Cumberland Advisors Guest Commentary – Outlook for the 2019 Hurricane Season

Bob Bunting brings his established credentials, including being a Director of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research and a Lead Forecast for NOAA, to this guest commentary. He also mentions the Climate Adaptation Center (CAC), of which he is the CEO and which I personally support with money and effort.

Bob Bunting & David Kotok

We thought it timely to share Bob’s views as we in Florida start the summer red tide season and hurricane season with very warm water, even as we digest the newly released FEMA updates on disaster and contingency planning.

We thank Bob for this guest submission and also for agreeing to speak on July 16 at the joint GIC-Keystone Policy Center meeting in Keystone, Colorado. See: www.interdependence.org for details.

Editor’s Update: Bob’s July 16, 2019 presentation is available here – https://www.interdependence.org/resources/adapting-to-a-warmer-climate/


Bob Bunting


And his July 17, 2019 interview in Sarasota, FL can be viewed here:

 



 

Now here’s Bob Bunting. -David


The Hurricane Season 2019 Outlook

By Bob Bunting

Hurricane forecasting has become more a science than an art over my multi-decade career, and that is a good thing! The last few years have not been kind to the US mainland and territories. In 2017, hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, all Category 4’s at landfall, caused massive flooding or wind damage; and last year, a slightly above-normal season in the Atlantic, was devastating, with two major hurricanes, Florence and Michael, setting records for wind and rain. These five storms traveled over very warm seas and had explosive development (ED) cycles, and Michael struck the panhandle of Florida as a Category 5, the first ever in the region.

As I look at sea-surface temperature anomalies at present, I do not like what I see! In mid-June there are several areas where sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) are 3°C higher than normal, as you can see in the depiction below.

Bob Bunting Hurricane Image

The coolest water, shown in shades of blue, is off the coast of western Mexico and in the northern mid-Atlantic. Warm water is abundant in the South Atlantic and along the East Coast of the US, as well as in the Gulf of Mexico along the Texas and Mexico coasts. The dashed ovals show SSTs that average 1 to 3 degrees C above normal. An area of very warm water, averaging 5°C above normal, lies along the Mid-Atlantic coastline from Cape Cod to North Carolina.

 

Three of the four areas of warmer than normal SSTs are therefore close to the US mainland and densely populated areas of our country. After the last several years, when we have seen hurricanes develop rapidly from the tropical storm stage all the way to Category 4 and 5 superstorms in just a day or two, we should be concerned!  Incidentally, I have coined a term for such rapid development cycles: explosive development (ED).

During the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, Hurricane Harvey struck the Greater Houston area with peak winds of 130 mph and 60+ inches of rain in places. Then there was Hurricane Irma, which terrorized the Caribbean islands and Florida as it gained and maintained Category 4 and 5 status for days and proved to be the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded. Finally, Hurricane Maria rapidly developed and whacked Puerto Rico with upper-Category 4 winds, leveling much of the island.

The 2018 hurricane season was active but with only two major hurricanes. Unfortunately, both of them hit the US. Hurricane Florence struck the Carolinas as just a Category 1 but drowned the area with 30+ inches of rain, a record for that region. Please note that the color-coding of the 2018 hurricanes is slightly different, but you will get the idea.

This is Florence:

Later in the season, Hurricane Michael ripped through the panhandle of Florida as a Category 5 storm.

Together, these five storms did an amazing $295 billion in damage, $265 billion in 2017 and $30 billion in 2018 and killed about 4700 people! Fortunately, last year the two major hurricanes hit the US in relatively sparely populated areas.

What is unusual about the last two seasons is that hurricanes experienced ED cycles where they intensified to Category 5 within a day or two. All these storms except Harvey had pinpoint eyes that were 20 miles or less in diameter.  Take a close look at Michael’s amazing pinhole eye as it came ashore. When storms have this extremely compact eye formation, the winds around the eye are like large tornadoes that wipe the landmass clean. Hurricane Michael showed its fury as it leveled the area around Mexico Beach, Florida, and also mowed down more than a million acres of trees in North Florida and South Georgia. Inland Georgia experienced Category 3 winds for the first time in recorded history.

Two of the five storms, Harvey and Florence, dumped record rains as they stalled on the coastline. This, too, is unusual.

What we know is that SSTs are now much warmer than normal on average. When expansive water bodies like oceans and gulfs are warm, they also tend to warm to a greater depth than usual. When tropical systems move over expansive, warm water bodies they intensify more rapidly than they would over cooler water, all other things being equal. They also gather more moisture in the process and can become very heavy rainmakers, especially if they stall or move slowly as they approach land.
Since 1880, millions of verified observations have shown that the Earth’s average air temperature has risen by almost 2°F. That does not seem like much, but in effect it is! Warmer air holds more moisture. We also know that the poles are heating much faster than the equator is, which means the temperature gradient between the equator and poles is diminishing. When that happens, the jet streams weaken and move poleward. The result can be that hurricanes approaching the mid-latitudes can stall or slow down and dump those record rainfalls.

We also know that since 1880 sea level rise has averaged about 9 inches around the globe. When strong storms hit the coasts, storm surges are not only higher now because storms are stronger but also because the surges come on top of already higher sea levels.

So where do these considerations leave us as we consider the 2019 hurricane season? Thankfully, a weak El Niño event is ongoing in the Pacific. El Niño conditions in the Pacific correlate with stronger wind shear in the Atlantic. When the wind speed increases with increasing height, shear is created. Such conditions inhibit hurricane development by disrupting the vertical organization of storms.

Because we know SSTs are warmer than normal overall and wind shear may be somewhat higher than normal, the forecast is for a near-normal hurricane season this year. Normal is defined as about 12 storms total, with two or three major hurricanes. A major hurricane is considered a Category 3, 4, or 5 storm.

Given the normal season expected, why am I more than a little concerned? Because – and you may already see where I’m going here! – the warm SSTs are close to US shorelines, where tens of millions of people live. Thus, hurricanes approaching the US may spin up more rapidly than normal, as has been the case in recent years. Take Florida, for example. Since the 2000 census, Florida’s population has from grown from 15.3 million to 21.6 million today. Should a hurricane rapidly intensify just off the coast of a heavily populated area and then strike within 24 hours, there would not be time for an orderly evacuation. This is a nightmare scenario for planners and a potential catastrophe when it becomes reality.

With very warm water along the eastern seaboard well north of usual warm water anomalies of the past, this may be the year when a storm moving up the East Coast becomes much stronger faster and then maintains super-hurricane status for much longer than usual.

Why is this potential developing? We cannot say with absolute certainty that any particular storm is a result of climate warming. But what we can say is that much warmer sea surface temperatures create increasing probabilities of bad outcomes.

Climate warming impacts are here now Isn’t it time that we begin to plan, adjust, and mitigate the worst impacts of climate-induced changes like sea level rise and the changing characteristics of hurricanes? We know a lot about how to mitigate, plan, and adjust; but thus far our response has been too slow for the level of threat we now face. This just isn’t smart!

USF Climate Change Event Jan 2019 - Bob Bunting

These are among the threats that have led to the creation of the Climate Adaptation Center (CAC). While the initial center will focus on local and regional climate-related issues in Florida, we hope the first CAC will be a prototype for other CACs worldwide to deal with local impacts. Adaptation and mitigation actions can help us to successfully deal with the worst impacts of a warming climate. While a global solution to the warming climate may evolve in the decades ahead, we now have little choice but to adapt in ways that protect our way of life. Climate warming is not only a problem for future generations; it is a problem for us! For more information about the CAC, please contact me at bobbunting@comcast.net. We need your help now!

David R. Kotok
Chairman and Chief Investment Officer
Email | Bio

Bob Bunting
Atmospheric Scientist, Author, Educator, and Entrepreneur
Email | Bio


Links to other websites or electronic media controlled or offered by Third-Parties (non-affiliates of Cumberland Advisors) are provided only as a reference and courtesy to our users. Cumberland Advisors has no control over such websites, does not recommend or endorse any opinions, ideas, products, information, or content of such sites, and makes no warranties as to the accuracy, completeness, reliability or suitability of their content. Cumberland Advisors hereby disclaims liability for any information, materials, products or services posted or offered at any of the Third-Party websites. The Third-Party may have a privacy and/or security policy different from that of Cumberland Advisors. Therefore, please refer to the specific privacy and security policies of the Third-Party when accessing their websites.

Sign up for our FREE Cumberland Market Commentaries

Cumberland Advisors Market Commentaries offer insights and analysis on upcoming, important economic issues that potentially impact global financial markets. Our team shares their thinking on global economic developments, market news and other factors that often influence investment opportunities and strategies.




Zika, Climate Change & January 25

On December 30, as 2018 drew to an end, NBC’s Meet the Press aired an entire program on the climate change crisis, well worth watching (https://www.nbc.com/meet-the-press/video/meet-the-press-1230/3850857). Host Chuck Todd gave no air time to climate change denialism. Instead, the episode plunged into analyzing the crisis at hand, what might be done, what impediments slow our time-critical response, and how to overcome those impediments. Florida Republican Representative Carlos Curbelo, among other program guests, called for constructive action. “We need to stop covering the debate and start covering the story, so that people see that this is real, and so that politicians take a more-pragmatic approach and find solutions that are actually achievable,” Curbelo said. The day after Thanksgiving, despite Mr. Trump’s personal dismissal of climate change, the Trump administration released Volume II of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (https://www.globalchange.gov/nca4), and we’ve been digesting its deeply concerning contents in the week since.

The impacts of climate change are myriad, affecting our world, our communities, our health, our food supply, and our investments. We will be taking a look at a number of climate-change-related issues impacting Florida and beyond, from sea level rise to red tide to hurricanes to fruitful adaptive strategies and the economic opportunities they present, when we convene on Friday, January 25, at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee for our one-day event, “Adapting to a Changing Climate: Challenges & Opportunities.” See the full roster of speakers, including our own Patricia Healy, here: http://sar.usfsm.edu/event/adapting-to-a-changing-climate/. We hope to see you there.

In today’s commentary, however, I would like to zero in on the impact of climate change on vector-borne diseases, including Zika. Chapter 14 of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (https://www.globalchange.gov/nca4) addresses the adverse effects of climate change on human health, noting that “Climate change affects human health by altering exposures to heat waves, floods, droughts, and other extreme events; vector-, food- and waterborne infectious diseases; changes in the quality and safety of air, food, and water; and stresses to mental health and well-being” (p. 545 in the full report PDF). We have no trouble grasping the threats posed by heat waves, fires, floods, and storms that claim lives as well as property, along with droughts that parch crops and threaten water supplies, but we should not miss the implications of climate change for increased vector-borne disease risks. As the report points out, “Climate change is expected to alter the geographic range, seasonal distribution, and abundance of disease vectors, exposing more people in North America to ticks that carry Lyme disease or other bacterial and viral agents, and to mosquitoes that transmit West Nile, chikungunya, dengue, and Zika viruses” (p. 545).

The range of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, for example, a primary vector for dengue, chikungunya, Zika, and yellow fever, is expected to expand considerably worldwide, exposing far larger populations, particularly in Australia, Europe, and North America, to those viruses. According to one recent study, well before the end of the 21st century, 68%–80% of human populations may share their environments with Aedes aegypti and thus be vulnerable to the diseases that mosquito can carry, with the percentages depending on the climate change scenario that actually unfolds, (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-016-1679-0). In general, lower greenhouse gas emissions translate to less risk for human health.

Risk of mosquito-borne diseases in general is to be understood not just in terms of the range of a particular mosquito species but also in terms of mosquito “disease danger days.” As an August 2018 report published at Climate Central points out, “there’s an elevated risk of disease transmission [assuming disease is present] when temperatures are between 61 degrees and 93 degrees Fahrenheit.” The report notes the circumstances required for disease transmission: “In addition to needing the proper climatological factors for the mosquito to survive and transmit disease, there needs to be the establishment of the disease in the first place — having the proper climatic conditions, a critical density of mosquitoes, and the conditions for the sustained cycle of disease transmission itself. And, in order to transmit disease, a mosquito must bite twice — once to acquire the disease [itself], and a second time to pass it on. The largest number of these twice-biting mosquitoes were produced at 75 degrees Fahrenheit.” (http://www.climatecentral.org/news/us-faces-a-rise-in-mosquito-disease-danger-days-21903)

Climate Central analyzed weather data for 244 US cities to determine the number of disease danger days each city faces now as the climate warms. They found that 94%, or 229, of the cities they studied are already seeing an increase in the number of days when average temperatures fall within the optimal range for mosquito-borne disease transmission. Some areas, however, may become too hot for the mosquitoes themselves. Phoenix, for example, actually has fewer disease transmission danger days than it did previously because of the number of extremely hot days the city must contend with. All in all, only 12 cities are experiencing a decrease in disease danger days. As the climate warms, the report concludes, Americans face heightened risks for dengue, Zika, chikungunya, and West Nile (http://www.climatecentral.org/news/us-faces-a-rise-in-mosquito-disease-danger-days-21903).

The 2015–2016 Zika outbreak drove home the hazards of mosquito-borne diseases, as Zika took a terrible toll on the development of one in seven unborn children whose mothers were exposed to the otherwise generally mild virus (https://www.contagionlive.com/publications/contagion/2018/october/zika-where-are-we-now). Babies were born with microcephaly and/or other birth defects such as vision problems, deafness, and epilepsy. Their lives and their family’s lives were forever changed from what might have been.

In 2018, Zika has not made many headlines in the US, and the case count is down. As of December 4, 2018, the provisional case count for US States is 58 for the year, all travelers returning from affected areas. US territories have reported 116 Zika cases, with the virus presumably transmitted through local populations of infected mosquitoes (https://www.cdc.gov/zika/reporting/2018-case-counts.html). Case counts aside, the virus remains a threat – nothing has changed about its intrinsic potential to wreak havoc. It is still active throughout the South and Southeast Asia region, and some districts in India saw worrisome outbreaks in 2018 (https://www.hindustantimes.com/health/healthwise-new-outbreaks-need-better-disease-surveillance/story-2bSekn9rGCIbWADtk9p2TK.html).

While some experts hypothesize that “herd immunity” has been achieved in areas hardest hit in 2016, Carmen Zorilla, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine in San Juan, disagrees. She estimates that about 10.5% of pregnant women in Puerto Rico tested positive for Zika during the outbreak – an infection rate not nearly high enough to confer herd immunity. She observes that such viral outbreaks tend to happen in 3–5-year cycles. (https://www.contagionlive.com/publications/contagion/2018/october/zika-where-are-we-now).

Problematically, some 60–80% of Zika cases are asymptomatic, so Zika can readily go undetected and gain a foothold before it is identified in a particular area. Fewer than half of those infected actually seek medical care (https://www.contagionlive.com/publications/contagion/2018/october/zika-where-are-we-now). Most of the time, symptoms, when people do have them, are relatively mild and somewhat flu-like: fever, rash, headache, achy joints and muscles, and conjunctivitis, though in rare instances a Zika infection can lead to Guillain-Barré syndrome. Currently, the CDC recommends Zika testing for pregnant women with possible Zika exposure and for those who experience Zika symptoms after traveling to areas where they might have been exposed to the virus (https://www.cdc.gov/zika/hc-providers/testing-guidance.html).

Is there room in that surveillance net for a Zika outbreak to fire up before it is detected? Definitely so. In 2016, a research team led by Northeastern University professor Alessandro Vespignani and overseen by the Center for Inference and Dynamics of Infectious Diseases, projected the discrepancy between the number of reported Zika cases and the likely number of actual cases. The team’s models projected that the actual number of infections in July 2016 was likely 25 times the number of confirmed cases (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160802133703.htm).

Dr. Vespignani notes that major outbreaks are associated not only with the right air temperature but also with areas of standing water. In many instances, people educated to understand the risks can manage those, emptying the birdbath or flower pot saucers and the like at least once a week; but after major precipitation events magnified by climate change, when there is standing water everywhere, mosquito populations can spike. The sopping US Southeast, where rainfall records were handily broken in 2018, can testify that there is sometimes “water, water everywhere,” to borrow a phrase from Samuel Taylor Coleridge (https://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/2018-leaves-its-mark-in-the-rainfall-record-books-across-eastern-southern-us/70007024).

Furthermore, densely populated areas face elevated risk. Juanita Constible, a climate expert at the Natural Resources Defense Council, explains that, for mosquitoes, “extension of habitat is a combination of climate change and human behavior. Urbanization can expand habitats for some species of mosquito that prefer cities [Aedes egypti among them], so as people expand into natural areas, those species will go with them. Not only do urban settings have plenty of habitat and food, but in cities, mosquitoes lack natural predators.” (https://www.citylab.com/environment/2018/10/hurricane-florence-mosquitoes-north-carolina/571912/)

Kate Fowlie, spokesperson for the US CDC, warns, “Mosquito-borne disease outbreaks are difficult to predict. There will be future outbreaks, including large ones, as well as years with reduced transmission, but it is impossible to know when or where these transmission patterns will occur” (https://www.contagionlive.com/publications/contagion/2018/october/zika-where-are-we-now).

It seems obvious that surveillance is key to preventing outbreaks both in the present and in a warming future, but the CDC’s funding for expanded infectious disease surveillance is due to run out in 2019. The CDC is already planning to scale back its participation in the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA), an early-warning system for infectious disease outbreaks, in 39 of 49 countries (http://www.ghtcoalition.org/blog/global-health-and-medical-research-saved-from-the-chopping-block-in-2018-spending-bill).

While the US will be assisting with infectious disease surveillance in 10 countries, the map of Zika-affected areas around the globe, courtesy of the CDC, is expansive (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/files/zika-areas-of-risk.pdf).

There is a lot of purple on this map, but these are not all the places Zika can go; they are merely places where infection is already a risk. Infected travelers can fly all over the world, and disease-bearing mosquitoes know no borders other than inhospitable habitats. Climate change, as we have seen, will widen the range of vector-borne diseases, sharply increasing the percentage of the global population at risk. Viruses themselves, of course, are moving targets, as they mutate regularly – Zika posed no known risk to the unborn until this century, when a mutation changed what had been a mild pathogen (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/09/28/zika-was-a-mild-bug-a-new-discovery-shows-how-it-turned-monstrous/?utm_term=.af60fd526a41). Scientists also warn us that we may soon be contending with disease-causing bacteria and viruses that have lain dormant for centuries or even millennia, frozen in permafrost that is now melting as the Arctic warms (www.bbc.com/earth/story/20170504-there-are-diseases-hidden-in-ice-and-they-are-waking-up).

As we look ahead, addressing climate change will clearly entail grappling with expanded threats to human health, and one of those threats will be elevated vector-borne disease risks, perhaps coupled with diseases modern medicine has yet to encounter. Climate change mitigation and adaptation, combined with vigilant surveillance, vaccine development, and mosquito population control strategies will all be keys to managing vector-borne disease risks posed by certain species of mosquitoes and ticks.

This commentary has been a deepish dive into just one of the secondary challenges climate change will pose to nations, states, cities, municipalities, and the well-being of Americans. In the instance of Zika, we know that the lifetime cost of caring for one child whose life is profoundly impacted by prenatal exposure to the Zika virus, beyond heartbreak, is likely to reach one to ten million dollars (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/23/1/16-1322_article). Human health is just one area in which proactively addressing climate change and adaptation makes both imminent sense and dollars and cents. Again, if you are in the Sarasota area on January 25, we hope you will join us at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee for “Adapting to a Changing Climate: Challenges & Opportunities.” Find more information about this one-day event and register here: http://sar.usfsm.edu/event/adapting-to-a-changing-climate/.




January 25th & Gary Shilling

Gary Shilling is an icon of our finance industry. His monthly missive is priceless. Fred Rossi edits and researches. The work product is extraordinary. We thank them for permission to share the December monthly in full. The trigger for our request was their thorough examination of the climate-change debate and the coincident timing, as registration is now open for the January 25th GIC-USFSM conference, Adapting to a Changing Climate: Challenges & Opportunities, to be held at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.
 
Here is a link to the conference presentations lineup: http://usfsm.edu/climate
 
The conference is fully sponsored, so the registration cost is only 50 bucks to cover lunch and direct costs. Issues such as red tide, hurricane intensity, and rising sea levels are among those to be examined. The purpose of the conference is not to find fault; instead, it is to discuss what to do now and tomorrow and next week and next month.
 
Please take a look at the excellent data assembled by Gary and Fred, starting on page 31 of Gary Shilling’s Insight for December, available here as a PDF file: https://cumber.com/pdf/A.-Gary-Shilling’s-INSIGHT-December-2018-(Climate-Change-A-Look-From-Both-Sides).pdf – page=31.
 
Also look at the latest official US report on climate change, released by the Trump administration on the day after Thanksgiving: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States, https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/.  
 
Another valuable source of reliable analysis of climate change comes from the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics of the University of Chicago. Their working paper 2018-51 is entitled “Valuing the Global Mortality Consequences of Climate Change Accounting for Adaptation Costs and Benefits” (August 2018). It’s available here: https://bfi.uchicago.edu/Greenstone-WP-201851.
 
We hope that you will join us at the USFSM auditorium on January 25 for the conference. Please forward this message to anyone who might be interested in this subject.

GIC & USFSM - Adapting to a Changing Climate - Challenges & Opportunities




Climate Change Resources

Cumberland Advisors is a sponsor of the upcoming USF-GIC event,

“Adapting to a Changing Climate: Global to Local Impact”

GIC & USFSM - Adapting to a Changing Climate - Challenges & OpportunitiesClimate Change Resources

Cumberland Advisors, the Global Interdependence Center, the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, the Science and Environment Council and Atlas Insurance are the primary sponsors in this event that will feature Bob Bunting among other luminaries invited for this very important discussion.

In this post you’ll find a compilation of resources that can be referenced as part of the ongoing conversation on climate change and its impact.

Event links

USFSM Website & Event Registration: http://usfsm.edu/climate

Flyer for event:

(Long URL) https://www.cumber.com/pdf/USFSM-GIC-January-25-2019-Agenda-for-Adapting-to-a-Changing-Climate-Global-to-Local-Impact.pdf

(Short URL) https://buff.ly/2QqOQY9

Cumberland Advisors Commentaries

123

Research

Red Tide Current Status: http://myfwc.com/redtidestatus

NASA Climate Change Resources: https://climate.nasa.gov/resources/

Press Releases

123

Press Coverage

Sarasota Magazine – Climate Change Conference Set for Jan. 25.




Climate Change Conference Set for Jan. 25

Excerpt of Sarasota Magazine’s…

Climate Change Conference Set for Jan. 25

Topics will include the implication of rising sea levels for Florida, the effect of climate change on hurricanes, whether climate change worsens red tide and more.

By Staff 12/4/2018 at 10:37am

Cumberland Advisors, the Global Interdependence Center, the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, the Science and Environment Council and Atlas Insurance are organizing a conference that will examine “Adapting to a Changing Climate.” The featured speaker will be Bob Bunting…

Read full article at Sarasota Magazine.




Red Tide, January 25th Sarasota Conference on Climate Change

The January 25th GIC-USFSM conference, Adapting to a Changing Climate: Challenges & Opportunities, to be held at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, is open to the public. The sponsors, including Cumberland, helped so as to allow the cost of registration to be held to $50, a registration fee that covers the lunch.

GIC & USFSM - Adapting to a Changing Climate - Challenges & Opportunities
 

Climate-change believers and deniers are welcome. The purpose of the event is to put facts and details in the public domain for discussion.

Red tide and the toxins it carries are among the issues we will take up. Ask any Sarasota restauranteur or hotel manager what has happened to business these last few months, and the economic impact on Florida becomes clear. All political personalities interested in mitigating the effects of red tide on their jurisdictions are welcome to attend or send staff.

Let me get to a specific health issue related to red tide. I will start with a quoted email from a national personality whom I know personally. He contracted an illness believed to be a result of breathing red tide toxin or the related algae bloom toxin.

He wrote:

“I’ve easily found articles with various analyses of probable causality between bodily responses to Brevetoxins and auto-immune system responses generally associated with organizing pneumonia.

“The experts I have want to identify similar episodic correlations in order to study specific trends and narrow the range of potential causality.

“Has your group associated among any Florida pulmonologists that have seen similar cases?

“One of the fundamental issues may be that the primary group at risk of serious chronic illness is visitors that have no prior immunities from low doses of Brevetoxin exposure. They suffer the effects of a red tide bloom of Karenia brevis algae and then leave Florida before any of the major chronic illness symptoms appear.

“They know they are sick but have no contact with medical professionals that understand normal red tide irritations. That now seems to be the primary missing link.

“Research is so much fun (if only I didn’t have to concurrently live the experience).”

My friend also sent this report:

“David,

“Initial biopsy result on the biggest spot in my lung found ‘organizing pneumonia’ and no malignancy – good news.

“The point at which the coughing and respiratory irritation that resulted in this particular ‘pneumonia’ began, however, directly coincides with my exposure to red tide in April. My med records are very clear that there was no cough or other irritation symptoms before that exposure.

“If there would be any interest in this situation among you and your friends, let’s talk.

“I’m going to enjoy Thanksgiving with family and head to FL. If there’s interest, maybe we can gather and discuss a follow-up for the public health of FL, as Judy and I traverse the Tampa area after Thanksgiving.

“My AA pulmonologist and I will do more to follow up in Dec. I’ve got numerous other spots we need to analyze further before declaring ‘victory.’”

Dear reader: My point of this personal story is direct. This could be you or me. Research and discussion are needed. And what we’re dealing with here is a second-order effect of climate change, just like growing hurricane intensity and rising sea levels.

We are going to have a full auditorium on January 25, with thorough presentations and discussions of facts.

Below is a series of extracts and links on the red tide and toxin issues:


“Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB)-Associated Illness… Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are the rapid growth of algae that can cause harm to animals, people, or the local ecology. A HAB can look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of water and can be different colors. HABs can produce toxins that have caused a variety of illnesses in people and animals. HABs can occur in warm fresh, marine, or brackish waters with abundant nutrients and are becoming more frequent with climate change.”
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/habs/index.html)


“Exposure to harmful algal bloom toxins found in cyanobacteria (blue green algae) or Karenia brevis red tide can cause severe illness in pets, livestock, and wildlife when contaminated water is ingested or when animals lick their fur after swimming.”
(Florida Dept. of Health, http://www.floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/aquatic-toxins/aquatic-toxins-program-animal-health.html)

“About Red Tide… Algae are vitally important to marine ecosystems, and most species of algae are not harmful. However, under certain environmental conditions, microscopic marine algae called Karenia brevis (K. brevis) grow quickly, creating blooms that can make the ocean appear red or brown. People often call these blooms ‘red tide.’

“K. brevis produces powerful toxins called brevetoxins, which have killed millions of fish and other marine organisms. Red tides have damaged the fishing industry, shoreline quality, and local economies in states such as Texas and Florida. Because K. brevis blooms move based on winds and tides, pinpointing a red tide at any given moment is difficult.

“ASSESSING THE IMPACT ON PUBLIC HEALTH

“In addition to killing fish, brevetoxins can become concentrated in the tissues of shellfish that feed on K. brevis. People who eat these shellfish may suffer from neurotoxic shellfish poisoning, a food poisoning that can cause severe gastrointestinal and neurologic symptoms, such as tingling fingers or toes.

“The human health effects associated with eating brevetoxin-tainted shellfish are well documented. However, scientists know little about how other types of environmental exposures to brevetoxin—such as breathing the air near red tides or swimming in red tides—may affect humans. Anecdotal evidence suggests that people who swim among brevetoxins or inhale brevetoxins dispersed in the air may experience irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, as well as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Additional evidence suggests that people with existing respiratory illness, such as asthma, may experience these symptoms more severely.”
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/hab/redtide/pdfs/about.pdf)


Here are additional red tide resources:

“Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB)-Associated Illness… Publications, Data, & Statistics”
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/habs/publications.html)

Here is the link to the latest US government report on climate change. We recommend perusal with an open mind and a willingness to alter views: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States, https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/.

For more information on how to join us in this important conversation, please visit www.usfsm.edu/climate

David R. Kotok
Chairman and Chief Investment Officer
Email | Bio


Links to other websites or electronic media controlled or offered by Third-Parties (non-affiliates of Cumberland Advisors) are provided only as a reference and courtesy to our users. Cumberland Advisors has no control over such websites, does not recommend or endorse any opinions, ideas, products, information, or content of such sites, and makes no warranties as to the accuracy, completeness, reliability or suitability of their content. Cumberland Advisors hereby disclaims liability for any information, materials, products or services posted or offered at any of the Third-Party websites. The Third-Party may have a privacy and/or security policy different from that of Cumberland Advisors. Therefore, please refer to the specific privacy and security policies of the Third-Party when accessing their websites.

Sign up for our FREE Cumberland Market Commentaries

Cumberland Advisors Market Commentaries offer insights and analysis on upcoming, important economic issues that potentially impact global financial markets. Our team shares their thinking on global economic developments, market news and other factors that often influence investment opportunities and strategies.




Florida’s Red Tide: Possible causes, Who’s to blame?

Jim Roemer (A.K.A. Dr. Weather) has been forecasting for the commodity and ski industry for over 30 years . He splits his time between Sarasota, Florida and Vermont, and has a deep passion and concern about the environment and climate. We found his work titled, “Florida’s Red Tide: Possible causes, Who’s to blame? Implications to humans and how it can be resolved,” to be interesting and of interest to our audience. With his permission and our thanks to Jim, we share it with you today. You can find out more about Jim Roemer at his website, https://www.bestweatherinc.com.

John R. Mousseau, CFA
President and CEO
Email | Bio

Florida’s Red Tide: Possible causes, Who’s to blame?


Florida’s Red Tide: Possible causes, Who’s to blame?
Implications to humans and how it can be resolved

As a steward of trying to bring more awareness to people about global warming and protecting our environment, seeing and smelling, the Red Tide Algae in Florida, is particularly bothersome.

THE FIRST THING you notice is the smell. It’s not a scent, exactly, but a tingling in the nose that quickly spreads to the throat and burns the lungs. But then you see the carcasses.

I moved to Florida 10 years ago to enjoy the Florida beaches, but have seen first hand how Red Tide has gotten worse over the years. In the past, hurricanes such as Katrina, Irma, etc. were thought to add to the problem, but actually, we need some sort of tropical weather system to churn up the waters. This would potentially mix up and move toxins, if only temporarily. It’s ironic to think about a hurricane actually benefiting Florida, after the many disasters the Sunshine State has witnessed over the years. However, a weak system could actually be beneficial to Florida.

RED TIDE–“It’s killing sea life, battering our economy and making people sick,” says a recent Florida TV ad. “Red tide continues to devastate our area. And many feel it’s fair to blame Rick Scott.” The blame assertion is lifted from an Orlando Sentinel editorial, which appears on screen.

Please see a most recent TV ad and how once again the Florida legislature is more concerned with money in their pockets and big business, rather than helping the environment.

COULD A TROPICAL STORM CLEAN UP THE RED TIDE?
In a study I did last May, I was one of the first to predict a pretty inactive hurricane season this year, due to a combination of cooler Atlantic ocean temperatures, compared to last year; a possible weak El Nino developing and African dust that could hurt hurricane activity. The oceans are presently warming a bit more than the 1994 analog (below), so the hurricane season will start perking up. Nevertheless, the odds of a major hurricane hitting Florida or the Gulf coast this fall, is greatly reduced, compared to last year’s devastating season. That’s of course a good thing.

(How can African dust can kill the Atlantic hurricane season? See here for a recent article)

Come late fall and winter, however, when we begin to see occasional cool fronts come in from the north, this would more likely “ease” the Red Tide problem. The longer it takes to get a tropical system to hit Florida, or a major cool front to come down from the north, the longer the Red Tide problem could remain along Florida’s west coast costing billions of dollars to the Sunshine State’s tourism.

How Can Red Tide be Mitigated? History
In Florida, Mote Marine scientists have been developing a patented system to mitigate the red tide’s toxic effects. It uses the highly reactive molecule ozone—which is composed of a trio of oxygen atoms—to destroy all organic compounds, including algae and brevetoxins, while oxygenating the water. They’ve successfully tested the system in a 25,000-gallon tank and are now prepping for a pilot project in a local canal, clarifying around 600,000 gallons of water.

For now, however, scientists are continuing to monitor the blooms in Florida, hoping eventually to be able to forecast these events. But the death toll continues to climb. “Wildlife is kind of the proverbial canary in the coal mine,” says CROW’s Barron. “And right now, the canary just died.

RED TIDE and its History
Red tide is a phenomenon caused by algal blooms (Wikipedia definition) during which algae become so numerous that they discolor coastal waters (hence the name “red tide”). The algal bloom may also deplete oxygen in the waters and/or release toxins that may cause illness in humans and other animals.

Spanish explorers documented seeing it back in the 1500s. However, it remained poorly understood until a scientist named Karen Steidinger of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg spent decades putting it under her microscope. In tribute, scientists renamed the species to honor her, changing Gymnodinium breve to Karenia brevis.

Major factors influencing red tide events include warm ocean surface temperatures, low salinity, high nutrient content, calm seas, and rain followed by sunny days during the summer months . In addition, algae related to red tide can spread or be carried long distances by winds, currents, storms, or ships.

Another factor is likely that phosphorous levels in the lake are high. This is due to back-pumping water from sugar cane farms to the south. Then, due to a high amount of debris from Hurricane Irma in all lakes, rivers, and estuaries, oxygen levels in freshwater bodies have dropped. This causes levels of iron to increase in the water running off into the Florida coast. Both nutrients, phosphorous and iron, can cultivate algae like red tide.

Recent decades have brought intense blooms to Florida. A particularly bad bloom came in 1947. The brevetoxins in the air were so thick, the residents of Naples, Florida, thought armed forces had poured nerve gas into the Gulf—an observation that helped scientists discover the algae’s irritating fumes.

Charlotte and Lee counties are experiencing some of the highest concentrations of red tide in recent memory, and it’s creeping north into Sarasota. Facebook videos of dead manatees and sea turtles have gone viral, but dying gamefish like snook and endangered redfish scare Greer most.

Presently, roughly 20 million algal cells color this swath of red that recently lingered off of Florida’s southwest coast. The red tide began in October 2017, and there are no signs that the toxic plume will lift anytime soon. But the problem is not limited to Florida alone, there seems to be a global expansion of these harmful blooms, with China waters seeing a huge increase the last few years.

IS GLOBAL WARMING ACCELERATING THE PROBLEM?
There is much debate on exactly “what is causing these blooms to expand.” I am a firm believer that climate change is one of the culprits. This is because these toxins thrive in warmer waters. Of course, increasing nutrient runoff is also a major issue due to the sugar industry around Lake Okeechobee and the rapid housing boom along the Florida coast. Decades of nutrient pollution mixed with heavy rainfall and warm temperatures helped create toxic algae in Lake Okeechobee. At one point this year, blue-green algae covered 90 percent of the lake.

In a controversial study in 2008, University of Miami scientists Larry Brand and Angela Compton examined the last 50 years of data on K. brevis blooms, reporting that between 1994 and 2002, the blooms were 13 to 18 times more abundant than those striking from 1954 to 1963.

(For a great source for more information about Red Tide, please visit here:  https://serc.carleton.edu/microbelife/topics/redtide/index.html)


RED TIDE’S EFFECT ON HUMANS
(Information below is from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Mote Marine Laboratory.)

Does Red Tide Effect Humans?
Yes, although not with such finality. The latest state report shows people at beaches from Sarasota to Naples reporting breathing problems as a result of encountering the Red Tide bloom. Usually the toxins cause only mild irritation and coughing, but they can produce serious problems for people with asthma and other respiratory problems. Health officials advise against eating shellfish from Red Tide areas because the toxins can accumulate in their bodies, poisoning humans.
Is it OK to eat seafood right now?
Most seafood restaurants aren’t serving fish and crustaceans that were caught locally, so you’ll be fine. If you want to eat a fish you caught yourself, be careful. Make sure it’s alive when you reel it in. Only eat the muscle tissue of the fish, nothing else.
Can I go swimming in the Red Tide?
If you can get past all the coughing and wheezing and dead fish floating in the water, sure! Most people don’t develop the skin irritation that bothers a few who swim through the algae bloom. However, you should be sure to shower off thoroughly when you’re done.
Can I still take my dog for a walk on the beach?
Yes, but don’t let Fido play with any dead fish or foam on the beach, and give him a thorough rinse with freshwater when he’s done — before he gets in your car, not after.
Should we find a way to destroy all algae in the ocean so we can avoid having this happen again?
No. Most blooms are beneficial because the tiny plants serve as food for animals in the ocean. They are the major source of energy in the ocean food web.


Links to other websites or electronic media controlled or offered by Third-Parties (non-affiliates of Cumberland Advisors) are provided only as a reference and courtesy to our users. Cumberland Advisors has no control over such websites, does not recommend or endorse any opinions, ideas, products, information, or content of such sites, and makes no warranties as to the accuracy, completeness, reliability or suitability of their content. Cumberland Advisors hereby disclaims liability for any information, materials, products or services posted or offered at any of the Third-Party websites. The Third-Party may have a privacy and/or security policy different from that of Cumberland Advisors. Therefore, please refer to the specific privacy and security policies of the Third-Party when accessing their websites.

Sign up for our FREE Cumberland Market Commentaries

Cumberland Advisors Market Commentaries offer insights and analysis on upcoming, important economic issues that potentially impact global financial markets. Our team shares their thinking on global economic developments, market news and other factors that often influence investment opportunities and strategies.