these sorts of things has had absolutely no effect on the collapse of the atmosphere, which, as I note, is collapsing at the highest rate ever.

        I am resigned to humanity's fate and I suppose that if I were a nice person - which I'm not - I would be inclined to let people hear only what they want to hear.

        Generally though, that's not my style.   For myself, all I have ever learned from reading stuff about energy on this website is to appreciate the myth of Cassandra in new and deeper ways than I ever thought possible.

        Nuclear energy was, is, and for as long as we continue to exist, will be the very best form of energy ever invented:   Many of the greatest minds of the twentieth century were intimately involved in its development.    On review of the technical history and technical realities of nuclear technology, I am appalled at all this weasling about it so late in the game.

        Nuclear energy is not perfect, nor will it ever be perfect, but it clearly better than everything else.   It has almost six decades of industrial practice, is a mature technology, and it has saved millions of lives, and might have saved many millions more, were it not to mindless kvetching and selective attention.

        The bizarre and fatal vision that brought us here was the claim that nuclear energy and only nuclear energy needed to be perfect, or everything else would be allowed to kill at will.

        And everything else is killing at will.

        If nuclear energy is not acceptable, than nothing is acceptable, and that's why, again, humanity has very little prospect - zero prospect actually -of avoiding the castrophe of climate change.

        Have a nice day.

        •  I'm sorry (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jilikins, sturunner

          But I just don't buy it.  The human race survived for a hundred thousand years or so without nuclear energy.  Nothing so irrelevant for the vastness of history can be the One And The Only Solution to our continued existence.  I don't tend to believe in One, True, And Only Wayism in general.  I like to investigate multiple options.  If it's any consolation, I don't believe that solar is the One, True And Only Way either.

          •  False argument due to population (5+ / 0-)

            growth and even greater rate of increase in demand for energy.  The past is not a good guide for future action because fundamental factors driving the system have shifted.  This is how complex systems work, and one reason why humans are having so much trouble figuring out how to respond and how to adapt.  We no longer have the luxury of choosing good options over bad ones; we're having to balance among many bad choices in an effort to avoid worst-case outcomes, and doing nothing - continuing with current trends - is one of the least promising options.

          •  I'm sorry, but the planet has never had 7 billion (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jilikins, Odysseus, alain2112

            people on it, all of whom at least desire to live at an American lifestyle, if only one billion or so actually manage to approach it.

            I note that humanity lived on so called "renewable energy" up until the end of the 18th century and chose to abandon it, because it, um, was not sustainable.

            There is a reason for that.

            Some of the issues connected with that time is contained in the wonderful book Coal, A Human History.

            Read it and come back to me about a miracle cure with which humanity has no practical experience.

            Yes, that's right.   There was a period in human history where coal had the same enthusiasm as a solution to humanity's serious environmental problems, notably the total and complete deforestation of Europe.

            I note that in 2013 the widest application of so called "renewable," "solar" energy still involves the combustion of biomass, which according to the World Health Organization, leads to the death of around 2 million of the 3.3 million people who die each year from air pollution.

            But, um, nuclear energy is, um, dangerous?

            If nuclear energy killed as many people as will die today from air pollution, there would be such an insipid hue and cry that the rate of the collapse of the atmosphere would be sure to double again.

            Now of course, we hear that those times were nirvana like, when people lived short, brutal, sickly lives.

            I am not interested in being "consoled."   There is no consolation possible.   Every morning I get up and face my two sons with the deepest possible understanding of what is transpiring and the nature of the planet that my generation is handling them.     I clearly can't be "consoled."

            I have written before on the limits of what nuclear energy might have achieved, most notably in this diary:

            Should Nuclear Energy Be a Panacea?

            (I have chosen to link the version at Charles Barton's "Nuclear Green," because I prefer the artwork to the poll, but there is a DailyKos version as well.)

            With all due respect, we're not even speaking the same language here.

            You are speaking the language of hope and change, and I am simply expressing my vision of reality.

            I'm fresh out of hope.


            Have a nice evening.

            •  Humans have only (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tinfoil Hat

              achieved their current unsustainable population levels due to the harvesting of fossil fuel energy, in effect burning up energy capital accumulated by the planet millions of years before we arrived in a massive burst of extravagant consumption and excess reproduction.  The planet cannot support a human population of 7 billion for any great length of time, with or without nuclear energy.  That number has to be cut at least in half, and sooner or later it will be.  By later I mean no more than two centuries and probably less than that.

              I understand your "fresh out of hope" if you honestly believe that the survival of the human species and the value of civilization requires that the population be maintained at these levels, let alone consumption for all at a level that had never been seen before 1940 and will never be seen again.  Since I consider these things neither necessary nor desirable, there is no need to resort to poisoning the planet with nuclear toxins in order to support them.

              Sleep well, my friend.  I do admire you although on this, we will always disagree.

        •  Well... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jilikins, alain2112, Ginny in CO
          Nuclear energy is not perfect, nor will it ever be perfect, but it clearly better than everything else.
          Then there's this which I believe is big oil and big coal biggest fear:

          I agree NNadir, with the worlds energy consumption needs nuclear is the logical answer - at this time.

          There needs to be more research done on the Thorium Reactor.

          "If fighting for a more equal and equitable distribution of the wealth of this country is socialistic, I stand guilty of being a socialist." Walter Reuther

          by fugwb on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 12:39:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I am interested in the thorium reactor too. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Because it also came out of the nuclear research in the Manhattan project and was continued at Oak Ridge up to a prototype that I think ran for almost 3 years when shut down. The choice by the federal government to stay with plutonium may turn out the biggest energy mistake made.

            While he was Sec of DoE, Steven Chu was asked publicly about getting more research funding for thorium reactors and he agreed it should be done.

            "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

            by Ginny in CO on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 09:54:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I know Admiral (0+ / 0-)

              Sestak - Joe Sestak, Congressman Sestak, who was barely beaten by toomey for senator in PA, is very much pro-Thorium. I hope he runs for the senate again......

              "If fighting for a more equal and equitable distribution of the wealth of this country is socialistic, I stand guilty of being a socialist." Walter Reuther

              by fugwb on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 05:16:43 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Solar thermal seems to give more bang for the buck (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cliss, Calamity Jean

        I've done the numbers on solar electric generation and it'd cost at least one and a half times what I'm paying now. However,a solar water heater looks like it'd pay for itself. Thus using the sun to produce steam instead of a boiler might be viable.

      •  Not to mention (0+ / 0-)

        That people are building utility scale solar thermal swirling engines now

        However, nuclear is clearly preferable to coal and until we have dispatch able storage, we may need a few nukes in the mix.

        Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

        by Mindful Nature on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 08:38:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Don't have enough water for nukes - (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jilikins, Calamity Jean

      OR fossil fuel.  You wanna eat, save the water for agri.

  •  If we stopped GHG emissions today (14+ / 0-)

    it would take years (20 or more AFAIK off the top of my head) before the warming would stop because the earth's systems are far from equilibrium.

    So, the increasing floods and droughts will keep on getting worse.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

    by FishOutofWater on Wed Apr 24, 2013 at 08:18:06 PM PDT

    •  While we need 50 MPG vehicles... (9+ / 0-)

      The roads have gotten so bad that 4 wheel drive and high ground clearance are desirable. Couple days back the ruts in the snow on a main US highway were so deep that my Golf TDI was scraping it's bash plate... And that was a day after the snow stopped!

      •  And what are we doing about bad roads? (7+ / 0-)

        In state after state, lawmakers are increasing the REGRESSIVE gas tax, further decreasing the after-tax (all taxes) income of working and middle-class.

        Meanwhile, the likes of Larry Ellison is buying a 100K Tesla for 90K, courtesy of a 10K tax credit (7.5K federal + 2.5K state) financed, in part, by a struggling family in East LA.

        Will Larry Ellison buy the gasoline needed to finance road repairs?  Not when he drives his Tesla.

        So that's where we are today.  Taking from the struggling family in East LA (for the Tesla tax credit + regressive gasoline tax) and giving to the very affluent Larry Ellison (who gets a tax break on his Tesla and who no longer needs to pay gasoline tax).

        Reverse Robin Hood.

        Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

        by PatriciaVa on Wed Apr 24, 2013 at 09:01:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Need to make renewables affordable! (8+ / 0-)

          I agree, I'm retired and live on $20k a year and would get zilch in tax credit on a new electric car, even if I could afford one. We need incentives so working class folks can switch to renewables instead of subsidizing them for millionaires.

          •  I don't think that's right (0+ / 0-)

            I think you'd still get the credit because it's a credit, not a deduction

            Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

            by Mindful Nature on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 09:14:31 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It depends on whether it's a "refundable" or (0+ / 0-)
              I think you'd still get the credit because it's a credit, not a deduction    
              "non-refundable" credit.  Refundable credits are good for everyone no matter how low the income is.  Non-refundable credits are worthless for low-income people.  

              Renewable energy brings national global security.     

              by Calamity Jean on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 11:13:10 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Need taxes to deduct credit from... (0+ / 0-)

                At $20k a year income, I'm only paying about $1000 a year in taxes, so that $1000 is the maximum credit I could get for buying an electric car. And at $20k a year income, there's no way I can afford a $30k or more electric car with or without a subsidy.

                •  No, that's what I was trying to explain. (0+ / 0-)
                  At $20k a year income, I'm only paying about $1000 a year in taxes, so that $1000 is the maximum credit I could get for buying an electric car.
                   If it is a "refundable" credit, for say $3000, you'd get the whole $3000 as a refund, even if your income tax liability without the credit was only $1000.  If it's a "non-refundable" credit, yeah, you'd only get $1000.  I don't know whether the electric car credit is refundable or non-refundable.
                  And at $20k a year income, there's no way I can afford a $30k or more electric car with or without a subsidy.  
                  True, sadly.  You will just have to wait until the price comes down.  

                  Renewable energy brings national global security.     

                  by Calamity Jean on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 07:57:08 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  No kidding. (4+ / 0-)

          I've kvetched on this very issue and been roundly lambasted as a Luddite and dim-wit for not wanting to give money to people who can already damned well afford  to buy low-volume luxury electrics.

          If the real goal is to slow global warming, better to give more subsidies to lower-income families so that they can afford to buy fuel-efficient cars.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 10:02:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  "Poor people need gasoline" is idiotic framing (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Calamity Jean

            All citizens need a pathway to economic participation.  Unsustainable economic activity should not be supported.

            We know that the price of fossil fuels does not include all externalities, and needs to be much higher to promote rational decision making.

            Raising the gasoline tax by a couple of bucks a gallon is a great idea.  Simultaneously, we need a real discussion of what the social effects of that will be and how to mitigate them.

            PatriciaVa's formulation is intended to shut down discussion of necessary change, not promote it.

            -7.75 -4.67

            "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

            There are no Christians in foxholes.

            by Odysseus on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 02:09:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  we cannot afford to wait (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Calamity Jean

            until the poorest can afford the switch.  YEs, the switch begins with people who change cars frequently and eventually moves down market.  Of course, if people actually did the math, that would help.  I just did and found that my 1997 Volvo costs more in gas and repairs than a new electric lease would.  Guess what?  I'm getting an electric because it's cheaper than the cheap gasoline car.  

            Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

            by Mindful Nature on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 09:16:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Leasing don't save money... (0+ / 0-)

              Even if it's a subsidized lease to move slow selling vehicles like the Volt and other electric cars. To keep your transportation costs down, you need to keep a vehicle 'til it's at least 10 years old... Otherwise the depreciation will eat you alive. I run my cars for around 25 cents a mile, because they get at least 40 MPG and I keep them around 20 years. My motorcycles cost 15 to 20 cents a mile to run, as they get 30 to 60 MPG and I've got a couple 30 year old ones with over 100k miles still in use. Try that with an electric car and your first battery pack replacement after around 10 years will cost more than the car is worth.

      •  No, we need electric vehicles nt (3+ / 0-)
        •  Why? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Nothing against them.
          I would love to have them, but...

          Why do we need them, as opposed, say, to highly efficient diesels that can run on bio-fuels?
          Or compressed-air flywheels?
          Or some as-yet-to-be-named new technology?

          What we really need is to stop pulling carbon from the ground and putting it back into the air faster than the planet can pull it back out from the air.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 10:05:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Wind/solar recharge batteries easily (3+ / 0-)

            Yes, wind/solar can run an air compressor, but I don't think those will ever compete with batteries on weight.  Bio fuels are okay, but they keep getting called crimes against humanity for taking food crop land.  Also, the efficiency of a diesel is nothing compared to the 90-95% efficiency of an electric.

            Another plus for electric cars, consumer electronics.  How nautural is it for you now to plug in and charge your phone, laptop, iPad, etc?  Is it hard to plug in a car after coming home?  

            The batteries of millions of electric cars plugged into a grid will go a long way to stabilizing it and being able to use the peaky nature of wind/solar energy production.  A solar array charged electric car is about as carbon neutral as one can get.

            •  The problems with electric cars remain the same (0+ / 0-)

              as always:

              1. Range
              2. Weight
              3. Recharge time
              4. Cost

              The Tesla S is a great example.
              Beautiful car.
              Lots of range (for an electric).
              Fast recharge capability.
              All of which comes at a price of more than $100,000.

              And that range is still 100 miles short of what my humble Hyundai can do while the fast recharge can deliver that shorter range 5-6 times more slowly than re-fueling our little flea.

              It's true that growing bio-mass takes land, but so do wind and solar installations  -- not to mention power lines to get that power where it needs to be, and storage facilities to flatten out fluctuations in sun and wind.

              Besides, electric isn't likely to take over all kinds of transportation.  I would be amazed, for example, to see battery powered airliners.  Jet and diesel fuel are kissing cousins so an infrastructure to support one supports the other.

              Which doesn't mean there isn't plenty of room for electric cars even if the next big thing in battery technology never happens.  Electric cars -- if they can get the weight and cost down -- are great commuter choices.  No waste while sitting at stop lights, optimal efficiency in stop and go driving.  A lot of drivers would be well-served by an electric car, especially those in two or more car families.

              LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

              by dinotrac on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 10:32:41 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Tesla S = 1980s computer (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                jilikins, Odysseus

                The electric car still has a lot of room to improve.  There are ultra capacitors and better battery techlogies remaining.  Nothing has been maxed out.

                Compare today's iPhone to a mid 80's computer like the Apple IIe.  Most of the problems you list will fade over time.

                Then, one must look at the application.  Yes my gasoline car can go 300 miles on one charge.  But in the 14 years I've owned it, only for a very few trips did I ever as that of it.  I live 4 miles from work, and like me, for most people a 100 mile range would fit 99% of their driving.  I would like to own one pure electric and one hybrid for interstate cruising.

                I agree with you for biofuel for airlines and industrial diesel.  Autos can be either pure electric or a diesel electric hybrid.

                •  It really isn't (0+ / 0-)

                  While I agree there is more room for battery and related technologies like ultra-capacitors to grow, batteries represent a far more mature technology than did computers in the 1980s.  1980 was a bit more than 30 years removed from the first all-electronic Von Neumann computer, and the first laboratory tests of a standalone transistor. It was just over twenty years after the first laboratory integrated circuit,   and about ten years after the first 4-bit micro-processor was created.

                  By contrast, the first four-wheel electric car was built 125 years ago, and two-wheel electric cycles go back 20 years before that.

                  Add in the fact that many different kinds of batteries have been used in many different applications over that period and you can see that the comparison is not apt.

                  LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                  by dinotrac on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 11:34:13 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I'm holding out hope for graphene batteries (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    They might give an order of magnitude improvement, which would scale the Chevy Volt 40 mile pack to 400 miles.  Don't give up hope.  When people stop trying or think there's no point, that's what keeps us stuck with 19th century energy sources.

                    But again, pure electric might not be needed.  My next car probably will be a Chevy Volt.  I won't use a drop of gasoline for 95% of my driving, but when I go to see my parents 180 miles away, then the gas engine is there.  And at $4 a gallon, break even time is 3-4 years.  Not bad.

                    But since the goal is C02 reduction, going hybrid-electric will cut my C02 95%.  If every car in America was like the Volt and got the first 40 miles/day C02 free, we probably wouldn't have a C02 problem.

                    •  Don't give up hope by an means. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      The beauty of unexpected breakthroughs is that they are unexpected.

                      It's easy to forget, however, just how much energy is required to propel a car, and what that means in terms of batteries.

                      You're right about the volt, though.
                      And -- in europe, they've got some diesel cars that hit 80mpg.

                      Imagine an inline diesel hybrid -- junior size version of a diesel locomotive.

                      Cutting those numbers is a good thing, even if the way we do it isn't quite what we had pictured.

                      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                      by dinotrac on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 01:42:20 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

              •  reliance on range is overstated. (0+ / 0-)

                The vast majority of trips are short range.  There is nothing whatsoever wrong with owning a 40-50 mile range electric vehicle for 90% of your driving, and renting a gasoline vehicle for long trips.

                The key is that manufacturers cannot charge a premium for such a short range vehicle.

                It's also likely that fleet services like iGo or Car2Go or ZipCar are a better place to introduce those kinds of vehicles than individual ownership.

                -7.75 -4.67

                "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

                There are no Christians in foxholes.

                by Odysseus on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 02:19:20 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  yes, and we need to do it now (0+ / 0-)

            which is the advantange electric cars have over all those others:  you can go to a dealer and buy one today.  And it'll fit in our existing infrastructure

            Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

            by Mindful Nature on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 09:30:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Good luck buying an electric out here... (0+ / 0-)

              Electric cars are available pretty much only on the coasts and in metro areas. The Chevy dealer 20 miles away had a demo Volt, but only because GM had a hard time selling them and sent a few unsold ones to rural dealers. The closest dealer to me, 5 miles away, doesn't carry the Volt. The nearest Nissan dealer is 70 miles away, and I don't think they carry their electric car. None of the Ford dealers around here carry the electric Focus, and with the contractor that does the electric conversion gone bankrupt, there's no Focus electrics available anyway.

              And a lot of us out here need a truck or at least a van or something that can pull a trailer, and there's no electrics that can do those jobs.

        •  Electric vehicles won't work "out here"... (0+ / 0-)

          They simply don't have the range for the hundred mile and more trips we often have to make, even if we could afford them. And electric tractors and trucks? The duty cycle is just too strenious- a farm tractor or big trucks engine works hard, and would run down the battery in an hour or two at best. We need vehicles we can fuel up and run all day and night.

          •  actually (0+ / 0-)

            electric motors do the heavy lifting better than the other kind.

            Still, there are a few niche areas where fossil fuels could be needed, but those are small compared to the overall economy.

            Those who can use electrics need to do so.

            Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

            by Mindful Nature on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 09:33:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Electrics aren't necessarily any cleaner... (0+ / 0-)

              In most of the U.S. most of the electricity they use is generated with fossil fuels, primarily coal. So all an electric does is move the GHG emissions from a lot of little tailpipes to a few big ones.

              •  No (0+ / 0-)

                But they can be.  (Well even with natural gas behind them they are). Gasoline can't be. Obviously we need to retire that fuel mix too

                Touch all that arises with a spirit of compassion

                by Mindful Nature on Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 06:40:49 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  At what cost? (0+ / 0-)

                  The only viable options we have for clean electricity out here are wind (got plenty of that) and increased use of hydro. Even those options won't be cheap, as the "low hanging fruit" in clean energy has pretty much already been picked.

                  Assuming we can overcome those problems and convert to 100% renewable electricity, the limitations of power density in batteries and their short useful life doom electric vehicles and farm equipment to niche applications. And given that electric vehicles are as mature a technology as internal combustion fueled ones, major improvements in power density are unlikely. Then there's the problem of upscaling Volt technology to trucks and tractors- a car only needs 10 horsepower or so to go 60 MPH, a big truck needs 200 horsepower to do that and needs to be able to do it all day and night. Tractor applications are even worse- even a midsize tractor needs 200 or so horsepower, and given the narrow windows that weather allows us to do field work, needs to be able to put our those 200+ horsepower for sometimes days on end.

                  So clearly electrics aren't the solution to GHG for rural folks, and we'll have to reduce GHG by increased efficiency, less tillage, rural transit, etc..

    •  I presume you mean stop increasing. (0+ / 0-)

      To actually return to desirable levels would take centuries, but it's been a while since I was deep in my studies of that stuff, so I can't remember if it's 200 or 400 years, and I can't remember what level  was acceptable.

      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

      by dinotrac on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 09:59:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Global Climate Weirding (20+ / 0-)

    Go almost anywhere on the planet and talk to people who observe daily weather closely, like farmers anywhere, outdoors people or fisherfolk; uneducated vernacular people.  They'll all agree that the weather has been weird for quite a while now, like 20 or more years,  as long standing pattern s shift.

    don't always believe what you think

    by claude on Wed Apr 24, 2013 at 08:50:37 PM PDT

  •  Global Weirding ... (9+ / 0-)

    is absolutely what we are experiencing and it is likely to worsen.  


    Really don't, however, like this opening:  "Global warming we can handle.."  Even (EVEN) if were 'simply' warming w/out weirding, the problems would be severe.

    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

    by A Siegel on Wed Apr 24, 2013 at 08:50:53 PM PDT

  •  Meant to show... (10+ / 0-)

    That the increased climate variability we're seeing is worse than simple global warming.

  •  I took a look at your blog too, and I think people (4+ / 0-)

    around here might not know what the Buffalo Ridge area is, so it might help to explain. And thanks for writing!

  •  For me it's growing season (9+ / 0-)

    I'm a lifelong (59) west edge Ridge resident. My dad used to be out in the field mid to late march with small grains planted in April and row crops like corn in mid-May. Back then the first week in May was the absolute latest time for killing frost with the actual last killing frost usually occurring in mid to late April.

    For home gardeners that meant the tomatoes could probably go in around the last week in April with only the slightest chance of having to cover or replace them due to freezing. The Mothers Day last frost has been moot for several years now.

    Our northern plains growing season, depending on the crop, extends from March equinox to September equinox. March is suitable for cold weather garden crops like spinach. If you wait until May to plant the increased sunlight sends it to seed. By September we're losing sunlight too fast to grow much of anything.

    This winter has been unusual in that it's been unrelenting. We had a late start to the winter but as I said, due to lack of sunlight, the extra warm open time during that part of the year is unproductive. We've had snow on the ground continuously this "spring." Monday about 5-7 inches. No crocuses. No tulips. No gardening.

    This year we've lost a full month of growing season and there's no way to make it up on the back end.

  •  Gardeners Notice (8+ / 0-)

    Like myself.  We tend to push the boundaries a little bit (Zone 7 tolerant?  Well...I'm close enough, I guess...)

    Almost all my boreals have given up the ghost and died, the summers have simply gotten too hot, and the weather in winter too irregular.

    Over the decades, my gardens have shifted from cooler-season plants like snapdragon and sweet pea to full-on sub-tropicals and tropicals.  

    Mind you, I like marigolds, zinnias, cosmos, and cannas, but I'd kind of like my snapdragons back in the sunnier gardens.

    That's not going to happen any time soon.

    (-6.38, -7.03) Moderate left, moderate libertarian

    by Lonely Liberal in PA on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 06:44:00 AM PDT

  •  We had epic rainfall in December (4+ / 0-)

    ... and then it just stopped and it's barely rained since. Everyone had to pivot from planning for a year that was alarmingly and dangerously wet to one that was alarmingly and dangerously dry.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 08:16:34 AM PDT

  •  Another idea: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, OtherDoug, Odysseus

    Look at some of the interesting work that's been being done in China to deal with the horrific floods of the Hwang Ho, the "Sorrow of China".  Analysis showed that this flooding was the direct result of degraded soils and millenia of awful farming practices in the upstream highlands.  See FinchJ's diary here for details.  Then look upstream of Fargo and think about what kind of soils and landscape the water is flowing through, and what needs to be done for the land to accept that water instead of dumping all on your heads.

    It all starts with better stewardship of the land.  Yes, we have to replace the extractive industries and their "gift" of fossil-fuel energy with technologies and economies that are more sensitive to the limits of the Earth as a whole.  But there are a lot of other impacts that humanity has had on ecosystems that are part and parcel of the problem.  We need to work on all of them.

    •  Agreed... (0+ / 0-)

      I think upstream water retention and concepts like "waffle storage" (using the grid of township roads to hold back runoff) work better and cheaper than megaditch diversions. That said, the valley has so little slope that some protection for the multibillion dollar investment in cities like Fargo and Moorhead is justified.

  •  So New Orleans may outlast Fargo? nt (0+ / 0-)
  •  It's still global warming, but local effects can (5+ / 0-)

    be weird indeed.

    Down here in the Fox Valley in Illinois, recent rains brought the Fox river to  record or near-record heights (too busy bailing to check which). Floods all over the place, and yet...
    The year before the river was lower than I've ever seen it and the local farmers had to be concerned about their crops.

    I suspect that mitigation will end up taking the form of moving to different locations for some.  The incredible cost of trying to pretend nothing's changed will leave us with some terrible choices.  Wouldn't surprise me at all to see New York City abandoned.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 09:56:32 AM PDT

    •  Heard anything about FEMA buyouts by you? (3+ / 0-)

      I'm a big fan of the forest preserves, and I think the time has come to return all of the flood plaines to nature, or at the most farm fields.  The way I see it, every single home that had first floor flooding from last week's rains should not be rebuilt.  They should all be bought out, torn down and restored to be wetlands that will absorb the next big flood.

      I think over 100 homes in Des Plaines are going to have to be torn down.  Sad, but really they never should have been built that close to the river to begin with.

  •  Wettest April ever for Chicago (4+ / 0-)

    And last year it was bone dry.  The patterns are becoming more chaotic to be sure.  And the gradients between northern cold and southern warmth are becoming tighter.  When storms flare, the moisture is wrung out like a sponge being squeezed harder.

    The good news is that here in the Chicago burbs people are beginning to wake up to reality.  Take this Des Plaines, IL neigborhood built way too close to the Des Plaines River.  And all too predictably, it flooded.  Yes this flood was a record, but only by a few inches over 1986.  If no one had rebuilt after that flood, they wouldn't have flooded this time.

    FEMA had already started a buyout program for the neighborhood mapped.  I'm hoping that accelerates now and the land is returned to nature.  Everything across the river is already forest preserve.  That will be a beautiful oak savanna one day when the flood prone houses are gone.  Sometimes change is a good thing.

  •  thanks for the diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    very interesting! I appreciate the reportage from farming areas. good luck with the floods.

    An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

    by mightymouse on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 10:50:52 AM PDT

  •  the time to deal with global warming was 1980 (0+ / 0-)

    Now, in 2010, its too late and drastic changes are already baked in.

    If we cut world wide fossil fuel usage to zero tomorrow (which, btw, would also kill 3 to 4 billion people from starvation within a month), there would still be enough carbon left in the atmosphere to prevent an ice age, 50,000 years from now.

    We have no desire to offend you -- unless you are a twit!

    by ScrewySquirrel on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 11:50:54 AM PDT

  •  In the northern latitudes (0+ / 0-)

    the variability is getting serious. I read your diary this morning, this afternoon I read this article in the Independent. Wild species declining precipitately, farmers who don't know what to plant or when. Until the jet stream reaches some kind of stability, it will be difficult to make any kind of accurate prediction year-to-year. I know our local farmers are saying it will take a month without rain for the fields to dry out enough, last year there simply wasn't enough light for garden crops like peppers and tomatoes. Who knows what's coming this year.

    What happened there made me realise that evolution has prepared wild species for almost every eventuality – but not quite all. In exceptional circumstances, things can still go under. And let us fervently hope that the wet summer of last year was indeed the exception, and not the new rule.

    You..ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes. -Mother Jones

    by northsylvania on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 01:58:41 PM PDT

    •  Still several inches of snow here. (0+ / 0-)

      Most crops need to be planted by the middle of may, and it's iffy if the fields will dry out and the soil will be warm enough to germinate seeds by then. Farmers who ordered drought resistant seed varieties last fall to get an early order discount may have to pay a premium to change their order to short season varieties.

  •  It's best not to (0+ / 0-)

    use the phrase "global weirding". It sounds too silly. Climate change - a phrase that's been around for decades - is good enough.

  •  Tipped and rec'd (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    I'm in Moorhead.

    I wrote this a couple of weeks ago: The Red River Flood of 2013 Is Coming.

    They were saying 38 feet for Fargo/Moorhead (which is a flood level that can be handled). Then after the recent snow, they said 40% chance of over 40 feet, maybe a record flood (which would need lots of sandbags). But now they're predicting a crest of 38 feet. Probably around May 3rd. We'll see.

    "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

    by Dbug on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 09:26:35 PM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site