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Dancing and Disaster Management

Aside from disaster management, one of my other passions is swing dancing. It appears that I’m not the only one to combine the two – check out this video from the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Red Cross:

Illness spreads really easy at swing dance camps, with their combinations of lots of contact with many different people, lack of sleep, poor diet and less than fastidious hygiene. Some of the sicknesses even have their own names, e.g. the dreaded Herrang Flu.

It’s as good a time as any to remember that a pandemic is never far away. For information about how institutions and governments can prepare, check out the WHO website.

And Happy New Year!


Climate Change, Extreme Weather and Emergency Preparedness Senate Inquiry: Part 4

As the first submissions come in and dates for public hearings are set I continue my series on the extreme weather and emergency preparedness senate inquiry. See Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. In this post I move onto the fourth term of reference:

(d) an assessment of the preparedness and the adequacy of resources in the emergency services sector to prevent and respond to extreme weather events;


Update on the Climate Change and Emergency Preparedness Inquiry

Just a brief update on the Recent trends in and preparedness for extreme weather events inquiry.

The first submission from one of the lead authors on IPCC chapters on extreme weather and climate change, Professor Neville Nicholls, has been published.

Dates for public hearings have also been announced: the 20th 21st and 22nd of February 2013.

I’m working on the 4th instalment of my series, in the meantime check out post one, two and three.

Contemporary Disaster Inquiries in Australia

In my series on the Climate Change Emergency Preparedness Inquiry I’ve discussed past disaster inquiries. This post attempts to index all disaster related inquiries in Australia since 2000. See my newer post here for a list of inquiries prior to 2000.

For the purposes of this list I’ll define an inquiry as any investigation conducted or commissioned by an arm of state or federal government (ie. legislative, executive or judicial) into a specific disaster or a general disaster related topic. I won’t however list reports on disaster related bills or strategies (for example the National Disaster Resilience Strategy), reports that are not publicly available or those commissioned by NGOs, associations and the private sector. I’m including any inquiry that reported after 01/01/2000.

I find that there have been more than 200 disaster related inquiries since 2000. If you’re aware of anything I’ve missed please let me know in the comments.


Climate Change, Extreme Weather and Emergency Preparedness Senate Inquiry: Part 3

In the previous two posts I have examined current trends and future projections of climate change impacts on natural hazards, the estimated costs of extreme weather and potential insurance impacts. In this instalment I move onto the preparedness terms of reference:

(c) an assessment of the preparedness of key sectors for extreme weather events, including major infrastructure (electricity, water, transport, telecommunications), health, construction and property, and agriculture and forestry;


A Global Emergency Number

The World Conference On International Telecommunications that is just finishing up in Dubai, has attracted most attention for proposals for greater internet regulation. But the conference and the International Telecommunications Union looks after many things besides the internet.

One of these is the emergency calling number (in Australia 000), in particular for mobile devices (in Australia 112 will work on all GSM mobiles).


Climate Change, Extreme Weather and Emergency Preparedness Senate Inquiry: Part 2

As a new report shows greenhouse gas emissions are putting the globe on a track for 4-6ºC of warming by the end of the century I’ll continue my series on the Senate Recent trends in and preparedness for extreme weather events Inquiry. In the last instalment I looked at current and historical trends in extreme weather and attribution of them to climate change. In this post I look forward to the next ToR:

(b) based on global warming scenarios outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation of 1 to 5 degrees by 2070:

(i) projections on the frequency of extreme weather events, including but not limited to drought, bushfires, heatwaves, floods and storm surges,

(ii) the costs of extreme weather events and impacts on natural ecosystems, social and economic infrastructure and human health, and

(iii) the availability and affordability of private insurance, impacts on availability and affordability under different global warming scenarios, and regional social and economic impacts; (more…)

Climate Change, Extreme Weather and Emergency Preparedness Senate Inquiry: Part 1

This week the Australian Greens established a Senate Inquiry on extreme weather and emergency preparedness. The inquiry will be conducted by the Environment and Communications Reference Committee. Details and instructions on making submissions can be found here.

Over the coming weeks I’ll be addressing each of the terms of reference on this blog, gathering and summarising relevant literature and providing my own opinion. I’ll also add some context around past state and federal inquiries and other activities of a similar nature and outline why I don’t believe this inquiry will make a significant difference in the preparedness of our emergency services. Submissions are due by 18 January 2013 and the committee is due to report on 20 March 2013 (I expect that the deadline will probably need to be extended).

Today I’ll examine the first ToR. Warning – heavy science content.

(a) recent trends on the frequency of extreme weather events, including but not limited to drought, bushfires, heatwaves, floods and storm surges;


Upgrading central city hospitals would put them in the firing line

Today a piece appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald calling for a specialist disaster response capacity to be established in central city hospitals across Australia.


L’Aquila Earthquake Verdict

L'Aquila 2010-by-RaBoe-078On the 6th of April 2009, a devastating earthquake struck the medieval Italian city of L’Aquila. In the town and others nearby 309 people were killed, more than 1,500 people injured, 20,000 buildings destroyed and 65,000 people left homeless.

In the wake of the earthquake 6 Italian scientists and one government official, members of the National Commission for Forecasting and Predicting Great Risks, were charged with manslaughter on the basis that they provided misleading and confusing information. Information that, prosecutors alleged, directly led to people deciding to remain in their homes after a minor earthquake which happened just hours before the fatal shock hit.

Just under three weeks ago the magistrate found all seven guilty prompting massive criticism from scientists worldwide.