• Texas power outagesWinter Storm Could Cost Texas More Money Than Any Disaster in State History

    By Mitchell Ferman

    Lawmakers and analysts say it is too soon for an exact estimate, but the financial damage from the storm has left state lawmakers scrambling to account for the storm in the middle of the 2021 legislative session.

  • ARGUMENT: Climate emergency Is Climate Change a National Emergency?

    Climate change is unlike any problem facing the nation and the world, Mark Nevitt writes: It has been aptly described as the “mother of all collective action” problems and a “super-wicked” problem. “Climate change is complicated by a unique temporal characteristic that penalizes inaction. Because greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions stay in the atmosphere for decades, dithering on climate action imposes escalating costs that rise over time,” he writes. “At some point, the effects of climate change will be too acute, have had too much impact, or be too late to stop or reverse.”

  • Earthquakes early warningEarthquake Early Warning in Oregon and Washington

    Starting 11 March 2021, ShakeAlert-powered earthquake early warning alerts will be available for delivery directly to wireless devices in Oregon. In May 2021, Washington state will follow suit and complete the ShakeAlert public alerting rollout across the entire West Coast. California enabled ShakeAlert-powered alerts in October 2019.

  • Texas power outagesWhat Went Wrong with Texas’ Power Grid?

    On 13 February, a severe winter storm swept across Texas and nearby southern states, bringing sub-zero temperatures and snowfall as far south as the border with Mexico. The polar air that descended on Texas lasted many days, leading to a statewide crisis as energy grids failed to supply enough power, fuels froze, and water pipes burst. Why did it happen? Experts explain.

  • ARGUMENT: Power outagesLessons from the Texas Grid Disaster: Planning and Investing for a Different Future

    It is now a week out from the start of the massive Texas grid failure. Alexandra Klass writes that at this point we already know that freezing wind turbines – in fact, wind turbines outperformed grid operator expectations, despite the extreme cold, and the outages would have been worse without the wind energy that remained online. the state’s electric grid failed for a very simple reason—because Texas power plant operators do not insulate their facilities for sustained cold temperatures. As a result, pipes and equipment needed to run the state’s natural gas plants, nuclear plants, and wind turbines froze.

  • EarthquakesThe Disaster that Helped the Nation Prepare for Future Earthquakes: Remembering San Fernando

    The San Fernando earthquake struck Southern California 50 years ago, killing 64 people and costing over $500 million in damages. The quake prompted federal, state and local action to reduce earthquake risks and bolster public safety.

  • Planetary securityThe Cataclysm that Killed the Dinosaurs

    By Juan Siliezar

    It was tens of miles wide and forever changed history when it crashed into Earth about 66 million years ago.

    The Chicxulub impactor, as it’s known, was a plummeting asteroid or comet that left behind a crater off the coast of Mexico that spans 93 miles and goes 12 miles deep. Its devastating impact brought the reign of the dinosaurs to an abrupt and calamitous end, scientists say, by triggering their sudden mass extinction, along with the end of almost three-quarters of the plant and animal species then living on Earth. New theory explains possible origin of the plummeting Chicxulub impactor.

  • Texas power outagesTexas Leaders Failed to Heed Warnings Which Left the State's Power Grid Vulnerable to Winter Extremes, Experts Say

    By Erin Douglas, Kate McGee, and Jolie McCullough

    Texas officials knew winter storms could leave the state’s power grid vulnerable, but they left the choice to prepare for harsh weather up to the power companies — many of which opted against the costly upgrades. That, plus a deregulated energy market largely isolated from the rest of the country’s power grid, left the state alone to deal with the crisis, experts said.

  • Texas power outages“We’re in It Alone”: Power Outages Leave Millions of Texans Desperate for Heat and Safety

    By Shannon Najmabadi and Marissa Martinez

    Millions of Texans suffered through Monday night without power as a massive winter blitz sent temperatures plunging, shuttered grocery stores and caused widespread outages. Texas residents said the storm — and ensuing partial collapse of the state’s power system — sapped what mental reserves they had left after eleven months of a global health crisis that has cost thousands of jobs and claimed more than 40,000 lives in the state.

  • Texas power outagesUPDATES: More People Could Lose Electricity, Heat as Crisis Persists

    By Erin Douglas, Ross Ramsey

    Energy experts, local leaders and residents said energy and state officials failed to properly prepare people for the mass outages coinciding with dangerous weather that’s already led to at least 10 deaths. Texas largely relies on natural gas — especially during times of high demand — to power the state. Experts say natural gas infrastructure, from pumping it out of the ground to the plants in city centers, was unprepared for the plunging temperatures brought by the winter storm.

  • Power outagesPower Outages across the Plains: 4 Questions Answered about Weather-Driven Blackouts

    By Michael E. Webber

    Amid record cold temperatures and skyrocketing energy demand, utilities across the central U.S. have ordered rolling blackouts to ration electricity, leaving millions of people without power. Weather-related power outages are increasing across the U.S. as climate change produces more extreme storms and temperature swings. States that design their buildings and infrastructure for hot weather may need to plan for more big chills, and cold-weather states can expect more heat waves. As conditions in Texas show, there’s no time to waste in getting more weather-ready.

  • Security threatsSecurity Threats which Bind Us

    The Converging Risks Lab of the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) released a report last week which identifies ecological disruption as a major and underappreciated security threat and calls on the United States to reboot its national security architecture and doctrine to better respond to this evolving threat landscape.

  • Planetary securityWhat Hollywood Gets Wrong, and Right, about Asteroids

    By Robyn Schelenz

    In the 1998 movie “Armageddon,” an asteroid the width of Texas is about to hit Earth. The heroes who stop it in the nick of time are a group of orange-suited Americans, all men. Life isn’t always like the movies. Not that an asteroid couldn’t slam into Earth, mind you. Asteroids — mostly tiny ones — pass by our planet virtually every second. But the people charged with stopping the big ones aren’t reaching for their spacesuits with mere hours to spare.

  • EarthquakesBetter Earthquake Recovery

    For the last century, seismic building codes and practices have primarily focused on saving lives by reducing the likelihood of significant damage or structural collapse. Recovery of critical functions provided by buildings and infrastructure have received less attention, however. As a result, many remain vulnerable to being knocked out of service by an earthquake for months, years or for good. A new report outlines seven recommendations that, if acted upon, may greatly improve the resilience of communities across the nation.

  • Disaster responsePlanetSense: Stepping in When Disaster Strikes

    As Hurricane Dorian raged through the Bahamas, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory worked around the clock to aid recovery efforts for one of the Caribbean’s worst storms ever. The researchers helped direct that relief, churning out geographic data that guided decisions on everything from where to open emergency shelters to how to staff first-aid centers.