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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

RAINBOW VISIONS (Part 2)

Start with the Right Attitude

A more specific subtitle for SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth could have been: the Art of Research Entrepreneurialship. But, how many of you would care, and, anyway, that is far too limiting, for the whole point of this book and final guide is to aid in preparing the foundation to help you make this a better world. If all of this succeeded for me in competitive surroundings with brilliant people and a stultifying bureaucracy, success should be more easily attained in a “lesser” ecosystem manned by a bunch of losers, with your personally meaningful crusade where your goal can be more magnificent. After all, energy is about as prosaic as you can get. If it so happens that you are among those losers, this could be the last chance to justify your reason for being.

Keep in mind that you will not be able to do it alone. An important key to success will be to cultivate the right people working together in common purpose. But why would anyone listen to you? What is it that can set you up to take on any leadership role? In the salesmanship of teaming, there is something about good attitude that always works. Conversely, the wrong approach can royally screw up anything. There are books on these subjects, but let me provide just a few examples to get you going:

1. To attain success, work hard, but don’t commit any crimes or shoot yourself in the foot (the latter, from An Wang, founder of Wang Laboratories, a board member of an organization I helped start).

2. On the very few things you can control, do the best job possible: be on time, say thank you, smile a lot, show enthusiasm, etc.

3. Regularly and carefully take risks, but remember to protect your feet (see above) and learn from your mistakes, because if you try anything different, you will.

4. Always make that extra effort and take that extra step or two or three. If you think you are right, be persistent without being a pest.

5. Think, as, for example, something lawyers learn: never ask a question if there is any chance that you won’t like the answer or be limited by that response. Also, be free about asking for assistance, for almost everyone really does want to be helpful.

6. Sincerely give credit when due, and take as little as possible. Also, too, personal relationships are more important than the attainment of any goals. Many times they conflict with each other. The choice to take should be obvious, stick with people.

7. For any reasonable task, you need a group of individuals from different organizations, and it’s more effective if the whole village worked together. The 2004 Olympic basketball results showed how much teamwork matters. America had the stars, but we lost. Sport teams learn this lesson, but, unfortunately, and unconsciously, schools teach us to look out mostly for #1…me…you. It will take a monumental shift in attitude for you to eliminate this flaw by leaning towards us and we.

8. It makes sense to trust others to do what you could have if you had more time, for you will never have enough to do everything well yourself. Then, too, most people around you actually can do certain things better than you.

9. Use good judgment by becoming invaluable to those around you and consider every interaction as an opportunity to build friendships. However, learn how to say no without alienation.

10. Use uncommon sense: understand, but do not be stymied, by life’s contradictions: never lie, but you don’t need to necessarily publicize certain truths; even without sufficient information (which is at least 90% of the time), make a decision, except for 5% of the time when no decision is the right one; never give up, but, sometimes, you must; and, while integrity is really important, you can’t allow people who don’t deserve it to run all over you, so, find a way. Most never get to appreciate the value of using common sense, which is a synonym for uncommon sense.

11. Neutralize the negatives, with only one example being: avoid insulting or embarrassing anyone, for these are the ones who will come back to bite you.

12. Enjoy life! Success comes with good health, both physical and mental, not only for you, but for your family and those around you.

Ah, a good dozen attitude pointers you can weave into your mission. These are not the LESSONS, which will come next, but the controlling attitudes for success.
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Tropical Storm Kyle is well into Canada, and should have materially weakened by now, although at last check, was still swirling at nearly 60 MPH...but should dissipate over the next 24 hours. Tropical Storm Laura, also at around 60 MPH, continues on a northward path and should remain on a pathway to obscurity over the next few days. It's somewhat surprising, though, that both Kyle and Laura are remaining cyclonic at high wind speeds so far north.
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Those West Pacific storms keep coming, as Tropical Storm Mekkhala made landfall on Vietnam yesterday, with rainfall amounts of a foot over half a day; Tropical Storm Jangmi at 60 MPH is already bringing considerable rain to Kyushu, and will weaken, but bring more precipitation to Japan over the next few days; and Tropical Storm Higos just formed east of Manila, and should hit the Philippines before becoming a typhoon, then, probably as a weakened tropical storm unto China a couple of days later.
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Well, this is not 1929, as the Dow Jones Industrials jumped 485 points to 10,851 today. What about the the failure of the Emergency Economic Act of 2008? I guess my posting of yesterday suggesting no action on part of Congress might make some sense, after all. Even oil is acting normally, as there was a jump back up to $102/barrel.
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Monday, September 29, 2008

SIMPLE SOLUTION FOR OUR FISCAL MESS

In my two books I had SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for virtually everything: energy, environment, crime, war…name it, I had it. Except for the economy! Today I rectify that omission.

You might ask, what credentials do I have to even comment on the subject? Well, not much, but more than I had in crime, religion and assorted other subjects which made the publications cut list.

Anyway, my simple solution for the bailout is to do nothing. This is in keeping with my samurai philosophy: act swiftly and decisively when you must, but sometimes, no decision is best.

Here is what our congressional representatives are thinking: only 40% of Republican voters, 30% of Democrats and 10% of independents are for the bailout plan proposed by President Bush and Treasury Secretary Paulson. In an Associated Press poll, only 30% of Americans said that they supported the Bush package. Yes, adjustments were made in Congress over the weekend, with a sprinkling of clever main street facades, but what is a Congressperson to do: vote for Wall Street and get kicked out of office on November 4? House Republicans, especially, kept to their principles (free market, not socialism…plus get re-elected) and the legislation was defeated 228 to 206.

Did you see what was happening to the stock market a minute before the debacle and for the rest of the day? The Dow Jones Industrials had already dropped more than 200 points, then suddenly, in a matter of a minute or two, plummeted another 500 points to minus 734 when it looked like the vote looked hopeless, then, within minutes after the voting was supposedly closed (see Lawrence Berra’s quote later about it not being over), when there came a reassurance that the House would re-consider and try to twist arms over the next couple of days over the Rosh Hashanah Jewish Holiday (first of ten repentance observances, culminating with Yom Kippur on October 9 this year), a gradual rise back to the minus 300s. The DJI then dropped again, largely in the minus five hundred range, and was at -580 seconds before the trading deadline today, when through a breathtaking few minutes after the bell (yes, Yogi’s “It ain’t over till it’s over” wisdom prevailed again), the market free fell to 10,365, minus 778 for the day, the greatest one day drop in history. A decline of about 200 points AFTER the bell. My HuffPost of last week on the metastable state of our economy is coming all too true.

So what will happen next? The White House will propose another package, the House will act by the weekend, a month before the General Election, and the Senate might need to hang in there until next week. Is this bad for getting re-elected? Actually, no, for most campaigns are run on TV and sound bites. Incumbents can be made to look good with their home news channels reporting on the great job they are doing to save the country for their constituents. Plus, they won’t need to pay for these self-promoting ads. What a windfall. Looks like our elected national representatives have found another workable ploy. The longer they stay in D.C., the more they will have to gain.

So returning to the DO NOTHING solution. Let’s say our Congressional members cannot get their act together and leave town about mid-October, all the while blaming President Bush (who does not need to run this year) and the other party. There is enough to go around. Many banks close, but the feds take over, and most of the bank run is covered by the FDIC, anyway. Only the really rich lose bucks, but they caused all this, so no harm there. Certainly, gold will surge past $1000 / troy ounce, but no big deal here, because that also happened on January 21, 1980 (the Second Energy Crisis), and, in 2008 dollars, that’s worth almost $2500/oz. Crude oil drops to $75/barrel because demand declines. OPEC countries squabble among themselves to reduce production. Then the price plateaus at $50/bbl, just enough to discourage the financial sector to cancel most large renewable projects. OPEC will love this. You can count on oil rising past $150/bbl in a couple of years. Then what?

It doesn't matter if the stock market crashes or not, for it will recover to the 8,000-10,000 level by the end of the year when investors learn that those who had their mortgage foreclosed were given a reprieve on a case by case basis to stabilize the economy. No $700 billion bailout package, but our existing financial system does have flexibility to continue to provide small business loans and assist consumer purchases of cars, homes and whatever. What was the emergency, again?

No way John McCain will get elected in this scenario, but Barack Obama will have a mess on his hands come January 20. On the other hand, change comes best in time of crisis, and like FDR had Herbert Hoover, Obama will be able to thank George Bush.
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Crude plummeted to $96/bbl today, something to do with declining demand caused by the world economic recession.
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Kyle is gone, but a subtropical storm named Laura at 58 MPH popped up in an unusual place, the mid-north Atlantic, about on parallel with Washington, D.C., but far, far out in the Atlantic. It will move north and disappear.
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Tropical Cyclone Jangmi, at 40 MPH, suddenly moved northward, and is now hitting north Taiwan with rain and some winds. The projected path is northwest, missing China, but heading for south Kyushu. Tropical Cyclone Mekkhala at 58 MPH
formed south of Hainan and should crash into Vietnam tomorrow.
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Saturday, September 27, 2008

APPENDIX B: RAINBOW VISIONS (Part 1)

While much of what is presented in SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth transpired in Hawaii, and, more specifically, largely at the University of Hawaii, this is a guide for anyone from any State and any Nation on how to make a difference. While the examples are taken from the world of academia, the strategies should conveniently extend into the real world, for the intelligence and dedication quotient elsewhere surely cannot be as high as what I had to face. Your success quotient should improve relative to lowered competition, but you can further enhance your potential by simply adhering to a few simple attitudinal principles.

I’ve always been strongly influenced by colors. I still marvel at the beauty of a rainbow. In Nuuanu where I live and Manoa where I work, I see a rainbow almost every day. The full spectrum represents the importance of a balanced life, advantage of broad skills and an open attitude. The consequence is Rainbow Vision.

Surveying my life, I’ve found that my greatest accomplishments came as a necessary reaction to failures. Mistakes, bad fortune, whatever, are, in reality, a beneficial stimulus for success. There is something about embarrassment, physical ailment or hopelessness that forces you to try harder, think out of the box, maintain perseverance and strive for triumph. In a way, then, this book is for those who have something yet to prove. Some of you might have been a loser most of your life, or, perhaps, unlucky.

The example I like to use is that in the 8th grade, I remember taking a standardized test that showed I ranked in the bottom 10th percentile in verbal ability, meaning that more than 90% of my classmates were “smarter” than me in English skills. This was confirmed in my junior year of high school when I took the practice college board exam, did well in math, but, again, scored in the bottom percentiles of the verbal portion.

There were two crucial factors. First, I had Mildred Kosaki as my English/Social Studies teacher. Something she did as a teacher woke me up on what I wanted to be. Second, in the spring of 1957 I broke my wrist playing basketball. In those days, many, during the summer months, labored in the pineapple cannery. This I could not do, so I decided to extend what Mrs. Kosaki kept preaching, and memorized the vocabulary words in a red and blue college board preparation book. They say that you cannot improve your test scores much, but I am living proof that you can. My 200’s or so verbal score more nearly tripled into the 600’s when I took the real college board exam in my senior year. I recall, for a reason that still mystifies me—for I never before had the guts to run for any office of any kind, and never have again—I ran for Senior Class Vice-President, and faced three female opponents. I guess it was more the gender ratio advantage, but the cast I wore I think served as an identifiable macho symbol, and I won. My VPship made me chairman of the graduation exercises, and I somehow prevailed in having Mildred’s husband, Richard Kosaki, who was a fresh political science professor at the University of Hawaii, as our Commencement speaker. Normally you provide a really old important person this privilege. (Earlier this year, exactly to the day, a half century later, Dr. Kosaki sent me a copy of his commencement address, and that, also, of the student speakers.)
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In 1972, when I joined the faculty of the UH, Richard was an important administrator. He created the community college system and was Chancellor of the main campus. You see where this is headed? One thing leads to another. I would never have been accepted into the California Institute of Technology had I not improved my Scholastic Aptitude Test scores, and probably not into Stanford University if I did not show any leadership skills. Thus, breaking my wrist catalyzed a whole range of opportunities. Again, misfortune can be an opportunity, but you need to personal take advantage of this stimulus.

This second example sounds too much like bragging, but it has to do with underdog status, not giving up and compassion. The most noted public school in Hawaii is McKinley. But that is because it is one of the oldest. The nationally respected private school is Punahou (Barack Obama, Michelle Wie, Steve Case, etc.), which always provides a number of students each year to Stanford. I’m sure there must be some, but I honestly don't know another person from McKinley, before or after me, who went to Stanford as a freshman.
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Well, a couple of my close friends played on the tennis team, so, as they were desperate, I was coaxed into joining them some time in my junior year. Only my left wrist was broken, so I could still use my right hand. Picking this sport up for the first time, I think I must have played something like 698 out of 700 days over the next two years, and when the first season started, I was third singles, which meant I was the 5th best player on the team. (I might also add, no one used sunscreen in those days, so I am now feeling the effects.) I’m going on pure memory here, but we normally did not win any matches against Punahou. They gave scholarships, and almost all of them had been playing forever. Well, I proceeded to lose 6-0 and was behind 5-0, when something happened, and I eventually won the match. That was the pinnacle of my tennis career, and you would think giving the full effort was the point, and to some degree it should be, but I also a couple of weeks later slaughtered someone from another private school 6-0, 6-0, and this was, actually, the more important lesson. My opponent was so distraught and embarrassed—the difference here being that people were watching—that I learned never to again humiliate anyone at any time. These lessons come from experience and provide something called maturity.

Anyway, for the rest of your life, you can do it the right way, or make everything worse. This best way, I’ve found, only depends on one simple solution: good attitude, with a sincere desire to help others and work with them for a better--you select...life, humanity, whatever.

Part of life, of course, is that we all have ups and downs. Some things will go wrong no matter how successful you are. On any given day, the worst baseball team can beat the best, Chaminade can embarrass Virginia in college basketball and your toilet bowl could overflow.

So, if you have an IQ (yes any kind of intelligence), started at a low socio-economic level, and have some physical, ethnic or cultural defect, this book is just for you. Should you be so lucky as to start with more, than you already have an advantage. It will merely be a matter of absorbing the essence of the message and lessons to succeed in your quest by thinking simply with good conscience.

Some might be intimidated by the arena in which I operated, for how many will grow up to be a full professor in engineering, plus a research director of a sustainable resource institute? There is something chosen to being entrusted to do good things for humanity. I received a wide variety of communications from those in the nuclear industry, academics from China, mining engineers from Australia, specialists from dot.com companies and those from the military-industrial complex, all wanting to work in solar energy. Yes, life is unfair, and, there are already too many who are just plain dissatisfied…but it could be worse. Remember, the most awful of conditions can serve as the basis for your legacy.
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Jangmi, now a Category 5 Super Typhoon at 155 MPH, will skirt the northern Philippines and, after a slight weakening, will slam into south Taiwan with very high winds and up to 3 feet of rain. Two other disturbances are also forming, one in the South China Sea, which could run into Jangmi, and another south of Guam that could well become a typhoon.
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Tropical Storm Kyle should become a hurricane within 24 hours, but will soon hit colder waters, weaken, and head, as earlier mentioned, into the Maine/Nova Scotia region. Four tropical waves are being watched, with the one in the Atlantic off Africa showing the most promise for hurricane status, and another off the Yucatan Peninsula only feared to bring rain to Florida.
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From all reports, Congress will come to consensus by Sunday and vote on the financial bailout package on Monday. Who won the first presidential debate? By most accounts reporting on public polls...Obama.
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Friday, September 26, 2008

HOW IS THE U.S. ECONOMY DOING? HAWAII?

To follow-up on the Huntington Post article of yesterday, let me be at least the second person to state that we are in recession, as the Dow Jones Industrials have dropped about 20% from the start of the year. The entire New York Stock Exchange is down a bit more. However, every major global market has plummeted by more than 20%, save for London at only -19%, with Shanghai a dismal two-thirds lower, so, all in all, on a relative basis, the USA is doing okay.

Hawaii? That’s another story. The State needs to cut spending by about a billion dollars this year, and that will only be the beginning, for the 10 to 15% drop in visitors could well be 25% or higher when the bottom is reached, with real recovery several years away. If the price of crude oil drops below $100/bbl and stays there, the rebound will occur sooner. If the price jumps past $150/bbl, and higher, the cost of jet fuel will decimate the State economy for the next decade, and longer. Our only possible solution is a new mode of air travel. Stay tuned to this blog next month for one possible option.

Gold has come up a bit, although silver is 10% lower and platinum falling 20%. People tend to buy gold when the economy is looking to get worse.

Crude oil last week (September 19) was about even from the start of the year, but jumped 20% just on September 22, then settled just below $110/barrel. The metastability is ominous.

American airline companies are doing better, with small declines, save for United Airlines, down almost 25%. MacDonald’s and Hershey are on the plus side, but only barely. Retailers, however, are doing great, with Wal-Mart Stores up 12%.

Oh yes, that Congressional bailout. No doubt some agreement will be reached, but the conservative Republicans in the House are sticking to their principles, unlike the White House. This is not the Black Friday of 1929, for, even with disarray in Congress, the Dow Jones Industrials today went up 121 points to 11,143 and the price of crude slipped to $107/bbl. The gasoline shortage issue, though, seems to be getting worse rather than better.

Typhoon Jangmi is at 110 MPH, but could well strengthen to 140 MPH over the next 36 hours. It is expected to only bring some rain to the northern Philippines, weaken a bit from that 140 MPH peak, and hit southern Taiwan on Monday. Then on to China.
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Tropical Storm Kyle appeared north of Haiti, and a relief for that country, is heading north. Now not quite 60 MPH, it should reach hurricane intensity in three or four days, but keep tracking north towards Maine and Nova Scotia.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

WHOOPS, WE MIGHT BE ON THE VERGE OF ECONOMIC CALAMITY

The following article was today published in The Huffington Post. You can access it and comment by clicking on WHOOPS.

"The newly elected President blamed excesses of big business for causing the unstable bubble-like economy. Democrats believed the problem was that business had too much power and regulation of the economy was necessary." Is this Barack Obama in 2009? Nope, Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933. The Great Depression did face an unemployment rate of 25%, which is now 6.1%. There was also an accompanying Great Drought beginning in the early 1930's. But the stock market largely recovered only a few months after October 29, 1929. Ironically enough, while the New Deal should be given some credit, the beginning of World War II in the later 1930's was the spark that boosted the economy, and there are respected historians who today partially blamed conflict over oil as an important catalyst for war.
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Today, we are faced with the same, but more complex world, again spurred by petroleum. Crude oil futures experienced an all time high jump of $25/barrel on Monday, and settled at $121/bbl for the day. This was more than double the previous high spike of June 6, when the increase was $10.75/bbl. Okay, pundits blame the arcane future's trading process, not necessarily the Congressional mortgage bailout. Further, we can expect Congress to reign in that market, as it is doing with Wall Street. Sure, oil prices descended to $106/bbl the next day, but the metastable nature of the beast is ominous. Do you get a sense that we are beginning to lose control?
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How does the $700 billion to $1 trillion bailout compare to other wartime expenditures and rescues? On July 29 I published a HuffPo article entitled, Billions and Trillions. I reported that the sum total of the Manhattan Project (Atomic Bombs for Hiroshima and Nagasaki), Marshall Plan (to save West Berlin and post-war Europe) and Apollo Project (Man on the Moon) in terms of 2008 dollars, was roughly $240 billion. The amount of money actually spent was only $38 billion, but inflation relative those times brings this value in the range of a quarter trillion today, about a third the amount being discussed to resuscitate Wall Street.
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First, where is this money coming from? Well, the combination of your tax dollars and foreign investments. If that was so easy, why didn't we solve our energy problem when voters were asking for relief a couple of months ago?
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Through the summer we all decried the sorry state of our energy condition and wondered why we were not more prepared, for we should have learned our lesson after the First Energy Crisis of 1973, but did not, and certainly after the Second Energy Crisis of 1979, but, again, did not. As we talk about billions and trillions, and reflect on the nearly $2 billion we were spending daily on gasoline in America in July and continued to look away at how much our federal government was allowing for renewable energy research (only an average of $1 billion/year for the past decade), our Democratic Congress still could not even bother to renew those renewable energy tax credits nor approve any global warming rescue package. As early as June 14, my HuffPo was entitled, Piffle Squared, lamenting the idiocy of this all.
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Now, what makes the most serious environmental challenge ever presented to humanity and $147/barrel oil so insignificant? Why is saving Wall Street so important? Is it because the White House likes high oil prices and mocks the Greenhouse Effect? Could it be that Republicans can identify with high finance and were put into office by those who are today being rescued? Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson came from being the CEO of Goldman Sachs (which was also saved). Incidentally, he worked for President Richard Nixon, and more specifically, was an assistant to John Ehrlichman.
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Nah, my sense is that we are in serious trouble and the White House just had to take those bold steps. I congratulate our leaders for taking action. I do, though, wonder about the attitude of the American Public when it comes to the looming dual hammer of Peak Oil and Global Warming. There is no National Will to do anything on this front. Somehow, I think that these virtual news portals might well be the solution to galvanize instant public reaction. Protest marches are so last generation. The world-wide web is the mechanism best suited to prevent what appears to be an imminent economic and environmental calamity. But how? You, out there, help!
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Typhoon Jangmi has already strengthened to 90 MPH, and is on track to become a Category 3 typhoon, following the same general pathway of the previous storms: bring some wind and rain to Luzon, threaten Taiwan and either slam into China, or turn north and frighten Okinawa, traipsing on to skirt the east side of Japan. Hagupit will continue to bring considerable rain to South China and North Vietnam.
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Crude oil increased to $108/bbl. The DJI jumped 197 points to 11,022. The congressional bailout process seems to to be progressing.
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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

APPENDIX. A. WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

What are the odds for your living a long life? It is estimated that the lifespan for Neanderthal man was 20, classic Greek and Roman, 28, and Medieval England, about 33. A millennium later, the world in 1900 had a life expectancy of 30 years. Today it is from 63 to 67 years, depending on the reference. Oh, turtles live more than 150 years, as Harriet did (the Galapagos land tortoise picked up by Darwin, who lived to 188) and Tui Malila (the Madagascar radiated tortoise presented to Captain James Cook, 192); the baobab tree, 4000 years; and coral reefs, 100,000 years, although one way of interpreting the latter is that the life of our human society has a lifetime, thus far, of at least double that.

Here are the worst and best life statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau:

COUNTRY LIFE EXPECTANCY

........................................2005 .....2025
...................................................(predicted)

Zambia .........................37.2 ........37.1
Malawi .........................37.6 ........36.6
Mozambique .................37.5 ........45.4
Korea, North .................70.7 ........51.3
South ...........................74.4 ........74.0
United States ...............77.1 .........76.1
Singapore .....................80.1 ........78.5
Japan ...........................80.7 ........80.0
San Marino ..................81.1 .........81.4
Andorra .......................83.5 .........83.5

San Marino, the world’s oldest republic, founded in the 4th Century, with a population of 29,000, is located in north central Italy. It has signed the Kyoto Protocol, and, maybe, is a nation to consider in the best place to live. Andorra is supposedly impoverished, and has no income taxes. It is located next to France and Spain and has a population of 66,824, but, some of them are there to dodge taxes. Females there have a life expectancy of 86.56 years. Yes, impoverished, though not as bad as before World War II.

It is also interesting that the life expectancies of the U.S., Singapore and Japan are expected to drop by 2025, and that of North Korea from 70.7 to 51.3. But let me have you ponder over all this, for this is not a treatment of demographics.

There have been many studies on the odds of dying in the U.S. The World can extrapolate their own chances. For example, were you to die, these one chance in “x” reasons would be why: (National Center for Health Statistics, CDC; American Cancer Society; National Safety Council; International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; World Health Organization; U.S. Geological Survey)

Heart Disease ...............................5
Cancer .........................................7
Stroke ........................................23
Accidental Injury ..........................36
Motor Vehicle Accident ...............100
Suicide ......................................121
Fire/Smoke .............................1,116
Electrocution ...........................5,000
Drowning .................................8,942
Air travel ................................20,000
Flood .....................................30,000
Legal Execution .....................58,618
Tornado................................. 60,000
Lightning ...............................83,390
Venomous sting/bite ............100,000
Earthquake ..........................131,890
Dog attack ..........................147,717
Asteroid Impact ...................200,000
TSUNAMI ...........................615,488

See, I told you not to worry about tsunamis, for the once in 10,000 year asteroid could well be, maybe, more dangerous, according to the Holocene Impact Working Group. Definitely not worthy of your particular concern. Ah, but a massive gamma-ray burst, which could emanate from within our galaxy, wiping out the ozone layer, causing acid rain and rapid cooling our atmosphere. The last time this “might” have happened was, oh, 440 million years ago, supposedly wiping out life on Earth. Not to worry, though, for the consensus reaction was that ABC was scare-mongering in a two-hour program aired on August 30, 2006, as a 2020 special on how life on Earth could end. I should add that the contents include quoting Michio Kaku about wandering Black Holes right next to us in our own Galaxy. Well, the nearest known Black Hole is 1600 light years away (about a quadrillion miles). People are attracted to these kinds of programs.

Another way of looking at all this is that you have only a one in 17,625 chance of getting killed this year by being an occupant in a car, 1:440,951 in a plane, and 1:10,283,615 in a train. But in your entire lifetime, it is: car (1:228), air (1:5,407) and train (1:133,035) (National Safety Council). Would you bet $2 on a 100:1 horse? Probably not. So don’t worry about those 228:1 odds regarding car crashes. On the other hand, one in two hundred and twenty eight is something you can’t too lightly take.

Finally, the National Transportation Safety Board has reported that the expected frequency of a hull-penetrating asteroid strike to an aircraft over the U.S. is once every 59,000 – 77,000 years. The moral of all these numbers is that transportation deaths should not be a pathological concern, plus, you absolutely don’t need to worry at all about dying in a tsunami in the continental United States. Somewhat disappointing though, is that if we end crime, eliminate wars and remediate global climate warming, YOU WILL STILL DIE BECAUSE OF THE ABOVE CAUSES. Hmm, is it too late to believe in the afterlife? Or discover eternal life. Well, read SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity.
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Hagupit made landfall in Southern China and is bringing considerable flooding there and North Vietnam. Tropical Storm Jangmi just formed west of the Philippines, is expected to attain Category 3 Typhoon status in a couple of days and affect Northern Philippines, then Taiwan.
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Crude oil remained relatively stable at $106/bbl, while the DJI slipped 29 to 10825.
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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

APPENDIX A. MOTHER NATURE VERSUS HUMANITY

Which do you think is more dangerous, Mother Nature or Man? A list of the worst natural disasters depends on whether you want to count dead bodies or property damage. Hurricane Katrina was the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history at an estimated $100 billion, while Andrew (1992) added up to economic losses of $25 billion for the State of Florida. However, it will cost several more hundred billion dollars to bring New Orleans back to normality, and, perhaps a trillion dollars to prevent a future worse case scenario, an expenditure that just will not happen. The 1994 Northridge, California earthquake caused $44 billion in property loss and the 1995 Great Hanshin Kobe earthquake in Japan resulted in 6434 lives lost and damages of $200 billion, listed as the costliest natural disaster since 1900. However, the Great Kanto (Tokyo) Earthquake killed more than 100,00, so relative damages then must have been worse.
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We already forget that the 7.9 magnitude Sichuan (China) disaster of May 12, 2008 (yes, this year) killed 70,000, destroying 8 million homes and damaging another 25 million. The monetary loss was reported to be $150 billion. Yes, too, there was the Burma Cyclone Nargis of this year on May 3 that killed more than 80,000 (with an additional 50,000 still missing) causing "only" $4 billion of damages.
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But hurricanes have only accounted for 3% and earthquakes, 1%, of the total natural disaster deaths in the United States. Simple floods have taken a much higher toll. As an extreme example, in 1931, when the Yangtze River overflowed its banks, 3.7 million were killed in China.

Lives lost have become the headline item, and it is reported that 21 million people died from natural disasters from 1900 to 2004, or an average of 250,000/year, in the range of the number killed in the Indian Ocean earthquake-tsunami disaster the day after Christmas in 2004, which carried a damage value of “only” about $10 billion. That Sumatra earthquake released the equivalent of more than 23,000 Hiroshima Atomic bombs. But the storm surge in the Bay of Bengal in 1970 killed up to half a million. What is a life worth? At $100/person, the average 250,000 deaths/year is $25 million/year, or, at $1 million/person, make that $250 billion/year. But the Man-made category is particularly bewildering, as for example, it is said that medical mistakes account for 50,000-100,000 deaths each year and traffic deaths add up to 40,000/year, in the U.S. alone (with the worldwide annual road total being 1.2 million—ranking #3, to #1 AIDS and #2 childhood infections), and, if we take the arguably defensible position that much of this could have been prevented by a more responsible society, worldwide famine and disease account for 15-30 million deaths/year.

There are tables, and there are tables, but a recent reference on these statistics is www.geocities.com/dtmcbride/hist/disasters-war.html . Can’t set aside, too, that in the past two centuries, over 200 years, wars and rebellions have killed about a million each year. We anguish over the 4000+ American deaths (estimated civilian casualties now approaching 100,000) in Iraq since 3/19/03, but there have been one million deaths per year, every year, for the past 200 years caused by man made wars and general unrest.

It is of historical interest to note that the 6th Century Justinian plague in Europe killed 100 million, when the world population was less than a quarter billion, or about a 40% fatality rate for that period. The 14th Century Black Death did away with 75 million in Europe and 60 million in China (15% of living beings), the plague of 1663-68 terminated 50 million in Europe (10%), famine of the later 1800’s wiped out 50 million worldwide (less than 5%), Mao’s regime in China during the 1949-1975 period eliminated 30-50 million (about an annual million or two), World War I and II casualties were 15 million and 50 million, and AIDS from 1978-2001 fatally killed 23 million (a million each year).

The largely ignored Congo civil war has already taken 5.4 million lives. This tragedy takes me back to my freshman year at Stanford when we were assigned to read and summarize the 1899 Joseph Conrad classic, Heart of Darkness, describing this terrible African hellhole on the Congo River. I recall a classmate spoofing “the horror, the horror” with “the whore, the whore,” and he got away with an “A” for creativity. So, in this same class, I attempted to think outside the box in my analysis of Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” by finding a dictionary of the mid 1600’s when this poem was written, and to my glee, discerned that “coy” had an almost completely different definition, not the coquettishly shy maiden as one would have automatically surmised. Notwithstanding, I got a “C” for my efforts, as my English teacher said I missed the whole point of the poem, and the worst part of this all was that I did not have any confidence to challenge her. Forget the fact that I have now gained some confidence, the lesson learned was that people generally interpret from a limited base of knowledge. My Stanford English teacher only considered the present definition. Ah, the wisdom of current maturity, in hindsight.

While on this nostalgic note, I wonder what ever happened to Joseph Abouzed, a Sudanese the sugar company I worked for roomed me with in the early 60’s in Naalehu. He was proud of his cooking, which featured kidneys and brains. Perhaps he was a canibal. Just kidding, Joe. He went back home, near Darfur, where the UN recently reported that 400,000 have been killed and 2.5 million displaced by their own private civil war. Interesting that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon blamed global warming for causing drought conditions which resulted in this violence. But Joe seemed to have returned to hell while I remained in the paradise that became my life.
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Notwithstanding, it is indeed sardonic to mention that Mankind seems to be gaining control of catastrophic casualties. Not as many are dying these days from major health contagions and wars (per capita).

We at this writing, we have a world population of 6,725,517,852 (305,235,587 Americans), which is anticipated to grow to 9 billion in 2050. About 130 million are annually born and 55 million die, a net gain of 75 million each year, even with all those premature casualties. Since 1960, the world death rate has dropped by a factor of two, while the birth rate has only been reduced by about a third. Good progress for our species, actually, but bad for our limited commons. Yet, Thomas Malthus has largely been proven wrong thus far. At the current rate of food consumption, we are already producing more than a 1000 times that which could be supported by a hunting/gathering society. It really doesn’t matter whether nature or Man was the cause, all that is necessary is to gain a universal will to properly educate and feed the general populace; prevent disease and accidents; eliminate crime; attain world peace; and, perhaps, end, if not reverse, aging. Then we can consider the universes around us. But most of these will be discussed in Book Two, SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity.
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Typhoon Hagupit is at 110 MPH and should make landfall today in Guangdong Province, 200 miles southwest of Hong Kong. Yesterday, schools were cancelled, the Star Ferry stopped running and there was considerable rain and wind.
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Crude oil prices settled at $106/bbl. It's been a wild day on Wall Street, as the DJI jumped 127 points, then dropped nearly 300 from this daily high, zoomed up 220, then fell 200, ending down 162 at 10,854. This metastability is ominous. Rightfully, but scarily, adding to the overall uncertainty is the attitude of the Senate Banking Committee to White House testimony, with the general attitude of "why should we bailout those who got rich irresponsibly." If Congress did not do a thing when oil reached $147/barrel in July, and oil dropped to $90/bbl last week, perhaps patience might work again.
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Monday, September 22, 2008

APPENDIX A. HOW SAFE ARE YOU?

Before I begin blogging SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity, I thought I'd spend a couple of days sharing the Appendix items from Book 1.

You are Lucky to be Alive

A more personal starting point involves you and me. About 100 billion people have ever lived since the first Genus Homo about 2 million years ago. In many ways we did come from the equivalent of Adam and Eve, sort of, but most probably, through some ape-like missing link, and almost surely, originally from archaea, a microorganism somewhat like bacteria, among organisms considered to be the first living life form. But no one really knows what archaea are, so let us say that there are around 10 to the thirtieth power bacteria living today (a trillion is only 10 to the twelfth power), and they began 3.5 billion years ago. In the hypothetical 24 hour clock, with time starting at the Big Bang, it is as if bacteria appeared just after 6PM, with the very earliest Man at 47 seconds to midnight.

How many bacteria have ever lived? Say, for the purpose of this discussion, 10 to the 43rd power, which is close enough. Add the number of humans who have ever lived, and you still have essentially the same number of life forms, as Humanity is so insignificant in the totality of all living creatures on Earth. To this total, add everything else that has ever lived. Viruses? Not sure if they are really alive, yet, it does replicate. In general, there are more viruses than bacteria than archaea, but, as bacteria are heavier, there is more bacteria mass than the other two. Anyway, the total of life forms will still be in the neighborhood of 10 to the 43rd, but perhaps, multiplied by a factor of two or three. Thus, there was a one 10 to the 43rd power chance for you to become a living form. But you could have become a tree. Disregarding microorganisms, but including macro forms that ever lived, in this ridiculous comparative analysis, there was only a one in 10 to the 34th power chance for you to have become a human being.

You are, indeed, very lucky. There is only one of you…so far. Remember, the clones are coming. If you add all the sperms ever discharged and multiply by all the human female eggs ever produced, the chance for you being made was also very close to one in 10 to the 34th. Same odds, but just pure coincidence with the other calculation. 10 to the 34th is 1, followed by 34 zeroes, or 10 decillion. Google, the company, was a mistake. The founders thought 10 to the 100th power was a really large number, so they misspelled GOOGOL, which is 10 to the 100th. Finally, there is the googolplex: 1 followed by a googol of zeroes, but that gets us way off course.

Thus, although we are all one in 10 decillion, I would like to present a case for a higher order of good fortune—me. First, I was born in “the best place on Earth,” Hawaii, a one chance in 20,000 odds for Americans born in 1940. As mentioned in the beginning section, if not for World War II, and the generation before me sacrificing their lives to bring respectability to Japanese living Hawaii, I probably would not have been able to grow up from relative poverty to become a university professor. CNN-Money.com in 2007 ranked the top ten jobs, and software engineer was #1 with college professor #2. Yes, I taught software courses early in my career. There should be some luck factor I can toss in here, but let me simplify things by chalking this all to good fortune.

Yes, getting that PhD involved quite an effort, but so far, I’m not even inserting this huge amount of luck. I was the only person born that year who has taught in the college of engineering at the University of Hawaii, so those odds now increase to one in 200 million. Japan has the highest life expectancy of any nation. The oldest man (Tomoji Tanabe, 113) is Japanese and Japanese women live longer than any other ethnicity. I am of Japanese extraction, so that ups the odds to one in 10 billion. However, Japanese males living in Hawaii live longer than those who toil in Japan. They work too hard there, and there are those stresses we don’t have as an American citizen. Thus, I am at the lofty level of one in 10 trillion (1:10 to the 13th). In a 2006 USA Today publication I noticed that Asians earned $61,094, Whites $50,784, Hispanics $35,967 and Blacks $30,858. That should be good for another uptick, but 10 trillion to one is good enough. This is on top of the fact that there was only one chance in 10 with thirty four zeros that I should have been born.

Lou Gehrig, in his 1939 farewell speech, when he became the first major league baseball player to have his jersey retired, said, I am “the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” He, of course, knew he was suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, what later became know as Lou Gehrig’s disease. I hope I never someday will be known for having Pat Takahashi’s disease, for, it is just possible, that I truly am the luckiest person in the Universe.

But the luckiest person to have ever lived? Actually, no. Every one of you can create your own odds to be even luckier. All you need to do is take control of your life and do it. This sounds too much like a promotional ad on TV, but you can do it! You will gain a clue on how in APPENDIX B.
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Typhoon Hagupit is at 115 MPH, is bringing a lot of rain to northern Philippines and now appears to be headed for Hong Kong.
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Crude oil skyrocketed $25/bbl today, and settled at $121/bbl (this is the WTI Cushing Spot...Bloomberg closed at $109/bbl for NYMEX Crude, so I'm not sure what is happening), $16.37 higher than Friday. The Federal bailout plan is blamed for this highest one day jump ever. The highest previously was on June 6, when the increase was $10.75/bbl. Indications are, though, that speculators were caught short to meet end of October requirements, and the futures price for November will drop some. The danger, though, is that the market is metastable. Look for Congress stepping in to limit speculation on oil futures. The DJI sank 373 to 11,016.
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Sunday, September 21, 2008

THE SIMPLE SOLUTION TO THE BLACKOUT (Part 9)

I have a really ridiculously simple solution for surviving mega-tsunamis: don’t even think about it. Look at the odds. 100 meter or larger tsunamis will affect you only if you happen to live at the coastline where a mega-landslide occurs, major volcano erupts or gigantic asteroid crashes into the sea. By the way, the National Geographic Channel showed what would happen if a 500 kilometer monster hits Earth (it has happened from three to six times already in the lifetime of Earth): all life would be destroyed, save for, maybe, microorganisms deep below the bottom of the ocean. The only event close to significant in our lifetime was the Lituya Bay 520 meter (1706 feet) landslide (40 million cubic yards) caused tsunami, triggered by a 7.5-8.3 (depends on who you quote) Richter scale earthquake, where there were more witnesses/survivors than deaths. There have been marine earthquakes, which created major tsunamis (but all much smaller than 100 meters), killing thousands, but these were not mega-tsunamis. Thus, it is safe for me to say that, over the next millennium or so, you don’t need to worry about being terminated by this natural phenomenon. In the Appendix you will see a table showing that death in American by a tsunami is three times lower than from being hit by an asteroid.

The odds for your survival increase exponentially with the distance of these events, for if another Krakotoa or Stromboli explodes, reasonably large {but not anything like that dinosaur extinctioning, 65 million years ago, 6 mile (only 10 kilometers) in diameter behemoth} asteroid strikes or Nuuanu landslide falls, the 100 meter or so potential tsunami will rapidly decay over only a few hundred miles. So, if you’re several thousand miles distant, you will be inconvenienced by a tsunami watch, but all the physics point to a centi-tsunami, that is, on the order of centimeters (less than half an inch/cm).

Further, nature tends to be helpful about landslides. Tsunami scientists are generally in accord that mega-landslides are very rare. There seems to be a gradual wearing of potentially dangerous landfalls. Anything else is the exception. George Pararas-Carayannis, who was mentioned as writing the definitive paper contradicting the contention that Cumbre Vieja in La Palma will soon trigger a mega-tsunami, told me that he even doubts that the largest ever landslide, that Nuuanu one about a million years ago, was a monolithic event. More probably, the evidence in the ocean is an accumulation of many, many landslides over time.

So, the Simple Solution is not to worry. Be entertained by those apocalyptic TV specials and films, but strike mega-tsunamis from your worry list. Well, this was certainly a wimpy ending to a book, but this is not The End, as controversies abound in Book 2. Plus, I plead with you to read APPENDIX B on Rainbow Visions. You can help to make a difference for Planet Earth.
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Typhoon Hagupit is at 100 MPH and strengthening. The path is between the Philippines and Taiwan, and landfall is expected north of Hong Kong.
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Friday, September 19, 2008

SO WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO SEATTLE? (Part 8)

Just look at the movie prospects. A tsunami will travel at just about the speed of a commercial jetliner. Thus, it is conceivably possible that United 10H leaving Hilo for Seattle departs just when disaster strikes. The passengers will witness the cataclysmic fall of the airport and much of the western side of the island into the Pacific. Will they be able to land at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport? Will the tsunami engulf the airport? The mental turmoil on the plane will carry half the novel.

Can this happen? Well… Will this happen? Not in my lifetime, nor that of many generations to come, and maybe never. Scientists who bother might prove that this is not possible, and might find flaws, maybe even fatal ones. But the fact of the matter is that a far field mega-tsunami created by a major landslide has never happened in recorded history. Thus, all models cannot back check with reality. There are non-linear factors involved and sufficient noise from both sides of the controversy that one can’t totally rule out the possibility.

But, like the re-creation of H.G. Wells War of the Worlds, where, if you listened at the beginning, you should have heard that this was a Halloween fictional yarn, let me underscore that this tongue-in-cheek artifice, is provided as an extreme case of a natural hazard not commonly acknowledged for the sake of public education. But in my tale, is Seattle destroyed by this 100 meter monster? A weak no. All the science points to a tsunami of relatively short period, which will rapidly decay with substantial height attenuation. It is possible that Seattle could experience a three meter tsunami, but most probably something on the order of one meter. That was the scenario in 2004.

In the Third Tsunami Symposium, held from May 26-29, 2006, in Honolulu, I learned several more things which swayed me even further towards rationality. First, the Los Alamos National Laboratory multiphysics SAGE code was used to analyze the possible La Palma conditions—375 cubic kilometers, 75 kilometer runout in 9 miles at a speed of 140 meters per second—and produced a 500 meter tsunami, but in the general south southwest direction, not towards the United States. The purported 50 meter tsunami hitting Florida was calculated to only be 1.3 centimeters. Yes, the damage to the Canaries, and even Africa and parts of Europe (Portugal and Spain) would be severe, but the diminution of size over distance would be significant because of the short period. The Stanford ASC Center using a different model pretty much reinforced the Los Alamos report.

Finally, at the all-day tsunami tour, I was flabbergasted to learn that while I was a senior in high school, a 55 foot tsunami run-up occurred in Kahuku from a 1957 Alaskan earthquake, close to the Turtle Bay Hotel (where the EnergyOcean conference was held in 2007). Nothing in my memory remembers this. Although I never lived further than half a mile away from the beach all my early life in Hawaii, my only recollection about an incoming tsunami was when I was six years old or so, a friend and I began to dig a hole in our yard to draw the water just in case it made it into our neighborhood. Yes, we were reprimanded for being so stupid, made even more dumb because the minimal tsunami (but major in Hilo) on the south shore of Honolulu had already come and gone when we began our excavation project. But the good intent was there.

Back to the tour, just about the time we were at that 55 foot Kahuku site, my colleague, Dailin Wang, who had recently transferred from the University of Hawaii to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, got a beep, and noted on his electronic device that a 5.8 earthquake had just hit in the ocean on the opposite side of Sumatra from the big one which devastated the region the day after Christmas. In the minutes that followed there seemed to be no tsunami generated, so he did not have to rush back to the center. The tour group later went to the Center, but I had to move on to other things. I later learned that the actual earthquake was of 6.4 magnitude, and it occurred on land, killing more than 5,000 and leaving 200,000 homeless. This should not be confused with the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, which on December 26 killed 230,000. I guess the point to this story is that it is difficult to make a quick assessment with current technology. Someday, the instruments will get better and the communication system improved.

Thus, Seattle, you can sleep comfortably. You won’t even have to be concerned about a tsunami of a meter. Sorry, Hawaii, for gone will be the northeast side of the Big Island. Plus, the tsunami devastation back up the chain, will be devastating. While this tsunami points towards Seattle, there is a rearward effect that will very significantly affect Kailua-Kona, Kahului, Kaanapali, Honolulu and Lihue.

How seriously? It does not matter, for the odds of such an event are too remote to ponder. Yet, if such a landslide were to occur on the west side of the Big Island, a 300 meter tsunami could well hit Waikiki Beach, because it would be in the reasonable near field. Plus, too, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology apparently still sticks by its lab results done for that UK group, so, who knows, maybe they could be right and that tsunami hitting Seattle could very well be 100 meters, or more. Whether it’s Six Hours to Seattle or Half an Hour to Honolulu, I really haven’t yet settled on the details. There could, well, be too, Twelve Hours to Tokyo, when the Hawaii tsunami triggers the fall of the San Andreas Fault, creating a mega-tsunami towards Japan. That might be Book 4.
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Tropical Cyclone Sinlaku (name of Micronesian goddess), now at around 50 MPH, has been moving parallel off the eastern coast of Honshu, is now in the vicinity of Tokyo and should begin to move away from Japan in the east northeast direction. Lots of rain and some wind. Tropical Cyclone Hagupit (Philippine word for flog--the next named storm will be called Jangmi, Korean for rose) just formed east of the Philippines, now at around 50 MPH, should become a typhoon in two days and in four days could strengthen to 120 MPH. However, the projected path shows Hagupit intersecting the Philippines and Taiwan and heading for China.
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Crude oil jumped $6.27 to $104.15/bbl. The DJI leaped 369 to 11,388. Has the economy now rebounded? Nope. It's ironic that the Republican White House so swiftly and boldly led the bailout. Too much government? Yes, but it was helping other republicans who happen to run those financial organizations, plus, they say this the worst national crisis ever...or at least since 1929. Have you been watching gold? When there is a run on gold, that omens a coming severe downward trend of the economy because investors are looking for a safe haven. A kilogram of gold bought a car decades ago. A kilogram of gold buys about the same quality of car today. Yesterday, gold jumped $116/ounce, and today, it dropped $32/oz to $865 because of the rescue. Oops, it just jumped $10/oz to $875. Remember, just two months ago gold was at $977/oz, when the fear of something greater than a recession gained credence. Oil also just happened to be nearing $150/bbl. How high has gold ever gone? Adjusted to 2008 dollars, something on the order $2300/oz at the peak of the second oil crisis in 1980. Gold has long been predicted to hit $2000/oz in 2010. Maybe $5000 in 2012? Go ahead, put in that gold crown now.
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Thursday, September 18, 2008

SIX HOURS TO SEATTLE (Part 7)

Hawaii is very similar to the Canaries. We annually get 7 million tourists, and they are up past 9 million. They are a little more than 1000 miles away from Madrid and Honolulu is separated from D.C. by almost 5000 miles. We both have seven inhabited islands of volcanic origin. They are part of Spain but have a so-called eighth satellite, called Venezuela, where many of their inhabitants emigrated to when faced with poverty in the earlier 1900s. Smart, because they now have a more secure link with crude oil. Hawaii’s eighth island is Las Vegas, which keeps winning in the balance of trade and population competition. Dumb, because our involuntary personal contributions just bankrolled the new Echelon on the Strip for the Boyd Gaming Corporation, which was postponed due to our current recessive state of financial affairs.

Let me pick August of 2012, as this seems to be my temporal focal point for unnatural mega disasters. Suppose the combination of a slow moving Category 5 hurricane stalls just south of the Big Island, bringing torrential rains to the east side, say, 48 inches over two days.

An earthquake of magnitude 9.0 triggers the eruption of Mauna Loa and Kilauea. This is a stretch, because the largest previously, the Great Kau Earthquake, only was an 8.0. But, say it happens, and, lava begins seeping into those crevices and faults along the line of the previously defined landslide boundaries, weakened by the horrific quake. The extra percolating rain fluid, which also percolates to depth, becomes steam, and, with more heat, continues to expand like superheated gas. The eruptions continue for several days, heating the interstitial fluids, increasing the edifice pore pressure and, through thermal alteration, expanding fault cracks, weakening critical material interfaces and lubricating slip planes. Decoupling along low friction and strength layers occurs at those flow boundaries of Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Kilauea. Of course, those 48 inches of rain added an enormous extra weight to the already metastable underground condition.

At 10:04AM on September 6 (I become 72 that day...but I'll be on Oahu, for sure...if not away from Hawaii on a trip), 2012, the collective strains induced by all the above cause a catastrophic failure of the vertical and horizontal extension of dyke intrusions, and the whole monolithic block falls at 250 Km/hour (155 miles/hour) piling up 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the coastline at a depth of 3048 meters (10,000 feet), creating a 100 meter (328 feet—about as tall as the highest building in Honolulu, but only half as high as the Seattle Space Needle) tsunami headed toward Seattle. Stay tuned for what happened.
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The eye of Tropical Cyclone Sinlaku, at 64 MPH, is just east of Kyushu, and should skirt Honshu over the next couple of days. Rains will be torrential. All is otherwise quiet on the hurricane front.
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Crude oil prices inched up to $98.20/barrel, even when 93% of U.S. Gulf oil output was idled. There doesn't seem to be much correlation between hurricanes and oil prices, probably because the U.S. produces so little oil. This slight rise was blamed on a weakening U.S. dollar. The DJI soared 350 to 10,960 when Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced that an independent agency will be created to take bad loans off bank balance sheets. These wild sinusoidal gyrations could make tomorrow particularly terrific or terrible, for various quarterly options will be expiring. AIG will next week be replaced by Kraft Foods on the Dow Jones Industrials.
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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

THE HAWAII CHALLENGE TO LA PALMA (Part 6)

My first research project at the University of Hawaii, funded by the National Science Foundation Research Applied to National Needs Program, was a laboratory/modeling activity for the Hawaii Geothermal Project. This effort occurred during the early to mid 70’s. I was part of the reservoir engineering team which evaluated the underground condition of the Puna Area on the Big Island of Hawaii, and we subsequently undertook an exploratory drilling program.

It made some sense for me to be involved because chemical engineers are sort of like petroleum engineers. We received guidance from Hank Ramey of the Stanford Petroleum Engineering Department, the world authority in the field.

My lab experiment had to do with building a steel tank on the first floor of Holmes Hall, where the College of Engineering is located, filling it with various types of sand/clay/carbonates/silicates, and simulating what might occur in the real world to produce geothermal reservoirs. I did no real work as such, but supervised the research and educational programs for two students who went on to gain graduate degrees on this subject matter. A third student, who I worked closely with at the well-site, Arthur Seki, went on to work at HNEI, then later became the renewable energy expert for Hawaiian Electric Company. The engineering lead for the project was Paul Yuen, an electrical engineer, who went on to become Dean of the College of Engineering and President of the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research. The three of us still golf on occasion.

I became quite familiar with various rift zones, and noticed, in particular, that Kilauea Volcano had a prominent southwest rift zone, beginning at Halemaumau Crater (where visitors congregate at the Volcano Observatory), and extending towards the town of Punaluu, where I met my wife, plus the East rift from Halemaumau to Cape Kumukahi, in the line where our well was to be located. Under extraordinary conditions, that section of the Big Island seemed to me to be more apt to fall into the ocean than the San Andreas Fault in California. If so, a major tsunami would strike a region in the direction of Central to South America. That was in 1974.

It occurred to me around that time, though, that if there were any kind of softening caused by the crisscrossing interfaces of historical Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa flows, somehow weakened by interstitial fluids and/or a’a lava (porous flows), that a bigger chunk of the Big Island from the Volcanoes National Park area cutting across north of Hilo town, from where Pearl comes, could fall in the northwest direction to affect the western states. I promptly forgot this thought as the energy crisis came and I was transformed into a solar energy researcher and renewable resources advocate. Thus, my subsequent forays into hydrogen, Congress and the ocean.

Nearly three decades later, after I retired from the University of Hawaii, I saw an article in the Honolulu Advertiser reporting on a silent earthquake, really a slippage, of the southern flank of Kilauea volcano, which was deemed to be a possible signal of danger. At 3 inches of movement one day in November of 2000, that was 400 times greater than the normal rate for 24 hours.

There has been speculation that suddenly rainy conditions can serve to lubricate underground conditions and also apply additional pressure force (the extra weight of the rain). It so happened that the slip occurred eight to ten days after a storm, which brought 36 inches of precipitation over three days on the south side of Kilauea.

My interest so piqued, I participated in the Second Tsunami Symposium, sponsored by The Tsunami Society in May of 2002 on the University of Hawaii Manoa campus, with the conference site located a two minute walk from my office, which was actually an improvement from my days as a director, provided to me when I retired, with free parking because of my emeritus status. Many of the authors of papers cited above were there, and I had a field day asking, sometimes, ridiculous questions. When you are retired, you gain a sense of boldness, at least with respect to maintaining any kind of reputation. I specifically mentioned to several of these experts that I was thinking about writing a docu-novel called Five Hours to Los Angeles, about how a section of the Big Island would fall into the sea, causing a 1000 foot tsunami to hit Los Angeles. They smiled, were generally kind, and offered suggestions:

o First, while a mega tsunami of 325 meters (1066 feet) hitting the island of Lanai has been suggested, laboratory models show that 100 meters appear to be the maximum possible height of a tsunami caused by a landslide at any significant distance (more than a 1000 miles, for example).

o If I wanted a truly large wave to hit the West Coast of the U.S., the Continental Shelf, to some degree, protects Los Angeles. However, there is an open and deep pathway from the Big Island to Seattle, only a slightly longer distance away. Los Angeles has been damaged too, too many times, certainly in films, but also in reality, while Seattle has managed to escape catastrophic disaster, so what about Six Hours to Seattle? Of course, the time factor represents how long a tsunami generated in Hawaii can reach Seattle—and, coincidentally, the time of an airline flight of that distance. Such is how titles and novels get made.

The more prominent slope failure hazard for Kilauea was to the SOUTHEAST, targeting South America. The 2005 Tsunami page of George Pararas-Carayannis also points in this direction. Plus, all scientific observations show that, unlike the Nuuanu Landslide, this Hilina Slump is indeed, only creeping, and rather carefully and slowly, from 2.5 to 4 inches per year. Thus, any cataclysmic drop seemed unlikely.

Anyway, I needed another Big Island soft spot pointing in the direction of the United States, and, more specifically, at Seattle, and my speculations from thirty years prior came to mind. Unfortunately, I, by then, had discarded fully 90% of the paperwork I once had. So to re-create a scenario, let’s see now, Oahu is about 15% the areal size of the Big Island, and the Nuuanu landslide was supposedly 3000 km3, about one third of the island, six times larger than the hypothetical La Palma version. It would be too much to then say that the landslide could be 20,000 km3 (4,000 cubic miles), so let us settle only for half that, or 10,000 cubic kilometers. The bathymetry is such that if this huge chunk sheared off, it could fall to 10,000 foot depths as close as 30 miles away, and just in the direction of Seattle.

There is a wide variety of processes by which landsides can occur. In fact, there are 23 ways such collapses take place. It was further reported that ocean islands are particularly susceptible to these failures leading to tsunamis, and volcanic edifices are especially prone. Some Hawaiian landslides were measured to be as long as 300 km (186 miles), among the largest recorded. While these mega events might occur every 25,000 to 100,000 years, there is general uncertainty on when the next one will come. Thus, such an episode could occur today, but most probably not. Plus, most tsunamis occur in the Pacific Ocean and Hawaii is where much of this past landsliding activity has occurred, so, why not focus on a possible mega-tsunami from this fair state?
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Tropical Storm Sinlaku at 50 MPH is heading for Kyushu, and should bring considerable rain to Japan over the coming weekend. There is something brewing over the Mariana Islands.
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Crude oil jumped to $97.45/bbl today while the DJI crashed 449 to 10,610.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

THE SCIENCE AND CONTROVERSIES OF MEGA TSUNAMIS (Part 5)

After thirty years of conducting and administering over academic research, I can say with some authority that university faculties tend to be very conservative in their reportage. Reputations can be ruined by an errant article, or, maybe even a paper presentation at an important international meeting, so one is very careful about what is said. On the other hand, the person making the talk tends to be the expert in the field, and people in the audience, through respect or kindness, virtually never criticize in public. In all my years I was never involved in any particularly egregious confrontation regarding the science of a subject, and am not aware of anyone on my staff being so challenged. Well, there was that cold fusion issue, which I still think hasn’t yet been buried. Plus, I am now retired.

The scientific field is replete with honest differences of opinion. The oil companies find their scientists to discredit global climate warming, and some of them are quite qualified, if not respected. There are professors who are doomsdayish, and, in the eyes of their colleagues, perhaps exaggerate the truth to gain attention. Dedicated scientists absolutely detest those who prematurely publish or take liberties with the given facts. They are right, of course, and should continue to demand excellence and quality.

But take for example the line of reasoning asserting that most scientists support global climate warming as a problem because the review process is controlled and heavily skewed by those with this mentality. It would be like committing professional suicide to not be supportive.

Mind you, there are incidents that might have nothing to do with science itself. Geothermal R&D in Hawaii was stopped by Judge David Ezra in the 1970s, who sided with the Hawaiians, environmentalists and pot (marijuana) growers. Into the 1980’s, the Hawaii Geothermal Energy Project, after our initial success, limped along, finally to be terminated by Judge Ezra in 1991 for a lack of an appropriate environmental impact assessment. In 2007, he still is the Federal judge in Hawaii and geothermal development has virtually stopped.

The arguments of researchers providing sound facts and doing good science are regularly overridden these days by public officials influenced by noisy public opinion. Some want to protect the environment, others their homeland and, in the case of stem cell research, religious beliefs.

Ah, but mega tsunamis are something like global climate change, for there is considerable controversy. You can form three basic scientific points of view to a major landslide causing a tsunami: (1) no one has ever confirmed a true mega tsunami over 40 meters; yes, it is possible to have mega tsunamis, but mathematical models say the max wave height is 100 meters; and sure, there can be waves of 500 meters or more.

Group one is inconsequential, for what can be exhibited by unknown past events cannot preclude future occurrences. Thus, the real scientific debate is between groups 2 and 3. This means that, for the purposes of this analysis, it will be taken that the 10 meter normal far-field maximum of a major subsea earthquake generated tsunamis can, indeed, be surpassed by the 100 meter major event from a very large landslide from land or flank of an undersea formation. A 33 foot tsunami is frightening and formidable. A 330 foot tsunami is for the movies, but theoretically possible nevertheless, and in fact, exceeded in my lifetime by a factor of 5 in Lituya Bay, Alaska.

To further differentiate, the meaningful scientific debate for the purpose of this quest is not whether a 1600 foot (488 meter) tsunami is possible or not. That is not as controversial, as such, for several natural and unnatural causes can create such a wave in the near field. From an asteroid, say. Anyway, as a 100 meter tsunami is large enough, the critical question is whether the conditions at the so-called hot spots, Cubre Vieja, Canaries and Kilauea, Hawaii, for example, are capable of causing a sudden massive failure. Most scientists think not. The subsidence process, according to this faction, is continuous and gradual. No catastrophic flank collapses have been experienced in recorded history for both sites, they contend. In apparent contradiction, though, a paper in the Journal of Geophysics Research concludes that there was a past catastrophic landslide along the southeast submarine slope of Kilauea, which eventually led to present day stable slumping.

A particularly good example is the collapse on Oahu of Koolau Volcano a million years ago (give or take 500,000 years). Known as the Nuuanu Landslide or Nuuanu Debris Avalanche, where an apparent earthquake caused one third of the island to break off and fall into the sea. This might have been the largest landslide in the history of the planet, for just one chunk, known as the Tuscaloosa Seamount, is 20 miles (32 km) by 11 miles (18 km) and just more than one mile (1.8 km) high, and is located 60 miles (96 km) northeast of the Nuuanu Pali at a depth of 8800 feet (2680 m). As you drive towards Kaneohe/Kailua through the Pali or Wilson Tunnels and look back at the mountains, what you are viewing is that inside portion of the volcano that remained, although over the years, there has been considerable erosion and land build-up. A web page by Paul Jokiel of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology provides good info (Google search: “Jokiel’s illustrated scientific guide to Kaneohe Bay, Oahu”).

Kenji Satake of the Japan National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology reconstructed the event and surmised on the resultant tsunami from computer models using digital bathymetric data obtained on cruises commissioned by the Japan Marine Science and Technology Center. Estimated were: volume of 3000 km3 and velocity range from 20 m/s to 100 m/sec. Calculated tsunami heights were 100 meters (328 feet) in north Oahu, but 30 meters (98 feet) on the opposite side of the island, Waikiki. Five hours after the slide, 10-40 meters hit the Pacific Northwest and 30-70 meters in California, and in eight hours, 5-10 meters on the Japanese coast. Satake indicated that the wave heights could well have been double those sizes in the Hawaii Islands. So, a noted scientist did write about the prospects of a mega-tsunami in the far field from a landslide.

Thus that potentially largest earth fall producing a mega-tsunami a million years or so ago just happened to be from the island where I was born and still call home, Oahu. I live on Nuuanu Avenue, and the event was the Nuuanu Landslide. At our virtual antipode, the most recent possible major landslide occurred about 4,000 years ago on La Reunion Island, my choice as the possible home of the Free Hydrogen Economy, and one of my travel adventures provided in Chapter 6 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity. As the Canaries have been so thoroughly chastised as a potential source of the next mega-tsunami, and so has the southeast side of the Big Island, tomorrow we look at another hypothetical potential.
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Sinlaku is now a Tropical Storm at 50 MPH, and should skirt Kyushu to the east in two or three days, bringing some rain to Japan. There is a weak tropical cyclone east of India, which is not expected to strengthen before landfall.
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Crude oil remained at $94/barrel. Venezuela might call an OPEC meeting to discuss what to do about falling petroleum prices. The DJI jumped 142 to 11,059.
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Monday, September 15, 2008

SO WHERE WILL THOSE MEGA TSUNAMIS COME FROM? (Part 4)

According to the Discovery Channel (August 8, 2005) and substantiated by a National Geographic Channel hour on “The Ultimate Tsunami” (June of 2007):

o Vasilios Lykousis of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research reports that historically, waves as high as 20 meters (66 feet) have been caused by earthquakes, and that the Corinth Rift, separating the Peloponnese from Greece is the most active seismic zone in Europe.

o Yildiz Altinok of Istanbul University reports that 100 tsunamis affected Turkey in the past 3,000 years, and a destructive earthquake can be anticipated in the Marmara Sea.

o The most recent tsunami in Italy occurred in December 2002 from a Stromboli Volcano slope failure creating a 10 meter (33 feet) wave. The 79 A.D. Mt. Vesuvius earthquake/eruption which buried Pompeii caused a tsunami, as reported by Pliny the Younger. The biggest current worry is 9,900 Mt. Marsili (Europe’s biggest volcano), located between Campania and Sicily Sea.
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o Fogo Volcano, on Cape Verde, an Atlantic archipelago, located off the coast of Senegal, Africa, has been feared by Simon Day of the University College London, to suffer flank instability, which, if a chunk slid into the sea, could create a mega tsunami.

o Similarly, Cumbre Vieja Volcano on the island of La Palma in the Canary Islands, also off West Africa, is a particular concern for Simon Day and Steven Ward of the University of California. A combination eruption and landslide with a speed of 350 kilometers per hour would have an energy release equal to 6 months of electricity consumption in the U.S. Tsunami waves of up to 650 meters (2132 feet) would be created with a wavelength of 40 km (25 miles), traveling to West Saharan shores at an amplitude of 100 meters (328 feet), and Florida at up to 50 meter waves, eight hours later. On October 12, 2000, BBC2 showed, “Mega-tsunami: Wave of Destruction,” about this potential disaster, which became a most controversial TV program. This program is updated with regularity and again was shown in June of 2006.

o California is a potential target from submarine landslides. A West Coast seeking tsunami created by Mauna Loa Volcano could run up to 18 meters (60 feet) according to Gary McMurtry of the University of Hawaii. Dr. McMurtry mentioned to me that he would speculate that the Nuuanu Landslide (I live on Nuuanu Avenue) should have created a much larger tsunami, but there is no physical evidence remaining.

o The Cascadia Subduction Zone, stretching from Vancouver Island to northern California, is suspected of being able to produce a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, which would almost surely produce something approaching a mega-tsunami. Yes, the reference is a novel, but this whole chapter started with a similar premise for Six Hours to Seattle, my future novel on this subject after The Venus Syndrome.
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Ike is now somewhere in Canada and beyond. The death toll in the U.S. was similar to that of the train wreck near Los Angeles this past weekend, both around 25, should increase over the next few days, but not exceed Ike deaths in the Caribbean. Otherwise, Typhoon Sinlaku, now at 75 MPH, has left Taiwan, after causing considerable flooding, and, while originally heading straight for China, made a right turn, and now is moving in the direction of Japan.
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The price of crude dropped to $94/barrel. Gasoline prices, though, thanks to Ike, are surging. The Dow Jones Industrials sunk 504 to 10, 918, mostly due to the financial market crisis.
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Sunday, September 14, 2008

HISTORIC MEGA EARTHQUAKES AND TSUNAMIS (Part 3)

Most major tsunamis, those that are triggered by subsea earthquakes, top out at 10 meters (33 feet) in the far field (thousands of miles away). Nearer the event, run-ups can be much higher. The report is that this maximum is due to the underground vertical separation generally being limited to this upheaval. For example, although 35 meter (115 feet) eyewitness guesses were reported in the near field (less than 30 minutes from the event), the December 26, 2004, Sumatra tsunami apparently had a maximum height of 10.04 meters in the farther field, and traveled around the world, even reaching Point Reyes, California, with an amplitude of 15.6 inches, Atlantic City, New Jersey (9 inches) and Brest, France (3.2 inches).

However, the bathymetry (physical underwater conditions at the coastline) can complicate things, as the 8.3 magnitude earthquake in the Aleutian islands of March 9, 1957 produced a 16 meter (52.5 feet) tsunami on the North Coast of Oahu. There is an amplification factor, sometimes, caused by the bathymetry, when the wave hits. Then there is the confusion between the actual amplitude of the wave relative to sea level, and the so-called run-up, which can be higher, caused by the momentum of the wave.

The Great Kamchatka Earthquake of October 17, 1737, supposedly produced a tsunami greater than 50 meters on the North Kurile Islands, but this was still generally in the basic neighborhood. The Santorini eruption of 1638 BC produced a tsunami also estimated at 50 meters and the 1490 BC eruption might have caused the end of the Minoan civilization in Greece, but there were no long-distance catastrophes. 50,000 died from the tsunami that hit Taiwan on May 22, 1782 and 36,417 from the Krakatoa explosion on August 27, 1883. The bottom line is that a mega-event in or near the ocean can cause great damage in the near field, but generally does not exceed 10 meters thousands of kilometers away. Of course, a height of ten meters, or 33 feet, is a heck of a large wave, and considerable damages do occur. Also, there is something about volcano flank failures and landsides that seem to magnify the effect, at least in the vicinity of the event.

There is no scientific definition for a mega tsunami, but anything over 40 meters (130 feet) should qualify, and Charles Mader has suggested 100 meters. Gary McMurtry of the University of Hawaii has told me that a 1,600 foot (nearly 500 meters) wave appeared on the Big Island of Hawaii 110,000 years ago, probably caused by a submarine landslide from the undersea flank of Mauna Loa Volcano. This remains a controversial incident.
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Tropical Depression Ike is now at 35 MPH, but, interestingly enough, could further strengthen to gale force winds (45 MPH) and leave the U.S. through Michigan into Canada. There will continue to be huge personal inconveniences, as electricity will be out in large portions of the Galveston-Houston area into southwest Louisiana for several weeks. Search and recovery operations are just beginning, but it is not anticipated that the current number of deaths (20) will match the 80 in the Caribbean. The feared tens of billions in damages might settle at, perhaps, $10 billion.
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Typhoon Sinlaku is continuing to dump considerable rain on northern Taiwan (up to 6 feet), and, now at 80 MPH, should weaken, but head north towards Kyushu, Japan, largely missing Okinawa. However, this has been an eratic and unpredictable storm.
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Crude oil is now selling for just UNDER $100/barrel.
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Friday, September 12, 2008

A 1720 FOOT WAVE (Part 2)

Whether it was a tidal wave or tsunami or what, the Alaskan Lituya Bay wave of August 9, 1958, was particularly memorable for Howard Ulrich and his 7 year old son, Junior, on the 38 foot Edrie. They “rode” the 1720 feet (524 meter) wave on their salmon troller, got dumped intact after riding the wave and survived. The father made one of the more famous mayday calls:

“Mayday, Mayday – Edrie in Lituya Bay – all hell broke loose – I think we’ve had it – goodbye!”

An earthquake of magnitude 7.5 triggered a landslide in this bay, which had an entrance only 10 meters wide, so the tsunami/wave quickly dissipated in the open ocean. A more scholarly treatment, written by Charles Mader and Michael Gittings, reported that the run-up was 520 meters, and that there were 5 earlier giant waves over the last century and a half, with the most recent previous one of 150 meter height in 1936. Yes, you will want to avoid Lituya Bay.

Some basic principles regarding earthquakes and tsunamis:

o About Richter magnitude—7 is a major earthquake, with an equivalent TNT explosive weight of 32 million tons, while an 8, which is ten times more powerful (one billion tons of TNT), is a great earthquake. Only a very few 9’s have been recorded, including the monumental December 26, 2004 Sumatra quake. A 10.0, which has never been measured, would be the equivalent of 1 trillion tons of TNT and would represent a San Andreas type fault circling the Earth. There was a four hour ABC TV movie, 10.5 Apocalypse, in May of 2006, but this one was, of course, fictitious and literally divided the United States into two. A theoretical 12.0 magnitude has a seismic energy yield of 160 trillion tons and is said to approximate a fault through the center of the planet, and coincidentally, in energy terms, is about the daily reception of all the solar energy. Finally, seismologists are more and more using moment magnitude, which more closely represents the danger, and is represented by M with a subscript w. However, for our purposes, as the Richter magnitude and that of professionals are about the same, we’ll stick with Richter.

o There have been 3667 significant earthquakes since 1977, which created 107 major tsunamis.

o Nearly 90% of all earthquakes occur in the Pacific Ocean, usually in the vicinity of the Ring of Fire, that starts through New Zealand, wends north of Australia, up the coast of Orient to the Aleutians, east to Alaska and down the western coastline of North and South America.

o Of the 1488 recorded tsunamis, 76% occurred in the Pacific, with 86% being caused by earthquakes, 5% volcanoes, 3% landslides and 5% combinations.
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Hurricane Ike is beginning to impact the Gulf Coast, with the storm surge being particularly large and ominous. As of this writing, the diameter is 900 miles and growing. The eye is not expected to strike Galveston until much later in the evening, but Ike is now "only" expected to reach 110 MPH before landfall. The damage should be in the tens of billions and gasoline prices will zoom up until refineries recover.
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Typhoon Sinlaku continues to somewhat confound, as it is now at 115 MPH and should bring considerable rain to northern Taiwan before EITHER heading west towards China OR through Okinawa to Japan. The odds are that Sinlaku will weaken because it is beginning to get disorganized.
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With the danger of Ike, crude oil dropped to $100.89/bbl at this writing. The Brent spot price is actually at $95/bbl. Part of the insouciance is that Saudi Arabia has increased production to 9.4 million bbl/day and will continue to support the demand. The price of gasoline in the USA will, however, rise because of refinery reductions induced by Ike. At 3:45PM New York time, the DJI is lower by 48 to 11,386.
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Thursday, September 11, 2008

SIX HOURS TO SEATTLE (Part 1)

Large Waves, Tsunamis and Mega Tsunamis (Part 1)

The next set of postings have nothing to do with energy nor global warming. Much of the series will be excerpted from Chapter 6 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Planet Earth. I added this topic because the genesis can be traced to the early 1970's when I was on the team of the Hawaii Geothermal Project, and National Science Foundation funding supported an effort I led on geothermal reservoir engineering, where I noticed that a series of faults, if connected, could lead to a monstrous landslide. In those days, I was not aware that the result could be a cataclysmic tsunami.
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What caught my attention thirty years later is that a major 9.0 undersea earthquake will not cause a tsunami greater than 10 meters in the far field. However, a huge chunk of an island falling quickly and deeply can be calculated to induce 100 meter and greater tsunamis.
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A tsunami is a Japanese term for harbor (tsu) waves, and can be triggered by an earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide or asteroid impact. They are also low frequency sea waves, meaning that the period or distance or wavelength between crests is quite long. Normal waves have periods of seconds, while tsunamis are in the range of a thousand seconds and more. It is not a tidal wave, as such, nor a rogue wave.

But there are non-tsunami monster waves in excess of 27 meters (90 feet). The Naval Research Laboratory, measuring water pressure changes at the bottom of the ocean during Hurricane Ivan in 2004, recorded such waves. Dan Moore won $68,000 at the 2005 Billabong XXL big wave competition by surfing a nearly 21 meter (68 foot) wave at “Jaws,” located on the north shore of Maui in December of 2004. But this wasn’t as large as the 2003 21+ meter (70 foot) wave ridden by Peter Cabrinha. Not to fear, though, as all these waves peter out at the shoreline, where, in surfing tournaments, hordes of fans sit right where the waves lap. Remember The Perfect Storm, the movie? The largest reported wave, maybe even the one that sank the Andrea Gail, was all of 39 feet.
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Hurricane Ike is at 100 MPH and is expected to strengthen to 120 MPH, with the eye heading straight for Galveston. Now officially a monster (term used by newscasters), Ike has a diameter of 700 miles. The Texas (and even Louisiana) coastline should by Friday begin to suffer from high winds, floods and major storm surges, even as far away as Mississippi and Alabama. The terrifying official government warning is that there will be almost certain death for anyone remaining in and near Galveston, so evacuation is mandatory. Houston will be seriously impacted on Saturday, and, as of today, projections are that as many as half of homes in this area could well be seriously damaged. Offshore oil platforms will be in jeopardy and refineries will almost surely be compromised.
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Tropical Depression Lowell whipped through lower Baha, and now weakening below 30 MPH will further weaken through Mexico.
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Typhoon Sinlaku is at 120 MPH and will mostly miss Taiwan to the northeast, but should head towards Okinawa. This is a strange typhoon, as movement and strength have defied expectations. It is now moving very slowly and could intensity into a super typhoon, or weaken into a tropical storm by the time it nears Okinawa.
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There is a tropical depression that moved away from Kyushu.
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Ike is not scaring the fiscal/oil community, as oil is now just above $100/barrel and the DJI jumped 165 to 11,434.
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