• Flood protectionVenice Ambitious Anti-Flood System Passes First Trial

    Venice On Friday conducted the first test of a controversial dam system made up of 78 inflatable barriers, aiming to protect the city from severe flooding. The ambitious and costly dam system, launched in 2003, has been plagued by corruption and is nearly a decade behind schedule. It will becoe fully operational by the end of 20201, and it is designed to hold water surges as high as 10 feet.

  • Climate & conflictRoadmap for Studying Link between Climate and Armed Conflict

    Climate change—from rising temperatures and more severe heavy rain, to drought—is increasing risks for economies, human security, and conflict globally. Scientists are offering ways better to assess the climate-conflict link to help societies manage the complex risks of increased violence from a changing climate.

  • HurricanesFuture Texas Hurricanes: Fast Like Ike or Slow Like Harvey?

    Climate change will intensify winds that steer hurricanes north over Texas, increasing the odds for fast-moving storms like 2008’s Ike compared with slow-movers like 2017’s Harvey, according to new research.

  • DroughtsIncreases in Greenhouse Gas, Particulate Pollution Emissions Drive Drying around the Globe

    Researchers have identified two signatures or “fingerprints” that explain why arid conditions are spreading worldwide, and why the Western United States has tended toward drought conditions since the 1980s while the African Sahel has recovered from its prolonged drought.

  • Climate challengesHeatwave Trends Accelerate Worldwide

    The first comprehensive worldwide assessment of heatwaves down to regional levels has revealed that in nearly every part of the world heatwaves have been increasing in frequency and duration since the 1950s. New research has also produced a new metric, cumulative heat, which reveals exactly how much heat is packed into individual heatwaves and heatwave seasons. As expected, that number is also on the rise.

  • Oil spillsNew Lessons from the Worst Oil Spill Disaster ever

    By Nancy Bazilchuk

    Ten years ago, the Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico killed eleven men and resulted in the largest accidental oil spill in history. Years of investigations concluded that the drilling crew missed critical warning signals that would have stopped the problem. A new analysis suggests that wasn’t the case.

  • Argument: Business survivalWhy Japanese Businesses Are So Good at Surviving Crises

    On 11 March 2011, a 9.1-magnitude earthquake triggered a powerful tsunami, launching 125-feet high waves at the coast of the Tohoku region of Honshu, the largest and most populous island in Japan. nearly 16,000 people were killed, hundreds of thousands displaced, and millions left without electricity and water. Railways and roads were destroyed, and 383,000 buildings damaged, including a nuclear power plant at Fukushima. “In lessons for today’s businesses deeply hit by pandemic and seismic culture shifts, it’s important to recognize that many of the Japanese companies in the Tohoku region continue to operate today, despite facing serious financial setbacks from the disaster,” she writes. “How did these businesses manage not only to survive, but thrive?”

  • PreparednessPoliticians Ignore Far-Out Risks: They Need to Up Their Game

    Asteroid strikes are an extreme example of the world’s willful ignorance of the need to prepare for catastrophes — but not an atypical one. Low-probability, high-impact events are a fact of life. Individual humans look for protection from them to governments and, if they can afford it, insurers. Humanity, at least as represented by the world’s governments, reveals instead a preference to ignore them until forced to react—even when foresight’s price-tag is small. It is an abdication of responsibility and a betrayal of the future. The Economist writes that COVID-19 offers a tragic example. Virologists, epidemiologists and ecologists have warned for decades of the dangers of a flu-like disease spilling over from wild animals. But when sars-cov-2 began to spread very few countries had the winning combination of practical plans, the kit those plans required in place and the bureaucratic capacity to enact them. Those that did benefited greatly. Taiwan has, to date, seen just seven COVID-19 deaths; its economy has suffered correspondingly less. Pandemics are disasters that governments have experience of. What therefore of truly novel threats?

  • ArgumentCrisis Response When the Status Quo Is a Crisis

    As the world experiences a global pandemic in the form of the novel coronavirus, the focus of most governments has understandably been on the health implications of this virus, and on the economic fallout of the lockdowns and other mitigation measures taken to stop its spread. Tellis Bethel and Ian Ralby write that there are two major issues whose careful consideration becomes more necessary by the day: security matters and natural disasters. “If the status quo is a pervasive disaster, how can we cope with incidental or episodic emergencies? Few states, if any, are ready for the challenge,” they write.

  • Tunnel evacuationSound Beacons Support Safer Tunnel Evacuation

    By Christina Benjaminsen

    Research conducted as part of the project EvacSound demonstrates that auditory guidance using sound beacons is an effective aid during the evacuation of smoke-filled road tunnels. This is good news. It is a fact that vehicle drivers and passengers cannot normally expect to be rescued by the emergency services during such accidents.

  • Water securityLessening Water Quality Problems Caused by Hurricane-Related Flooding

    June 1 is the start of hurricane season in the Atlantic, and with 2020 predicted to be particularly active, residents in coastal regions are keeping watchful eyes on the weather. Flooding is often the most damaging effect of tropical storms, and one of the first casualties of large-scale is the quality of water sources in the flooded areas.

  • Water securityGlobal Glacier Melt Raises Sea Levels, Depletes Once-Reliable Water Source

    The melting of glaciers and ice caps in places as diverse as the Himalayas and Andes mountain ranges, the Svalbard island group and the Canadian Arctic Archipelago has the dual effect of raising global sea levels and depleting freshwater resources that serve millions of people around the world.

  • Climate crisisRise of Heat-Trapping Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere Unabated

    Atmospheric carbon dioxide measured at Mauna Loa Observatory reached a seasonal peak of 417.1 parts per million for 2020 in May, the highest monthly reading ever recorded. “Progress in emissions reductions is not visible in the CO2 record,” said one expert. “We continue to commit our planet - for centuries or longer - to more global heating, sea level rise, and extreme weather events every year.”

  • ArgumentCongress Should Investigate the Trump Administration’s Coronavirus Response

    Charlie Martel, who in 2008-2009 led the staff of a bipartisan Senate investigation of the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, writes that “Today, as with Katrina, the nation is faced with a deeply flawed federal response to an ongoing crisis with catastrophic consequences on a historic scale.” He adds: “Having apparently discarded the careful pandemic planning it inherited, the Trump administration has no evident strategy guiding its response to the complex crises created by the coronavirus. Administration statements and decisions have been impulsive, contradictory and in some instances dangerous. Congressional oversight is necessary to review the federal response and correct it where necessary.”

  • Coastal challengesVital Natural buffers against Climate Change Are Just Offshore

    About 31 million people worldwide live in coastal regions that are “highly vulnerable” to future tropical storms and sea-level rise driven by climate change. But in some of those regions, powerful defenses are located just offshore. Of those 31 million people, about 8.5 million directly benefit from the severe weather-protection of mangroves and coral reefs, key buffers that could help cushion the blow against future tropical storms and rising waters.