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I know it's rough out there...people without power, and all-electric houses, watching the temperatures inside their homes plummet. I also know you can't respond to this if you don't have power, but I think I speak for the forum when I say I hope you're doing okay. Hopefully you'll get power restored soon, and the weather will break. Generally weather goes from west to east, and it's just starting to leave us now here in Nashville, so I hope those of you in Texas, Oklahoma, etc. have seen the worst of it.

Seems like the Curse of 2020 might have a bit of a decay time...

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I second this!!!! Be safe and be well everybody!!!!

I'll never forget being a kid and we got a letter from our relatives in Minnesota.
They had weather so cold the heating oil froze in the pipes!!! Something like a -70 degree wind chill factor and the wind was howling.
2 things kept them alive.

The snow drifts got so high they buffered the wind.
They all huddled together in the living room by the fireplace, fortunately they'd put aside a considerable pile of fire wood that year. The wood lasted longer than the bitter cold.

Up here, we had some snow and an Arctic blast of wind at minus 5 degrees wind chill. That isn't warm. No power failures that I know of, we do have a significant homeless population here and my heart goes out to them. That's got to be rough. It got much worse down south a ways, a friend who works down there saw a semi jackknifed from an ice slick on I-5.

Today a "warm" (less cold?" front came in and it rained. By tomorrow, all the snow will be gone and I'll be able to drive to the laundromat. Just our usual gray, wet winter...


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It's going to drop to 9 degrees F here in Central MS, in a few hours. Right now 16 F and power's still on, but fortunately I have gas heat anyway. All roads and highways are iced over and many impassable, but I'm stocked up on supplies and don't have to go anywhere the next couple of days. Using the downtime to work up all the classical piano music I can for a 2 hour museum gig Friday- don't know why I got the call for that but I'm making the most of it.

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We've been in a -60 degree F windchill advisory since Friday here. But 2018 still was colder - we had -68 at my house.


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I walk for exercise (it's all the exercise I get other than for my typing fingers wink ), and for nearly a month, it's been wet and/or cold enough so that I don't go out. And if I don't walk for a couple of days, I feel it when I finally do get out.

I'm getting fat and bored.

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Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
I walk for exercise (it's all the exercise I get other than for my typing fingers wink ), and for nearly a month, it's been wet and/or cold enough so that I don't go out. And if I don't walk for a couple of days, I feel it when I finally do get out.

I'm getting fat and bored.

I too walk at least a mile every day, but it's been too damn cold for several days now. Even with the pandemic, it's the first time I've truly felt cooped up.

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Originally Posted by Anderton
Originally Posted by Mike Rivers
I walk for exercise (it's all the exercise I get other than for my typing fingers wink ), and for nearly a month, it's been wet and/or cold enough so that I don't go out. And if I don't walk for a couple of days, I feel it when I finally do get out.

I'm getting fat and bored.

I too walk at least a mile every day, but it's been too damn cold for several days now. Even with the pandemic, it's the first time I've truly felt cooped up.

This is why I dragged home an excellent condition Schwinn Aerdyne exercycle from Salvation Army. We have lots of days with pouring rain and or slippery icy spots on inclines.
We need our endorphins to flow. It's not the same as getting outside and breathing the fresh air or looking at the sky but it's better than sitting around going insane.


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Originally Posted by Mighty Motif Max
We've been in a -60 degree F windchill advisory since Friday here. But 2018 still was colder - we had -68 at my house.

I retract my comment about 9 degree F weather.

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Having lived in the "L.A. climate of the east' in Augusta Georgia, I can't take the cold at all - I've foregone my daily walk for both covid reasons and sub-60 degree temperature. This has been the first actual "winter" here in maybe 2 decades I would say.

The big ice storm back in...2017? Made us lose power for almost 10 days. The first night my wife and I were trapped at our house with no power in 20 degree weather; it got down to freezing in the house, as we heard the cracking sound of trees falling around our house (we live "back in the woods" so to speak).
The next morning tried to get out of our property, driveway blocked by downed trees - took half an hour to get to the road on our 1/8th mile long driveway.

A very surreal experience. My parents house had intermitant power, so they had heat. We couldn't get there because our cars were blocked in, snow+ice meant they couldn't get to us. It was pretty sketchy for a few days; I remember at the road you could hear a woman from the second story of some apartment complexes yelling "who's there? Who is out there?" - it was like a scene from an end of the world movie. Despite living within a block of a community center - that appeared to have power (heat) - the local city government didn't find it worthwhile to open it up. Friends with a 4x4 took us out to my parent's house across town where we stayed for the 10 days while the other half of town had no power.

*It was patently scary after the first night, realizing "we have no options if the power doesn't come back on"*. We couldn't go anywhere and it was freezing. Local government had no shelters. We would have tried to sleep in the cars, but that would have been sketchy and gas would have ran out - presuming we could keep restarting them with the batteries not getting recharged. Take electricity away and your options quickly run out, and the differences with being effectively homeless go away.

Takeaway: the U.S. infrastructure is teeter tottering on the brink of complete disaster. The New York outages should have been a harbinger. Texas now should wake people up, but after the 2020 "Inverse Dunning-Kruger realization" I know it won't happen. I can imagine a large area somewhere in the U.S. losing power - for months, because of the lack of resources and patchwork design elements creating a cascade effect ala New York. There are no rescue plans, and like the situation in Flint Michigan with their water, or places I know in Augusta Georgia where the drainage doesn't work, other situations - they could literally just not do anything if it was the "right" area. We don't live in a rural area - we are 5 minutes from a WalMart, gas stations, banks, McDonald's... with no power for 10 days. "They'll get the power back on tomorrow". Another day: "Surely it will be back today", following day "... they don't know when they'll get the power back on?"...

Another reason to get off the grid if you can.

Last edited by Chip McDonald; 02/16/21 04:04 PM.

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I lived in the boondocks in NYS for over 15 years where winter weather was windy and the temperature was always 5-10deg lower than ten miles away. I grew accustomed to the cold weather. Doesn't bother me as much any more.

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Originally Posted by Chip McDonald
Takeaway: the U.S. infrastructure is teeter tottering on the brink of complete disaster. The New York outages should have been a harbinger. Texas now should wake people up, but after the 2020 "Inverse Dunning-Kruger realization" I know it won't happen. I can imagine a large area somewhere in the U.S. losing power - for months, because of the lack of resources and patchwork design elements creating a cascade effect ala New York. There are no rescue plans, and like the situation in Flint Michigan with their water, or places I know in Augusta Georgia where the drainage doesn't work, other situations - they could literally just not do anything if it was the "right" area. We don't live in a rural area - we are 5 minutes from a WalMart, gas stations, banks, McDonald's... with no power for 10 days. "They'll get the power back on tomorrow". Another day: "Surely it will be back today", following day "... they don't know when they'll get the power back on?"...

Another reason to get off the grid if you can.
It's easy to have reliable electricity and energy, but it doesn't come in the form of wind turbines as Texas is finding out. Turbines can supplement to a certain point but incidents of zero output must be factored in and there needs to be immediate backup if they fail.

Reliable energy was replaced with intermittent energy and all it took was one weather incident to reveal the flaws.

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Wishing you and everyone else the best during these stormy winter times as well, Mr. Anderton.

I've been fairly fortunate here regarding power. The last time I lost power was when we had a hurricane. I think it was 2012 or something. The day after, my boss invited me to his house since he had a backup generator, so we could "work from home" together there.

My parents would throw a fit if they found out how high I set the thermostat in my house. They're penny-pinchers, in that 65 degrees is reasonable - any higher just runs up the utility bills too high - and if you feel cold, just wear sweaters.

I went to school in Canada for first grade - half the year in Montreal and the other half in Toronto. I don't remember feeling cold, but who feels cold when you're six years old and running around all the time, with the six layers or whatever of clothing you were forced to wear? We were too cheap to buy a proper sled, so we just looked for boxes and tumbled down snowy hills on those.

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To me, anything under 60 is cold.

I feel for those without power or heat in their homes. I hope you get your heat back ASAP.


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I'm in southeast Kentucky where ice laden trees tower over power lines. Some counties have above 60 percent outages. I'm lucky, my power went out at 4 AM last night and came back on at 7 AM. I'll take that. My land line phone and internet have been down for two days. Currently using cell phone hotspot but I only get 1 bar in my area so things don't connect well. Can view this forum on my MacBookPro through the poor hotspot, but cannot get Reason to authorize. Can only use it in demo mode. Without internet to keep me entertained I started up the Xbox which hardly gets used any more. It refuses to let me do anything until I connect their their service and set it as my primary Xbox. Only the primary can be used offline. It should have told me this before I lost connection.

We got over an inch of snow today which is handy. It covered the ice and now I can walk outside. I filled the bird feeders and came back inside. My sister is with me which is a good thing. Power is off at her house. She wants to go home and empty the fridge before the food goes bad. I had filled her freezer with individual servings of pot roast, homemade soup, chicken and noodles, etc... I told her that I can do it again. They say it is supposed to get up to 35 tomorrow which would be great, even though it is supposed to snow. Right now it is 18 so the ice is not melting. But as I said, I feel lucky. I have power and food. Hopefully tomorrow will be a good day. The next day we are supposed to get hit with another ice storm.

Edit - I guess this post helped "prime" my internet hotspot connection. Was able to authorize Reason 11 and do the license updates. Luckily I have updated all the modules right before my internet went out so all I had to do is sync licenses. Now to have some fun with Reason.

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Nothing puts you on closer terms with your DAW and synths like being locked away from restaurants, movie theaters and walking through the park wearing a rubber horse head.


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Here in Austin the temps are radical for Central Texas, but Minnesotans would think it's mild enough.

8 degrees last night - hasn't been that cold here since the year my son was born, 1989. Lots of frozen pipes around the region - ours are dripping and just fine. But I am worried about the ice buildup on the trees close to the house. Hopefully tomorrow we'll get above freezing for a few hours and some of that will thaw away.

The big deal is that the power company for Austin proper - Austin Energy - has implemented rolling blackouts that are currently keeping about 42% of their customers without power at any time. That's a lot! Friends and family in town have had power off for up to 6 hours and we've got 3 more days of this coming.

It's been well known for years that Austin Energy has fallen behind the curve regarding maintenance and capacity and the mundane but all-important tree trimming. So they are getting caught out in a big way - can't blame climate change when you've seen it coming for a decade or so!

We are just about a mile outside the city limits and get power from a rural electric co-op that is having a lot less trouble handling the load. And to boot (we are lucking out in a big way) we are only blocks from a hospital, and so our local network has not had any blackouts imposed at all. We stocked up at the grocery when we saw this coming, so we're just cooped up and baking cookies and such - what else is new in COVID times?

Personally, I've never understood the bizarre economics of public utilities. They get their cash from customers, and spend most of their time telling their customers to buy less power. They can raise rates, but that gets very thorny, politically. So it's like they'd love it if it were still 1955 and Austin was small and winters were mild and the bulk of the population did not even have air-conditioning.

nat

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A professional musician friend of mine in Austin, great steel player by the name of James Shelton, is still without power in his apartment building. Has to go to his car periodically to warm up.

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Originally Posted by PrairieGuy
Reliable energy was replaced with intermittent energy and all it took was one weather incident to reveal the flaws.

Actually that's not true. Wind turbines contribute 20-25% of Texas's energy. 16 Gigawatts of wind-turbine energy was offline because turbines froze in mid-rotation, and having that offline was indeed a real problem. However the bigger problem, by almost a factor of two, was 30 Gigawatts of mostly natural gas-generated energy being offline.

It's just as ridiculous to say this proves wind power doesn't work as it is to say it proves natural gas doesn't work, because neither one was up to the task under these extreme conditions.

The reason why traditional energy sources failed worse than alternative ones is, as they say with software, a "known issue": the liquid inside wells, pipes, and valves feezes, which clogs pipes. The plants where they process gas by separating it from other fluids and impurities can't function, and to make matters even worse, natural gas pumping facilities can't pump gas when there's no electricity.

The known solution for wind turbines is to de-ice them with hot water, which is what other countries do. Texas apparently wasn't prepared to do this any more than it was prepared for the gas supply chain freezing up. The solution for gas is to install the same kind of technology used in places like the Dakotas to prevent freeze-offs, which Texas didn't install because let's face it, no one expected that something like this could happen in Texas.

This is yet another situation where those with specific agendas would prefer to manufacture a bogus political issue than analyze the actual source of the problems, and implement solutions, to minimize the impact of these kinds of problems in the future. You can't implement a solution if you haven't identified the problem correctly.

My heart goes out to those who are suffering terribly, through no fault of their own.

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Originally Posted by Anderton
The known solution for wind turbines is to de-ice them with hot water, which is what other countries do. Texas apparently wasn't prepared to do this any more than it was prepared for the gas supply chain freezing up. The solution for gas is to install the same kind of technology used in places like the Dakotas to prevent freeze-offs, which Texas didn't install because let's face it, no one expected that something like this could happen in Texas.
So, it's a failure in two places. I'm surprised that no one in Texas ever thought it might drop below freezing, that defies all common sense.

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My heart goes out to those who are suffering terribly, through no fault of their own.
I agree, hopefully the situation improves quickly. I live in one of the coldest places on the planet (we just finished 2 weeks of sub-30 with -50 wind chills) but our homes and lifestyle are designed for that so it's more or less normal. We're fully aware of the damage that cold can do.

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We got out today. Took my sister to her house in a neighboring country to check the heating unit and freezer. Power had been out and she was worried that the heat pump would freeze up and the frozen food would thaw. Everything was fine and I am taking her back home to stay with me through the next storm. They are predicting 5 inches of snow starting tonight.

The trees in the hills are beautiful all covered with ice but a lot of them are down. No wonder power is out in so many places. I’ll post a picture if I can find a new host. I dropped my paid service and have not found a replacement.


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Temps here in Central TX are up a bit, but still below freezing. And there's more precip on the way.

Now the Grid managers are saying they can't rotate outages properly, "because there are no other available non-critical load circuits to put into outage rotation."

So some areas have been without power for 48 hours and counting. As I mentioned before, we're not on Austin Energy, and we've had no outages excepts a couple of seconds-long blinks (which happens all the time in high winds.)

Our water pressure starting wimping out earlier today and now there's no water at all. We did fill some pots and the tub as a precaution. We are on Austin Water - so the intown problems with water are now also our problems. Now this is worrisome - even if you can drive to the store, the stores are wiped out of bottled water. And now we can't drip the outdoor faucets and it's still freezing temps...maybe the lack of water pressure will keep the pipes from bursting - hope so.

Guess I ougtha go out and fill some buckets with snow....

And talk about ominous portents - our resident squirrel, slowed down in his tree-to-tree dash by the snow, got killed by something just outside our back patio window. The crows were at the carcass for a while, then the turkey vultures showed up. One landed a foot from our big sliding glass back door and stood there staring in at us staring back at him. That's one ugly, creepy looking bird, I'm telling you - all black as coal, huge as Death on a donkey. I'm sure he was thinking, "hmmm....I wonder if those humans in there are ripe and tasty? We'll be back to check on you later!"

Friday it's supposed to return to the low 40s for highs - living for the weekend!

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Word from my Austin friend is his apt. building is still without power, although other areas of town are seeing it restored. Mostly elderly there, some wheelchair bound, and 3 days without. A city bus pulled up this afternoon to take the residents to a warming center, building personnel have been doing periodic checks.

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That's rough - I know some of AISD school building are providing warming centers, among other places.

The politicians (who will remain unnamed) are already at it, blaming the other guys and the "wrong" types of energy, for the crisis.

It must be nice when you are in charge of things, to seemingly never be the person who is ever wrong about anything.

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Originally Posted by PrairieGuy
So, it's a failure in two places. I'm surprised that no one in Texas ever thought it might drop below freezing, that defies all common sense.

Common sense is not all that common. People think "it can't happen here," or they just want to pretend it's not an issue.

Why we haven't spent the $200 million needed to avert the potentially worse disaster described in "When the Grid Goes Down" is beyond me. I guess people think the sun is just some kindly old light bulb in the sky, but when you see research like that summarized in the space weather archives, it does give one pause. At least they're paying more attention to hardening satellites, but still...


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Originally Posted by Anderton
Originally Posted by PrairieGuy
So, it's a failure in two places. I'm surprised that no one in Texas ever thought it might drop below freezing, that defies all common sense.

Common sense is not all that common. People think "it can't happen here," or they just want to pretend it's not an issue.

Freezing weather happens in most of Texas every winter. I can't remember a winter without a freeze here in Central Texas, altho' it surely has happened at some point since I got here in 1973. The panhandle in particular gets really cold - the northernmost border of Texas is only about 45 miles south of Kansas. The current problem is a matter of record low temperatures, combined with extremely unusual persistence of freezing temperatures.

What has been scaring Texans and damaging Texas over the last 20 years is drought, record heat, wildfires, flooding, and hurricanes. We've had way more than our fill of these types of disasters. It's a great irony that the 2020 summer gave the utilities an unexpected reprieve from the usual summer energy crisis due to COVID and a big drop in commercial and industrial usage of electricity. So we dodged the summer bullet, only to get hit with this random ('tho inevitable at some point) cold crisis.

So there is a huge infrastructure issue here in Texas just like there is everywhere, centered around climate change - here it is compounded by the continuing rapid growth of cities like Austin, Houston, Dallas, Ft. Worth, etc. Personally, I think all the finger-pointing is largely a waste of time. Taxes need to be raised, technological change and energy diversity needs to be a major goal, and the climate-changed future needs to be met with deep changes root to branch, individuals to businesses to local to State to Federal vectors all following some sensible marching orders to meet the challenge.

A dearth of leadership, with the resulting sectarian squabbling and ideological hard-headedness, is the real drought.

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Originally Posted by Nowarezman
A dearth of leadership, with the resulting sectarian squabbling and ideological hard-headedness, is the real drought.

I found this in The Texas Tribune:

"Texas officials knew winter storms could leave the state's power grid vulnerable, but they left the choice to prepare for harsh weather up to the power companies - many of which opted against the costly upgrades. That, plus a deregulated energy market largely isolated from the rest of the country's power grid, left the state alone to deal with the crisis."

I also didn't realize that according to an official at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, even nuclear power and solar were impacted - it wasn't just gas and wind. Apparently, something similar happened in 2011 that was considered a wake-up call, but there was no substantial follow-up to prevent the same problems from happening in the future.

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Personally, I think all the finger-pointing is largely a waste of time.

Amen. It would be more effective to use those fingers to insulate pipes.

Meanwhile, here in Nashville, the roof collapsed on top of several houseboats at a nearby marina. Seven people had to be pulled from the water, which is so cold ice had formed on it. Fortunately, everyone survived and is okay...the first responders were effing incredible at how fast they got there, and how they managed the situation. Major props to people with a super-tough gig, under super-tough circumstances.

So if you get too bummed out at how stupid some people can be, console yourself with the knowledge that there are others who represent the best of humanity: selflessness, competence, intelligence, and compassion. I saw plenty of that tonight.

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Sub zero temps are a given in the upper midwest although this spell has lasted longer than normal it seems plus we've had a large amount of snowfall here, certainly two foot at least. Looks like the cold snap is finally moving on though and we can get back to teens and twenties, maybe even up into the 30's next week.

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Originally Posted by Nowarezman
So there is a huge infrastructure issue here in Texas just like there is everywhere, centered around climate change - here it is compounded by the continuing rapid growth of cities like Austin, Houston, Dallas, Ft. Worth, etc. Personally, I think all the finger-pointing is largely a waste of time. Taxes need to be raised, technological change and energy diversity needs to be a major goal, and the climate-changed future needs to be met with deep changes root to branch, individuals to businesses to local to State to Federal vectors all following some sensible marching orders to meet the challenge.

A dearth of leadership, with the resulting sectarian squabbling and ideological hard-headedness, is the real drought.

nat
Well, if no one points fingers then the same people will keep making the same mistakes. Cold isn't rare and it isn't difficult to winterize energy plants. Canada and most of the US have been doing that with 100% success for decades.

Talking about diversity and climate change doesn't solve anything. Texas has had cold snaps before. The real problem was a failure to properly prepare.

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You-all may have noticed (and appreciated, I'm sure!) my absence on here this week. Right now we're hoping the power is back on to stay. It's been on since about 10 pm last night, the longest stretch since it went out Monday morning. We just noticed water pressure is coming back, but I'm sure the boil water notice is still in effect.

"With Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Fort Worth all under a boil water advisory, it means 1 of every 50 Americans no longer has safe, running water in their homes"

I could go on about what's happening and happened this week. I've learned more about the power grid and such this week than I ever cared to. It's supposed to be one of those things that just works.

But I'm here just to say, thank you Craig and others for your thoughts. It has been a rough week but for us it could have been worse. If my pipes haven't or will not break (two more overnight freezes before it's all over) I will be a happy man. The inside of the house never got below the low 50s so we never literally froze though both my wife and I like things warm so it was tough. Right now we have the heat set at 68° instead of the usual 74° so we don't use as much energy and help others get online.


​"How long will it take me to master Aikido piano?" a prospective student asks.

"How long do you expect to live?" is the only respectable response.
Joined: Jan 2000
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Joined: Jan 2000
Posts: 9,867
Likes: 281
Originally Posted by PrairieGuy
Well, if no one points fingers then the same people will keep making the same mistakes.

I think the context was Nowarezman wanting to express that pointing fingers is no substitute for action.

Quote
Talking about diversity and climate change doesn't solve anything. Texas has had cold snaps before. The real problem was a failure to properly prepare.

Agree 100% with the last part, not so sure about the first. Energy diversity is like a diversified stock portfolio - if something goes wrong, hopefully something else will cover it. For example de-icing wind turbines is apparently pretty simple, and if even the 20-25% they contribute didn't go offline, that would help.

Climate change is always a sticky subject because people want to politicize it. I take a longer view. The earth's climate is constantly changing, and there is zero doubt that temperatures have been rising consistently since the 1800s. Where it gets political is when people debate whether the acceleration is caused by humans or not. Still, there have been a lot of "hundred year floods" and other extreme weather conditions recently. So regardless of what anyone believes is causing the rise in temperatures, that rise needs to be taken into account if you want to prepare properly.

And course, there are always the cosmic monkey wrenches that get thrown into the picture. Some people theorize that the earth has warmed due to solar activity, others think the sun's current minima will throw us into a mini ice age. However it seems the sun has less influence than people think, as covered in this highly readable article by NASA. Something like a major volcanic explosion seems far more likely to cause massive, sudden disruptions.

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