- US nearly detonated atomic bomb over North Carolina – secret document – New evidence emerges of how close the United States came to nuclear disaster. Check out this simulation to see what might have been the outcome.
- Two Qantas jets involved in serious mid-air ‘near miss’ and Adelaide fall-out: Airservices is dangerously incompetent – Aviation expert Ben Sandilands reviews the recent near miss involving two Qantas jets near Adelaide. He writes that a continued pattern of loss-of-separation incidents demonstrate severe deficiencies in Airservices Australia air traffic control and that if allowed to continue it is only a matter of time before a devastating mid-air collision.
- Seconds From Disaster: Collision At 35,000 Feet – This episode of Seconds from Disaster shows what can happen when incompetent air traffic control is paired with an over-reliance on Traffic Collision Avoidance Systems (TCAS).
- Why We Don’t Design Our Cities To Withstand 1000-Year Floods – In the wake of the Colorado floods Alissa Walker in Gizmodo on the history of flood risk management in the United States.
- Hong Kong flights to be halted Sunday evening as super typhoon Usagi roars in – Check out the coverage of the South China Morning Post on Typhoon Usagi. You can also stay up to date with the latest position and warnings from the Hong Kong Observatory.
- Mind the risk: cities under threat from natural disasters – Swiss Re has a new report out on urban hazards, ranking cities around the world according to their exposure. I’ll try and do a post on it in the upcoming days.
- Even When Told True Risks, Kids Often Misjudge Them – A new study has found that young people are less able to adjust their perceptions of a risk, after being told its actual probability.
- Drones poised to be new climate surveillance workhorses – Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are finding new applications in observing climate phenomena and natural hazards.
- Can Silicon Valley Save the World? – An excellent article in the Failed States issue of Foreign Policy canvassing new ideas in development finance and innovation including some major failures and guarded successes.
- ‘I’ve managed disasters and not fell in a screaming heap’ – People with disabilities are not just another vulnerable group to include in emergency planning – they can be emergency responders too. In this article a NSW SES volunteer tells of his experiences.
The 2020 Olympics has been announced for Tokyo, one of the most earthquake prone megacities on the planet. The 2011 Sendai quake has also upped the chances of a big quake in the Tokyo area.
Plenty of Olympics have been held in disaster prone cities: Beijing, Athens, Los Angeles, Montreal, Mexico City and Rome all have high earthquake hazards, but fortunately a major natural disaster has not been visited on an Olympic Games. The 1908 games were originally going to be held in Rome, but were moved to London after the 1906 eruption of Mt Vesuvius led to financial pressures on the Italian Government. The worst olympics disaster in history was the terrorist attack on the 1972 Summer Games in Munich, and with billion dollar security budgets terrorism has been foremost in the minds of games’ organisers in recent years.
Although risk management has become a new priority for the IOC, assessment of disaster and emergency preparedness, particularly for natural disasters appears to be brief.
With the influx of athletes, officials and visitors Japan will need to put in place special measures to ensure that they are as prepared as the rest of the population, upgrade emergency response units and ensure that construction for the games is specially hardened – and that’s just for starters. A disaster ready games will be expensive and for a nation already faced with the recovery bill of the 2011 quake and tsunami and the clean-up of Fukushima it will be difficult for it to face up to the challenge. But the costs of not being prepared can be far greater.
With my studies soon to be commencing I’m going to be reading a lot more. Thus each week I’ll post a set of links of interesting articles across the web on risk and disaster management. Here’s this week’s list, happy reading:
- Chemical Weapons and the Scientists who make them – a brief history of the development of chemical weapons, some of the notable scientists who helped in their creation and the treaties prohibiting their use (did you know that Syria is not a signatory to the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention).
- What Did Chicago Look Like Before the Great Fire? – a great map comparing the city of Chicago before the great fire of 1871 and an aerial photo from today.
- Landscape Scale Influences of Forest Area and Housing Density on House Loss in the 2009 Victorian Bushfires – a new paper in PLoS One on the latest research out of the Black Saturday bushfires suggesting that for vegetation management to be effective in reducing house loss in extreme fires it may need to penetrate bushland up to 1km from houses.
- The war that isn’t going to happen – A review of a new book (Cyber War will Not Take Place by Thomas Rid) on what it claims is a vastly overhyped threat.
- The New Flood Insurance Disaster – Discusses the flaws of the US National Flood Insurance Program, the flaws of its current reforms and a possible pathway to a program that accommodates both financial sustainability and improved risk reduction.