Weather is getting more stressful and our dogs can smell it

Triple Dip La Niña is a $1 Trillion Problem

Thu Sep 15

You’re probably heard of La Niña and El Niño, but what exactly are they? They are actually two of the three phases of a natural climate pattern across the tropical Pacific Ocean. The third phase is “Neutral” (basically, average conditions). Every two to seven years, the world experiences the phases of either La Niña or El Niño. In La Niña, the equatorial Pacific sees stronger trade winds and cooler ocean temperatures. El Niño is the opposite, but both phases interact with other air and water to produce big, global weather changes. We’re now in a third straight year of La Niña.

As a result, weather channels are warning of more, worsening drought, storms, heat, or cold (depending on your location). While we can easily imagine the discomfort or utility bill this may bring, La Niña by 2023 will have cost the world $1T. From farming losses to flood damages, the consequences of extreme weather is also painful economic negativity, including inflation.

While the problems of La Niña are more severe because of climate change, it’s unclear if the increased frequency is also due to climate change. But the impact and costs are clear. In La Niña years:

  • Western North America gets less rain. This means ongoing drought is both choking hydroelectric production and threatening crops with Texas seeing 10-year highs for cotton prices due to crop losses.
  • The Atlantic experiences more storms that are also more intense. While normal years have 14 storms, La Niña brought a record 30 in 2020 and 21 in 2021.
  • Australia, like the Atlantic, gets a more intense storm season. They’re already dealing with $3B in flood damage losses, not to mention crop loss and coal mine floods. New Zealand has seen hundreds of small penguins wash up on shore because of La Niña.
  • South America is not only dealing with losses in big crops such as coffee, oranges, and soybeans from drought, it’s also dealing with the loss of a shipping route as a crucial river dries up.
  • South Asia is pummeled by rainfall. The devastating floods that have claimed over 1,500 lives and billions in damage in Pakistan are directly tied to La Niña. Bangladesh and India are also seeing torrential rains wreck homes and infrastructure.


The "Ruffer" Side of Stress Odor 

If you’ve ever had a rough day and felt like your dog noticed, this story won’t come as a surprise. For years, dogs have served as emotional support animals. Now, new research is unveiling that dogs can smell stress on a human based on their sweat and breath. In the same breath, the study shows that humans produce different odors (not just visual or audible changes) when in stress, paving the way for new training for service and therapy dogs.

>> Read More

Robo-Roaches in the Rubble

Everyone knows that the cockroach is the only guaranteed survivor of any apocalypse. So what’s a better search and rescue buddy than a roach? Only the cyborg ones that are remote-controllable and outfitted with ultrathin film electronics by researchers at Japan’s Riken Center for Emergent Matter Science. While the roaches prove it’s possible, they need some improvement. Even so, researchers are already dreaming up other cyborg bugs.

>> Read More

🎬 Action of the Week

To support the families affected by flooding in Pakistan and rush emergency aid, consider donating through Unicef today.


  • Bloomberg: Our $1T La Nina Problem 2 weeks old | 7 minutes long
  • NOAA: What is La Nina? 5 minutes long
  • National Geographic: What is El Nino? 4 months old | 7 minutes long
  • NOAA: La Niña Climate Patterns 5 minutes


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What’s that smell?

Uhh, furr-get about it.

Art Credit: Joan G. Stark

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