Disasters

  • Ambulance radios in London do not work in the rain

    Ambulances in London have a problem: ambulance crews often working without radios especially in heavy rain when their radios seem to have reception problems; ambulance panic buttons either did not work, or did not elicit any response when set off by staff; Airwave, the Airwave system is getting a £39 million upgrade in time for the 2012 London Olympics

  • U.S., U.K. military leaders address climate change's role as a global threat multiplier

    Conflict brought on by droughts, famine, and unwelcome migration are as old as history itself. Yet, a growing number of military analysts think that climate change will exacerbate these problems worldwide and are encouraging countries to prepare to maintain order even as shrinking resources make their citizens more desperate; Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti: “We see climate change as a threat multiplier, as a catalyst for conflict”

  • Australia could face climate refugees

    Australia could face a wave of climate refugees from neighboring Pacific islands unless rich nations help poorer countries with climate change, scientists warned; the 900 climate scientists gathered at a the conference heard specialists say that Australia is already experiencing the effects of climate change and is likely to be one of the most severely affected among developed countries

  • Second pipe may have crippled BP well's defenses

    The discovery of a second drill pipe joins a list of clues that is helping scientists understand the complexities of the Deepwater Horizon accident, and learn lessons which will inform changes in how deep-water drilling is conducted; evidence emerges that BP cut safety corners because the drilling fell behind schedule; one expert says: the accident “absolutely was preventable—[the rig lacked] “a regulatory presence onboard that said, “I don’t care how late it is, you do it right or you go home.”

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  • New technology could lead to an earthquake prediction system

    A new airborne radar-based mapping technology allows scientists to see earthquake images on the ground for the first time; the airborne images show tiny or large motions that occurred beneath the surface of the earth, on the fault line, which can not be seen by flying over an area or walking on the surface

  • Scientist says nuclear weapons best bet for saving Earth from asteroids

    Scientists argue that the best way to prevent a large asteroid from doing grave damage to Earth is to blast the asteroid with nuclear weapons; the sheer power of a nuclear explosion may make it the most practical and cost-effective option for deflecting or fragmenting asteroids, compared with alternatives such as chemical fuel or laser beams; for one thing, a nuclear explosive would be cheaper to launch into space due to its large amount of energy per unit mass; in contrast, a non-nuclear blast might require several launches for an equivalent amount of power

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  • Online monitors of Yorkshire flood risk

    The U.K. Environment Agency now offers individuals and businesses at flood risk in Yorkshire a real-time Web-based monitoring of local river and sea levels; the data from more than 1,700 monitoring stations across England and Wales will complement personalized phone and text-message alerts from the Environment Agency’s free flood-warning service

  • X Prize Foundation may offer $3 to $10 million award for Gulf Oil Spill solutions

    X Prize Foundation, known for offering prizes to innovative and future-oriented innovations, is considering offering a prize of between $3 and $10 million for a viable solution to stopping the oil spill in the Gulf; the foundation in the process of developing a multi-million dollar competition to help alleviate the effects of the oil spill in the Gulf; the X Prize Foundation is best known for what was originally called the Ansari X Prize — a $10 million competition open to anyone who could build a reusable, privately built craft capable of reaching outer space

  • Tiny flying robots to monitor forest-fires, chemical spills, and more

    Swiss researchers developed a tiny flying robot which could be equipped with different sensors and small cameras for a variety of applications; the robot could monitor different kinds of emergencies — from forest fires to chemical accidents

  • Italian scientists face manslaughter charges for failing to predict 2009 L'Aquila earthquake

    Italian prosecutors have issued indictment against six scientists for failing to warn the residents of L’Aquila about the 6 April 2009 earthquake; the magnitude-6.3 earthquake caused 308 deaths and 1,600 injuries, and left more than 65,000 people homeless; prosecutors say the scientists participated in a press conference on 31 March, in which they encouraged residents not to move out of the L’Aquila region; coming to the defense of the seismologists, nearly 4,000 scientists from around the world have signed a letter to Italy’s president, urging him to focus on earthquake preparation rather than holding scientists responsible for something that they cannot do — predict earthquakes

  • Cybersecurity insurance gains more adherents

    With so many large U.S. companies suffering security breaches — and with companies losing an average of $234,000 per breach in 2009 — more consideration is being given to cybersecurity insurance; a crashed server policy is not as easy to write as a crashed car policy

  • Insuring cities against terrorist attacks

    Do small towns really need to spend money for terrorism insurance? To collect on such policies, an act of terrorism has to be certified by the U.S. attorney general, the Department of the Treasury and the secretary of state; there also has to be at least $5 million in damage and an intent to coerce or influence U.S. policy; nuclear, biological, chemical, and radiological attacks are excluded

  • A surge protector to end all surge protectors

    If an equipment failure, terrorist attack, or lightning strike causes a power surge, also known as a fault current, that fault current can cascade through the grid and knock out every substation and piece of equipment connected to the problem site; DHS’s Resilient Electric Grid project aims to develop a superconductor cable designed to suppress fault currents that can potentially cause permanent equipment damage

  • DHS adopts ASIS's resilience standard for private sector organizations

    DHS has adopted ASIS International’s Organizational Resilience Standard as part of a program designed voluntarily to bolster the resilience of private organizations during man-made and natural disasters and emergencies

  • It may be impossible to protect the North American grid against catastrophic events

    Making sure the North American grid continues to operate during high-impact, low-frequency (HILF) events — coordinated cyber and physical attacks, pandemic diseases, and high-altitude nuclear bomb detonations — is daunting task; the North American bulk power system comprises more than 200,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines, thousands of generation plants, and millions of digital controls; more than 1,800 entities own and operate portions of the system, with thousands more involved in the operation of distribution networks across North America