Wrangel Island Video

A short, narration free video of current Wrangel Island wildlife. I’ll never see this place in person, but I have twenty year old memories of an Alaska trip that give me a sense of what it’s like to go so far north.

Salting Down Our Lakes & Streams

While the Persian Gulf is dealing with a 25% increase in salt concentration due to half a dozen desalination dependent states on its shores, the car crazy U.S. is salting lakes and streams as a result of clearing ice and snow. And this comes on top of wrecking groundwater with ill advised fracking for oil and gas.

Global Water Insecurity Cartogram

Words can not describe how maddening it is to watch us wreck a resource that, in the case of aquifers, will require another glaciation to cleanse.

I grew up in the far northwest corner of my home state, the region known as the Iowa Great Lakes. Wikipedia thinks it’s just Dickinson county but there are lakes in Clay, Emmet, and Palo Alto, too.

Marble Lake

Marble Lake

Among the over one hundred bodies of water in the four county area there are seventeen permanent islands. Four of those are in Virgin Lake, three are drowned bits of shore, one is an enormous pile of glacial erratics. This lake formed due to meltwater draining through a glacier, depositing the rock as it left.

Virgin Lake

Virgin Lake

Five Island Lake #4 Erratics

Five Island Lake #4 Erratics

The pile of glacial erratics in Virgin Lake is maybe two acres but it’s hard to photograph. This postage stamp sized island in Five Island Lake has less cover and shows its glacial erratic composition.

Ingham Lake Island

Ingham Lake Island

I can’t write without including a few pictures. I can’t write about fresh water without cruising my Flickr account. And once I do that my attachment to California’s mild climate melts away like Iowa snow in April. I want to go home, not just back to the farm, I want this ramp, that kayak, a second boat with camping gear to pull behind, and that island.

 

Erratic Wall

Erratic Wall

Most Iowa farm buildings are wood, but the farm where I grew up is now a century old and its buildings are clay block. This wall is a barn well off the main roads and it dates to the late 1800s. This 1895 farmhouse is now part of Peterson Point state park, just a few hundred yards from the ramp pictures above.

Peterson Point Farm House

Peterson Point Farm House

 

The kame and kettle topography of my home is less likely to change than other parts of the world, thanks to a large amount of water and a limited supply of people. The paved roads get salt in the winter but the vast majority are gravel laid out in Louisiana Purchase one mile grids.

There are wonders there, an oasis of some sort in every mile of gravel that spans the corn desert, but you’d need a native to find them, despite the regularity of the roads.

Tilted

Tilted

Desalination’s Grim End: The Persian Gulf

Kuwait is a Connecticut sized piece of land with 4.3 million citizens at the far north end of the Persian Gulf. They pump not quite three million barrels of oil per day and hold roughly 10% of the world’s oil reserves. Which they are going to need, because they are 100% dependent on desalination for water and the Persian Gulf is becoming too saline to use.

Kuwait & Persian Gulf

Kuwait & Persian Gulf

Three million barrels a day times forty two gallons per barrel is 126,000,000 gallons. Divide by 4.3 million and that’s twenty nine gallons of oil per person produced daily. Let’s turn those into some water numbers. 126 million gallons is 387 acre feet or 477,272 cubic meters. Tankers used to top out at  two million barrels but now the largest VLCCs in operation are half that size.

Per this report, Kuwait is producing 1.65M cubic meters of water per day by desalination. A cubic meter is 6.29 barrels, so that’s around ten million barrels of water a day. Importing that much fresh water seems a daunting task, given that there really isn’t anywhere on the coast of the Indian ocean that has large amounts of fresh water. Maybe they could build a fleet of OTEC vessels, they’ve got access to pretty good temperature differential right outside the Gulf of Oman in the Arabian Sea.

OTEC Potential

OTEC Potential

But that is an enormous conceptual step for a monarchy whose entire resource base is the oil beneath their feet, supplemented by a financial sector that grew in parallel with that wealth.

 

Since we’re applying Functional Triage to areas of human habitation the water challenge alone puts Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the U.A.E. on the death spiral list. Add the expected months of 50C+ temperatures expected in two or three generations and you’ve got an area that is about as hospitable as the Dead Sea region is today. The populations of North Africa and the Mideast are going to be direct climate refugees, or under pressure from those who are, and when the water runs out they’ll start moving.

Yemen already has a food and water crisis. The Levant isn’t going to get better until Syria’s water problems are solved. Those desalination dependent Persian Gulf states have a population of about twenty two million. Their breakdown is a problem similar in scope to Yemen, with twenty million, and Syria, with twenty six million. Add the concerns of Iran, where 60% of the population live in places that are becoming uninhabitable, and you’ve got a party.

 

If the Persian Gulf were like Somalia we’d ignore the situation as best we could. But 20% of the world’s oil transits the Strait of Hormuz and the U.S. 5th Fleet is based in Bahrain. Long before we admit the situation is untenable we’re going to put ‘boots on the ground’ trying to control that which is long past control of personalities.

The combined populace of North Africa and the Mideast is roughly equal to the of Europe – both are just below 750 million. The 508 million member European union is starting to fray and immigration pressure is a key component of that. Regions don’t break down in isolation, the Syrian conflict has nearly bowled over both Jordan and Lebanon. Things are going to get progressively more prickly between Europe and MENA, and the Trump administration is an excellent tool for fanning those flames.

If this leaves you feeling creeped out, go read the Eight Principles of Uncivilization again …

Great Barrier Reef Two Thirds Destroyed

The Great Barrier Reef stretches 1,400 miles starting at the northern tip of Australia and it covers an area the size of the state of Montana. There was serious bleaching due to the 1997 and 2002 El Niño events and now back to back bleaching in 2016 and 2017 has destroyed the northern two thirds.

Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef

I cribbed that map from a dive site. Their offered locations are all in the destroyed areas and this highly public obituary for the reef is an obituary for their business. Tourism will crash immediately and fishing shortly thereafter, as fish species adjust to the massive disruption.

It’s not just the sea that has warmed; Australia’s heat got so bad a couple years ago they had to add a new color to their heat index.

Australia Drought

Australia Heat Index

There’s no relief in sight as the east has experienced record setting heat over the last quarter.

Australia Extreme Heat

Australia Extreme Heat

The reef based tourism is gone, but that is a domestic issue. How is all this heat going to affect the wheat crop? It would appear that things are going to go badly in the area that produces the bulk of the crop, and this can be a component of Global Wheat Threats. The last time we had one of those we got Arab Spring in response.

Australia Wheat

Australia Wheat

 

Part of the reason we got Arab Spring in 2011 was due to not just stress on global wheat supplies due to the year’s Russian fires and attendant wheat embargo. The catastrophic floods in Pakistan ruined summer grain crops.

Pakistan 2010 Flood Rainfall

 

The overheated oceans that killed the Great Barrier Reef in 2016/2017 are also responsible for the record breaking monsoon in 2010 that led to revolution all over North Africa and the Mideast the following year. Visualize the 11,000 miles between Morocco and the Great Barrier Reef on a map. The loss of a reef that most of the world considered an exotic remote destination is a proxy for stuff that can cause trouble on a global scale.

Morocco, Pakistan & Great Barrier Reef

Morocco, Pakistan & Great Barrier Reef

Now consider what the USDA Wheat Outlook has to say:

The Winter Wheat and Canola Seedings report revealed 2017 winter wheat seedings to be the second-lowest on record and the lowest since 1909.

That sounds really bad, but maybe this sounds better to you …

Most notably, 2016/17 ending stocks are raised slightly more than 43 million bushels to 1143.4 million, the highest level since 1987/88, when ending stocks reached 1260.8 million.

 

But what does it mean in geopolitical terms? Stocks are up, global planting is down 9% from last year? Global stocks are up but there are 108 million people facing Food Insecurity in North Africa and the Mideast. There are about 400 million people in North Africa and around 325 million in the Mideast countries highlighted in the linked post. When 15% of the population are short of food that’s a recipe for big changes.

Global Wheat Status January 2017

Global Wheat Status January 2017

 

You guys are going to get tired of the phrase Functional Triage, but I’m going to keep coming back to it. Yemen’s Food & Water Crisis was noted as an issue clear back in 2013 and now it’s boiling over, with half the populace set to starve. Consult the Fragile States Index for 2016 and it looks like the beginnings of another perfect storm.

California Legal Research Request

 

Ladies & Gentlemen,

I am going to take a little break from worrying about the far horizon for our species and crowdsource some legal research. Here are the specific statutes :

California Business & Professional Code § 17525

(a) It is unlawful for a person, with a bad faith intent to register, traffic in, or use a domain name, that is identical or confusingly similar to the personal name of another living person or deceased personality, without regard to the goods or services of the parties.

(b) This section shall not apply if the name registered as a domain name is connected to a work of authorship, including, but not limited to, fictional or nonfictional entertainment, and dramatic, literary, audiovisual, or musical works.

(c) A domain name registrar, a domain name registry, or any other domain name registration authority that takes any action described in subdivision (a) that affects a domain name shall not be liable to any person for that action, regardless of whether the domain name is finally determined to infringe or dilute a trademark or service mark.

California Business & Professional Code § 17535

Any person, corporation, firm, partnership, joint stock company, or any other association or organization which violates or proposes to violate this chapter may be enjoined by any court of competent jurisdiction.  The court may make such orders or judgments, including the appointment of a receiver, as may be necessary to prevent the use or employment by any person, corporation, firm, partnership, joint stock company, or any other association or organization of any practices which violate this chapter, or which may be necessary to restore to any person in interest any money or property, real or personal, which may have been acquired by means of any practice in this chapter declared to be unlawful.

Actions for injunction under this section may be prosecuted by the Attorney General or any district attorney, county counsel, city attorney, or city prosecutor in this state in the name of the people of the State of California upon their own complaint or upon the complaint of any board, officer, person, corporation or association or by any person who has suffered injury in fact and has lost money or property as a result of a violation of this chapter.  Any person may pursue representative claims or relief on behalf of others only if the claimant meets the standing requirements of this section and complies with Section 382 of the Code of Civil Procedure, but these limitations do not apply to claims brought under this chapter by the Attorney General, or any district attorney, county counsel, city attorney, or city prosecutor in this state.

California Business & Professional Code § 17536

(a) Any person who violates any provision of this chapter shall be liable for a civil penalty not to exceed two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) for each violation, which shall be assessed and recovered in a civil action brought in the name of the people of the State of California by the Attorney General or by any district attorney, county counsel, or city attorney in any court of competent jurisdiction.

(b) The court shall impose a civil penalty for each violation of this chapter.  In assessing the amount of the civil penalty, the court shall consider any one or more of the relevant circumstances presented by any of the parties to the case, including, but not limited to, the following:  the nature and seriousness of the misconduct, the number of violations, the persistence of the misconduct, the length of time over which the misconduct occurred, the willfulness of the defendant’s misconduct, and the defendant’s assets, liabilities, and net worth.

(c) If the action is brought by the Attorney General, one-half of the penalty collected shall be paid to the treasurer of the county in which the judgment was entered, and one-half to the State Treasurer.
If brought by a district attorney or county counsel, the entire amount of penalty collected shall be paid to the treasurer of the county in which the judgment was entered.  If brought by a city attorney or city prosecutor, one- half of the penalty shall be paid to the treasurer of the county and one-half to the city.  The aforementioned funds shall be for the exclusive use by the Attorney General, district attorney, county counsel, and city attorney for the enforcement of consumer protection laws.

(d) If the action is brought at the request of a board within the Department of Consumer Affairs or a local consumer affairs agency, the court shall determine the reasonable expenses incurred by the board or local agency in the investigation and prosecution of the action.
Before any penalty collected is paid out pursuant to subdivision (c), the amount of such reasonable expenses incurred by the board shall be paid to the State Treasurer for deposit in the special fund of the board described in Section 205.  If the board has no such special fund the moneys shall be paid to the State Treasurer.  The amount of such reasonable expenses incurred by a local consumer affairs agency shall be paid to the general fund of the municipality which funds the local agency.

(e) As applied to the penalties for acts in violation of Section 17530, the remedies provided by this section and Section 17534 are mutually exclusive.

Specific details and concerns include:

  • Domain squatter is a California resident.
  • Domain squatter has dozens of victims.
  • Domain squatter is an adjudicated SLAPP suit artist in California & Texas.
  • Domain squatter has engaged in threat hoaxes in multiple California jurisdictions.
  • Domain squatter maintains a thin pretense of developing reality TV show.
  • Domain squatter is in violation of anti-stalking statutes in addition to name squatting.
  • Domain squatter often violates extortion statutes, albeit in a non-monetary fashion.

Concerns:

  • How does this statute work against an LLC registered in Delaware when the managing member is a California resident?
  • Would the statute apply to former members of the LLC, assuming it can be demonstrated that the domain names were purchased when the former member was still active?
  • Would the statute apply to former members of the LLC who reside outside California?
  • How would these statutes work if the victim is purely a private citizen?
  • How would these statutes work if the victim were an author? A blogger? Performance artist?

It’s pretty clear this set of statutes were created to support Hollywood – there is enough celebrity here that I’m sure the Attorney General does a brisk business squishing name squatting parasites. This case is just a bit different, as a wanna-be celebrity is harassing a wide spectrum of victims under the pretense of developing a reality TV show.

What I really need is an example of a complaint that is in some way similar to this which has proceeded. Given the diversity of residence of the victims it would seem the California Attorney General would be the right place to start.

The squatter has overt psychiatric problems, but is apparently gainfully employed with a six figure income, one confirmed former member of the LLC who resides in California could easily cover the $90,000 cost of three dozen violations, and there is another individual in California who may have been a member and who could afford to pay. If California can collect out of state there are several former members of the LLC with significant assets.

 

There isn’t any financial reward in this for the victims, the $2,500 per violation is for the agency that pursues the complaint, so this isn’t a situation that would attract an attorney on a contingency basis. Given that there are dozens of victims, some of whom have been suffering for five years, that the victims include multiple minor children of adult targets, and that the conduct is already adjudicated as willful and malicious in another stateI hope this adds up to something that would generation action on the part of the AG’s office.

I never approve comments so just go ahead and post your findings here, I’ll save the text and delete them.

California Department of Justice: Office of the Attorney General

California Department of Justice: Office of the Attorney General

Eating, Thinking, Diverging

A few days ago I noticed an article about TimeTree, and I promptly did the all important comparison of our two most common companion species. The 56 million year old split lets the system show significant changes in solar luminosity, carbon dioxide, and oxygen levels. The line of red dots are asteroid crater diameters in kilometers, the large one near the bottom is Chicxulub.

Dogs & Cats Divergence

Dogs & Cats Divergence

Humans are a bit trickier, I tried our temporal cousins and our immediate ancestor, which caused the system to balk:

  • homo sapiens

  • homo sapiens altai (41kya – 400kya)

  • homo floresiensis (12kya – unsure)

  • homo neanderthalensis (24kya – 600kya)

  • homo rhodesiensis (125kya – 300kya)

  • homo heidelbergensis (200kya – 700kya)

I dialed back a step and tried Hominidae, which was slightly less frustrating. Pan are chimps and bonobos, Pongo are orangutans.

Hominidae Timeline

Hominidae Timeline

Our species has never had much of an issue due to asteroid impact, the volcanic timeline is much more important, but TimeTree doesn’t provide that information yet. I happened to come up with a nice map from the Quarternary Volcanic Eruptions page.

Quarternary Volcanic Activity

Quarternary Volcanic Activity

 

I wouldn’t have written this, but for Food For Thought, Diet Helps Explain Unique Human Brainpower. The study suggests that humans think hard about what they eat, and this is a self-reinforcing spiral that drives our intelligence. We’re now at a point where we can think ahead for our entire species in a global fashion, which I covered in Good News In Small Doses. We may survive Atlantification & Other Horrors, but that will involve some Functional Triage.

This whole situation is made more interesting by the advent of AI. Workplace diversity will soon include Artificial Intelligence isn’t a Popular Science title, that’s a legit Phys.org story. What will we do in terms of Functional Triage when decision making is AI enabled? If we don’t humanize it … eugenics is the first word that comes to mind, but that’s not quite right, as survival will be more location based that any notional racial attributes.

Dark Mountain‘s Eight Principles of Uncivilization doesn’t seem to anticipate an Age of Ultron style battle between human and AI. I think they’re right; when societies break down their supply chains break down. We may have AI for a while, maybe even long enough to assist the evolution of what comes next.

Maybe …

Good News In Small Doses

I’ve made it clear that I don’t expect any ‘saving throw’ for our species, but there are exciting developments in the form of things that may continue to work after some sort of reckoning. Previously we learned:

I found a couple more bits of promising news:

I did research on renewable ammonia about a decade ago and the net result was that it makes sense … in a world where natural gas prices aren’t a rollercoaster. Now it seems that a small scale catalytic solution might be possible. If we can make ammonia with those perovskite solar cells, that’s a big win.

I am less excited about bioengineered sugarcane oil. Ethanol makes sense in Brazil, but only at a terrible human cost. Their EROI is 5:1 which is tolerable, if they can pump that up to 6:1 or 7:1 just by planting a different crop, and if it nets diesel for heavy equipment? OK, that’s moderately exciting.

 

I don’t think we’re going to carpet the earth with solar cells so we can over-drive our soil in order to produce biofuels for cars. This whole single 200 pound human in 2,000 pounds of steel was a dumb idea that can’t pass soon enough. Tractors, loaders, graders, dump trucks? Those are all useful, but we’d be in a lot better shape if we traded our cars for bikes, buses with bike racks, and a restored rail system.

The Future

The Future