The New Orleans Project

Let's fight hurricanes like we're waging a war Every year, the United States suffers attacks on American soil so brutal, our military can do...

Let's fight hurricanes like we're waging a war

Every year, the United States suffers attacks on American soil so brutal, our military can do little more than rebuild our wrecked cities, and console the wounded once the enemy has withdrawn.This enemy is the Atlantic hurricane system, and the price of its damage, in dollars spent and in lives lost, rivals that of man-made war. Hurricane Katrina, which totaled nearly $100 billion and 1,800 dead in 2005, cost only slightly less than a year of the occupation of Iraq, and killed more Americans in a day than the Iraq war claimed in over two years. Last year, Hurricane Ike claimed only 177 lives, but still wreaked $31 billion of damage.If this enemy were human-imagine, if you can, a rogue Canadian government-we would long since have funded a massive military and civilian project to defend our border, raid enemy bases, and reduce Ottawa to puddle of hot slag. But since hurricanes are inanimate, we resign ourselves to the inevitable destruction.We can do better.For decades, meteorologists have studied ways to strangle hurricanes. Their efforts have not been much rewarded: colleagues shun them, tending to eschew the voodoo-meteorology involved in weather tinkering. But the anti-hurricane scientists are serious, and their efforts, while underfunded, have produced an ingenious array of new tactics.Hurricanes develop when hot air near the sea's surface rises to meet the cold air above. If the rising hot air differs enough in temperature with the cold layer, cold gas rises in spirals and churns, and a hurricane is born. To reduce the heat near the ocean surface, some scientists propose dipping enormous buckets deep into the ocean and hauling frigid seawater up to cool the surface. They've also considered scattering materials into the ocean to reduce or change the sea-spray, which may be a factor in the violence of the churn. And higher up in the atmosphere, scientists propose to scatter huge quantities of carbon-black-a substance so dark it can absorb enough solar radiation to heat up the cold upper reaches of the nascent hurricane.

Skeptics claim that these schemes won't work. To date, weather modification has managed only a few modest victories: we can get rid of fog (cold airports, such as Thule Air Base in Greenland, do this regularly), and if conditions are right, we can seed clouds and marginally increase the chance of rain. But to try to change a hurricane is to enter an Olympic steeplechase when we've barely learned to toddle. Other quixotic government-backed science crusades have failed more often than they have triumphed. (Witness Nixon's "War on Cancer.") Even the most eager anti-hurricane crusaders, like Moshe Alamaro of MIT, acknowledge that their work is a long-shot, and fraught with dangers.But it's a bargain compared to other war efforts, and it will yield benefits even if it fails to beat the hurricane. The Manhattan Project cost about $24 billion, in today's dollars; hurricane fighters say the bulk of their work could be done for a very small fraction of that sum. More powerful computer models alone, they claim, would drastically improve our ability to predict hurricane behavior. Higher-precision forecasting would save huge sums, since we'd know which cities to evacuate and when. And many of the proposed interventions into the hurricanes themselves would be quite cheap. Seeding nascent storms with smoke particles-a process for which Daniel Rosenfeld, a distinguished Israeli meteorologist, published a patent this summer-requires only 10 cargo planes full of smoke.And outright success isn't the point. Think of the moon missions. They cost five times as much as the Manhattan Project, and produced almost no knowledge about the moon that NASA couldn't have found out more cheaply with unmanned spacecraft. Nevertheless, Apollo 11 remains the signature scientific accomplishment of the last century, and in pursuit of a moon-shot science learnt a great deal about rocketry, missiles, computers, and physics.The phrase "Manhattan Project" has long descended into cliché-what we need is a New Orleans Project. Ideally, this would yield a way to stymie an actual hurricane, and pay for itself with increased property values from Galveston to Miami. But even if it failed, it will have produced vast leaps forward in our understanding of weather systems. This is how government-funded science progresses-in fits and starts, framed by benchmark schemes with crazy-sounding goals. These schemes start as mad science, slowly morph into fringe science, and eventually become standard practice. Harnessing nuclear energy for clean power generation didn't start with tentative inquiries into how uranium might turn electrical turbines. It started with a grand attempt to make the largest explosion in the history of man.Inspiration is the beginning of scientific progress. At the moment, there are few academic journals more inspiring than the Journal of Weather Modification.Photos from the NOAA and flickr users, laffy4k, and Bart & Jill.
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

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September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

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The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

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via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

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