Back in Issue 14, we looked at the rather troubled Bilsdale transmission tower, which suffered a rather unfortunate fire at its base. There was some speculation as to what it would take to fix, given it was about 100 stories tall.
Well, it turns out that the fix was to blow it up. Without any fanfare or prior announcement - presumably to spectators away from the danger zone - it was felled in a controlled demolition. The video of it falling perfectly down onto itself is a credit to the demoilition team, I have to say - it's very tidy.
As to what will replace it - well, that's more uncertain. They're going to put up a temporary tower near the site, but it'll be less than a third of the height. Of course, given the decreasing relevance of broadcast television, it's possible they'll never rebuild one that tall again.
It's unfortunately not great news from the supply chain side of things - several industry groups are now warning that things are going to get even more dire, as after almost two years of strain, labour shortages in critical transport industries are getting worse.
Part of it is COVID restrictions making a once-tolerable transport-oriented job more dire and depressing, with a lack of being able to see the places you visit, or an inordinate amount of paperwork and checks required to cross borders. The other part would seem to be the traditionally poor quality of life in some of these industries to start with - people were already close to the edge before all this began.
Personally, it seems we are overdue a shift from trying to run supply lines at 100% efficiency and stressing out the people who run them, to improving working conditions and slack - sure, it may eat into profits a little, but better that than it collapsing. In some good news, though, US-China cargo prices are dropping a little - but they're still quite high.
In a sign that maybe climate change is becoming real far faster than anyone really wants, Google Maps has added a new "Fire" layer to their existing stable (Road, Satellite, Traffic, etc.). It'll include fire boundaries and information for any ongoing wildfires, as well as contact and evacuation information.
In slighly nicer news they also added a tree canopy tool, trying to encourage cities to add more trees to combat the urban heat island effect, which is also particularly important in a heating world. Trees cool cities and help take carbon dioxide out of the air, so it's a win-win situation.
While the wildfire tool being added is a sad reflection on reality, it's also going to prove very useful as they threaten increasing number of people. I just hope there's a future, one day, where we no longer need it.
Talking of wildfires, when you think of the damage they do, your mind mostly turns - for obvious reasons - to the everything-is-on-fire part. Burned houses, charred forests, roads and infrastructure damaged.
Well, there's unfortunately problems that persist after the fire as well. The burn scars that these fires leave are nowhere near as stable or clean as the forests that once stood there, and as well as causing nasty mudslides - which can take out roads for months - they can also dump a lot of very fine sediment into the rivers downstream.
Drinking water supply systems are designed to deal with filtering out small amounts of sediment from the water sources they use - not a filter-clogging swell of burn scar sediment and debris. Ironically, California's drought means that the lack of rain has made this much less of a problem there, though I'd argue no water is even worse than sediment-filled water.
In the latest setback for Puerto Rico, a place that has really had a bad run recently, the relatively new (private) power grid operator has been repeatedly turning off the power, and blaming the outages on seaweed.
Residents are, quite rightly, outraged - it's not like that power is cheap, either - but seaweed is a real problem on Puerto Rico. Sargassum, a particuarly prevalent seaweed that absolutely stinks as it decomposes, is choking the beaches of Puerto Rico, and there doesn't seem to be a good plan to manage it.
The power utility company, LUMA, is definitely not without blame here, though - there's also been a series of maintenance problems and issues with the plants rebuilt after Hurricane Maria. Locals are turning to solar power to help - which seems like it might be a good idea on an island-wide level, if they can find the space.