Tag Archives | Natural Disasters

Great Walls of America ‘could stop tornadoes’

PIC: NOAA (PD)

PIC: NOAA (PD)

Maybe we should also build a wall around the ice caps so the sea level stop rising? Put a cork in those volcanoes? Or put some braces on those pesky tectonic plates that keep causing such a fucking ruckus.  Surely our quest to dominate nature instead of adapting to its dynamics will pay off then.

Via BBC:

Building three “Great Walls” across Tornado Alley in the US could eliminate the disasters, a physicist says.

The barriers – 300m (980ft) high and up to 100 miles long – would act like hill ranges, softening winds before twisters can form.

They would cost $16bn (£9.6bn) to build but save billions of dollars of damage each year, said Prof Rongjia Tao, of Temple University, Philadelphia.

He unveiled his idea at the American Physical Society meeting in Denver.

However critics say the idea is unworkable, and would create more problems than it solves.

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Examining Natural Disasters

Aaron Dames writes for Divided Core:

The death toll from Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines on November 7th, currently stands at 5,500 people.  Haiyan was the fourth strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded and is the deadliest in Philippine history (the second-deadliest was Tropical Storm Thelma, which killed around 5,080 people in 1991).  To compare, here are some mortality figures from other large-scale natural disasters that have taken place in recent history.

Typhoon Bopha, Philippines, December 2012 – 1,146 dead
Hurricane Sandy, U.S Eastern Seaboard, October 2012 – 286 dead
Earthquake and Tsunami in East Japan, March 2011 – 15,800 dead
Earthquake in Haiti, January 2010 – 159,000 dead
Hurricane Katrina, Gulf Coast, August 2008 – 1,833 dead
Earthquake in Kashmir, Pakistan and India, October 2005 – 100,000 dead
Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami, December 2004 – 250,000 dead

In addition to the number of victims, there are certainly many other factors to consider when assessing the impact that natural disasters have on humanity.  The magnitude of a disaster can be measured in absolute terms, such as the aforementioned mortality rate, as well as the physical extent of the area affected, the volume of infrastructure destroyed, and the financial cost of reconstruction.

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Japanese Tsunami Survivors Turn To Exorcists To Relieve Haunting By Ghosts

Via Yahoo! News, a sad example of how can ghosts can manifest in even in the most hypermodern society when there is unresolved trauma:

The tsunami that engulfed northeastern Japan two years ago has left some survivors believing they are seeing ghosts. In a society wary of admitting to mental problems, many are turning to exorcists for help.

Tales of spectral figures lined up at shops where now there is only rubble are what psychiatrists say is a reaction to fear after the March 11, 2011, disaster in which nearly 19,000 people were killed.

“The places where people say they see ghosts are largely those areas completely swept away by the tsunami,” said Keizo Hara, a psychiatrist in the city of Ishinomaki. “We think phenomena like ghost sightings are perhaps a mental projection of the terror and worries associated with those places.” Hara said post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) might only now be emerging in many people,

Many people in Japan hold on to ancient superstitions despite its ultra-modern image.

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Are You Really Prepared For A Natural Disaster?

As I write the The National Weather Service in Upton has issued a Blizzard Warning for the New York City area. Weather Underground advises:

A Blizzard Warning means severe winter weather conditions are expected or occurring. Falling and blowing snow with strong winds and poor visibilities are likely. This will lead to whiteout conditions… making travel extremely dangerous. Do not travel. If you must travel… have a winter survival kit with you. If you get stranded… stay with your vehicle.

But in looking through the various web-sites on disaster preparedness, there is an almost hilarious amount of wise-acreing.  There are some good sites with honest people recommending good choices,  but for the most part it is a burgoo of foolishness and hence you get my lengthy and somewhat indignant commentary on just how imbecilic and unconscionable this entire “Mad Max” industry is.

First of all, there is a bewildering array of options that virtually every site offers—who can sort through this nonsense?  Kit after kit, with option after option.… Read the rest

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The United States And New Zealand Secretly Tested ‘Tsunami Bombs’ Designed To Destroy Cities By Flooding

Via the Daily Mail, this likely will trigger conspiracy theories regarding natural disasters past and future:

The U.S. and New Zealand collaborated on a top-secret plan to develop a ‘tsunami bomb’ capable of devastating coastal cities, it has emerged. The countries carried out covert tests of the potential weapon of mass destruction – designed to use underwater explosions to trigger huge tidal waves – in waters around Auckland and the Pacific island of New Caledonia during the Second World War.

Details of the secretive operation, code-named Project Seal, were discovered in military files buried in New Zealand’s national archives by author and film-maker Ray Waru. The files revealed how around 3,700 bombs were exploded during testing, which was launched in June 1944, and indicated that the weapon was feasible.

Mr Waru said: ‘It was absolutely astonishing. First that anyone would come up with the idea of developing a weapon of mass destruction based on a tsunami… and also that New Zealand seems to have successfully developed it to the degree that it might have worked.’ While initial testing was positive, Project Seal was shelved in early 1945.

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Flesh-Eating Fungus Unexpectedly Killed Five People After Missouri Tornado, Scientists Warn

How society could crumble: chaos sown by flesh-eating fungus attacks in the aftermath of global warming-induced extreme weather. Via EurekAlert!:

A fast growing, flesh-eating fungus killed 5 people following a massive tornado that devastated Joplin, Mo., according to two new studies based on genomic sequencing by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Health officials should be aware of infections caused by the fungus Apophysomyces, according to the studies, which tracked 13 people infected by the pathogen during the tornado [which] plowed through Joplin on May 22, 2011, initially killing 160 and injuring more than 1,000.

The common fungus — which lives in soil, wood or water — usually has no effect on people. But once it is introduced deep into the body through a blunt trauma puncture wound, it can grow quickly if the proper medical response is not immediate, the studies said.

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Bloomberg Praises Occupy Sandy Relief Effort, Then Sends Police To Shut It Down

After helicoptering in and praising Occupy Sandy this past Thursday (watch below), On Friday New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg threatened to have police shut down the only relief effort actually providing on-the-scene assistance to storm-affected New Yorkers. Via Occupy Wall Street:

The mayor’s office is calling upon local police forces to “clear all outdoor sites” effective immediately. Staten Island police representing the mayor’s office have threatened eviction action against the crucial Staten Island hub in the heavily hit Midland Beach area.

Aiman Youssef, a 42-year-old Syrian-American Staten Islander whose house was destroyed in the hurricane, has been running a 24/7 community pop up hub outside his property at 489 Midland Avenue. Community members are serving hot food and offering non-perishables, medical supplies, and clothing to the thousands of residents who are still without heat, power, or safe housing. This popular hub is well-run, well-staffed, and has a constant hum of discussion, support, and advice as well as volunteer dispatch through another pop-up group.

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Don’t Panic, But The Shoreline Is Moving Inland

For the first time in 6,000 years sea level is rising, causing the shoreline to move inland. The move will continue for at least 1,000 years. Unless we change the trend of the planet’s heat balance the pace of this movement will accelerate, with disastrous results. We are totally unprepared for this situation.

A week before superstorm Sandy hit New York City my new book High Tide On Main Street: Rising Sea Level and the Coming Coastal Crisis was released. In the book, I describe exactly such a storm hitting that location. The point of my description was to examine the factors that made New York City and the surrounding area particularly vulnerable.

With Sandy there were four things that combined to increase the impact. First there was incredible size of the storm with the unusual track of southeast to northwest. Second, it came at lunar high tide, which is about a foot higher than average;  third, sea level has risen about a foot in height over the last century;  fourth, the underwater topography off New York harbor amplified the storm surge.… Read the rest

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The Mad Max Economy

Photo: Gbleem (CC)

It’s no surprise that preppers and their suppliers are having an “I told you so” moment in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s assault on the media capital of the world. The New York Times leads its Sunday Business section with a story about a booming business segment built on Americans’ fears of a return to the dark ages:

Waukesha, Wis.: Folks here don’t wish disaster on their fellow Americans. They didn’t pray for Hurricane Sandy to come grinding up the East Coast, tearing lives apart and plunging millions into darkness.

But the fact is, disasters are good business in Waukesha. And, lately, there have been a lot of disasters.

This Milwaukee suburb, once known for its curative spring waters and, more recently, for being a Republican stronghold in a state that President Obama won on Election Day, happens to be the home of one of the largest makers of residential generators in the country.

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New York To Use Jails As Homes For Those Displaced By Hurricane Sandy

If your home had no heat or electricity with winter approaching, would you consider being herded into jail? Russia Today reports:

With nowhere else to go, New Yorkers displaced by Hurricane Sandy may have no choice but to sleep in jails. The Arthur Kill Correction Facility on Staten Island may serve as a temporary home for up to 900 displaced victims of the storm. The medium-security prison was closed last December and with some fixing up, it could once again be fully functional.

As many as 40,000 New Yorkers are in need of shelter from extreme weather and rapidly decreasing temperatures, the city estimates, as the winter months approach. About 434,140 homes are currently still without power in the region that was in Hurricane Sandy’s path – mostly in New York and New Jersey. ­About 100,000 homes and businesses will remain without power for the next several months, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Friday in a news conference.

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