Date: August 28, 2012
Source: Fox News
Abstract: With Tropical Storm Isaac rolling over the Gulf of Mexico toward Louisiana and likely to sustain hurricane-force wind by the time it hits the state’s swampy coast early Wednesday, Google has launched a new site to help out.
"When disaster strikes, people turn to the Internet for information," explains Google's Crisis Response project, an offshoot of the of the Google.org philanthropy arm, which aims to aid in times of need.
The forecast track for Isaac has the storm aimed at New Orleans, but hurricane warnings extended across 280 miles from Morgan City, La., to the Florida-Alabama state line. It could become the first hurricane to hit the Gulf Coast since 2008.
'When disaster strikes, people turn to the internet for information.'
Google Crisis Response
To do its part, Google has launched the new website aggregating info on tropical storm Isaac as part of its Crisis Response project.
“We’ll be updating this map with more information as it becomes available,” explained Raquel Romano, a software engineer with Google Crisis Response, in a blog post announcing the new site. “We hope you find the tools and information useful.”
The team collaborated with the Red Cross, the Florida Division of Emergency Management, and various government and NGO partners to present emergency storm warnings, alerts of earthquakes and more, including active shelters and the forecast path of the storm. It also allows for user-generated content, should people in the area have photos, warnings and advice, or other relevant information.
Users can find advisories pertaining to their own neighborhoods using the search tab at the top of the site, according to The Verge, as well information on local evacuation routes and active shelters. The map also provides links to any relevant YouTube videos and live webcam feeds from impacted regions.
"We help ensure the right
information is there … by supporting first responders in using technology to
help improve and save lives,” the site explains (Fox News, 2012).
Title: Climate Change Triggering National Security Threats
Date: November 12, 2012
Abstract: Climate change will likely lead to more frequent extreme weather events as well as droughts and floods, triggering serious social and political disruption that poses a potential threat to U.S. national security, a National Research Council report shows.
“National security decision makers do not like surprises and expect the intelligence community to provide sufficient warning to make it possible to avoid, ameliorate or alter the undesired consequences of emerging developments,” says the report, released Friday. “Fundamental knowledge of climate dynamics indicates that many types of extreme climate events are likely to become more frequent, even though we do not know enough to predict which extreme events will occur where or when.”
Whether a specific event can be attributed to human-caused climate change or natural variations is irrelevant from a national security standpoint, it says. What matters is that those events are becoming more common, largely because of human activity’s contributions to climate change.
Though unpredictable weather events are increasingly damaging and could ultimately prove a security risk by requiring international response efforts, the report is more concerned with long-term disruptions to critical resources and supply chains.
The oil trade provides an example of a global market that is heavily integrated and could be disrupted easily by climate change events.
“Tropical storms and the increased storm surges that result from sea-level rise and, in some cases, land subsidence can disrupt production, refining and transport of petroleum,” the report says. “In addition, because offshore oil and gas platforms are generally not designed to accommodate a permanent rise in mean sea level, climate-related sea-level rise would disrupt production.”
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and Gustav and Ike in 2008 caused global oil spikes after disrupting production, refining and transportation, the report notes.
The report, conducted at the request of the U.S. intelligence community, was set to be released earlier, but it was delayed by Hurricane Sandy.
The U.S intelligence community should support research efforts taking place at agencies across the government that would help project more accurate climate forecasts, particularly for areas of vulnerability and adaptation methods.
National security analysis will have to draw on climate science, political concerns and social science.
“An important need is to integrate the social science of natural disasters and disaster response with other forms of analysis,” the report says.
“This body of knowledge is particularly important for assessing the security consequences of climate change because disruptive climate events will typically be perceived and responded to as natural disasters.”
The U.S. needs to set up a “whole-of-government strategy for monitoring threats connected to climate change,” the report concludes.
Meanwhile, the intelligence community itself should create “stress tests” to evaluate certain countries or supply chains for managing disruptive climate change-related events.“The intelligence community presumably already uses an analogous process to consider the ability of foreign governments and societies to withstand various kinds of social and political stresses,” the report says. “The results of stress tests would inform national security decision makers about places that are at risk of becoming security concerns as a result of climate events and could be used by the U.S. government or international aid agencies to target high-risk places for efforts to reduce susceptibilities or to improve coping, response and recovery capacities” (Politico, 2012).
To Face Global Warming Time Bomb
Date: November 13, 2012
Abstract: Polish-born nuclear physicist Marcin Jakubowski and his small band of acolytes are holed up in rural Missouri working on a "civilization starter kit."
Bloomberg Businessweek headlines the experiment "The Post-Apocalypse Survival Machine Nerd Farm." Is this the future of American innovation? asks the magazine.
The answer might be affirmative after reading the same issue's cover line in large black letters on a red background — "IT'S GLOBAL WARMING, STUPID."
"If Hurricane Sandy doesn't persuade Americans to get serious about climate change, nothing will," says cover story writer by Paul Barrett.
Hopefully, a study commissioned by the U.S. intelligence community will convince conservatives that global warming isn't liberal disinformation.
After millions of years undisturbed by man, human-induced climate change shrunk the North Pole's ice cap by half in 30 years.
Some scientists argue it's an accumulation of man-made contributions in two world wars, including atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, followed by the Cold War and hundreds of nuclear tests, as well as two major wars in Korea and Vietnam.
In World War II, allies dropped some 3.4 million tons of bombs on German, Italian, and Japanese targets.
Two atomic bombs unloaded on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed 140,000, injured some 200,000 and ended the war. But atomic and nuclear testing continued throughout most of the Cold War.
The United States conducted 1,054 nuclear tests (including 100 in the Pacific Ocean); the Soviet Union 715; Britain 45; France 210, including two secret ones for Israel; China 45; India six; Pakistan six; North Korea two — nearly 2,100 tests that polluted both sea and air.
Scientists said radiation would stay deep underground but it bubbled back to the surface.
There were also tests that produced fallout onto populated areas. In the Pacific, island populations were evacuated with severe radiation burns.
From 1940-96, the United States spent $8.6 trillion on nuclear weapons development and about $1.2 billion in compensation was paid to U.S. citizens exposed to nuclear hazards as a result of tests.
Some $800 million was also paid to the Marshall Islanders for similar compensation.
There have been 20 major mishaps that could have started an accidental nuclear war.
The nuclear weapons production complex is spread over 19 sites from California to South Carolina.
The United States still has more than 5,000 nuclear warheads deployed or in active reserves from a peak of 31,225 in 1967.
The April 8, 2010, agreement with Russia is cutting back to 2,200 and then 1,550 for each side.
Climate change, long pooh-poohed by conservatives, is accelerating and causing major disruptive problems around the world, says the National Research Council, the nation's principal scientific research body.
In a study commissioned by the U.S. intelligence community, NRC forecast that global warming is producing seemingly unrelated crises in everything from water and energy supplies to food markets and public health systems.
Hurricane Sandy is simply Mother Nature's opening salvo of something that will be a lot more damaging in the next few years.
The NRC report was about to be briefed to the intelligence community when Sandy hit New Jersey and New York. More rapid climate change and its threat to the United States and other coastlines are no longer idle scientific speculation.
The 206-page study warns of catastrophic over-the-horizon events of much greater magnitude than Sandy's destructive impact that left thousands homeless as houses snapped like firewood.
NRC sees famine, flood, and disease sweeping through different global regions, irrespective of national borders.
New generations have long since forgotten, assuming they ever knew, about the magnitude of devastation in World War II — e.g., 12,000 heavy bombers shot down and over 100,000 bomber crewmen killed in action. About 40,000 men served in German U-boats in World War II. 30,000 never returned to base.
A few years later, the United States aimed twice the tonnage dropped on Germany at targets in Vietnam and Laos (the latter against Ho Chi Minh supply trails from North to South Vietnam). Laos alone was hit by 2.5 million tons, including 260 million cluster bombs.
To argue that World War I and II, Korea, and Vietnam had no impact on the Earth's envelope stretches credulity.
Unfortunately, we live in the age of social media where 140-character tweets are treated as news and newspapers are relegated to a glance online. Newspapers are still held with both hands but only by those with time on their hands. Social media and blogs now rule the roost.
Magazines are no longer read by younger movers and shakers who navigate their cyber future on line seemingly oblivious to earthly cares and concerns.
"If Hurricane Sandy doesn't persuade Americans to get serious about climate change, nothing will," says Businessweek.
When this reporter was born there were 2 billion people in the world and only 32 million cars in use. Today, those same figures are 7 billion people and more than 1 billion automobiles.
More than half of today's 7 billion humans are under 25. And about 2.5 billion are on the Internet.
On CBS' "60 Minutes," historian David McCullough said last week, "we're training young people who are, by and large, historically illiterate." Of those who enter ninth grade, one survey indicates, only 37 percent are ready for college. In New York, that same figure drops to 1 in 5.
Fertility rates continue to fall but the global population continues to grow. As do slum dwellers, now estimated at about 1 billion worldwide.
The National Research Council has sounded a global alarm. But Republicans in Congress opposed the CIA's plan for a climate change center (NewsMax, 2012).