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Why Disasters Are Getting Worse

 
 
Reply Fri 5 Sep, 2008 09:32 am
Why Disasters Are Getting Worse

Quote:
If it seems like disasters are getting more common, it's because they are. But some disasters seem to be affecting us in worse ways " and not for the reasons you may think.
 
OCCOM BILL
 
  2  
Reply Fri 5 Sep, 2008 12:50 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Moving this here from the Hurricane Gustav Thread.

hamburger wrote:

o'bill wrote :

Quote:
Quote:
Foxfyre wrote:
Katrina was absolutely unprecedented in modern times and nobody anticipated the devastation it wrecked and no administration would have been fully prepared for that.


This is just so much nonsense. New Orleans was a ticking time bomb, is a ticking time bomb and still hasn't suffered the magnitude of death and destruction that's been imminently predictable for the better part of forever. The area of the Earth we call New Orleans has been periodically suffering much stronger storms than Katrina since before there were people. This isn't going to stop just because we want to live there now. Study after study demonstrated that New Orleans was a ticking time bomb and the only thing sillier than pretending "nobody anticipated the devastation" is pretending the Federal Government could (or should try) to make the city Hurricane proof. It's not going to happen. Sooner or later, however, a direct hit from a CAT-5 will.


o'bill :
i don't know if you ever watched the PBS documentary : THE DISAPPEARING DELTA : LOSING GROUND .

we watched it a year or two ago . a well made documentary imo .
it should really be shown again - but by ALL tv-networks and not just PBS .
hbg

link :

http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/archives/losingground.html
I hadn't seen that one specifically and found it very interesting, thanks.

I think the rebuilding of the Delta, if possible, is a side issue. Anything short of extraordinary lengths (at extraordinary costs) will eventually, utterly fail in the face of a CAT-5 storm. Living below sea level on the sea shore simply doesn’t make sense… isn't necessary in a country this size, so the prohibitive costs of copying the Dutch (who have little choice) is not going to happen. In the mean time; bigger, stronger levies will only serve to hold extra water in if there's a direct hit... and given enough time it is a near certainty that there will be one. Katrina money should be used for relocation... not rebuilding houses in what is probably some of the least safe neighborhoods in the country.
cjhsa
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Sep, 2008 12:55 pm
@OCCOM BILL,
After that... shrimpin was easy!
0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  4  
Reply Fri 5 Sep, 2008 01:10 pm
I agree that rebuilding New Orleans is a waste of time and money, it's the Pompeii of the 21st century. It would be much better to spend the money on getting people settled elsewhere. I think the holdouts will get tired of evacuating every fall and eventually it will be a ghost town. Let's cut our losses and give the land back to the migrating birds, alligators and fish. I just wish one of those Cajun restaurants would open in my town.
CalamityJane
 
  3  
Reply Fri 5 Sep, 2008 04:16 pm
@Green Witch,
Nature will balance itself. The damage we've created, will haunt us in the
long run!
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Sep, 2008 05:25 pm
@CalamityJane,
it reminds of the closing of the newfoundland OUTPORTS during the 1950's and 60's .
no work , no future for the children , no hope , cut off from the outside world - the government decided to relocate about 30,000 people .

people were clinging to their homes - didn't want to move - "here are my family roots" , the "newfies" said .
but the ports - really tiny villages - were closed .

some people "floated" their wooden houses to the next larger settlement , but the resentment against re-settlement and the government persist to this day !
hbg

moving a house from an outport

http://www.canadafirst.net/our_heritage/newfoundland/nfld.jpg

Quote:
I's the b'y that built the boat,
and I's the b'y that sailed her,
Thanks to the fed the outport's dead,
Is I the b'y that failed her?
0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  3  
Reply Fri 5 Sep, 2008 05:39 pm
@CalamityJane,
Quote:
Nature will balance itself.

I wish I was as optimistic. From what I am seeing, nature is crashing. The question is: How far can it tumble before humans become part of the extinction? We are living on a dying planet, and I see evidence of it almost everyday.

Hamburger, I did not know about this forced exodus in Newfoundland. I think the people of New Orleans will do it on their own. Having to run away from every hurricane is going to get old fast.
cjhsa
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Sep, 2008 05:45 pm
@Green Witch,
You see evidence of it every day? Clearly, you haven't gotten beyond the Roundup on the local sidewalk.

Mother Nature is THRIVING. And she's a bitch.
OCCOM BILL
 
  2  
Reply Fri 5 Sep, 2008 09:19 pm
@Green Witch,
Green Witch wrote:

Quote:
Nature will balance itself.

I wish I was as optimistic. From what I am seeing, nature is crashing. The question is: How far can it tumble before humans become part of the extinction? We are living on a dying planet, and I see evidence of it almost everyday.

Our planet is not dying. Our planet has survived extinction level meteor strikes, ice ages, super volcanoes and it's just fine. We aren't going to hurt it. This is because our planet doesn't give a rat's ass if people live on it or not. That is our problem.

I watched an interesting program on the History channel the other night called 'Life after people.' As good fortune would have it; they put it online as well. You can see it by clicking HERE

Green Witch wrote:

Hamburger, I did not know about this forced exodus in Newfoundland. I think the people of New Orleans will do it on their own. Having to run away from every hurricane is going to get old fast.
I wouldn’t count on that. Key West evacuations are the biggest pain in the ass of all, but that population isn’t dwindling. I don’t have a problem with people choosing to live in risky areas. I have a problem with the expectation that people who don’t should share the expense with those who do. If living in the bowl isn’t a privilege worth paying enormous insurance and infrastructure taxes for; move. I would rather kick in for moving expenses than rebuilding expenses. Loved your Pompeii reference. Very astute.
hawkeye10
 
  0  
Reply Fri 5 Sep, 2008 09:26 pm
@Green Witch,
Quote:
I agree that rebuilding New Orleans is a waste of time and money, it's the Pompeii of the 21st century. It would be much better to spend the money on getting people settled elsewhere. I think the holdouts will get tired of evacuating every fall and eventually it will be a ghost town. Let's cut our losses and give the land back to the migrating birds, alligators and fish. I just wish one of those Cajun restaurants would open in my town.


We are already doing this, only we are not being honest about it. NO has not be rebuilt, it will not been rebuilt. The next time a major hurricane floods it it will shrink yet again. The official number is that 75% came back this time but credible reports say that it is more like 55%. That is major shrinkage. The money is gone, so it is not like there will be some massive building boom in the next few years. The levies are not good enough, lenders know this, so insurance and loans are unavailable. Problem solved, and no one needs to admit it or take responsibility for it.
0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Sep, 2008 12:39 am
@cjhsa,
Quote:
Clearly, you haven't gotten beyond the Roundup on the local sidewalk.


I don't use that Monsanto crap.

0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Sep, 2008 01:27 am
@OCCOM BILL,
Yes, the planet will still be here, I was thinking more in terms of humans and the species we share the earth with. At the rate we are going, half of all birds and mammals will be gone within a 200-300 year period. I don't know at what point our turn will come, but we depend on this web of life to keep us healthy and functioning.

Humans have thrived mostly due to predictable weather patterns (heat, cold, moisture) which allows us to reliably grow food. We are losing these patterns at an alarming rate. Try growing fruit when it blossoms and sets in winter only to be lost to a late spring frost. This is rapidly becoming more common. We have more droughts and flooding in places that feed us on a mass scale.We have record number of tree diseases popping up everywhere, many of them effecting the food we eat and the water we drink. Most people know nothing of the citrus diseases in the south or the hemlock collapse in the northeast (not to mention the end of butternut, ash and viburnums that animals depend on for food).

I feel it's a waste of time trying to convince anyone of anything. People are happy to reject plastic bags, return their cans for a nickel and better insulate their sprawling houses thinking they are "saving the planet". The only thing that might save the world as we know it is a good plague that will wipe out the majority of human life, and that might be coming too. Sorry to be such a downer, but humans had a chance for a beautiful, sustainable life on this planet and so far they have not shown themselves worthy of the gift.

We are going the way of the T-Rex, I have no idea what will take our place. Maybe an advanced race of coakroaches will have better luck.

(I promise to look at your link Bill when I'm not in a state of insomnia)
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Sep, 2008 06:40 pm
Thanks for that article, Robert.

For those discussing New Orleans, I'd like to provide some data. First, much of New Orleans - particularly the heavily populated areas (pre-Katrina) do not tend to be below sea level. Below is an elevation map of the city where yellow areas are 5 or more feet below sea level and grey areas are more than 10 feet above sea level. White areas are at or near sea level. Notice that the areas near the river and downtown (including the French Quarter near the top right of the horseshoe curve of the river) are all above sea level. Only those areas near Lake Pontchartrain to the north are 5 or more feet below sea level. These areas were primarily swampland and not heavily populated until after construction of the flood control canals that were protected by levees (three short canals in Orleans Parish near the center of the map). Two of these levees were breached during Katrina (blue circles on the leftmost and rightmost flood control canals.

The Port of New Orleans is the fifth busiest port in the US. It's easy to say that New Orleans should be abandoned, but the fact remains the the mouth of the Mississippi River is the only navigable route to transport cargo from the southern end of the country to the northern end as well as connections through other rivers to points east and west. Commercial interests alone make the suggestion of abandoning New Orleans ludicrous. The Port of New Orleans combined with the Port of South Louisiana in suburban LaPlace form the largest port system in the world by bulk tonnage, and the world's fourth largest by annual volume handled. It is these same commercial interests who wanted to boost capacity by constructing an industrial canal that would allow for a shorter route for commercial cargo through the city to Lake Pontchartrain rather than around it. Construction of the Industrial Canal (officially called the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal) was completed in 1923. The levee system has been periodically shored up -- usually after a flood event and levee failure -- including a major project that was approved after significant flooding occurred with Hurricane Betsy in 1965.




http://bigpicture.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/new_orleans_elevation.jpg

Please note the narrow southern end of the Industrial Canal near where it meets the Mississippi River. The area just to the right (east) of the Industrial Canal near the river is the lower ninth ward. As you can see this ward is not below sea level and was flooded by the levee breach along the Industrial Canal just to it's north (blue circle on right side of the canal near the "Y"). The upper and lower ninth ward were destroyed by the extreme volume and sheer force of the water coming through the breach (think of the force of a lake trying to squeeze through what proportionally amounts to the diameter of a fire hose).

Most of the people of the lower ninth ward did not have flood insurance; not because they were poor, but because they were not in the FEMA flood zone map and were encouraged NOT to purchase flood insurance. Below is a link to the FEMA flood zone map for New Orleans (pdf). Anyone in a white area was told they didn't need flood insurance. The "dots" overlaid on the map indicate post-Katrina inspections. The FEMA zone is indicated by the color of the background on the map. The FEMA map for the lower ninth ward is primarily white. Yes, the people of the lower ninth ward were generally poor. Yes, they tended to be black. No, they have not come back in large numbers but it's primarily due to the fact that, of all of the neighborhoods in New Orleans, theirs is one of the few that FEMA determined was not a flood zone. Without flood insurance they have no resources to rebuild.

https://secure.cityofno.com/Resources/Portal1/building_insp_floodzone.pdf

There has also been some discussion here about the level of the re-population of New Orleans. Using mail delivery addresses as an indicator, there were 72% of the mail delivery addresses receiving mail in June 2008 (146,174) compared to June 2005 (203,457). Below is a link to an interactive re-population map that allows for block-by-block comparisons of pre- and post-Katrina occupation. As you will see, the lower ninth ward is not exactly "depopulated" but it's numbers remain small in comparison to the rest of the city.

http://www.gnocdc.org/repopulation/

I agree with the statements in the article Robert linked above. Areas such as the swamplands near Lake Pontchartrain that are lands not naturally habitable allow for greater population centers and greater loss of life and property in a natural disaster. On the other hand, areas that are naturally habitable become inhabitable due to human interference such as the building of insufficient levees (keep in mind the Industrial Canal and it's levees are not to protect against natural disasters, they are intended to maximize commercial shipping through the city) and the destruction of the natural barriers - which is also primarily due to human interference but I'll tackle that one another time.


0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Sep, 2008 07:52 am
copying an opinion post made last night on the Ike thread over here...

I was not intending on posting this tonight but I'm trying to put some perspective to this thing.

The 11:00 update indicates that Ike is still "officially" a Cat 2 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale with maximum sustained winds of 110mph. Cat 3 storms are those with sustained wind speeds of 111mph - 130mph, so this is as strong a Cat 2 as a Cat 2 can be.

Hurricane Hunters are returning readings of 950mb which is a pressure reading typically observed in a high Cat 3 storm.

Storm surge estimates of 12' - 30' are generally seen in strong Cat 4 - weak Cat 5 storms.

Part of the problem with the heavy emphasis on the Saffir-Simpson scale is that folks make life and death decisions based solely on the SS Category. As we are seeing, the severity of a storm comes from much more than just it's wind speed. People choose to ride out a Cat 2 storm because the last Cat 2 storm wasn't that harsh. Well, this is not your every day Cat 2 storm. The NHC needs to consider other mechanisms of categorizing storms that do not entirely depend on maximum sustained wind speed.

<end of editorial>
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  2  
Reply Thu 19 Nov, 2009 09:32 am
Army Corps held liable for Industrial Canal breech.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34028940/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/

Quote:
Duval referred to the corps' approach to maintaining the channel as "monumental negligence."

Joe Bruno, one of the lead lawyers for the plaintiffs, said the ruling underscored the Army Corps' long history of not properly protecting the New Orleans region.

"It's high time we look at the way these guys do business and do a full re-evaluation of the way it does business," Bruno said.

...

In his 156-page ruling, Duval said he was "utterly convinced" that the corps' failure to shore up the channel "doomed the channel to grow to two to three times its design width" and that "created a more forceful frontal wave attack on the levee" that protected St. Bernard and the Lower 9th Ward.

"The Corps had an opportunity to take a myriad of actions to alleviate this deterioration or rehabilitate this deterioration and failed to do so," Duval said. "Clearly the expression 'talk is cheap' applies here."

Ahead of Duval's ruling, experts had said it would likely have consequences for the way the Army Corps does business nationwide.



Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Nov, 2009 02:39 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel's source wrote:
If it seems like disasters are getting more common, it's because they are. But some disasters seem to be affecting us in worse ways " and not for the reasons you may think.


I hadn't seen this thread before, but this statement is pure nonsense. There is not sufficient historical data to know if this is true in terms of the tenure of the human race on this planet, never mind no data in pre-historical times, and no data from the billions of years of the planet's history before the rise of homo sapiens sapiens.

This is the sort of silly, tendentious statement you get from journalists when they write about science.
Ionus
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Nov, 2009 05:56 pm
@Setanta,
Quote:
There is not sufficient historical data to know if this is true in terms of the tenure of the human race on this planet, never mind no data in pre-historical times, and no data from the billions of years of the planet's history before the rise of homo sapiens sapiens.
Tree rings have been used to measure climate but they are inaccurate at best. What tree rings are good for is to measure weather. These, and evidence of tidal surges and weather damage indicate that the weather now and for the last 10,000 years is more stable than is usual. It seems the remnants of the glaciers is associated with stable weather. When the glaciers finally finish melting (the planet rarely has glaciers) we may see an association with instability in the weather. For Robert Gentel's source to say we are already experienceing severe weather is showing an ignorance of weather. It can be many times worse than now and still be normal.
OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Nov, 2009 05:57 pm
@JPB,
JPB wrote:

Army Corps held liable for Industrial Canal breech.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34028940/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/

Quote:
Duval referred to the corps' approach to maintaining the channel as "monumental negligence."

Joe Bruno, one of the lead lawyers for the plaintiffs, said the ruling underscored the Army Corps' long history of not properly protecting the New Orleans region.

"It's high time we look at the way these guys do business and do a full re-evaluation of the way it does business," Bruno said.

...

In his 156-page ruling, Duval said he was "utterly convinced" that the corps' failure to shore up the channel "doomed the channel to grow to two to three times its design width" and that "created a more forceful frontal wave attack on the levee" that protected St. Bernard and the Lower 9th Ward.

"The Corps had an opportunity to take a myriad of actions to alleviate this deterioration or rehabilitate this deterioration and failed to do so," Duval said. "Clearly the expression 'talk is cheap' applies here."

Ahead of Duval's ruling, experts had said it would likely have consequences for the way the Army Corps does business nationwide.
I still don't really get this complaint. Had Katrina struck while a Cat 5, just a little to the left, we'd have all been praying for the levees to break when the bathtub suddenly filled with water.
0 Replies
 
OCCOM BILL
 
  3  
Reply Thu 19 Nov, 2009 06:02 pm
@Ionus,
Setanta wrote:

Robert Gentel's source wrote:
If it seems like disasters are getting more common, it's because they are. But some disasters seem to be affecting us in worse ways " and not for the reasons you may think.


I hadn't seen this thread before, but this statement is pure nonsense. There is not sufficient historical data to know if this is true in terms of the tenure of the human race on this planet, never mind no data in pre-historical times, and no data from the billions of years of the planet's history before the rise of homo sapiens sapiens.

This is the sort of silly, tendentious statement you get from journalists when they write about science.

Then…
Ionus wrote:

Quote:
There is not sufficient historical data to know if this is true in terms of the tenure of the human race on this planet, never mind no data in pre-historical times, and no data from the billions of years of the planet's history before the rise of homo sapiens sapiens.
Tree rings have been used to measure climate but they are inaccurate at best. What tree rings are good for is to measure weather. These, and evidence of tidal surges and weather damage indicate that the weather now and for the last 10,000 years is more stable than is usual. It seems the remnants of the glaciers is associated with stable weather. When the glaciers finally finish melting (the planet rarely has glaciers) we may see an association with instability in the weather. For Robert Gentel's source to say we are already experienceing severe weather is showing an ignorance of weather. It can be many times worse than now and still be normal.

Had either of you actually bothered to read Robert’s Link, you’d know the point of the article was that the reason “Disasters are getting worse” is because more people are living in more expensive developments in less safe areas. Guess what guys; he’s right.
Ionus
 
  1  
Reply Thu 19 Nov, 2009 06:20 pm
@OCCOM BILL,
Would you then be so kind as to repost the link because I cant find it. As for
Quote:
because more people are living in more expensive developments in less safe areas
This is a rather Amero-centric view of the world isnt it ? The theme of the worst disasters is heavily played upon by the press and hollywood. The other night a 60m wide by 20m high landfall was described as a massive landslide on the news. Massive ? The worst landslide has killed 10's of thousands of people. There is a popular misconception that disasters are getting worse. I was in intent addressing that issue.
 

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