Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Japan tsunami pushes 2011 into a RECORD FOR INSURANCE LOSSES - The devastating earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand made 2011 the costliest year yet for the insurance industry in terms of natural disaster losses. Insured losses last year totaled $105 billion - exceeding the previous record of $101 billion set in 2005, when losses were swollen by claims from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The total economic cost last year from natural disasters - including uninsured losses - totaled about $380 billion. That was far above the 2005 record of $220 billion.
Japan's earthquake and tsunami in March caused overall losses of $210 billion and insured losses of between $35 billion and $40 billion. That didn't include the consequences of the subsequent meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, which resulted in the evacuation of a wide swath of land. The second most costly disaster for insurers, at $13 billion, was the February quake that devastated much of the New Zealand city of Christchurch. Overall losses came to $16 billion.
Last year's sequence of natural disasters was VERY RARE, and 2011 brought CATASTROPHES EXPECTED ONLY ONCE EVERY 1,000 YEARS OR MORE. Normally, weather-related events are the chief cause of losses. "Even if it seems hard to believe given recent events, the probability of earthquakes has not increased. However, these severe earthquakes are timely reminders that the decisions on where to build towns need careful and serious consideration of these risks, especially where certain buildings are concerned, above all nuclear power plants." Building codes in earthquake-prone regions need to be made even stricter.
Last year's third-costliest disaster for insurers was Thailand's worst flooding in half a century, which began in late July and continued for months. Insured losses came to $10 billion, and total overall losses were estimated at $40 billion, making it Thailand's costliest-ever natural disaster. Severe storms and tornadoes in the United States in late April cost insurers $7.3 billion and led to overall damage worth $15 billion. Hurricane Irene, which hit the Caribbean and U.S. in late August, caused insured losses of $7 billion and total losses of $15 billion. Still, losses from North Atlantic hurricanes were "moderate" in 2011, with only three major named storms making landfall in the United States.

**The so-called science of poll-taking is not a science at all...
People are unpredictable by nature, and although you can
take a nation's pulse, you can't be sure that the nation
hasn't just run up a flight of stairs.**
E.B. White

This morning -

Yesterday -
1/9/12 -


Health fears for Indonesia volcano refugees - The health of hundreds of people who fled the slopes of Mount Lewotolok in East Nusa Tenggara province in Indonesia last week as a result of increased volcanic activity is becoming a major cause of concern. Over 500 people in Lembata district left their homes in 10 villages after the Vulcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center raised Mount Lewotolok’s alert status on January 2.

No current tropical storms.

India's mango season delayed due to erratic climate and cyclone Thane. - Cyclone Thane and indifferent weather have affected flowering and could negatively impact the crop. Mango is cultivated in frost-free tropical and sub-tropical climates. More than a third of the world's mangoes is produced in India and Krishnagiri district is a major producer of some of the most popular varieties. The fruit is harvested in the middle of February. In March/April, it is usually available in market. The unseasonal weather has disrupted the flowering which happens mid-December. This season the flowering was minimal. Consequently, there will be a delay in the arrival of the fruit in markets.

Tropical storm Chanda struck Madagascar at about 18:00 GMT on 8 January. - Chanda brought 1-minute maximum sustained winds to the region of around 64 km/h (40 mph). Wind gusts in the area may have beenconsiderably higher. (map)


Turkish Food Prices Rise as Cyclone Ruins Fields - A cyclone destroyed about 50 hectares of land in vegetable cultivation in southern Turkey, causing food prices to rise. Greenhouses were also destroyed in Kumluca region, in the southern province of Antalya, by the cyclone. Some banana fields were damaged in Mersin province by strong winds.

BRAZIL - A landslide killed at least eight people in Rio de Janeiro state today and 14 others may be buried in the rubble. Six adults and two children perished and 14 were still missing after nine house collapsed in the northern Sapucaia municipality. A family of five who took refuge in a car may also have died after the vehicle was buried by the mud. The landslide occurred "after 12 hours of nonstop rain".
The road leading to the area is completely cut off, which means rescue teams can reach the area only by helicopter. "The mayor and an entire team went to the scene but there are huge communications and transport problems, no telephone. Late yesterday, authorities began evacuating 900 people in Rio de Janeiro state's northern town of Outeiro after a local dike gave way. The town was expected to be flooded later today.
The evacuees were being sheltered in schools, tents or by relatives. The incident occurred in the same area where on Thursday 4000 people were evacuated after floodwaters fed by torrential rains caused another dike to burst. A year ago, floods and landslides left more than 1300 people dead or unaccounted for in the mountainous region of Rio de Janeiro state.


CHINA - More than 150 flights to and from Beijing have been cancelled or delayed as a thick cloud of acrid smog shrouded the city, with US figures saying THE POLLUTION WAS SO BAD IT WAS OFF THE SCALE. The national meteorological centre said the Chinese capital had been hit by thick fog that reduced visibility to as little as 200 metres in some parts of the city, while official data judged air quality to be "good".
But the US embassy, which has its own pollution measuring system, said on its Twitter feed that the concentration of the smallest, most dangerous particles in the air was "beyond index" for most of the morning.
The US system measures particles in the air of 2.5 micrometers or less, known as PM2.5, considered the most dangerous for people's health. Today's reading on its air quality index, which rates anything over 150 as unhealthy, over 200 as very unhealthy and over 300 as hazardous, breached the upper limit of 500, at which it stops giving figures. Meanwhile, the Beijing Environmental Bureau, which currently bases its air quality information on particles of 10 micrometres or larger, known as PM10, said the air quality in the capital was "good". The frequent discrepancy between US embassy readings and official data on pollution in Beijing has caused huge public anger as more and more residents worry about their health.


-Novartis Consumer Health, Inc. announced that it is voluntarily recalling all lots of select bottle packaging configurations of Bufferin, Excedrin, NoDoz, and Gas-X. The recall isn't very specific but could be anything from the wrong pills in the wrong bottles, broken tablets, leaky gelcaps, or a combination of all of them. It can be dangerous because the products could contaminate each other, expecially a leaky gelcap. The extent of the recall shows a quality control issue at the plant where the drugs were manufactured.