• Climate & conflictClimate-Related Disasters Increase Risks of Conflict in Vulnerable Countries

    The risk for violent clashes increases after weather extremes such as droughts or floods hit people in vulnerable countries, an international team of scientists finds. Vulnerable countries are characterized by a large population, political exclusion of particular ethnic groups, and low development. The study combines global statistical analysis, observation data and regional case study assessments to yield new evidence for policymakers.

  • Post-pandemic recoveryThe Data Speak: Stronger Pandemic Response Yields Better Economic Recovery

    By Peter Dizikes

    With much of the U.S. in shutdown mode to limit the spread of the COVID-19 disease, a debate has sprung up about when the country might “reopen” commerce, to limit economic fallout from the pandemic. But as a new study co-authored by an MIT economist shows, taking care of public health first is precisely what generates a stronger economic rebound later. His study of the 1918 flu pandemic shows U.S. cities which responded more aggressively in health terms also had better economic rebounds.

  • Energy securityUncertain Climate Future May Disrupt Energy Systems

    Extreme weather events – such as severe drought, storms, and heat waves – have been forecast to become more commonplace and are already starting to occur. What has been less studied is the impact on energy systems and how communities can avoid costly disruptions, such as partial or total blackouts.

  • Pandemic bondsPandemic Bonds: The Financial Cure We Need for COVID-19?

    By Dror Etzion, Bernard Forgues, and Emmanuel Kypraios

    Like other financial players that have embraced innovation in recent years, insurers too have developed novel tools and products. One such innovation is catastrophe bonds. A catastrophe bond provides the issuer (usually either an insurer or a reinsurer) with financial protection in case of a major catastrophe. Most catastrophe bonds cover extreme natural events such as hurricanes or earthquakes, but some bonds cover pandemics like the one the world is facing now.

  • Climate threatsAustralia: Grim Story of Heat, Drought and Fire

    Record hot weather, drought and a devastating bushfire season in 2019 damaged our environment and natural resources on an unprecedented scale, according to the annual Australia’s Environment Report. “Last year was just another step down on the continuing descent into an ever more dismal future - unless we finally take serious action,” said the lead author of the report.

  • Disaster planningOnline Economic Decision Tool to Help Communities Plan for Disaster

    Preparing a community’s buildings and infrastructure for a hurricane or earthquake can be an incredibly complicated and costly endeavor. A new online tool from NIST could streamline this process and help decision makers invest in cost-effective measures to improve their community’s ability to mitigate, adapt to and recover from hazardous events.

  • COVID-19: PreparationCoronavirus: Could the World Have Prepared Better for a Pandemic?

    By Neil Pyper

    As we deal with COVID-19 epidemic, obvious questions are being asked about how governments and companies can prepare themselves for these sorts of extreme events. One technique that has gained prominence in helping business people and officials deal with events that have a low probability but high impact is called scenario analysis or scenario planning. There are a number of different methods that can be used to model scenarios, but in essence these all involve developing stories about a number of possible ways that the future could unfold.

  • Geoelectric hazardsGeoelectric Hazards to High-Voltage Power Grid

    Geomagnetic storms are caused by the dynamic action of the Sun and solar wind on the space environment surrounding the Earth. Magnetic disturbance during such a storm generates electric fields in the Earth’s crust and mantle. These electric fields can interfere with the operation of grounded electric power-grid systems. A new report analyzes geoelectric hazards for two-thirds of the contiguous U.S., spanning from the northeast to the west coast of the United States.

  • PerspectiveTime for Regulators to Take Cyber Insurance Seriously

    In April 1997, Steven Haase and some of his colleagues in the insurance industry hosted a “Breach on the Beach” party at the International Risk Insurance Management Society’s annual convention in Honolulu to launch the first ever cyber-insurance policy. Josephine Wolff writes that it would be years, still, before cyber insurance would generate sufficiently significant sales numbers to attract the interest of most major insurers and their customers. More than two decades later, cyber insurance has expanded into a multibillion-dollar global business, with 528 U.S. insurance firms reporting that they offered cyber-specific policies in 2018.

  • Food securityImpact of a Second Dust Bowl Would Be Felt Worldwide

    The American Dust Bowl of the 1930s - captured by the novels of John Steinbeck - was an environmental and socio-economic disaster that worsened the Great Depression. The Dust Bowl was an extreme event. But due to climate change, massive crop failures are more likely to happen again in the future. A catastrophic shock to U.S. agriculture would deplete reserves, including those of other countries.

  • WildfiresAustralia’s Bushfires “Made 30% More Likely by Climate Change”

    The World Weather Attribution (WWA) initiative has released the first analysis of the role climate change played in the 2019-2020 bushfire season in South-Eastern Australia, which showed that the risk of intense fire weather has increased by 30 percent since 1900 as a result of anthropogenic climate change.

  • Climate crisisWe Climate Scientists Won’t Know Exactly How the Crisis Will Unfold Until it’s Too Late

    By Wolfgang Knorr and Will Steffen

    When we hold on to things for too long, change can come about abruptly and even catastrophically. While this will ring true for many from personal experience, similar things can happen at large scales as well. Indeed, the history of Earth’s climate and ecosystems is punctuated by frequent large-scale disruptive events.

  • Climate challengesMore Accurate Climate Change Model Reveals Bleaker Outlook on Electricity, Water Use

    By 2030, global warming alone could push Chicago to generate 12 percent more electricity per person each month of the summer. If the city generated any less electricity, it would be risking a power shortage that may require drastic measures to avoid rolling blackouts, according to projections from a model designed by Purdue University researchers.

  • FloodingNew Flooding Prediction Tool

    By incorporating the architecture of city drainage systems and readings from flood gauges into a comprehensive statistical framework, researchers can now accurately predict the evolution of floods in extreme situations like hurricanes. With their new approach, the researchers said their algorithm could forecast the flow of floodwater in almost real-time, which can then lead to more timely emergency response and planning.

  • ResilienceBuilding a Flood Resilient Future

    By Tom Almeroth-Williams

    Seven of the United Kingdom’s ten wettest years on record have occurred since 1998. Its wettest winter in history came in 2013, and the next wettest in 2015. In a single week in November 2019, 400 homes were flooded and 1,200 properties evacuated in northern England. The frequency and severity of these events is expected to increase as a result of climate change, meaning that many more communities will suffer their devastating effects. A new book shows how we can adapt the built and natural environment to be more flood resilient in the face of climate change.