On Thursday night, Hurricane Hermine made landfall in the Florida panhandle, ending a record-breaking 10-year, 11-month hurricane drought in the state.
Some meteorologists are wondering whether “spaghetti plots”—those line-strewn maps that show where different models project a cyclone may hit—frighten people too much when they are shared on social media. “What were once backroom conversations among savvy meteorologists are now broadcast routinely on a public platform that acts more as interest group than it does social network.”
The Australian state of Victoria will extend a four-year moratorium on fracking into a permanent ban. Farmers who make up much of the state’s economy pushed for the restriction out of environmental concerns. It is the country’s first state-wide ban on fracking.
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Last week, the Working Group on the Anthropocene settled on 1950 as the rough start date for the new geological epoch, and I shared Paul Voosen’s story about it in this very newsletter. This week, Voosen posted the results of the group’s internal voting to Twitter. Most interesting, to me: 34 of 35 members thought the Anthropocene was “stratigraphically real,” only 30 members wanted to formalize it, and 28.3 members thought it should begin around 1950.
One member split their vote into thirds for “When should the Anthropocene begin?,” voting for “3,000 years ago,” “about 1950,” and “about 1964.”
And an interview with one member of the group, an ecologist, revealed discipline-level disagreement about where the line should be drawn: Stratigraphers tend to be on board with the concept, but geographers are more skeptical of it (because they’re so used to deep time) as are anthropologists (because they think humans have long shaped the Earth). “For a long time, science—especially Earth sciences—has viewed humans as insignificant. Overturning that would be a big deal!”
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In U.S. policy, the Iowa Utilities Board has approved the construction of a new onshore wind farm somewhere in the state. At 1,000 turbines, the farm will be the largest in the U.S.
Landsat 9, the next satellite in the U.S. government’s monumental 44-year project to photograph the changing planet, has secured key approval from NASA and remains on track for a late 2020 launch.
John Fleck, who has covered water rights in the American West for decades, says that a conservation mindset is taking hold around the Colorado River (and succeeding in saving much less water), but not around the Californian Central Valley. The doom-and-gloom attitude to water in the West should slow its roll, basically.
In 1856, an American named Eunice Foote discovered that carbon dioxide insulates energy from the sun’s rays better than other gases—in other words, the greenhouse effect—three years before the Irish physicist John Tyndall first published on the idea. Tyndall is commonly credited as the discoverer of the all-important phenomenon.