As this is written Hurricane Patricia is about to make landfall in Jalisco state on Mexico’s west coast. This hurricane appears to be one of if not the biggest (worst?) ever in the western hemisphere with wind speeds sustained over 200 mph, gusts over 250 mph and what appears to be the lowest air press ever at 880 millibars. Just for comparison on wind speeds, here is the Fujita tornado intensity scale:
Category F0: Gale tornado (40-72 mph); light damage. Some damage to chimneys; break branches off trees; push over shallow-rooted trees; damage to sign boards.
Category F1: Moderate tornado (73-112 mph); moderate damage. The lower limit is the beginning of hurricane wind speed; peel surface off roofs; mobile homes pushed off foundations or overturned; moving autos pushed off the roads.
Category F2: Significant tornado (113-157 mph); considerable damage. roofs torn off frame houses; mobile homes demolished; boxcars pushed over; large trees snapped or uprooted; light-object missiles generated.
Category F3: Severe tornado (158-206 mph); Severe damage. Roofs and some walls torn off well-constructed houses; trains overturned; most trees in forest uprooted; heavy cars lifted off ground and thrown.
Category F4: Devastating tornado (207-260 mph); Devastating damage. Well-constructed houses leveled; structure with weak foundation blown off some distance; cars thrown and large missiles generated.
Category F5: Incredible tornado (261-318 mph); Incredible damage. Strong frame houses lifted off foundations and carried considerable distance to disintegrate; automobile sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 yards; trees debarked; incredible phenomena will occur.
More scary news on the weather front comes from Dr. Jeff Masters of wunderground.com on his blog. Climate change is real and headed in the wrong direction:
September 2015: Earth’s Warmest Month in Recorded History, Says NOAA
By: Jeff Masters , 3:40 PM GMT on October 21, 2015
September 2015 had the largest departure of temperature from average of any month among all 1629 months in the record that began in January 1880, said NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) on Wednesday. (Note that since July and August are typically the warmest months globally in absolute terms, September was not Earth’s warmest month in that regard.) NASA rated September 2015 slightly cooler, as the 2nd warmest September on record, falling below September 2014’s mark. September 2015’s warmth makes the year-to-date period (January – September) the warmest such period on record, according to both NOAA and NASA. September 2015 was the fifth consecutive month a monthly high temperature record has been set in NOAA’s database, and the seventh month of the nine months so far in 2015. A potent El Niño event in the Eastern Pacific that crossed the threshold into the “strong” category in early July continues to intensify, and strong El Niño events release a large amount of heat to the atmosphere, typically boosting global temperatures by at least 0.1°C. This extra bump in temperature, when combined with the long-term warming of the planet due to human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide, makes it virtually assured that 2015 will be Earth’s second consecutive warmest year on record–with 2016 a good bet to exceed even 2015’s warmth.
NOAA’s top ten warmest global monthly departures from average
1) 0.90°C, Sep 2015
2) 0.89°C, Aug 2015
2) 0.89°C, Mar 2015
2) 0.89°C, Feb 2015
2) 0.89°C, Jan 2007
6) 0.87°C, Jun 2015
7) 0.86°C, Feb 1998
8) 0.85°C, May 2015
8) 0.85°C, Mar 2010
10) 0.84°C, Dec 2014
In the economic area comes this scary news:
Goodbye Middle Class: 51 Percent Of All American Workers Make Less Than 30,000 Dollars A Year
-38 percent of all American workers made less than $20,000 last year.
-51 percent of all American workers made less than $30,000 last year.
-62 percent of all American workers made less than $40,000 last year.
-71 percent of all American workers made less than $50,000 last year.
That first number is truly staggering. The federal poverty level for a family of five is $28,410, and yet almost 40 percent of all American workers do not even bring in $20,000 a year.
Finally this true scare from Oxfam:
Credit Suisse’s findings are in line with Oxfam’s prediction that global wealth inequality is only becoming greater. Last January, we predicted that the richest 1 percent would capture more than half of all household wealth by 2016. It looks like our prediction was right, but that we were too conservative, since it has happened a year early. Alas, our forecast was confirmed, but it’s nothing to celebrate.
When you look at the very top of the global wealth pyramid, the situation is much more alarming. When we first calculated in January 2014, the 85 richest individuals own more wealth than the poorest half of the planet. This trend has also worsened since that time. Last January, it was down to 80 people.
The implications of rising extreme wealth inequality are greatly worrying. The highly unbalanced concentration of economic resources in the hands of fewer and fewer people impacts social stability within countries and threatens security on a global scale. It makes poverty reduction harder, threatens political inclusion, and compounds other inequalities.
Findings such as Credit Suisse’s are awaking wide publics to the huge economic disparities that define the modern world. And people are increasingly calling attention to government policies that only work for the wealthy. For instance, in a recent Pew survey respondents from 34 emerging and developing economies indicated corruption was the second biggest problem facing their country. The links between corruption, crony capitalism and inequality aren’t hard to find. A study of India’s new billionaires found that nearly half made their fortunes in ‘rent thick’ sectors, meaning their wealth depended on exclusive government giveaways (such as permission to build on public lands or control over the telecom spectrum). Corruption and bribery are often behind such exclusive privileges.
Are we screwed?