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Posts tagged "disaster planning"

"Philippine President Benigno Aquino ordered an investigation on Tuesday into flash floods and landslides that sent mud and logs crashing down on residents, killing about 1,000 people on a southern island.

The national disaster agency said 957 were killed and 49 missing on Mindanao after Typhoon Sendong (aka Typhoon Washi) triggered the slides. Most of the casualties were in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan and tens of thousands remain homeless, many sheltering in evacuation centres.

Aquino met officials in the two cities worst hit by the cascades that swept down mountainsides as residents of riverside and coastal villages slept in the early hours of Saturday.”

Source: Christian Science Monitor

Google Crisis Response makes critical information more accessible around natural disasters and humanitarian crises, such as hurricanes and earthquakes. This initiative is a project of, which uses Google’s strengths in information and technology to build products and advocate for policies that address global challenges.

The types of activities we might initiate include:

  • Organizing emergency alerts, news updates and donation opportunities, and making this information visible through our web properties or dedicated Landing Pages
  • Building engineering tools that enable better communication and collaboration among crisis responders and among victims such as Person Finder
  • Supporting responders in using core Google tools, including Google Apps and Google Maps
  • Providing updated satellite imagery and maps of affected areas to illustrate infrastructure damage and help relief organizations navigate disaster zones
  • Supporting the rebuilding of network infrastructure where it has been damaged to enable access to the Internet
  • Donating to charitable organizations that are providing direct on-the-ground relief

Google assesses the scale and scope of each disaster to determine whether and how Google can uniquely contribute tools or content to relief efforts.

Read more about past efforts”

Officials prepare mass graves as nearly 700 dead in Philippines floods
Disaster agencies on Monday delivered body bags, food, water, and medicine to crowded evacuation centres in the southern Philippines as officials ordered the digging of graves to prevent disease after hundreds died from flash floods.

The national disaster agency said 684 died after Typhoon Washi slammed ashore in Mindanao island while residents slept at the weekend, sending torrents of water and mud through riverside villages and sweeping houses out to sea.

The Philippine National Red Cross put the toll at 652 killed and more than 800 missing. The casualties far exceeded the 464 people killed in 2009 when a tropical storm dumped heavy rain on the main Luzon island, inundating nearly the entire capital Manila.

National Post

"Consider it a taste of the future: the fire, smoke, drought, dust and heat that have made life unpleasant and dangerous from Louisiana to Los Angeles. New records tell the tale: the biggest wildfire ever recorded in Arizona (538,049 acres), the biggest fire ever in New Mexico (156,600 acres), and the all-time worst fire year in Texas history (3,697,000 acres).

The fires were a function of drought. By the end of the summer, 2011 was the driest year of the 117 years on record for New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana, and the second driest for Oklahoma. Those fires also resulted from record heat. It was also the hottest summer ever recorded for New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, as well as the hottest August ever for those states.

Virtually every city in the region experienced unprecedented temperatures, with Phoenix, Arizona, as usual, leading the march towards unliveable conditions. This past summer, the so-called Valley of the Sun set a new record of 33 days when the mercury reached a shoe-melting 110 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. (The previous record of 32 days was set in 2007.)

And here’s the bad news in a nutshell: If you live in the Southwest or just about anywhere in the American West, you or your children and grandchildren could soon enough be facing the “Age of Thirst”, which may also prove to be the greatest water crisis in the history of civilisation. No kidding.

If that gets you down, here’s a little cheer-up note: The end is not yet nigh.

In fact, this year the weather elsewhere rode to the rescue, and the news for the Southwest was good where it really mattered. Since January, the biggest reservoir in the United States, Lake Mead, backed up by the Hoover Dam and just 30 miles southwest of Las Vegas, has risen almost 40 feet. That lake is crucial when it comes to watering lawns or taking showers from Arizona to California. And the near 40-foot surge of extra water offered a significant upward nudge to the Southwest’s water reserves.

The Colorado River, which the reservoir impounds, supplies all or part of the water on which nearly 30 million people depend, most of them living downstream of Lake Mead in Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, Tijuana, and scores of smaller communities in the US and Mexico.

Back in 1999, the lake was full. Patricia Mulroy, who heads the water utility serving Las Vegas, rues the optimism of those bygone days. ”We had a fifty-year, reliable water supply”, she says. “By 2002, we had no water supply. We were out. We were done. I swore to myself we’d never do that again.”

In 2000, the lake began to fall - like a boulder off a cliff, bouncing a couple of times on the way down. Its water level dropped a staggering 130 feet, stopping less than seven feet above the stage that would have triggered reductions in downstream deliveries. Then - and here’s the good news - last winter, it snowed prodigiously up north in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

The spring and summer run-off from those snowpacks brought enormous relief. It renewed what we in the Southwest like to call the “Hydro-Illogic” cycle: when drought comes, everybody wrings their hands and promises to institute needed reform, if only it would rain a little. Then the drought breaks or eases and we all return to business as usual, until the cycle comes around to drought again.

So don’t be fooled. One day, perhaps soon, Lake Mead will renew its downward plunge. That’s a given, the experts tell us. And here’s the thing: the next time, a sudden rescue by heavy snows in the northern Rockies might not come. If the snowpacks of the future are merely ordinary, let alone puny, then you’ll know that we really are entering a new age.

And climate change will be a major reason, but we’ll have done a good job of aiding and abetting it. The states of the so-called Lower Basin of the Colorado River - California, Arizona and Nevada - have been living beyond their water means for years. Any departure from recent decades of hydrological abundance, even a return to long-term average flows in the Colorado River, would produce a painful reckoning for the Lower Basin states.  And even worse is surely on the way.

Just think of the coming Age of Thirst in the American Southwest and West as a three-act tragedy of Shakespearean dimensions.”

The Age of Thirst: Act I

Read the rest

Incredible video. I missed this one the first time around.

Ridiculous footage of the March Japanese Earthquake:

Yu Muroga was doing his job making deliveries when the 11 March 2011 earthquake hit in Japan. Unaware, like many people in the area, of how far inland the Tsunami would travel, he continued to drive and do his job. The HD camera mounted on his dashboard captured not only the earthquake, but also the moment he and several other drivers were suddenly engulfed in the Tsunami. He escaped from the vehicle seconds before it was crushed by other debris and sunk underwater. His car and the camera have only recently been recovered by the police. The camera was heavily damaged but a video expert was able to retrieve this footage.

Fact Sheet: New England Climate Change and Extreme Weather, via Climate Central. Hits the high-notes of recent trends in extreme events in New England, including rain, floods, snow storms, and heat waves. At four pages, it’s very concise and worth a click.

• In late August, Hurricane Irene became the first hurricane to make landfall in New Jersey in more than 100 years, dumping 6 to 8 inches of rain in parts of New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont. This was on top of the 6 to 8 inches that had already fallen in August.

• In early September, Irene was followed by more heavy rain due in part to the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee which caused several Mid-­‐ Atlantic and Northeastern states to experience historic flooding (Pennsylvania, New York and Virginia) and in Pennsylvania alone forced 75,000 people to evacuate and destroyed 2,000 homes.

• The September rains swelled the Susquehanna and Delaware Rivers to record-­‐breaking levels in Binghamton and Owego, NY, and Waverly and Wilkes-­‐Barre, PA, to name just a few.

• In Hershey PA, Swatara Creek crested at 26.8 feet, beating the previous record by more than 10 feet.

• Flood damage, which is estimated at around $1 billion, was especially severe because the rains fell on a region that had already been saturated with drenching rainfall in the preceding weeks and months including from Hurricane Irene in late August.

• On September 8th, a whopping 7.03 inches of rain fell in Ft. Belvoir, VA., in just three hours. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), that amount of rain in that amount of time was “off the charts above a 1000-­‐year rainfall (based on precipitation frequency from Quantico).” Largely due to Tropical Storm Lee, Pennsylvania recorded its rainiest September on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

• January through September was the rainiest such period on record in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont.

Turkey’s strongest earthquake in decade hits in east. @dotearth has more on vulnerability there.

Natural Disasters in the United States, 1980 – 2011. Note the orange. What’s excellent about Barry Ritholz’s chart-post is not the facts, but his instructions to people who comment on his chart. Brilliant!


Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data, ability to repeat discredited memes, and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Also, be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor even implied. Any irrelevancies you can mention will also be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse … you are, after all, anonymous.

Source: Ritholtz

Governor Dannel Malloy: “Ron Paul is an idiot.” On the topic of disaster relief, Malloy goes on to say that Paul’s state of Texas has benefited more from FEMA disaster relief than any other state. He also points out misguided priorities in that the US is spending $900 million per week in other countries for war and rebuilding, which equals FEMA’s remaining annual budget.

Friend Leilani Munter (a bad-ass, female, environmental activist racecar driver!) just posted this pic of a typhoon about to slam Japan

Harry S. Truman Building, State Department headquarters, Washington, DC, Mar. 9, 2009. [AP File]

Thomas R. Nides serves as Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources.

Do you ever wonder what the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) do every day and what it means for you?

In the eight months since I joined the State Department, I’ve learned firsthand about the important and wide ranging work done by the women and men who work here and around the world to enhance our national and economic security. We help train the Mexican National Police forces who battle violent drug gangs just south of our border, and we serve alongside our military in Iraq and Afghanistan. We negotiate trade agreements and promote U.S. exports by reducing barriers to commerce.

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates used to say that the Department of Defense has as many people in military bands as the State Department has in the Foreign Service. With just over one percent of the entire federal budget, we have a huge impact on how Americans live and how the rest of the world experiences and engages America.

Here are a few examples of what we do on behalf of the American people:

1. We create American jobs. We directly support 20 million U.S. jobs by advocating on behalf of U.S. firms to open new markets, protect intellectual property, navigate foreign regulations and compete for foreign government and private contracts. State economic officers negotiate Open Skies agreements, which open new routes for air travel from the United States to countries throughout the world, creating thousands of American jobs and billions in U.S. economic activity each year. 

2. We support American citizens abroad. In the past eight months, we provided emergency assistance to, or helped coordinate travel to safe locations for, American citizens in Japan, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Bahrain, and Cote d’Ivoire in the wake of natural disasters or civil unrest. Last year, we assisted in 11,000 international adoptions and worked on over 1,100 new child abduction cases — resulting in the return of 485 American children.

3. We promote democracy and foster stability around the world. Stable democracies and prosperous communities are less likely to pose a threat to their neighbors or to the United States. South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, can be a viable ally for the United States in east Africa, but right now, violence and instability threatens its success. U.S. diplomats and development experts are there to help the South Sudanese learn how to govern and develop their economy so that South Sudan can stand on its own. In Libya, we helped create unprecedented international support to help the people shed 42 years of dictatorship and begin the long path to democracy.

4. We help to ensure the world is a safer place. Our nonproliferation programs have destroyed dangerous stockpiles of missiles, munitions and the material that can be used to make a nuclear weapon. The New START Treaty, negotiated by the State Department and signed by President Obama in 2010, reduced the number of deployed nuclear weapons to levels not seen since the 1950s. And, in 2010, the State Department helped more than 40 countries clear millions of square meters of landmines.

5. We save lives. Our programs that fight disease and hunger reduce the risk of instability abroad and, in return, protect our national security. Strong bipartisan support for U.S. global health investments has led to unparalleled successes in the treatment, care and prevention of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, as well as saved millions from diseases like smallpox and polio.

6. We help countries feed themselves. In the United States, we know agriculture. Building upon what we do best — grow and produce food — we help other countriesplant the right seeds in the right way and get crops to markets to feed the most people. Food shortages can lead to riots and starvation, but strong agricultural sectors can lead to stable economies, helping countries become strong U.S. trading partners.

7. We help in times of crisis. After this year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan, State and USAID sent disaster response experts, nuclear experts and urban search and rescue teams to work assist the government of Japan with meeting immediate needs. Secretary Clinton personally delivered much needed supplies to Chile within hours of a devastating earthquake. From earthquakes in Haiti to famine in the Horn of Africa and devastating fires in Israel, our experienced and talented emergency professionals deliver assistance to those who need it most.

8. We promote the rule of law and protect human dignity. Every day, we help people find freedom and shape their own destinies. In the Central Asian republics, we advocated for the release of prisoners held simply because their beliefs differed from those of the government. In Vietnam, we prevented political activists from suffering physical abuse. We have trained lawyers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to help rape victims, police officers in Peru to combat sex trafficking, and journalists in Malaysia in an effort to make their government more accountable.

9. We help Americans see the world. In 2010, we issued 14 million passports for Americans to travel abroad. We facilitate the lawful travel of students, tourists and business people, including issuing more than 700,000 visas for foreign students to study in the U.S. last year. And, if a storm could disrupt your vacation plans or if you could get sick from drinking the water, we alert you through our travel warnings.

10. We are the face of America overseas. Our diplomats, development experts, and the programs they implement are the source of American leadership around the world. They are the embodiments of our American values abroad. They are a force for good in the world.

The United States is a leader for peace, progress and prosperity, and the State Department and USAID help deliver that. All of this (and more) costs the American taxpayer about one percent of the overall federal budget. That is a small investment that yields a large return by advancing our national security, promoting our economic interests, and reaffirming our country’s exceptional role in the world.

To learn more, please visit and

There is a growing concern among scientists and policy makers that environmental crises are no longer the sole acts of nature but rather the result of an accelerating human-induced global change.

At the same time, a pattern is starting to unfold: crises such as floodings, famine and pandemic diseases are not only turning increasingly intense, they are also increasingly connected.

One thing leads to another
In an article published in Ecology and Society (request article), an international team of researchers including Oonsie Biggs from the centre asks if we are entering an era of ‘concatenated global crises’.

Concatenated crises are disturbances or shocks that emerge pretty much simultaneously, spread rapidly and interact with each other across the globe.

Biggs and her colleagues explored how crises such as the 2007-08 food price crisis, whose origin and effects stem from far removed parts of the world and diverse economic sectors, turned into a global crisis.

Expensive fuel means expensive food
The causes and processes leading to global crises are difficult to untangle, but it appears that the food price crisis started with soaring energy prices.

After three decades of falling prices, the price for staples such as rice increased by 255% between 2004 and 2008, largely because the price of petroleum, coal and natural in the same period increased by an average of 127%.

Largely due to soaring costs, environmental concerns and security issues, the EU and the US enacted ambitious pro-biofuel production policies. But the whole project backfired: between 2007 and 2008 the conversion of land from food to biofuel production led to an inflationary pressure on global food prices.

In an attempt to deal with the emerging food price crisis, a number of countries such as India, Egypt, Vietnam, Argentina, Russia and China sanctioned substantial restrictions on food export which inevitably lead to further increase in food prices.

"The food crisis illustrates how a series of crises interacted with national policy responses to propagate the crisis throughout a highly connected global system," Oonsie Biggs explains.

The food crisis was shortly followed by the financial crisis that reduced exports, economic growth, employment and government budgets for social support. It didn’t soften the blow on food prices much either. FAO’s Cereal Price Index was still 50% higher in January 2009 than in 2005, leaving some 457 million people at risk of hunger and malnutrition.

Partly irreducible, partly possible to detect
The questions remains: how can we deal with the uncertainty implicit in crises that are increasingly linked?

"Some uncertainties surrounding concatenated crises are probably irreducible, because they result from fundamentally unpredictable processes. However, the same increased connectivity that promotes the concatenation of crises also provides unprecedented opportunities to learn about emerging problems and coordinate a response," Biggs says.

For example, WHO uses web-crawlers to collect data that can help detect the outbreak of an epidemic. Similar approaches can be used to prevent the spread of disasters in social-ecological systems.

Overall, we need to bolster our capacity to deal with increasingly complex and interconnected crises.

"Scientific capacity for the early detection of potentially propagating crises needs to be advanced. The same goes for our understanding and awareness of feedbacks and interdependencies that can lead to impacts spreading to other systems," Oonsie Biggs concludes.

Source: Stockholm Resilience Center

MSNBC covers the destruction in Vermont.

Irene by the numbers:

  • Death toll up to 41
  • 10th billion dollar natural disaster in one year (2011) - a record
  • Worst flooding since 1927 
  • 2 million evacuated
  • 9,000 flights cancelled 
  • 4.5 million homes and business lost power
  • Costs: $6 to $40 billion
  • Obama: Amazing leader
  • Eric Cantor: Big jerk face