Typhoon, cyclones or hurricanes?

The latest reports from South Korea and Japan inform us that thousands of households were left without electricity after the Typhoon Haishen swept all over the countries. Typhoon, cyclones and hurricane: what are the differences? Let’s find out, as always, together.

Definition and how they form

In short, we could summarize that there is no real difference between a typhoon, a cyclone and a hurricane. Meteorologists use different names to determine the geographical location of these extreme events. They all are tropical storms and depending on where they occur we name them accordingly.

  • Hurricanes are tropical storms formed over the North Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific. The first travel east, against the Earth’s rotation, while the latter travel along the west coast of USA, all the way down to Central America.
  • Cyclones are tropical storms formed over the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean.
  • Typhoons are tropical storms formed over the Northwest Pacific Ocean.

Giving the location of South Korea and Japan, it is clear that the recent storm events in the area go under the name of Typhoons.

A typhoon forms when winds blow into areas of the ocean where the water is warm. These winds collect moisture and rise, while colder air moves in below. This creates pressure, which causes the winds to move very quickly. This is the reason why they bring along disruption and, in some extreme cases, destruction. Winds can blow over 70/80 mph during a typhoon.

Why are oceans warmer in some parts?

This open to another important concept to bear in mind: the salinity and density of water across the oceans are not regular so we have in return cold, dense and salty water in depth and warmer water on the surface. The water is moved around the Globe by the ocean belt conveyor that works exactly like the one we are used to seeing at the airport while nervously waiting for our luggage. The difference is that here we don’t have mechanic energy generated by electricity: the water moves around because salty water is dense and falls to the bottom of the ocean floor while warmer water arises.

Did you notice anything strange?

Unlike the Earth, oceans are warmer on the surface and colder on the bottoms. On the other hand, our planet is much hotter in his nucleus, while the surface is relatively warmer and allow life to bloom. This could be explained because the sun rays are unable to reach the deepest part of the ocean, where the water is thick and salty, while the surface is more or less directly hit by them.

However, if we fully accept this theory, the surface of the Earth should be hotter because is directly hit by the sun rays, that are unable to go through layers and layers of clay, rocks and gases. Is the Earth’s surface warmer than the nucleus? Absolutely not!

The Earth gets hotter and hotter at depth primarily because the energy of radioactive decay is leaking outwards from the core of the planet. However, this energy is unable to heat up the ocean floor consistently, therefore we see how colliding parts of our planet coexist in a perfect balance that allows life to prosper the way we know it, the way we love it.

Last week summary

31 August – 6 September

Following the public statement of Labour Leader Keir Starmer, who last week defined climate change protest group Extinction Rebellion as a criminal gang “characterised by violence or the threat of violence and by the use of bribery and corruption”, the group replied saying that the accusation are ridiculous and disrespectful towards the many citizens who joined and fight along the movement.

Read the article -> Link.

“A recent World Economic Forum (WEF) report on the Future of Nature and Business estimates that a transition to a green economy could create 395 million jobs globally and $10.1 trillion in annual business value by 2030”. Are governments aware of the potential of a green recovery, both for the planet and for the environment?

Read the article -> Link.

Another critical year for Greenland, but not that bad. Because the ice sheets are still melting but at a slower rate compared to 2019. Could that be because of a reduction of emissions during the global lockdown? Absolutely not, the effect on the atmosphere of a temporary reduction of emissions is minimal and no evidence can be observed on such a short time on a global scale.

Read the article -> Link.

A fifth of carbon dioxide emissions come from multinational companies’ global supply chains, according to a new study led by UCL and Tianjin University. The study, published in Nature Climate Change, maps the emissions generated by multinationals’ assets and suppliers abroad, finding that the flow of investment is typically from developed countries to developing ones – meaning that emissions are in effect outsourced to poorer parts of the worldRead the article -> Link.

Daily tip (with meme)

As promised, when Parliament came back to work last week, climate change activists Extinction Rebellion started their announced disruption across England, in major cities like London and Manchester.

I hope they will be able to fight for what they believe in, remembering that a fight for the Planet must be a peaceful one, otherwise we already lost it.

In the meantime, nothing can stop us to take a little break, and be less serious.

Our appointment is tomorrow morning with the Last Week Summary.

The daily pill (with survey)

Plastic bags to double their price in April 2021 in the UK: they will cost 10p.

It has been announced as an additional step to tackle plastic pollution. However, every April with the beginning of the tax year, minimum wage and taxes (therefore prices) go up to keep up with the inflation, so it could simply be a reassessment of the price, in line with the currency, not a tackle on plastic pollution.

What about a £1 per bag? 2 years ago, ITV interviewed shoppers and retailers, when the 10p rule was first discussed to be introduced in shops with more than 250 employers.

Book of the month – How bad are bananas?

Happy September everyone! Our monthly appointment with the “Book of the month” comes back today.
This month the book I would like to propose is How bad are bananas? – The carbon footprint of everything, by Mike Berners-Lee.

Ever since I decided to start this website I always wanted to propose to the readers verified contents and this book has helped a lot. In times when information is accessible to everyone, we must always question and be ready to check every single line. When talking about the environment and more, in particular, carbon footprint, it is always good to back up our stories with peer-reviewed data: this is the best tool we could have, at least in my opinion.

The book is very fast to read and, as the author suggests in the introduction, there is no exact way of reading it: you can just look for particular sections of interest, read it from the beginning to the end, as you wish. The book is divided into sections, each one of them grouping certain activities or goods with similar carbon emissions.

The intriguing part is the goal that Berners-Lee explains at the beginning: he assumes that, in a sustainable future, the indirect emissions of any of us should not exceed 10 tonnes of CO2e per year. And then it starts an endless lists of activities, production systems, goods and their related emissions. In this way, anyone reading the book can have a rough estimate of their yearly emissions and the work out where to improve.

I see reading as the sport of mind: like any other sport, there’s no reason playing it if you are not enjoying it. Think about the words we use for it: we don’t “perform” sports, we play them, so it is important to keep this playful approach. And so it is reading: when reading a book that could reveal some wrong behavoiurs of us it is important not to let yourself down. We read and study for passion and until you don’t get information about a certain topic you will never know what you’re doing wrong.

Do you like asparagus? Is a solar panel the right choice for your house? What’s the environmental impact of a war? Dig into the book and find out!

Get the book on Amazon (but consider buying it locally)

How Bad are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything

Get the book on eBay (but consider buying it locally)

B. Gates: How we’ll move around in a clean, green future

Image © forbes.com

The pandemic has also reminded us how much innovation is needed to prevent a climate disaster.

The best numbers I have seen estimate that the economic slowdown due to COVID-19 reduced global emissions by around 8 percent. That’s not nothing, but the austerity that got us there obviously isn’t sustainable.

[…] So, how exactly do we fuel our need to move around without emitting greenhouse gases? The answer is simple, even if making it happen won’t be: use clean electricity to run all the vehicles we can, and get cheap alternative fuels for everything else.

[…] I’m inspired by the progress we’ve made so far, but we have a long road ahead of us (no pun intended). To prevent the worst effects of climate change, we need to get to zero net greenhouse gas emissions in every sector of the economy within 50 years.”

B. Gates, How we’ll move around in a clean, green future, [Online], available at link, published on 27.08.2020

Last week summary

24 – 30 August

The loss of biodiversity could increase the risk of epidemic transmission from animals to human. It is what has been found by a study of biologists that it will go public next month in New York at a UN summit on biodiversity. In our times extremely affected by a pandemic disease the most important thing after preventing and defying this disease is to prevent new ones in the future.

Read the article -> Link.

To meet our target of net zero emissions by 2050, as well as reducing emissions, we should improve our carbon sequestration’s techniques. Rather than investing in complicated, energy-intensive and expensive technologies, what about letting peat do the job for us? The Falkland Islands are an example of a net zero environment, or at least it used to be.

Read the article -> Link.

An unexptected consequences of climate change is that the geography of our climate is changing. And I do not mean the transformation of the natural landscape, rather the artificial landscape. It seems that, as the oceans are getting warmer and so affecting microclimates, the equator is unevenly expanding, both north and south.

Read the article -> Link.

A milestone victory has been ruled in court by a judge in New York against Trump’s administration that has been trying to undermine the the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. After the laws on car emissions and withdrawing for the Paris Climate Agreement, the Tycoon and his entourage of criminals were unable to win a battle in favour of oil company and against our Planet. In your face!

Read the article -> Link.

The future of the music business

The music industry, especially in the form of big live events, accounts for a chunk of the total carbon emissions of our species. Is there a place for music concerts in a sustainable future? Let’s find out, as always, together.

Last fall, frontman of Coldplay Chris Martin announced that the band was going to take a break from performing live to try to make their spectacular shows more sustainable. They were the last of a long list of famous stars of the music industry who openly embraced the cause for a sustainable future, including Adele, Green Day, the legendary rockstar Neil Young, Radiohead and many more.

We could summarize the main emissions of a live concert of big proportion into 3 main groups: emissions of fans travelling to the venue, the energy needed to power all the equipment (band and food stand/merchandise) and material used by the venue to serve food and beverages.

Getting the fans to the venue is an underrated problem that creates a huge environmental impact. Festivals are often organised in the countryside, far from the cities and residential area, to avoid the unavoidable noise and disturbance that such a gathering of people generates. Being far from cities, these places are often hard to reach via public transport, therefore people might decide to drive to the venue. And here’s the double blade: it’s not only about the car emissions of people driving to a concert but also the impact that an open car park with thousands of cars has on the land. This is because these places hardly have any paved car park, and so thousands of car lie for days on the grass, destroying vegetation and seeds (which will prevent newborn plants) and also obstruct with the ecosystem by scaring away for many miles animals, a crucial part of the food chain of the area. If we also consider that these kind of events are recurring each year, we have a perfect combination to completely eradicate or, in the luckiest scenario, to hugely affect vegetation of the countryside where the event is taking part. Last but not least, let’s not forget the number of people who decide to fly from abroad to the venue, increasing the emissions of travelling to a festival.

When it comes to energy, people always underestimate the problem. Speaking about cars, an argument well-spread among people is that “an electric car doesn’t have emissions”. This is partially true: of course, the motion of the vehicle is not produced by an engine burning fossil fuel, and so there are no emissions out of the pipe. However, most of the energy used for producing electricity in power plants around the world is produced by burning fossil fuel: the problem is not which energy we use, but how we produce it. It is important to bear this in mind because in some extreme situations if we consider that to make fuel we only produce emissions during the extraction, refinery and freight (to summarize), in an oil-rich country the emissions of a petrol car could be the same of an electric car, manufactured thousands of miles away in an energy-hungry state. And so many bands are shifting into freighting their musical equipment by boat rather than by plane and also are moving into biofuel-powered buses when touring.

The last is just the easiest of all: do not sell single-use plastic, biodegradable or wooden cutlery are already spreading in fast-food chains. Of course, safety first: it would be risky to sell glass bottles in a concert, and so here is my proposal. What about a deposit scheme: you come for your first drink and deposit £5 for a plastic glass, then get it back at the end of the day and if you lose it, you will have to pay again for another one. I am well aware of the limitation of this proposal and how hard it would be to apply it during events with hundreds of thousands of people attending: it is just a little inspiration for companies that are looking at ideas on how to make people having fun sustainably.

Things are changing though: RedBull has a list of sustainable concerts across Europe and Green Touring Network has produced a wonderful guide for artists and managers filled with tips on how to tour sustainably.

In a sustainable future, I do believe we will still be able to enjoy spectacular live events but if we are serious about reducing our emissions, this is one of the many industries that will need a complete revaluation. If we are not serious and we only like to make big claims, as many people on the internet seem to do nowadays, we can just don’t care as always and carry on, business as usual. I feel sometimes politicians and people with particular media attention just sell us some ideas, to keep polls favourable and social media stats up, and then do nothing. So do not expect them to change the future: it is normal people, like me and you, who can and most certainly will change it.

Last week summary

17 – 23 August

As a result of COVID-19, the Earth’s Overshoot Day was postponed by 3 weeks this year, 22nd of August compared to the 29th of July last year. This is the day where we consume all the resources that our Planet is able to regenerate in a year, an important indicator of sustainability (or UNsustainability).

Read the article -> Link.

There is a direct link between climate change and global hunger. Global crops could suffer in reduction and spreading of disease if our climate was to get warmer than today. Not only, the expected increase in natural disasters, such as drought and flood, will definitely affect our food production and the most vulnerable areas of the planet where we already experience shorts of food supply.

Read the article -> Link.

A study recently published on “Science” has explored the direct interdependence between racism and the natural ecosystem. In the US, wealthier neighbourhoods have access to more green areas and subsequently, they enjoy higher level of biodiversity. On the other hand, degraded areas with a higher concentration of ethnic minority in population experience higher level of air pollution, resulting in something described as “environmental injustice”.

Read the article -> Link.

Environment Land Management (ELM) will play a vital role in assessing the future of UK sustainability. The ELM scheme is an important player for the future of our land and nature, but at the current state of things, it will need to address four major missing criteria, to keep the pace of changes in a post-COVID world.

Read the article -> Link.

We will all end up there, but…

Hello everyone.

Week after week, this unusual summer is slowly coming to an end. Many of you will soon start to plan the next move, whether is work or studies.The future is always uncertain, but nowadays even more. And I don’t say it because of the health emergency, I say it because of the planet crisis.

The ones who are more sensitive towards our planet know what I am talking about. They’ve come to coexist with the daily anxiety, that feeling that makes you think: “what’s the point, it’s not gonna work, we’re doomed already”.

Nobody can say if we’re lost, but we can say we’re survivors. Planning the future is a good start, but bear in mind that even the smallest obstacle could jeopardise your dreams.
On the other hand, the past always gives me that feeling of strength and optimism, very much needed lately. It has been half a year since the radio does not spend a day without updating the number of deaths for covid: sincere condolences to everyone who was and will be affected, but since the beginning of our species, like or not, we’ve always died. And that’s a very important set of data: among the billions of people who walked on this soil, they all died.

In terms of human life expectancy, we could say that the Earth is immortal, even though our dependency by the sun gives in return approximately 5 billion years left. But what is important is what we leave behind.

When our continent shifts, they bring along earthquakes, destruction, coastal erosion. In return, century after century, we forget the troubled and shaking past, and we get to enjoy beauties such as this that I am happy to share with you.

Lulworth Cove, Dorset, UK. Pic by Gianluca Di Marco

We will all die, unfortunately, let’s make sure then we live responsibly, happy and free.