Disasters

  • Engineers enhance building designs better to withstand earthquakes

    Earthquakes come in all sizes with varying degrees of damage depending on the geographic locations where they occur; even a small one on the Richter scale that strikes in an impoverished nation can be more damaging than a larger one that occurs in a city where all buildings have been designed to a stricter building code; the current building codes are insufficient because buildings designed according to these codes have evolved only to avoid collapse under very large earthquakes

  • ASIS International, BSI release Business Continuity Management ANSI standard

    ASIS International, BSI have released Joint Business Continuity Management ANSI Standard; the standard provides auditable criteria with accompanying guidance for developing and implementing a business continuity management system that improves an organization’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a disruptive event

  • Debate over extending operation of aging NY reactor

    The Indian Point Energy Center is located on the banks of the Hudson River just twenty-four miles north of Manhattan; its reactors are aging: the first reactor at the center began operating in 1962 and shut down in 1974; two new reactors were built in 1974 and 1976; the plant operator seeks permission from the U.S. government to extend operations at the plant; many locals oppose the extension, citing what they say are inadequate emergency evacuation plans in the event of a disaster, and the damage the plant cooling system inflicts on aquatic life

  • Flood control projects in Las Vegas

    Las Vegas is the middle of the desert, and as other desert cities it falls victims to flash flooding during the rainy season; the city has launched a $30 million project to protect local roads and businesses from floods

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  • Thirteen Georgia dams could be reclassified as high risk

    The number of dams designated high risk under Georgia’s Safe Dams Act could more than double in two counties in the state, but a backlog in state enforcement because of budget cuts could drag the reclassification process out years longer than scheduled

  • Pakistan floods released tons of toxic chemicals

    The floods in Pakistan earlier this year, in addition to forcing about 20 million people out of their homes, also released long-lived chemicals, known collectively as persistent organic pollutants (POPs); these include several banned pesticides and the insect repellent DDT; they are dispersed around the planet by atmospheric patterns, do not degrade naturally, and are linked to hormonal, developmental, and reproductive disorders, and increased risk of diabetes, cancer, and dementia

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  • Sprint CEO: WiMAX gamble did not pay off

    Sprint gambled that WiMax would provide it with a 4G lead of at least two years over the competition; they failed — and Sprint CEO said that the failure was down to Verizon’s unexpectedly fast response in deploying LTE; it is now recognized that LTE will triumph, with WiMAX headed for point-to-point connections and fixed wireless

  • Artificial tornadoes created to test Japanese homes

    Japan suffers from many natural disasters, and over the past few years the number of tornados hitting the country has been on the rise; researchers have built a tornado simulator which can generate maximum wind velocity of 15 to 20 meters per second, enough to simulate an F3-size storm; on Japan’s Fujita Scale, an F3 storm is one powerful enough to uproot large trees, lift and hurl cars, knock down walls, and destroy steel-frame structures

  • It's official: asteroids did kill the dinosaurs

    The prevailing scientific consensus is that at least one asteroid — possibly more — hit the earth about sixty-five million years ago, showering the planet with dust and debris, blocking sunlight, causing firestorms, and marking the end of the Cretaceous Period and the beginning of the Paleogene Period; most scientists believe the impact was directly responsible for the mass extinction of many species of plants and animals — most famously, the dinosaurs; geological evidence buried deep in the soil of New Jersey offers support for the impact theory of dinosaur extinction

  • D.C. area wireless network excludes DHS

    U.S. federal law enforcement officers from different agencies soon will be able to talk to each other on their own radios in the Washington, D.C. area — but DHS will not be a part of the new system; DHS was lacking two things that are essential in the federal government for big projects like this one: “You need someone to be in charge and you need a place to put the money,” said the former official; “DHS had neither”

  • Haiti's escalating crises come down to lack of clean water

    Haiti’s corrupt and indifferent government has done little to improve water and sanitation since a 12 January earthquake, making it likely that the cholera epidemic there will continue to spread; even before the quake, more than a third of Haitians lacked access to clean water; now, more than two-thirds of Haitians have no access to clean water; less than one-fifth of the population has access to a simple latrine or toilet

  • Royal Society paints unsettling picture of a world 4 °C warmer

    If present warming trends continue, the world could warm by 4 °C by 2060; a new, detailed study by the U.K. Royal Society would make global water shortages acute; most of sub-Saharan Africa will see shorter growing seasons, with average maize production will drop 19 percent and bean production by 47 percent compared with current levels; the extreme weather, sea-level rise, and water shortages will drive many people to migrate

  • LIDAR technology helps to map landslides

    Researchers use Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) to identify and accurately measure changes in coastal features following a catastrophic series of landslides that occurred in New Zealand in 2005; the findings are important for assessing geological hazards and reducing the dangers to human settlements

  • Panama Canal is due a big earthquake

    The Panama Canal is at greater risk of a catastrophic earthquake than previously assumed, a seismological survey of faults around the canal has warned; the survey estimate that quakes occur every 300 to 900 years. The most recent one was in 1621, so another could happen at any time

  • AT&T begins sales of satellite smartphone

    AT&T’s TerreStar Genus satellite smartphone allows users to communicate from areas where no wireless network coverage exists — or areas where such coverage was destroyed by a disaster; the phone is not cheap, and using it is costly; there are other limitations, too — but for those who need to stay in touch with headquarters even when outside of traditional coverage areas, or when such coverage has been disrupted, the phone offers a reasonable solution