On January 15, 1919, in Boston's North End, a 50-foot-tall tank holding 2.3 million gallons of molasses burst, unleashing a deadly wave that rose nearly 25 feet high at one point. The disaster killed 21 people and injured another 150. Nearly one hundred years later, an analysis carried out by a group of Harvard fluid dynamics physicists explains how "cold temperatures and unusual currents conspired to turn slow sticky goop into a deadly speeding wave." [more inside]
With a global mean temperature rise of 1.5℃ (video, direct .mp4 link) the Marshall Islands, site of the US's Bikini Atoll nuclear weapons tests, may disappear completely. With most islands just six feet above sea level and less than a mile wide the ring of atolls is already severely affected by climate change. ⅓ of all Marshall Islanders are believed to live in the US, although they may face deportation. In recent months the residents of the Pacific island nation have been advised to cease eating fish after elevated levels of PCBs were found in the waters around the US missile base on Kwajalein Atoll. Recently, very previously, previously, previously, personal anecdotes.
Thirty Million (direct Vimeo link), a U.N.-funded half-hour film about the expected effects of climate change on the country of Bangladesh. Radio interview with one of the directors on Radio New Zealand. Bangladesh will lose 70% of its land area if there is a one-meter sea level rise, displacing thirty million people. [more inside]
The Middle Tennessee region, including Nashville, is experiencing extensive flooding after weekend storms dropped a record-breaking 13-15 inches of rain over the weekend. [more inside]
410mm of rain fell over Northern Luzon, Philippines on September 25, 2009, leaving much of the country's capital and the surrounding regions submerged in water, reaching up to nine feet in some areas. As of latest coverage, over 100 were killed and 340,000 affected by the Typhoon. This amount has been the highest recorded amount of rainfall since the country's weather Bureau started recording rainfall levels in 1967, and exceeds the rainfall level of Hurrican Katrina (380mm). Two more tropical depressions could be under way in the midst of Ondoy's wake. As of now, there are still families stranded on the rooftops of their homes without food and potable water. Most relief aid is coming from volunteers. As for the country's president? She used the Php800M(USD16.8M) emergency fund for foreign trips. See the damage. International News Coverage: NYT Reuters CNN BBC [more inside]
The UK's national risk register is made public. It is kept updated by the secret squirrels in the Cabinet Office, and was previously kept under wraps. Pandemic flu and flooding beat out terrorism as the major risks facing the UK at the moment. Both are seen as less likely than a terrorist attack, but more devastating. The full pdf has a chart on page 7 showing the main risks on a grid.
Some call FEMA's administration of federal flood insurance and disaster relief illogical and illegal, although you won't find that in FEMA's recent summary of Katrina, which reveals that $15.3 billion dollars in federal flood insurance claims have been paid. That's quite a bit more than the National Flood Insurance Fund's budget, and you may recall that payouts didn't go smoothly. Still, having federal flood insurance, as opposed to relying on disaster relief, has proven its worth during the rebuilding process. Certainly Katrina was an extraordinary phenomenon, unlikely to be repeated any time soon. Perhaps that's why the annual disaster relief budget is smaller this year.
The Matrix shatters before the eyes of the nation (sorry, WMP link) -- and on Fox News! For those old enough to remember, it's so significant that Geraldo Rivera says of conditions in the New Orleans Convention Center, "it's like Willowbrook in there." (Rivera became famous in 1972 by exposing the horrendous conditions in a home for the mentally retarded called Willowbrook; finally, after decades of degrading himself, he remembers what his job is.) And Slate's Jack Shafer on "the rebellion of the talking heads" -- the refusal of reporters on the ground in New Orleans to regurgitate the official spin. [via TalkLeft]