• International Air Travel as an Indicator of COVID-19 Economic Recovery

    It seems likely that routine international air travel may not resume until the end of June at the earliest. Paul Rozenzweig writes that that, more than President Trump’s wishful thinking, is a true indicator of what economic recovery will look like. As any good student of law and economics would say, the best indicator of commercial expectations can be found in commercial enterprises—the market signals that indicate what businesses truly anticipate. And if any enterprise is likely to be a leading indicator of economic expectations, it seems that the airline industry is a good candidate.

  • We Simulated How a Modern Dust Bowl Would Impact Global Food Supplies and the Result Is Devastating

    When the southern Great Plains of the United States were blighted with a series of droughts in the 1930s, it had an unparalleled impact on the whole country. Combined with decades of ill-advised farming policy, the result was the Dust Bowl. Massive dust storms began in 1931 and devastated the country’s major cereal producing areas. But what consequences would a disruption like the Dust Bowl have now, when the Great Plains of the U.S. are not just the breadbasket of America, but a major producer of staple cereals that are exported around the world?

  • Extreme Coastal Flooding in the U.S. Expected to Rise

    Extreme flooding events in some U.S. coastal areas could double every five years if sea levels continue to rise as expected, a new study says. Today’s “once-in-a-lifetime” extreme water levels — which are currently reached once every fifty years — may be exceeded daily along most of the U.S. coastline. Associated coastal hazards, such as beach and cliff erosion, will likely accelerate in concert with the increased risk of flooding, suggest the authors.

  • Climate-Driven Megadrought Is Emerging in Western U.S.: Study

    With the western United States and northern Mexico suffering an ever-lengthening string of dry years starting in 2000, scientists have been warning for some time that climate change may be pushing the region toward an extreme long-term drought worse than any in recorded history. A new study says the time has arrived: a megadrought as bad or worse than anything even from known prehistory is very likely in progress, and warming climate is playing a key role.

  • As Part of U.S. COVID-19 Reopening Steps, Midwest Governors Form Coalition

    Yesterday President Donald Trump during his daily coronavirus task force briefing will announce the first plans for reopening the economy and transitioning from widespread stay-at-home efforts. Yesterday during the briefing the president said America had likely passed the peak of its infections, and physical distancing measures were working. Joining governors on the West and East Coasts, seven Midwestern governors yesterday announced a new coalition to open the Midwest economic region. In a letter from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office, she and the governors of Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky announced the partnership.

  • Understanding the Hidden Impact of Disasters

    The September 2017 Hurricane Maria killed people, demolished homes, and destroyed infrastructure. But Maria also damaged the manufacturing plants of a major IV bag maker, plunging hospitals into supply shortage that didn’t ripple across the mainland United States until six months after the hurricane made landfall. Given the highly integrated nature of supply chains in the U.S., natural and man-made disasters can have unanticipated consequences that are every bit as serious as the immediate damage of the event itself.

  • Coronavirus Shows We Are Not at All Prepared for the Security threat of climate change

    How might a single threat, even one deemed unlikely, spiral into an evolving global crisis which challenges the foundations of global security, economic stability and democratic governance, all in the matter of a few weeks? My research on threats to national security, governance and geopolitics has focused on exactly this question, albeit with a focus on the disruptive potential of climate change, rather than a novel coronavirus. At this stage in the COVID-19 situation, there are three primary lessons for a climate-changing future: the immense challenge of global coordination during a crisis, the potential for authoritarian emergency responses, and the spiraling danger of compounding shocks.

  • Tools to Help Volunteers Do the Most Good after a Disaster

    In the wake of a disaster, many people want to help. Researchers have developed tools to help emergency response and relief managers coordinate volunteer efforts in order to do the most good. The researchers used advanced computational models to address these areas of uncertainty in order to develop guidelines, or rules of thumb, that emergency relief managers can use to help volunteers make the biggest difference.

  • The Defense Production Act and the Failure to Prepare for Catastrophic Incidents

    When early data from Mexico suggested that a new strain of influenza, H1N1, might have a mortality rate between 1 and 10 percent in April 2009, the U.S. government sprang into action. Washington anticipated that the H1N1 virus might lead to a public health catastrophe as bad or worse than what is happening today with COVID-19. Jared Brown writes that the lessons of 2009 were not learnt – or implemented. “The executive branch’s ad-hoc application of the Defense Production Act’s authorities to this pandemic is Exhibit A of how our government, across multiple Republican and Democratic administrations and throughout the national security enterprise, has failed to develop or adapt the Act’s tools for the threats of the 21st century,” he writes.

  • The Normal Economy Is Never Coming Back

    The latest U.S. data proves the world is in its steepest freefall ever—and the old economic and political playbooks don’t apply.
    Adam Tooze writes in Foreign Policy that this collapse is not the result of a financial crisis. It is not even the direct result of the pandemic. The collapse is the result of a deliberate policy choice, which is itself a radical novelty. It is easier, it turns out, to stop an economy than it is to stimulate it. But the efforts that are being made to cushion the effects are themselves historically unprecedented. In the United States, the congressional stimulus package agreed within days of the shutdown is by far the largest in U.S. peacetime history. Across the world, there has been a move to open the purse strings. Fiscally conservative Germany has declared an emergency and removed its limits on public debt. Altogether, we are witnessing the largest combined fiscal effort launched since World War II. Its effects will make themselves felt in weeks and months to come. It is already clear that the first round may not be enough.

  • Boris Is Worried Lockdown Has Gone Too Far, but Only He Can End It

    The British government had asked Britons to stay at home, but Fraser Nelson writes in The Telegraph that government modelers did not expect such obedience: they expected workers to carry on and at least a million pupils to be left in school by parents. The deaths caused by COVID-19 are shocking, he writes, but so, too, are the effects of the lockdown. “Work is being done to add it all up and produce a figure for ‘avoidable deaths’ that could, in the long-term, be caused by lockdown. I’m told the early attempts have produced a figure of 150,000, far greater than those expected to die of COVID.” The decision about when and how to reopen the economy is a tough call to make, but “it’s a decision that will be better made sooner rather than later,” Nelson writes.

  • Social Media Has Positive Possibilities in Pandemic

    Social media has the power to both inform and deceive – and do both at speeds we have never experienced. That fact has, once again, been on display as the COVID-19 epidemic has dominated social media platforms for weeks.

  • Spreading Dangerous News spreads: Why Twitter Users Retweet Risk-Related Information

    In an Internet-driven world, social media has become the go-to source of all kinds of information. This is especially relevant in crisis-like situations, when warnings and risk-related information are actively circulated on social media. But currently, there is no way of determining the accuracy of the information. This has resulted in the spread of misinformation.

  • Acute & Chronic Economic Considerations of COVID-19

    Just as the high probability of a pandemic was foreseen so, too, were the economic effects of such an event. COVID-19 is no black swan, nor is it an event for which we were not given warning shots. In the last three years, the U.S. intelligence community, the Council of Economic Advisers, the Department of Homeland Security, among other government agencies, specifically and in disturbing detail warned of the grave risk a pandemic would pose to U.S. health and economic wellbeing – with the U.S. intelligence community specifically warning of a “novel strain of a virulent microbe that is easily transmissible between humans continues to be a major threat,” and listed pathogens H5N1 and H7N9 influenza and MERS-CoV as potential culprits. Even as we weather COVID-19, the questions remain as to when, not if, the next infectious disease will emerge. We were unprepared for COVID-19, but, hopefully, we will learn a few lessons from it. Specifically, to better prepare for the next pandemic, we need a plan to sustain our economy at the individual, household, and firm levels so that we are not forced to shut down, accrue more debt, and, perhaps, never recover from the economic losses the outbreak causes.

  • Sandia Stimulates Marketplace Recovery with Free Technology Licenses

    Sandia National Laboratories has announced a new, fast-track licensing program to rapidly deploy technology to a marketplace reeling from the effects of COVID-19. The move is designed to support businesses facing widespread, often technical challenges resulting from the pandemic.