Monday, September 2, 2013

Global Disaster Watch is on Facebook - with new items posted during the day.

**What a pity human beings can't exchange problems.
Everyone knows exactly how to solve the other fellow's.**
Olin Miller

LARGEST QUAKES so far today -

Yesterday, 9/1/13 -

+ Indonesia - 6.4 quake, early Sunday. "It went for quite a length of time, around 30 seconds." Depending on people's location, some Australians reported seeing haning objects swinging, while others witnessed furniture, such as beds and chairs moving.
Aftershocks as strong as magnitude 5.0 may be felt in Darwin over the next few days or hours. "This event in itself is not unusual for the area and is certainly something that Darwin residents are relatively used to." There was no tsunami threat to the Australian mainland, island or territories from the quake.

+ Japan - In a first, Japan refocused its annual disaster drills Sunday to simulate a response to the dreaded 9.1 Nankai quake, mobilizing more than 1 million people across the country for the hypothetical scenario. The annual exercise, held on the anniversary of the devastating temblor that struck Tokyo 90 years ago, focused on the Cabinet’s response to a powerful earthquake expected to devastate central and western Japan “within 30 years.” For the first time, the central government’s main drill on Disaster Prevention Day was based on the Nankai Trough scenario, in which up to 323,000 deaths and ¥220 trillion in damage is expected in the worst case. The scenario for the main drill assumed that a magnitude 9.1 temblor had struck in the Nakai Trough off the Pacific coast of central and western Japan, registering beyond the maximum of 7 on the Japanese intensity scale like the Great East Japan Earthquake did in March 2011.

Alaska - Mount Veniaminof volcano that has been intermittently oozing lava and releasing small bursts of ash and steam since June has erupted with new ferocity, sending clouds of ash more than 4 km into the sky.
The latest eruptions marked some of the strongest unrest detected at the site this Northern Hemisphere summer and may intensify, the Alaska Volcano Observatory warned. But the eruptions were not believed to be linked to a large, 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck on Friday in waters off the remote Alaska island of Adak, nearly 1400km southwest of Veniaminof in the Aleutians chain.
"The plate tectonics are the same, but there's no direct relationship between the volcano and the earthquake." The quake was followed by numerous aftershocks. Large quakes and volcanic eruptions are fairly common in southwestern Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, which lie in one of the most seismically active parts of the United States.
Ash spewed from Veniaminof has already dusted the nearby village of Perryville, a fishing town with 112 residents, and light ash was expected to fall in other communities. The new ash clouds, rising 15,000 to 20,000 feet into air, were higher than those produced earlier this summer, but air traffic was not reported to have been affected.
Veniaminof, one of three Alaska volcanoes that have been restless this summer, began its latest eruptive episode in mid-June. But until now, ash clouds have been very small, mostly limited to the area around the peak's summit. Since June, hot gas and lava have melting the snow and ice at the volcano's upper reaches, leaving bare rock exposed.Earlier this year, eruptions at another volcano in the same region, Pavlof, disrupted regional air flights, but scientists determined in early August that its eruptive phase had ended.


In the Western Pacific Ocean -
Tropical strom Toraji is located approximately 124 nm west of Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan.

In the Eastern Pacific -
Tropical storm Kiko is located about 380 mi (610 km) W of the southern tip of Baja California. No threat to land. The cyclone could become stationary as a remnant low on Tuesday and Wednesday.

+ Lesser Antilles Disturbance 97L a Threat to Develop - The wave will likely spread heavy rains to Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Dominican Republic by Tuesday, and to Haiti by Wednesday. These rains will be capable of causing life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides in mountainous regions in Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. The National Hurricane Center has boosted the 5-day odds of formation of 97L to 30%.
The main factor keeping the disturbance from developing over the next two days would appear to be the fact that 97L is quite large, and is stretched out from east to west over a wide expanse. Large, elongated systems like 97L usually take several days to consolidate and spin up. Another factor that will likely retard development is the presence of strong surface trade winds over the Eastern Caribbean ahead of 97L, south of the Dominican Republic. These strong trade winds are a common feature of the Eastern Caribbean, and make the region something of a hurricane graveyard.paniola. The National Hurricane Center has boosted the 5- day odds of formation of 97L to 30%.


+ Climate change is helping pests and diseases that attack crops to spread around the world, a study suggests. Crop pests are moving at an average of 3km (two miles) a year. They are heading towards the north and south poles, and are establishing in areas that were once to cold for them to live in.
Currently, it is estimated that between 10% and 16% of the world's crops are lost to disease outbreaks. The researchers warn that rising global temperatures could make the problem worse. "Global food security is one of the major challenges we are going to face over the next few decades. We really don't want to be losing any more of our crops than is absolutely necessary to pests and pathogens."
612 crop pests and pathogens from around the world had been collected over the past 50 years. These included fungi, such as wheat rust, which is devastating harvests in Africa, the Middle East and Asia; insects like the mountain pine beetle that is destroying trees in the US; as well as bacteria, viruses and microscopic nematode worms.
Each organism's distribution was different - some butterflies and insects were shifting quickly, at about 20km (12 miles) a year; other bacterium species had hardly moved. On average, however, the pests had been spreading by 3km each year since 1960. "We detect a shift in their distribution away from the equator and towards the poles."
The researchers believe that the global trade in crops is mainly responsible for the movement of pests and pathogens from country to country. However, the organisms can only take hold in new areas if the conditions are suitable, and the researchers believe that warming temperatures have enabled the creature to survive at higher latitudes.
"The most convincing hypothesis is that global warming has caused this shift. One example is the Colorado potato beetle. Warming appears to have allowed it to move northwards through Europe to into Finland and Norway where the cold winters would normally knock the beetle back."
The researchers said that better information about where the pests and pathogens were and where they were moving was needed to fully assess the scale of the problem. "We also need to protect our borders, we have to quarantine plants to reduce the chances that pests and pathogens are able to get into our agricultural systems."

+ If politicians are to believed, migration caused by climate change will cause the world huge problems. One of the latest to repeat the warning is the UK shadow immigration minister, who, like many others before him, said 200 million people may be forced to flee their country. But how reliable is this figure?
"If we get climate change wrong there is a very real danger we shall see levels of mass migration as yet unparalleled," he said. "The United Nations (UN) estimates that in 2008 20 million people were displaced by climate change."
But how were these estimates calculated, and is the future really that bleak? Let's take the 20 million first. The 20 million figure is reached by "adding up all of the people who've been displaced by any kind of natural disaster and labelling them climate refugees." And that, is problematic.
"It's certainly true that climate change might be making some of those particular disasters more likely. But it's certainly not the case that we can attribute all of those individual displacements to climate change alone." It's also wrong to infer that people affected by a natural disaster will inevitably migrate. "People tend to move short distances for a short period of time. And then move back."
So, what of the estimate that there could be 200 million climate refugees by 2050? This figure has travelled far and wide. It comes from research papers published in 1995 and another in 2005. Another claim made by an Oxford-based scientist, that 50 million people would become climate refugees by 2010, was shown in 2011 to have been wrong - leading the UN Environment Programme to drop a map illustrating the idea from its website.
Some academics, however, have doubted the numbers from the start. The "objective in putting forward these dramatic projections was to really scare public opinion and politicians into taking action on climate change". While this was "a very laudable motive", there were major problems with the method used to make his projections.
"He simply took a map of the world, worked out what areas would be inundated if the sea rose, say by 50cm, and then simply assumed that all the people affected by this sea level rise would have to migrate - and that a lot of them would migrate to developed countries. Really there was no basis for it."
But he makes clear in his research that not everyone he classes as an environmental refugee will flee their country - they could be forced to move somewhere else within the national boundaries. "I think it would be much harder to demonstrate that there aren't any of these environmental refugees than to demonstrate that there are environmental refugees."
Other scientists do not deny that some people had been and would in future be forced to move country. In this category he put the inhabitants of some Pacific islands. But the numbers they estimated are not in millions, but in tens of thousands.