Tag Archives | Natural Disasters

Elite Panic In The Aftermath Of Disasters

Relevant in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, a conversation between BOMB Magazine and Rebecca Solnit about this hazardous, even deadly, phenomenon:

The term “elite panic” was coined by [sociologists] Caron Chess and Lee Clarke of Rutgers. Elite panic [is] the way that elites, during disasters and their aftermath, imagine that the public is not only in danger but also a source of danger. In case after case how elites respond in destructive ways, from withholding essential information, to blocking citizen relief efforts, to protecting property instead of people.

[Elites] believe that only their power keeps the rest of us in line and that when it somehow shrinks away, our seething violence will rise to the surface—that was very clear in Katrina. Timothy Garton Ash and Maureen Dowd and all these other people immediately jumped on the bandwagon and started writing commentaries based on the assumption that the rumors of mass violence during Katrina were true.

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Obama Accused Of Creating Hurricane Sandy Using HAARP

Come on, we all know that if any presidential candidate geoengineered this hurricane via godlike secret technology, it was Mitt Romney. U.S. News & World Report writes:

A number of conspiracy theorists have decided President Barack Obama engineered the mega-storm to secure his re-election. InfoWars.com, TheIntelHub.com, and ConsfearacyNewz all posted stories over the last several days alleging that the The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, or HAARP, helped the president engineer Sandy.

HAARP, a research program managed by the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy, studies and conducts experiments relating to the ionosphere, or upper atmosphere. Conspiracy theorists have blamed HAARP for a number of natural events over the years, saying the government uses the Alaska-based program to manipulate the weather with the help of electromagnetic waves.

“Following the ‘perfect storm,’” wrote Infowars’ Kurt Nimmo, “the establishment media will naturally provide all the propaganda Obama needs to sweep the election on Tuesday, November 6, a week after the hurricane is projected to hit.”

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Remember There’s No Such Thing As A Natural Disaster

Scottish radical geographer, professor, and author Neil Smith died at age 58 this past weekend. It’s worth revisiting his groundbreaking, established-wisdom-challenging work, including his well-known declaration post-Hurricane Katrina that there’s no such thing as a natural disaster:

It is generally accepted among environmental geographers that there is no such thing as a natural disaster. In every phase and aspect of a disaster – causes, vulnerability, preparedness, results and response, and reconstruction – the contours of disaster and the difference between who lives and who dies is to a greater or lesser extent a social calculus. Hurricane Katrina provides the most startling confirmation of that axiom.

The Bush administration…is happy to attribute the dismal record of death and destruction on the Gulf Coast – perhaps 1200 lives by the latest counts – to an act of nature. It has proven itself not just oblivious but ideologically opposed to mounting scientific evidence of global warming and the fact that rising sea-levels make cities such as New Orleans, Venice, or Dacca immediately vulnerable to future calamity.

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Massive Earthquake; Indian Ocean Tsunami Alert

Sumatra VolcanoesBreaking news via CNN:

Jakarta, Indonesia (CNN) — A massive earthquake struck off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra on Wednesday afternoon, triggering a tsunami alert for the Indian Ocean.

The quake struck about 434 kilometers (270 miles) southwest of Banda Aceh, the capital of Indonesia’s Aceh province, and had a magnitude of 8.6, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It took place at a depth of 23 kilometers (14 miles).

A second quake, magnitude 8.2, occurred off the west coast of Sumatra about two hours later, the USGS said.

Gary Gibson from the Seismology Research Center in Melbourne, Australia, said the location of the second quake reduces the possibility of a tsunami.

There were no immediate reports of destruction or deaths Wednesday.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on local television that there were no reports of casualties or damage in Aceh.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami watch for the entire Indian Ocean, and the Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency said it had put up a tsunami warning as well.

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Listen to Japan’s 9.0 Quake: Seismic Waves as Sound

Quake AudioVia Futurity:

Zhigang Peng, associate professor in School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has converted the earthquake’s seismic waves into audio files. The results allow experts and general audiences to “hear” what the quake sounded like as it moved through the earth and around the globe.

“We’re able to bring earthquake data to life by combining seismic auditory and visual information,” says Peng, whose research appears in the March/April edition of Seismological Research Letters.

“People are able to hear pitch and amplitude changes while watching seismic frequency changes. Audiences can relate the earthquake signals to familiar sounds such as thunder, popcorn popping and fireworks.”

The different sounds can help explain various aspects of the earthquake sequence, including the mainshock and nearby aftershocks …

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What Does Your Blood Type Say About You?

Blood TypeA Japanese minister has resigned, saying that his blood type accounted for his failings. According to Japanese belief, what might yours mean? John Crace asks in the Guardian:

It came away in my hands. The dog ate it. Honest. When Ryu Matsumoto, Japan’s minister for reconstruction, resigned after just a week in the job, one of the excuses he offered was almost as lame. He said he had the wrong blood type — B — which made him a more abrasive personality and accounted for his less-than-tactful remarks about some areas of Japan badly affected by the earthquake and tsunami earlier this year.

Most people in the UK haven’t a clue what blood type and aren’t much bothered either way. But in Japan there is a widely held belief that blood groups can predict personality, temperament and compatibility with other people; so much so that many newspapers, magazines and TV shows carry daily blood horoscopes.

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Scientists Find First Evidence Climate Affects Tectonic Plate Movement

Plate TectonicsVia Discover:

Geologists have known for years that tectonic plates affect climate patterns. Now they say that the opposite is also true, finding that intensifying climate events can move tectonic plates. Using models based on known monsoonal and plate movement patterns, geologists say that the Indian Plate has accelerated by about 20% over the past 10 million years. “The significance of this finding lies in recognising for the first time that long-term climate changes have the potential to act as a force and influence the motion of tectonic plates,” Australian National University researcher Giampiero Iaffaldano told COSMOS.

The researchers plugged information from research on monsoonal patterns and the Indian Plate’s movement into a model, which indicated that the monsoonal erosion that has battered the eastern Himalaya Mountains for the past 10 million years erodes enough material to account for the plate’s counter-clockwise rotation. By gradually shaving off rocks from the eastern flank and decreasing crustal thickness, the monsoonal rains essentially lighten the load on the eastern part of the Indian Plate, causing the plate to actually turn (at geological speed).

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Scientology’s ‘Touch-Healing’ Global Disaster Response Squad: ‘Serving’ Haiti, Burma and Japan

Scientology Touch HealersPatrick Winn writes on GlobalPost:
BANGKOK, Thailand — After Cyclone Nargis left a trail of corpses along Burma’s coast in May 2008, foreign aid workers clamored to enter the military-controlled backwater. Despite the world’s pleading, Burma’s paranoid generals forbade most foreign relief workers from entering the disaster zone. A frustrated U.K. threatened unauthorized air drops. The U.S. Navy was forced to float vessels loaded with life-saving supplies offshore. But among the few who managed to access Burma’s worst-hit areas included adherents of the California-based Church of Scientology. According to the church, miracles ensued after Scientologists touched down. Their team sought out traumatized Burmese for Scientology’s touch-healing techniques, professed to revive the spirit...
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Suburban Sprawl: A Government Tactic Against Nuclear Annihilation And Natural Disaster

tokyoIn the aftermath of last month’s devastation, Japanese leaders have called on urban planners to make Japan decentralized and lower density so as to be less vulnerable. It wouldn’t be the first time that sprawl has been employed as a strategy against societal annihilation; during the Cold War, American planners pushed for suburbanization as a defense against nuclear disaster. BLDGBLOG enlightens:

At the height of the Cold War, the sprawling, decentralized suburban landscape of the United States was seen by many military planners as a form of spatial self-defense. As historian David Krugler explains in This Is Only a Test: How Washington D.C. Prepared for Nuclear War, “urban dispersal” was viewed as a defensive military tactic, one that would greatly increase the nation’s chance of survival in the event of nuclear attack.

Specially formatted residential landscapes such as “cluster cities” were thus proposed, “each with a maximum population of 50,000.” These smaller satellite cities would not only reshape the civilian landscape of the United States, they would make its citizens, its industrial base, and its infrastructure much harder to target.

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