• The U.S. military prepares for the coming conflicts triggered by climate change

    The popular debate surrounding “global warming” is rife with emotion and has paralyzed U.S. policymakers; military planners, however, remain divorced from the emotional content of the topic, looking at possible future scenarios and conducting planning to address the associated challenges and threats arising from sharp changes in climate

  • Water-proofing cities by using buildings for flood protection

    Buildings, car parks, and roads can be designed in such a way that they can protect the urban area behind them from flooding, alongside their regular urban functions; these innovative construction techniques can also be adapted to the circumstances in the long term, enabling flood protection systems to take account of external influences such as climate change and economic development

  • New method predicts communication-disrupting solar activity

    Major solar eruptions (coronal mass ejections) normally take several days to reach the Earth, but the largest recorded in 1859 took just eighteen hours; solar flares — which can also cause significant disruption to communications systems — take just a few minutes; U.K. researchers develop a method of predicting solar storms that could help to avoid widespread power and communications blackouts

  • Scientist offers better ways to engineer Earth's climate to blunt global warming

    A Canadian scientist suggests two novel geoengineering approaches to limit the effects of climate change on Earth: “levitating:” engineered nano-particles, and the airborne release of sulphuric acid; both ideas are more refined than, and have advantages over, another geoengineering concept developed by geoengineers: mimicking volcanic eruptions by injecting massive amounts of sulphur dioxide gas into the upper atmosphere

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  • Study: dinosaurs killed off by more than one asteroid impact

    The scientific consensus about the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago — along with more than half of other species then alive on Earth — is that an asteroid hit at Chicxulub in the Gulf of Mexico, creating a crater more than 180 km across and sending tons of smoke and soot into the atmosphere; scientists now say that the Chicxulub impact began the process of killing off the dinosaurs, but that the coup de grace occurred two to five thousand years later, with an asteroid impact in the Boltysh crater in the Ukraine

  • Are New Orleans' storm defenses strong enough?

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has invested $14.45 billion in bolstering New Orleans’ defenses against storms, and there is a consensus that the city’s protection now is better than they were on 29 August 2005, when Katrina made landfall, and its 8.5-meter surge went on to overpower a poorly constructed and poorly connected levees and flood walls; critics say, though, that the better designed and built levees do not take into account the stronger hurricanes which climate changes causes, and that the best defenses against hurricanes — coastal marshes, wetlands, and barrier islands — are being eroded and lost at an alarming rate as a result of urban development and the Corps’ own engineering approach to harnessing and taming the Mississippi River

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  • Infrared camera to identify size of dangerous asteroids

    The 1908 Tunguska event that flattened over 2,000 square kilometers in Russia was by some basic estimates caused by an asteroid only sixty meters in diameter; the impact of even a 1-kilometer-sized NEO would probably destroy an average state

  • Earthquake-proof bed patented

    A Chinese inventor patented a design for an earthquake-proof bed; if your house collapses on top of you, the bed’s thick frame can support a roof — and the extra space inside its thick boards can store essential foodstuffs like canned goods and life sustaining water

  • DHS drill offers rare look at disaster preparedness

    Anniston, Alabama, Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) offered another glimpse into disaster preparedness, this time focuses on disaster health care; a disaster drill observed by the media saw health care workers from throughout the United States acting out an explosion at a battery acid factory

  • New Florida museum is glass-covered hurricane-proof fortress

    The new Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg is designed to withstand category 5 hurricanes; the roof is 12-inch thick solid concrete; the walls are even thicker, at eighteen inches; the glass, which makes up big sections of the outside of the museum, can hold up to a category 3 hurricane; if that glass breaks, letting rain, wind, and debris into the facility, the art will still be safe: storm doors will shield the galleries on the third floor, and the vault, which is on the second floor (all of the art is placed on the second and third floors, above the 30-foot storm surge of a category 5 storm)

  • Hagerstown PD disappears from analog scanners

    Those wishing to listen in on Hagerstown Police Department calls will have to update their technology: the “patch” to the old 800 MHz frequency, which allowed simulcasting of calls on the old analog frequencies, was taken down last week

  • New levee design, construction materials tested in Louisiana

    Since Katrina, attention has been riveted on $14 billion worth of federal projects to rebuild the deficient hurricane levee system so it can better defend from surges out of lakes Borgne and Pontchartrain; the Army Corps of Engineers plans to start experimenting with a new construction method, which relies on a mix of lime and clay to build the test levee higher without widening the levee base; this method of raising existing river levees can be done faster than a standard raising and will not require buying additional land to expand the base; mixing lime and clay and water will not produce concrete, which has a measured strength of 3,000 pounds per square inch, or psi, the mixture will have a strength of 80 to 120 psi — substantially greater than the 3 to 5 psi of a compacted clay levee

  • Disaster response experts call for "red-helmet brigade"

    Experts say that the world need to be better prepared to respond to natural disasters such as the Pakistan floods of the Haiti earthquake; they say that an organization such as the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs should establish a special response unit to set up a computerized database that identifies all available assets routinely needed in an emergency — emergency personnel, medical personnel, water, non-perishable food stuffs, extraction machinery, temporary shelters, and field hospitals; some supplies could be held in locations around the world, ready to be dispatched as soon as disaster assessment experts working for a central command and control center arrive on the scene of a catastrophe

  • China, Pakistan floods; Haiti earthquake: not merely "natural" disasters

    The recent disasters in Pakistan, China, and Haiti have done more than kill thousands and displace millions: they have raised questions about whether the modifier “natural” — as in “natural disaster” — is accurate in describing the sources and scope of the catastrophes; these and other recent disasters, in other words, raise questions about how much of the damage caused comes from the forces of nature and how much is the result of human activity; experts say that a major contributing factor to the scope of these disasters are development decisions which are too often controlled by wealthy and corrupt elites who have no interest in protecting people who have been marginalized by poverty

  • How to move forward on nationwide wireless emergency-response network

    One of the lessons of 9/11 and Katrina was that there was a need for a nationwide wireless public safety and emergency-response network; trouble is, politics, arguments about spectrum allocation, business competition, and technology have all contributed to holding things up; one observer says that the way forward is for government to make a national emergency response network a wireless priority and devote dedicated, unencumbered spectrum to it