Tag Archives | Natural Disasters

Before There Was Oil, There Was Water: Harry Shearer’s ‘The Big Uneasy’ (Video)

The Big UneasyHere's Harry Shearer (of Spinal Tap and Simpsons fame) being interviewed by Michael Smerconish about his new documentary The Big Uneasy on Hardball with Chris Matthews below. Here's a bit about the documentary:
Almost five years ago, a disaster struck New Orleans. The media said it was a natural disaster primarily affecting poor black people. On both counts, the media was wrong. In The Big Uneasy, humorist and New Orleans resident Harry Shearer gets the inside story of a disaster that could have been prevented from the people who were there. As we approach the fifth anniversary of the flooding of New Orleans, Shearer speaks to the investigators who poked through the muck as the water receded and a whistleblower from the Army Corps of Engineers, revealing that some of the same flawed methods responsible for the levee failure during Katrina are being used to rebuild the system expected to protect the new New Orleans from future peril.
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Massive Guatemala Sinkhole (Photo)

This image is NOT a Photoshop alteration. This is a real sinkhole that spontaneously appeared in Zone 2 of Guatemala City due to tropical storm Agatha, and was posted to the Guatemalan government’s image feed:

Photo by Gobierno de Guatemala (CC)

Photo: Gobierno de Guatemala (CC)

How’d you like to have that just drop out from under you?

The roundness of the hole makes it all the more freakish, and I think we can probably count the seconds between now and when someone will say “aliens”, “end times”, “2012”, or “satellite weapon test” due to that one physical property of this crazy pit.

On a more serious note, this is just the most obvious sign of the destruction that was visited upon already impoverished Guatemala with the first big storm of the upcoming hurricane season in the Gulf. 30,000 people displaced from their homes, roughly 120,000 evacuated, and 93 dead. Does not bode well.

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Beneath the Surface: Nashville’s Flood of 2010

Almost completely ignored by the national media (eg. CNN’s big headline on May 3 was — and I cringe — “Catastrophic” Flood Being Ignored?, which was just an iReport), the flood destroyed thousands of homes and killed at least 34 people.

This is a first-hand account, posted on  “Confessions of a CyberCasualty”:

JoeBot, "Disaster Tourist" (Photo: Andrew Edman)

The rain came on May Day without mercy, drenching Middle Tennessee for nearly two days. The downpour finally let up on Sunday — May 2 — immediately drawing disaster-tourists with cameras in hand.

I join them downtown on 1st Avenue, by the Cumberland River. The water marker reads 47′, and it’s climbing fast. Gawkers gather around to document the progress.

The riverfront stage is completely submerged at this point, but that doesn’t stop the show. We all watch an endless parade of municipal trashcans, propane tanks, dock stairs, basketballs, and uprooted trees floating down the river.… Read the rest

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Boobquake to Rock World on April 26th

BoobquakeThe Facebook event has over 50,000, Looks like the “movement” started with Blag Hag’s “In the name of science, I offer my boobs”:

This little bit of supernatural thinking has been floating around the blogosphere [on April 21st]:

“Many women who do not dress modestly … lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which (consequently) increases earthquakes,” Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi was quoted as saying by Iranian media. Sedighi is Tehran’s acting Friday prayer leader.

I have a modest proposal. Sedighi claims that not dressing modestly causes earthquakes. If so, we should be able to test this claim scientifically. You all remember the homeopathy overdose?

Time for a Boobquake: On Monday, April 26th, I will wear the most cleavage-showing shirt I own. Yes, the one usually reserved for a night on the town. I encourage other female skeptics to join me and embrace the supposed supernatural power of their breasts.

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Japanese Fish Predicts Earthquakes?

If it’s well known that animals have a heightened perception of developing weather patterns, this would be no exception, via motherboard.tv:
Japanese Fish

Japan is bracing itself for bad times after scores of the usually rare, giant Oarfish have washed ashore and been caught in coastal fisherman’s nets.The sightings started after the ‘quake in Chile and the 6.4 magnitude earthquake in Taiwan. The rash of tectonic shifting around the Pacific “Ring of Fire” is causing concern that Japan is next, and these gigantor fish aren’t helping.

The Oarfish is traditionally known as a messenger fish from the sea gods, and it’s tidings are usually grim. The fish can grow up to five metres in length and usually found at depths of 1, 000 ft. Long and slender with a dorsal fin that runs the length of it’s body, the fish resembles a kind of steam-rolled snake.

According to folklore, the fish will come ashore and beach itself to warn of an impending earthquake and there are scientific theories that bottom-dwelling fish may very well be susceptible to movements in seismic fault lines and act in uncharacteristic ways in advance of an earthquake – but experts here are placing more faith in their constant high-tech monitoring of the tectonic plates beneath the surface.

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Chilean Quake Likely Shifted Earth’s Axis, NASA Scientist Says

Earth's MotionsAlex Morales writes on Bloomberg:

The earthquake that killed more than 700 people in Chile on Feb. 27 probably shifted the Earth’s axis and shortened the day, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientist said.

Earthquakes can involve shifting hundreds of kilometers of rock by several meters, changing the distribution of mass on the planet. This affects the Earth’s rotation, said Richard Gross, a geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who uses a computer model to calculate the effects.

“The length of the day should have gotten shorter by 1.26 microseconds (millionths of a second),” Gross, said today in an e-mailed reply to questions. “The axis about which the Earth’s mass is balanced should have moved by 2.7 milliarcseconds (about 8 centimeters or 3 inches).”

The changes can be modeled, though they’re difficult to physically detect given their small size, Gross said. Some changes may be more obvious, and islands may have shifted, according to Andreas Rietbrock, a professor of Earth Sciences at the U.K.’s Liverpool University who has studied the area impacted, though not since the latest temblor.

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Massive Earthquake In Chile Followed By Tsunami

Robin Henry reports for the Times:

A massive earthquake on the coast of Chile has killed at least 76 people, flattening buildings and triggering a tsunami.

The 8.8-magnitude quake, the country’s largest in 25 years, shook the capital Santiago for a minute and half at 3:34am (0634 GMT) today.

A tsunami warning has been extended across all Pacific islands and the Pacific rim, including most of Central and South America and as far as Australia and Antarctica.

The wave has already caused serious damage to the sparsely populated Juan Fernandez islands, off the Santiago coast, local radio reported. The quake hit near the town of Maule, 200 miles southwest of Santiago, at a depth of 22 miles underground.

The epicentre was just 70 miles from Concepcion, Chile’s second-largest city, where more than 200,000 people live along the Bio Bio river. In Santiago buildings collapsed and phone lines and electricity were brought down, but the full extent of the damage is still being determined…

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Solar Storms Could Be Earth’s Next Katrina

solar_flareBy Jon Hamilton for NPR:

A massive solar storm could leave millions of people around the world without electricity, running water, or phone service, government officials say.

That was their conclusion after participating in a tabletop exercise that looked at what might happen today if the Earth were struck by a solar storm as intense as the huge storms that occurred in 1921 and 1859.

Solar storms happen when an eruption or explosion on the surface of the sun sends radiation or electrically charged particles toward Earth. Minor storms are common and can light up the Earth’s Northern skies and interfere with radio signals.

Every few decades, though, the sun experiences a particularly large storm. These can release as much energy as 1 billion hydrogen bombs.

How Well Can We Weather The Solar Storm?

The exercise, held in Boulder, Colorado, was intended to investigate “what we think could be close to a worst-case scenario,” says Tom Bogdan, who directs the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder.

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