Firestorm: 1,500 Structures Destroyed as Massive Wildfires Blaze Through Northern California

Heat and drought and fire. A common litany these days for California — a state that has, year after year, been wracked by a series of unprecedented climate extremes.

After a brief respite this winter, northern parts of a state reeling from woes related to human-caused climate change again settled into drought this summer. Having received near record amounts of rain during winter — enough to wreck the spillway at the Lake Oroville Dam — vegetation sprang anew. This rain-spurred growth then subsequently dried — developing widespread fuels for fires.

(Northern California near Santa Rosa saw humidity drop to as low as 10-12 percent even as strong winds raged through the region. Such dry, windy condition are key ingredients for increasing fire hazard. Widely available fuels from the abnormally wet winter carried over into a drier than normal summer to increase fire risks. Image source: Earth Nullschool.)

These are exactly the kinds of extreme conditions climate scientists warned about as a result of human-forced warming. And the impacts for Northern California over the past 24 hours have been terrible.

Yesterday evening, a frontal system brought with it gusts approaching hurricane force to the region. The winds — warm and dry — raked over the lands and forests. Red flag warnings were posted. For even the smallest spark could spur a very dangerous fire under such dry, windy, and warm conditions.

Multiple fires, source presently unknown, subsequently erupted. The fires rapidly grew — raging across the hills and valleys near Santa Rosa. Embers caught up in the gusts traveled for miles. Where-ever they landed, tinder-dry fuels ignited.

Thousands were forced to flee in the middle of the night late Sunday and early Monday morning as the rapidly growing fires encroached on neighborhoods, towns and cities. Many had no time to gather belongings as pristine lands exploded into hellish flares. So far, 1,500 homes and commercial buildings are counted among the lost even as a number of people have gone missing. Entire subdivisions and wineries went up in flames. Two hospitals were forced to evacuate. Cell phone coverage to the region was cut off.

Today, the fires still rage as weaker winds provide some hope that an army of scrambling firefighters can start to get a hold on the firestorm. What is known is that this particular event is one of the worst wildfire disasters in California state history.

In this context, we should be very clear that human carelessness often provides the ignition sources for fires in areas like Northern California. However, without the underlying severe climate conditions, such fires would not have become so large or spread so fast.



California Firestorm Among Worst in State History

Earth Nullschool

Unprecedented Climate Extremes: One Year After Record Drought, Lake Oroville is Spilling Over

Extreme Weather and Climate Change

Hat tip to Genomik


Leave a comment


  1. Syd Bridges

     /  October 9, 2017

    This is a tragedy for the people of northern California. My nephew and his wife moved to San Jose from London in May, and I hope that that area will not be affected. I can only hope that the winds die down and the region soon gets rain.

    When I moved to northern Colorado in 2012, I found myself being ordered to leave because of the High Park fire, though, mercifully, it was stopped about four miles from where I was staying. At the moment we are under snow-our second snowfall of the winter. However, we, too, had a wet spring and the land remained green through almost all of the summer. So there is more vegetation than I have seen previously and I worry that a moderate dry spell will put us at extreme fire danger. We had a small fire about 3 weeks ago, but fortunately someone who got up very early spotted it and the local fire service put it out with two engines. Had it not been spotted so quickly it could have been a very different story.

    It looks as though we may see both a very late fire season and very late hurricanes this year, thus fulfilling the predictions of the climate scientists and their models for the contrasting effects that global warming-aka the “Chinese Hoax”-is having in the two halves of the US.

    • Hopes and prayers for you and yours, Syd. This one sprang up out of the blue. Will keep fingers crossed that Colorado stays safe.

      RE hurricanes — there is still a lot of warm water fuel in the Atlantic even as the Pacific appears to be more strongly transitioning toward La Nina. We might get a ‘real’ La Nina this fall and not just La Nada (as occurred during 2016). Some models show peak at -1.5 C in the three month — which would be a moderate event.

      Jet stream behavior appears to be facilitating extremes of wet and dry as well as hot and not much cooler than average so far. That’s a recipe for fire hazard on the warm side of the atmospheric wave pattern.

  2. Suzanne

     /  October 9, 2017

    And just to add to the horror show….
    At the NY Times…just today…”EPA announces Repeal of Major Obama-Era Emissions Rule”

    WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced Monday that it would take formal steps to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature policy to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, setting up a bitter fight over the future of America’s efforts to tackle global warming.

    • Republican in office and all-out war on the environment and the climate resumes… Trump is terrible. But this was republican policy.

      • Suzanne

         /  October 9, 2017

        Agree. The bad news is just so overwhelming…day after day. It is exhausting. One reason a group of us are already planning and organizing GOTV. and starting to canvas…now…is we see that is the most important thing we can do. Get people engaged and motivated to vote in 2018 to turn the Congress BLUE. The protesting (I have lost count)..calling..emailing etc.that I have done since January is all great..but unless we get people to show up and vote BLUE for in 2018..the catastrophe will only grow. We have to stop this insanity…and cannot wait for Mueller or 2020.
        And there is absolutely NO room for purists, IMO. I will vote for a dog if it has a D after its name at this point…to unseat the Tea Party Evangelical Republican that is my Congressman. He is deplorable..and thinks Trump is GREAT!

        • Wow. Someone has surely seen the light. I’m going to start asking previous die-hard anti-Hillary people if they’re having any regrets as all those wonderful policies Obama put in are getting axed one-by-one.

        • Suzanne

           /  October 9, 2017

          I have never been a purist myself. I have actually lost some friends because they just refused to vote for Hillary in our swing state..and wasted their vote on Stein. It is like living the 2000 Nader Nightmare all over again. I was in tears…begging one friend in particular the day of the election to vote for Hillary…but she refused. Still can’t face her. I…just..don’t…get..that..rational. IMO..they are just as culpable for the mess we are in as the Trump voters.

        • I feel the same way. At a recent interview they had me with some ‘draft Bernie to start new party’ guy. He really, really, really ticked me off. I may have kept my voice calm. But, to me, this guy was living in crazy bizzaro land. I guess I can write it off to — some people are easily duped — but it doesn’t make it easier when you know the train wreck that we’re in right now could have been prevented.

        • Suzanne

           /  October 9, 2017

          Congratulations on keeping a calm voice in that situation. I fear, I would not have been able to do the same. My emotions are just too raw..and we are in a 911 situation..I have no patience for idiocy in these dire, dark times we are in.

        • Thx. I find I often have to choose between being angry and being an effective communicator. The one does not facilitate the other. That said, there is a time for raising one’s voice in just outrage. That interview was not the time.

        • eleggua

           /  October 10, 2017

          “At a recent interview they had me with some ‘draft Bernie to start new party’ guy. He really, really, really ticked me off. I may have kept my voice calm. But, to me, this guy was living in crazy bizzaro land. ”

          You did great. It was perfect, you cutting in with the questions you asked. He was lethargic and dulling in his presentation, lacking concern for even his own cause.
          It’s fun and games for a lot of political people, people that fully inhabit that arena.

          I’d like to hear you speak more about that topic, the necessity of running a viable candidate, one that can win as opposed to making a futile stand. Will promote that idea to the host. Would have liked to hear more discussion re: climate change however what did go on was perfect. If you’ve opportunity to speak about upcoming election/s, climate change issues are certain to be central anyway.

          “I find I often have to choose between being angry and being an effective communicator. The one does not facilitate the other. That said, there is a time for raising one’s voice in just outrage. ”

          It’s tricky; just finished a conversation that required an expression of outrage; feel better for how it was presented than if it weren’t presented at all.

          You were sufficiently outraged that day, though moderate in how you presented your disagreement and opposing viewpoint. It didn’t matter if the Bernie guy got it; what matters is how the listeners took it. Have no feedback re: that, though.

        • eleggua

           /  October 10, 2017

          ‘The remarkably fast liberalization of the Democratic Party’
          October 5, 2017

          “…a new Pew Research Center study shows that Democrats are also evolving quickly. And if anything, Democrats have actually shifted more over the past two decades on many key social and philosophical issues, trending relatively quickly toward liberal positions as Republicans have changed more slightly. And the totality of it shows that Democratic voters are actually more polarized than Republicans are.

          Pew has been running this study for years, and it’s the gold standard when it comes to documenting the nation’s political polarization. This chart, in particular, demonstrates why we can’t all just get along:”

        • Thanks for the kind words. Was very focused on presenting the kind of argument that would get people thinking and feeling. That would knock them out of the kind of hyperfocus on wedge issues that we see so often these days. That elevates the less important to the arena of harmful central importance. It’s just so easy for people to get distracted and not see the larger picture, not look at the trajectory of where we are all headed by getting too focused on a single complaint or detail that is less important to the larger stream.

          Single issue inflation and conflation has really become a problem lately. And it’s really tricky to deal with, because you don’t want to completely discount issues wholesale. Just put them in their proper context. For example, population is an important aspect of sustainability, but it is not the primary driver of the climate crisis, poor land management and harmful forms of industrial agriculture contribute to global warming but they are not the central cause (fossil fuel burning), Hillary had less helpful policies than Bernie but she was far better than Trump, the DNC structurally favors any front-runner this was not a conspiracy against Bernie we saw this during the Obama v Hillary primaries when Obama took the lead he took the party structure with him, the Russians aimed misinformation and cyberwarfare capacity at sowing division in the ranks of democrats by supporting Stein and throwing dirt on Hillary in an effort to sway the election in key states this effort appears to have been at least partly successful, splitting parties apart by driving them to focus on divisive wedge issues or wedge candidates is a key strategy of republican election campaigning and marketing and it worked both in 2001 and in 2016.

          This is the context of our reality. To deny it is not to operate in the real world.

        • With regards to the Pew study … someone needs to do a study of which issues and demographics are most targeted by political-based marketing. My bet is that if you’re looking for the smoking gun in all this, that’s where you need to look.

        • Genomik

           /  October 10, 2017

          The BernieOrBUST movement helped to make BUST win. I knew a lot of Bernie supporters and I liked him too but once HRC Zeon the nomination they started this BUST thing. It was amazing I was telling all my BUST friends that they had similar talking points to both the right and the Russians.

          It was obvious many were being manipulated. I actually lost a lot more friends on the left than the right. I EXPECT the right to be opposite of the left, it’s crazy making when the far left is against the left!

        • eleggua

           /  October 10, 2017

          You’re welcome.

          “Was very focused on presenting the kind of argument that would get people thinking and feeling. That would knock them out of the kind of hyperfocus on wedge issues that we see so often these days. ”

          A lot of KPFA Berkeley listeners are hyperfocused on wedge, in my experience, and it’s not healthy. Many are being unwittingly maniupulated by the very medias they decry.

          Caroline is not hyperfocused in the least bit and promotes multi-dimensional perspectives. Sensed she was pleased with the perspectives you introduced. I was glad that you spoke up and asked important questions and made cogent, vital points.

        • eleggua

           /  October 10, 2017

          “…someone needs to do a study of which issues and demographics are most targeted by political-based marketing. My bet is that if you’re looking for the smoking gun in all this, that’s where you need to look.”

          Yikes! These folks are proud of what they do.

          “Let us be clear, there is no other online marketing company that can target voters the way we do, hands down. We match a physical address to IP at a 95%+ accuracy, which makes IP Targeting a secret weapon for hundreds political campaigns. We don’t target “zones or clusters”, we target real people in real households at the IP level. This patent-pending technology has been used in over 500 political campaigns and currently being used by several presidential candidates for the 2016 election. On average, we have been able to increase votes by targeted voters by 17% and voter’s targeted turnout by 8%.

          With El Toro you’re able to send banner ads to key political offices or households; segmented by party affiliation. That means registered democrats, republicans, and liberals can all receive tailored messaging that is verified and based on empirical data, not online cookies or “predictive models”. We are the next level of granular digital targeting, 100% without the use of online or cookie data.

          There’s no hoping your ads are reaching their intended target, like with traditional broad reach TV, radio, and door-to-door campaigns. Using the public registered voter info we can take a physical mailing address and match it to an individual household, hotel, convention center, or public office building IP address. From there we deliver display and/or video ads, 30-45 days prior to the election with surgical precision directly to potential voters. No cookies used. No cluster data. No district designations……”

        • eleggua

           /  October 10, 2017

          “someone needs to do a study of which issues and demographics are most targeted by political-based marketing. My bet is that if you’re looking for the smoking gun in all this, that’s where you need to look.”

          Here’s some pieces that focus in that direction.

          ‘Microtargeting: How campaigns know you better than you know yourself’
          11. 5. 2012

          ‘Targeted TV ads find niche in political campaigns’
          12. 2. 2016

          ‘The role of digital marketing for political campaigns’
          Heather Schichtel Apr 27, 2016

          “…how do agencies know who to target?…

          For political organizations looking to reach potential voters digital targeting can’t be ignored.

          Although voting is an emotional act, there are certain transactional indicators that can help predict where a vote might be cast. When a political model is developed at Conversant, they analyze the entire holistic view of a constituent – not just the last touch point as a registered voter. For example, according to data Epsilon compiled data from Abacus, political profiles show that Republicans are more likely to purchase home décor with an average order above $300 while Democrats prefer shoes with an average order of $90+. Democrats go to the spa while Republicans prefer to ride their horse…..

          Conversant captures online data in real time and has been involved in political campaigns since 2008 with presidential candidates, PACs, congressional campaigns, senate races and state attorney generals.

          First party data is verified; bringing real people, real results and scale to help you reach your best donor audience.

          This is particularly valuable in this day and age when duals are fought on Twitter feeds and ‘Likes’ on Facebook dictate how one feels about an issue. News is reported immediately and thoughts regarding an issue or candidate can change on a moment’s notice. Conversant captures that change to help marketers more effectively reach and message these people.

          The return? Reaching potential voters and increasing the likelihood of those voters going to the polls for your candidate

          Today as I search for airline tickets, two very well placed political messages show up on my webpage. This content does not ask for donations, just offers awareness and education. I click on one while I eat my sandwich; consuming both information and a turkey on rye.

          Does this action make a difference in my online profile? Yes

          Does it change my political segmentation? Yes

          Will it determine my behavior in November? Perhaps. In this real time atmosphere, a lot can happen and given this political season, a lot will happen. But there is only one winner.

          Here are three steps to consider to help you win your political campaign:

          Not all digital impressions are created equal and there is a finite amount of quality (brand safe) inventory. Partners like Conversant can help you easily find brand safe inventory.
          Don’t lose the forest for the trees and hyper target your digital audience. Targeting and segmentation is good but one of the benefits of digital is its reach.
          All of your campaign marketing and advertising media is important and should work together. If you are short in an audience or in an expensive media market in TV, augment that with digital. Overlap your direct mail audience with digital to reinforce your message and cut through the clutter.”

          Ugh. Proud, ugly conniving.

        • Thanks for these links, Eleggua 🙂

        • eleggua

           /  October 10, 2017

          Another creepy company.

          “…While it’s nice to think that our voting decisions are based purely on how well the platforms of each of the candidates aligns with our own individual set of beliefs and values, it is far more likely that our ballots are cast based on the outcomes of carefully targeted and optimized political marketing campaigns. Initially, understanding that our actions are likely prompted by the calculated promotional efforts of external entities may be uncomfortable, but consuming the marketing of any product, service, or idea is how we make decisions about many things in our everyday life — from what peanut butter to buy to what clothes to wear — and that’s not a bad thing… especially in a country where every decision comes with so many choices…..”

          It’s not a bad thing: it’s much worse than bad: it’s an awful, terrible, vile thing.

        • eleggua

           /  October 10, 2017

          You’re welcome, Robert. Some very creepy stuff there.

      • Abel Adamski

         /  October 10, 2017

        A good article which highlights how you really have to be smart, you cannot afford 1/2 a dozen candidates, no matter how good they are splitting the opposing vote.
        Trump is on track to win re-election
        More than half of Americans don’t think Donald Trump is fit to serve as president, yet he has a clear path to winning re-election.

        If Trump isn’t removed from office and doesn’t lead the country into some form of global catastrophe, he could secure a second term simply by maintaining his current level of support with his political base.

        And that bis what he is doing, why the wall and immigrants and killing Climate change legislation – that is what his support base thinks will make America Great Again

        • So republicans have been doing their best to rig this game for some time. Voter suppression laws and gerrymandering have resulted in an unevenly weighted electorate in which the votes of people in rural, typically republican areas, carry more weight than those living in cities at the national level. This is a structural watering down of democracy similar to what we’ve seen during the more corrupt periods of U.S. history. You need a higher electoral tide to overcome this institutional barrier. It’s not impossible, it’s just more difficult — especially when people are as confused as they are these days.

          Ironically, all this bad republican policy will ultimately wreck the economy again by exploding the debt, multiplying harms, producing economic shocks by enhancing public and private malinvestment, and by increasing costs to society. It will just take some time is all.

  3. Suzanne

     /  October 9, 2017

    U.N. Secretary-General talks Climate Refugees in light of hurricanes….

  4. Suzanne

     /  October 9, 2017

    Global Warming from 1850 to 2017 in 2 minutes…brought to you by Understanding Climate Change on Youtube…

  5. Suzanne

     /  October 9, 2017

    And finally…Extreme Weather and Climate (October 1st-8th)
    1:48 Tropical Storm Nate: Floods & landslides in Costa Rica & Nicaragua
    11:43 The USA: Hurricane Nate & Montana snowstorm
    15:51 Germany & Poland: Storm Xavier
    19:10 Norway: Southern Norway floods
    21:45 India: Hyderabad floods
    26:02 Australia: Bundaberg storm
    27:38 Indonesia: Pangandaran flood
    29:00 Brazil: San Bernardo del Campo hailstorm & flash flood
    33:54 Mexico: Oaxaca & Tamaulipas floods

  6. Thanks Robert

    Re the crazy 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season – I guess a big question is whether this intensity of storm activity is:

    a) statistical blip
    b) the new normal
    c) the entree to a larger climate change main course

    If b) or c), then it looks as if the Caribbean is on its way to becoming uninhabitable.

    Any thoughts?

    Guy Lane

    • For the more intense storms, my thoughts are b/c. I think the Caribbean will be in a tough state in a 1.5 to 3 C world. Habitability will be determined by the resiliency of islands to these kinds of terrible impacts. Of course, you’re looking at a loaded dice situation. Not a situation where this kind of thing would be likely to happen every year. But at once per decade or so, it becomes a real problem.

  7. Leland Palmer

     /  October 9, 2017

    My wife and I live in South Santa Rosa, about 3 or 4 miles from the closest evacuation zone. We are doing fine, actually. The smoke is not too bad, and we’ve had one brief episode of light ash fall from the fires.

    We were awakened by a phone call at about 4 AM last night, with a phone call from a friend, informing us of what was going on. It was a total surprise. Like many of us, I thought that our location was relatively safe from the effects of climate change. As many of us will find out to our sorrow, this was not the case.

    We currently have four friends in shelters, waiting for news about their houses. One friend is located one block outside one of the evacuation zone, the status of her house is unknown. Her niece’s house has been destroyed. Two other friends work inside the evacuation zones, the school for developmentally disabled children they work at is inside an evacuation zone, current status unknown.

    After hearing about the fires, I went to a local hardware store, Friedman’s, at just after 7 AM, and bought long hoses and sprinklers. They were open, but talking about closing up, maybe. I currently have a sprinkler on the roof of my two story house going, it has been going for several hours (we have our own well) and our lot is quite damp now, bordering on soggy, which is a great relief. We had some combustible material up against the house, this has been relocated away from the house.

    We have two huge, towering redwood trees on our lot. We like those trees, generally. Those trees are going to have to be removed, I think. We have been trying to get PG&E, our local utility, to remove these, and we are told that it is possible to get this done if we ask the tree trimming guys while they are working. An alternate plan is to give the wood to a local logging / tree trimming company, perhaps in cooperation with other people with such trees in the neighborhood.

    The view from the roof this morning was spectacular in a scary sort of way, with 3 different orange glows on the horizon.

    Trump celebrating his ignorance while Santa Rosa burns totally pisses me off, even worse than before. Against stupidity the Gods themselves contend in vain, someone once said, I think. That seems appropriate.

    • Thanks for this, Leland. Am relieved to hear that you’re OK. But very sorry about what’s happened to your friends and neighbors as well as to get this harsh sense of the stress your family is presently under. Would you be willing to let me post a picture of your comment on twitter and facebook? I think it’s something more people need to see.

    • Leland Palmer

       /  October 9, 2017

      Great map, much appreciated. On your map, our house is located under the label “Roseland” to the south of Santa Rosa. We were lucky, last night. We still have our house, and are likely pretty safe, now.

    • Hilary

       /  October 10, 2017

      Thanks for this map Geomik, and glad to read you feel you will be safe there to the south. My cousins lived on Barnes Road to the north and have just recently moved to Phoenix AZ. I thought they were completely NUTS to move out there & in mid-summer too. Now I’m pleased for them as their former home is likely gone or is v close to the fire.
      Hilary watching from our soggy garden down in NZ, we’ve had days of rain…

    • Thanks for this, Genomik. Pretty worrying the size of the area that has been burned at this time.

  8. wharf rat

     /  October 9, 2017

    Per local TV, 10 confirmed deaths; 7 in Sonoma, 2 in Napa, 1 in Mendocino.

    Redwood Fire and Potter Fire have Merged, now 10,000 acres, sheriff reports one fatality

    • eleggua

       /  October 10, 2017

      Those numbers are likely to rise. Over 100 reported missing in Sonoma Co. Houses incinerated.
      Smoke and smell from the fires blanketed the Bay Area last night and this morning.
      San Francisco officially recommended keeping windows and doors closed. Doctors recommended running HEPA filters indoors.
      The sun and sky were orange this a.m.

      That’s less than an hour’s drive south of the fire area. Up there, horror right now, with new fires breaking out tonight.

      • eleggua

         /  October 10, 2017

        Grey skies again today and redolent forest fire smell. Seeing many people wearing breathing masks outdoors, even a few bikeriders with them on.

  9. Abel Adamski

     /  October 10, 2017
    How global warming is drying up the North American monsoon

    New insights into the droughts and wildfires of the southwestern US and northwestern Mexico

    Researchers have struggled to accurately model the changes to the abundant summer rains that sweep across the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, known to scientists as the “North American monsoon.”

    In a report published Oct. 9 in the journal Nature Climate Change, a team of Princeton and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) researchers have applied a key factor in improving climate models – correcting for sea surface temperatures – to the monsoon.

  10. Abel Adamski

     /  October 10, 2017

    Geophysical potential for wind energy over the open oceans

    Focusing on the North Atlantic region, we provide evidence that there is potential for greater downward transport of kinetic energy in the overlying atmosphere. As a result, wind power generation over some ocean areas can exceed power generation on land by a factor of three or more.

    Wind turbines continuously remove kinetic energy from the lower troposphere, thereby reducing the wind speed near hub height. The rate of electricity generation in large wind farms containing multiple wind arrays is, therefore, constrained by the rate of kinetic energy replenishment from the atmosphere above. In recent years, a growing body of research argues that the rate of generated power is limited to around 1.5 W m−2 within large wind farms. However, in this study, we show that considerably higher power generation rates may be sustainable over some open ocean areas. In particular, the North Atlantic is identified as a region where the downward transport of kinetic energy may sustain extraction rates of 6 W m−2 and above over large areas in the annual mean. Furthermore, our results indicate that the surface heat flux from the oceans to the atmosphere may play an important role in creating regions where sustained high rates of downward transport of kinetic energy and thus, high rates of kinetic energy extraction may be geophysical possible. While no commercial-scale deep water wind farms yet exist, our results suggest that such technologies, if they became technically and economically feasible, could potentially provide civilization-scale power.

    The WaPo article
    There’s enough wind energy over the oceans to power human civilization, scientists say

    • Abel Adamski

       /  October 10, 2017

      There are caveats in all this, in that the amount of energy extracted from the wind could well affect weather, monsoons, rainfall etc

      • So the scale of wind turbine build out would have to be extraordinary to produce substantial regional climate impacts:

        We don’t need that much energy from wind in the N. Atlantic. Maybe 1/20 that amount for Europe. Add in distributed wind on land and more widely flung locations and the climate impacts are mild and even negligible.

        These kinds of idealized model studies can sometimes identify results that aren’t ultimately likely given the scales involved. In other words, you’d have to harvest most of the N. Atlantic wind energy resource to get the physical results identified in the study. This is unlikely and unecessary. The global wind resource is very large and the needs for human civilization are relatively small by comparison (see below).

        We should be very clear that wind turbines do not alter the base energy state of the atmosphere as occurs when adding CO2. Wind turbines do not cause more heat to be added at the top of the atmosphere. As with any physical structure such as trees or mountains, turbines simply re-arrange kinetic energy within the atmosphere. And in any case, the impacts of even a massive wind turbine build-out of the kind described in this study are negligible compared to continuing to burn fossil fuels.

        The science on extractable renewable energy resources is pretty solid. There is literally orders of magnitude more energy available from renewables in total than are needed by human society. Please see:

        This new scientific study, in other words, builds on a large body of evidence pointing toward the fact that there’s more than enough wind energy out there to meet our needs.

        From the recent WaPo article that cited the study:

        “I would look at this as kind of a greenlight for that industry from a geophysical point of view,” said Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, Calif. The study, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was led by Carnegie researcher Anna Possner, who worked in collaboration with Caldeira….”

        The point to take away here is that the combined solar + wind resource is much larger than that needed to power human civilization, especially when you include the efficiency gains that occur when transitioning to renewable power. We should probably be aiming to provide 30-40 percent of global energy from wind and the rest from solar (30-50 percent+) and other renewable sources. That these energy sources produce far less in the way of externalities than the very harmful fuels they replace.

  11. Greg

     /  October 10, 2017

    Hell or high water. Nowhere is safe. Fire or flood or wind. California gets it on the chin more than most and yet its one of the best fighters for the future.

  12. Genomik

     /  October 10, 2017

    The local San Francisco newscaster on Ch 2 Bill Martin made a fascinating observation. He was very familiar with the area. The fire that destroyed the Hilton hotel came from the Fountaingrove area which has mountains to the east. Winds were compressed, hot, dry, and shooting out of the canyons with 60-70 mph winds and in this valley the fires were “funneled” down a populated canyon right into a city! With Taco Bells and Applebees all destroyed by a blowtorch of fire.

    He said he had never seen nor heard of such an event with such ferocity in an urban area. He believes its unprecedented.

    Im already seeing reports its the most expensive fire in California’s history. I have a feeling it will be the most expensive in America.

    These “Rivers Of Fire” are an insane development.

    • Rivers of Fire — that’s pretty apocalyptic. Add heat and there are just so many physical structures that can enhance the damage.

    • Leland Palmer

       /  October 11, 2017

      Looking at the satellite images, the forest in the Fountaingrove area came uninterrupted right down into the city.

      In our new climate change era, cities are going to need firebreaks between themselves and the forests, I think. They are going to need to be wide, maintained, and have good access roads.

      But, would this have saved us from the Rivers of Fire phenomenon? Probably not, just guessing.

      Apparently there have been some of these Red Flag fire hazard events recently, with extremely dry winds coming down from the north. Earth.nullschool seems to show that this was desert air, that came in over the Sierras from east to west (opposite of the usual flow in California).,41.53,2167/loc=-122.898,39.730

      It seems to me that desert air that flows over a mountain range and has any moisture wrung out of it by orographic precipitation would be dry. We may need to really pay attention to these Red Flag fire hazard events in the future.

  13. eleggua

     /  October 10, 2017

    ‘There’s enough wind energy over the oceans to power human civilization, scientists say’
    By Chris Mooney October 9 , 2017

    “…It’s very unlikely that we would ever build out open ocean turbines on anything like that scale — indeed, doing so could even alter the planet’s climate, the research finds. But the more modest message is that wind energy over the open oceans has large potential — reinforcing the idea that floating wind farms, over very deep waters, could be the next major step for wind energy technology.

    “I would look at this as kind of a greenlight for that industry from a geophysical point of view,” said Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, Calif. The study, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was led by Carnegie researcher Anna Possner, who worked in collaboration with Caldeira….”

  14. eleggua

     /  October 10, 2017

    ‘There’s a Climate Bomb Under Your Feet
    Soil locks away carbon just as the oceans do. But that lock is getting picked as the atmosphere warms and development accelerates.’
    By Eric Roston October 6, 2017

    “Long before most people ever heard of climate change, scientists divided a patch of Harvard University-owned forest in central Massachusetts into 18 identical 6-meter by 6-meter squares. A canopy of red maple and black oak trees hangs there, looming above the same stony soil tilled by colonial farmers. Rich in organic material, it was exactly what the researchers were looking for.

    They broke the land up into six blocks of three squares each. In every block, one square was left alone, one was threaded with heating cables that elevated its temperature 9 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) above the surrounding area. The third square was threaded with cables but never turned on, as a control.

    That was 26 years ago. The purpose was to measure how carbon dioxide may escape from the earth as the atmosphere warms. What they found, published yesterday in the journal Science, may mean the accelerating catastrophe of global warming has been fueled in part by warm dirt. As the Earth heats up, microbes in the soil accelerate the breakdown of organic materials and move on to others that may have once been ignored, each time releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere…….”

    • Yep. This is a serious amplifying feedback that we don’t want to keep nudging into motion. Even if the net effect is just 10 percent of the total human fossil fuel emission, that’s basically a decade or more less time given to us to effectively respond and mitigate harms.

      The issue is that by burning fossil fuels, you’re prodding powerful natural forces into play that could really make our situation worse than it already is. We don’t want to be doing that.

  15. eleggua

     /  October 10, 2017

    ‘Officials resort to artificial rain to tackle raging wildfires in Siberia’
    24 July 2017

    “Clouds are being spiked with a special compound over remote areas of Yakutia to force rain in forest infernos.
    The skies are cannoned from An-26 planes with silver iodide or liquid nitrogen by forestry fire fighters, provoking 50 minutes of rain across a 30 kilometre area.
    An 18,000 hectare fire in Viluisky district is being targeted, some 425 kilometres northwest of regional capital Yakutsk.
    Firefighters are also using explosives to remove obstacles and build mineral lines to block the spread of fires. ….

    In Yamalo-Nenets officials reported 47 wildfires across 2,097 hectares after a blast of hot weather.

    Last year, deadly anthrax – previously frozen in the permafrost – was released causing health hazards to humans and reindeer. The region has called for help from neighbouring governors due to the fast spread of the wildfires.

    Local governor Dmitry Kobylkin said: ‘The temperature in the region is extreme. The situation will remain the same for some time.
    ‘We are now engaging all possible additional resources. We’ve asked neighbouring regions about additional firefighters, Yekaterinburg has already replied.
    ‘We understand that situation is intensive everywhere….”

    • Kind of makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time. Seeding clouds to temporarily combat a systemically worsening problem is basically treating symptoms and not causes. Russia is far too wedded to fossil fuel burning both inside its borders and in other countries. Its information and cyberwarfare activities are clearly aimed at reducing responses to climate change. As such, Russia is consigning itself to much more harmful impacts. Seeding a few clouds won’t change that basic fact.

  16. Loni

     /  October 10, 2017

    Allow me a personal story, I woke up yesterday to the news of these horrific fires in the Santa Rosa area, several hours to my south, I immediately called friends in the area to offer them a relocation site, getting through to only one, and he informed me, “I’d come up, but can’t get there because Highway 299, (the road I live on), is closed due to a fire in Blue Lake, (a town 35 minutes to my west), at which point I said, “Well, if you wanna jump outa you’re fryin’ pan into my fire, I’m pourin’ the drinks.”

    The videos bring tears.

  17. eleggua

     /  October 10, 2017

    ‘Honey tests reveal global contamination by bee-harming pesticides ‘
    5 October 2017

    “….Almost 200 samples of honey were analysed for neonicotinoid insecticides and 75% contained the chemicals, with most contaminated with multiple types. Bees range over many kilometres to collect nectar and pollen, making the honey they produce an excellent indicator of the pesticide pollution across their local landscape….

    The new analysis joins a growing number of highly critical reports on pesticides, including research showing most farmers could slash their pesticide use without losses, a UN report that denounced the “myth” that pesticides are necessary to feed the world, and a UK chief government scientist stating that the assumption by regulators it is safe to use pesticides at industrial scales across landscapes is false.

    The honey analyses, published in the journal Science, began as a citizen science project when researchers at the Botanical Garden of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, asked people to donate honey collected from around the world between 2012 and 2016. They received hundreds of samples and analysed 198 of known local origin for the five main types of neonicotinoid.

    Contamination rates were highest in North America with 86% of samples containing one or more neonicotinoid, followed by Asia (80%) and Europe (79%). It was lowest in South America at 57%. Almost half the samples contained a cocktail of the insecticides.

    “The striking finding is that 75% of our samples had measurable quantities,” said Prof Edward Mitchell at the University of Neuchâtel. “That was surprising to us, since our coverage included many remote areas, including oceanic islands.”…….”

  18. eleggua

     /  October 10, 2017

    ‘Houston Has Set a New Annual Rainfall Record. There Are 89 Days Left This Year.’
    October 3, 2017

    “George Bush Intercontinental Airport received 1.46 inches of rain overnight, the Houston/Galveston branch of the National Weather Service announced, pushing its annual rainfall total to 73.51 inches.

    Hurricane Harvey, which dumped nearly 40 inches of rain at Bush Airport and more than 50 inches in other areas of Houston, accounts for more than half of the city’s 2017 rainfall to date……

    The old annual record for Houston, 72.86 inches, was set in 1900, the same year the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history destroyed Galveston. National Weather Service records date back to 1888.

    While meteorologists caution against conflating individual weather events with climate patterns, the Memorial Day and Tax Day floods of 2015 and 2016 also helped those years see higher than average rainfall. Houston’s mean annual rainfall is 49.8 inches, but the city saw 70.03 inches in 2015 and 60.96 inches this past year.”

    • eleggua

       /  October 10, 2017


      ‘First Blizzard of the Season Breaks October Snow Record in Havre, Montana; Up to 30 Inches Reported’
      Oct 3 2017

      Havre, Montana, had seen 13 inches of heavy, wet snow as of late Tuesday afternoon, which set a new record for heaviest two-day October snowfall total at the Havre City-County Airport. The previous two-day October record was 12.6 inches, which was set in 1898. Due to power outages, further investigation will be needed to determine if any daily records were broken in Havre….

      Elsewhere, Zortman, Montana set a new one day record for October with 14 inches of snow reported Tuesday morning.

      While not a record, Missoula, Montana recorded .10 inches of snow Monday night, which is the earliest recorded measurable snow there in 34 yrs.

      The heaviest estimated snow amount from this storm is 30 inches in Rocky Boy, Montana. Drifts in at least one location were estimated to be eight feet high….”

  19. eleggua

     /  October 10, 2017

    ‘Wanderlust polar bear cub is caught 700 km too far south, and will now go to zoo’
    02 October 2017

    “…The wandering polar bear is estimated at being only nine months old, which makes her adventure all the more extraordinary.

    As we reported earlier, the animal – known to come as Umka but now likely to be renamed – had strayed out of the ice shores of the Arctic Ocean, and headed some 700 kilometres south….

    Experts presume she lost her mother for unknown reasons but are genuinely puzzled how she came to be so far away from her natural territory….

    One theory is that her mother was killed by poachers and they took the orphaned cub live with them south from the Arctic coast, releasing her when she got too large.
    But there is no evidence for the fate of the mother. ”

    Another idea to consider: the birth occured somewhere nearby and the mother died or was killed after giving birth. The mother may’ve headed south figuring her chances for finding food for the as-yet unborn cub were better there.

  20. eleggua

     /  October 10, 2017

    Uncertain future?! It’s certain that fossil fuel industry is done; the only question, how soon?
    Foolish pride in dealing death touted, for what it’s Wirth.

    ‘Chevron’s CEO is leaving as oil industry faces uncertain future’
    September 28, 2017

    “…..(MIchael) Wirth must lead Chevron through a challenging period for Big Oil. Crude prices remain at modest levels after crashing in 2015 and 2016. Low prices forced Chevron and its rivals to slash costs by laying off workers and scrapping expensive drilling projects.

    Chevron, like other oil giants, also faces increased scrutiny over climate change. Last week, San Francisco and Oakland sued Chevron and five other oil companies, demanding they pay billions to cover the costs of climate change.

    Some wonder whether the next challenge for the industry will be an eventual peak for global oil demand. The rise of Tesla (TSLA) and electric cars, increased fuel efficiency, and promises to ban gasoline and diesel cars in other countries will all curb the appetite for oil.

    To meet these challenges, Chevron has placed its faith in Wirth, who, like other new oil CEOs, has come up through the ranks of the refining business. In recent years, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA) and Total (TTFNF) have all tapped refining execs to take over.

    “Chevron has a proud 138-year history of developing the energy that improves lives and powers the world forward,” Wirth said. “I am honored to have been selected to carry on that tradition.”

    Wirth will also seek to replicate Watson’s ability to reward investors with solid performance. Chevron said that since Watson took over in 2010 its total shareholder returns, which includes stock price and dividends, have nearly doubled those of ExxonMobil (XOM). “

  21. eleggua

     /  October 10, 2017

    Another good piece by Chris Mooney of the Washington Post.
    May’ve already shared it, or maybe someone else did earlier.

    ‘Scientists may have found a solution to the atmosphere’s methane mystery’
    Chris Mooney September 29, 2017

    “…the second-most potent greenhouse warming agent — the hard-hitting, if short-lived, gas known as methane — presents more of a mystery. There has clearly been an alarming uptick in atmospheric methane in recent years, following a flattening of concentrations from 2000 to around 2007. But the cause of this particular pattern has been hotly debated, with some blaming the fracked natural gas boom (natural gas is primarily composed of methane) and others pointing to causes such as agriculture.

    …new research published Thursday in the journal Carbon Balance and Management by three scientists with the Joint Global Change Research Institute, a center of the University of Maryland and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, point the finger at agriculture once again. And more specifically, at cattle and other livestock.

    “Just from livestock methane emissions, our revisions resulted in 11 percent more methane in a recent year than what we were previously estimating,” said Julie Wolf, lead author of the study who completed the work while a postdoc at the institute and now works at the Department of Agriculture. “It’s not the biggest contributor to the annual methane budget in the atmosphere, but it may be the biggest contributor to increases in the atmospheric budget over recent years.”…..”

    • Abel Adamski

       /  October 11, 2017

      Interestingly CSIRO researchers have identified a couple of strains of seaweed that if used as animal feed almost completely halt the methane production in animals.
      Also interestingly if given the chance, cattle prefer to dine on seaweed, as noted in coastal grazing areas.
      Haven’t got the link at this time, but the paper and article are out there

      • eleggua

         /  October 11, 2017

        I’ll post that article in the comments on Robert’s latest article.

  22. eleggua

     /  October 10, 2017

    ‘Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico’s “Dead Dog Beach” and the effort to save its pups’
    September 30, 2017 Cleve R. Wootson Jr. | The Washington Post

    “…..Beckles returned to Puerto Rico late last week. The crate and kibble-filled house that served as the office of the Sato Project, was six feet under sewage-filled water and crushed by a tree. She and her husband face a mammoth rebuilding effort.

    “Everything we own is gone,” she told The Washington Post in an email. “All of our Sato Project inventory is gone – microchips, food, leashes, harnesses, transport equipment and supplies. The water is now rising (and we do not know why?) and sewage is now flowing out through the toilets. Mold has started to grow.”

    But she said the scene was worse at Playa Lucia, a place where hundreds of wild dogs had once roamed the sand.

    When Beckles set foot on the beach for the first time after the hurricane she saw . . . nothing.

    “All we wanted to do was go to the beach to look for our feral dogs,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “Sadly we did not find them and our hearts are heavy with the reality upon seeing the utter devastation at the beach – they did not survive. . …

    After Hurricane Irma devastated Barbuda, its 1,800 residents were transported to the larger sister island of Antigua. But their animals were left behind. They’ve been getting hungry and, as Time magazine reported, growing feral.

    Karen Corbin, president of the Antigua and Barbuda Humane Society, told Time that the hungry dogs eventually turned on the horses, cows, goats, sheep, pigs and poultry now roaming free across the island. The magazine detailed an organized attempt to feed the large packs of roving dogs before the island residents return – an attempt to save the dogs’ lives and the farmers’ livelihoods….”

  23. Jeremy in Wales

     /  October 10, 2017

    It is amazing how fast technology is changing the economics of electricity generation. The latest in the UK is the penetration of battery technology in balancing the UK grid. There are regular auctions for providers of this service (some contracts are for the rapid removal of demand by big energy users) and some conracts have been won by companies building banks of batteries. The contracts are for 50MW of electricity, for upto 15 minutes, dispatched within 2 minutes and covers demand such as TV breaks when all the electric kettles get switched on.

    This sort of supply seems to me to have a number of advantages
    1) It can utilise excess supply, preferably from renewables for use later in the day
    2) It has a faster response than starting diesel generators
    3) It removes more fossil fuel use, diesel in this case, reducing demand for fossil fuels as do electric vehicles
    4) reduces NOX and particulate pollution as well as noise pollution.

    The UK government was expecting the contracts to be won by new gas stations but renewable and battery technologies are now cheaper.

    Hope the FT article is available outside the UK as there is a paywall but they allow limited access without paying.

  24. Leland Palmer

     /  October 11, 2017

    Red Flag fire conditions warning from the National Weather Service for a huge area of California and Oregon for tonight and tomorrow:

    • Leland Palmer

       /  October 11, 2017

      The above link is to the map for the Red Flag warning from the National Weather Service.

      Link to the National Weather Service warning page itself:

      Red Flag (Fire Weather) Warning for North Bay Mountains, CA
      Active for next 1 day · National Weather Service
      This alert has been updated.
      Posted 10 hours ago

      …Increasing northerly winds and drying conditions are forecast to
      return to the region later today and persist through Thursday
      afternoon in wake of a weak, dry frontal passage. Low humidity and
      gusty northerly winds will combine with dry fuels to produce
      critical fire weather conditions, especially in higher elevations
      of the North and East Bay Hills/Mountains…

      * WIND…North to northeast winds of 20 to 30 MPH with local gusts
      over 50 MPH.

      * HUMIDITY…Minimum daytime values between 10-20 percent with
      night time recovery values between 30-40 percent.

      * HIGHEST THREAT…In the Napa County hills as well as around
      Mount Saint Helena and the hills of Marin around Mount

      * IMPACTS…Any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly.
      Outdoor burning is not recommended.

  1. Firestorm: 1,500 Structures Destroyed as Massive Wildfires Blaze Through Northern California | GarryRogers Nature Conservation

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