Thursday, November 17, 2011

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: The Bangladesh Government Looks Abroad for Farmland as a Result of Destructive Natural Disasters!


Bangladesh
is looking for farmland outside the country.

"Whether from the public sector or the private sector, the government of Bangladesh is fully behind any attempts to seek out unused land beyond its borders," Minister of Food and Disaster Management Muhammad Abdur Razzaque told IRIN, the news service of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. So far Bangladeshi officials are involved in preliminary discussions with Ukraine for wheat production and are considering Cambodia for rice, as well as ventures with sub-Saharan Africa, Razzaque said. The dominant food crop of Bangladesh is rice, accounting for about 94.55 percent of the total cereal crop production. With little arable land and frequent natural disasters, Bangladesh has often struggled to feed its population, now totaling about 160 million. It has the highest population density in the world but also one of the lowest rates of arable land per resident in the world, totaling about 54 hectares per 1,000 people in 2008, World Bank figures show.

"Frequent floods, cyclones and other natural disasters pose a threat to the country's food security. And climate change is likely to increase the occurrence of extreme weather events such as drought in Bangladesh," says Dr. Mohammed Zainul Abedin, representative for the International Rice Research Institute in Bangladesh. In 2010, Bangladesh recorded its lowest rainfall since 1995. In 1999, it suffered the longest drought in 50 years. Although the Bangladesh government has not carried out cost-comparison studies, Razzaque says he expects farming overseas would still be cheaper than importing greater quantities of food. Imported food "is subjected to the prices dictated by the global food market, which is often very volatile. In comparison, this venture will only be subjected to the production and shipment costs."

But foreign acquisition of land poses some problems, said Ruth Meinzen-Dick, a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington. Costs associated with land preparation and infrastructure needed for planting can be higher than expected, she said. Furthermore, land considered "unused" is instead often being used by local people with no legal deeds, sometimes families farming the land for generations with no land rights. Contract farming with local people, in which a country buys crops at an agreed-upon price, is one way to capitalize on local expertise, Meinzen-Dick said. But such deals generally are not always the ideal solution for the investor country. "Many of these are not living up to expectations on the investor side, and at the same time many of them are also really harming local people." - Seed Daily.

EXTREME WEATHER: Southeast Storm Death Toll Rises To 6!


"Everything's gone ... Even the cows in the pasture," witness says in wake of likely tornado.


The death toll from a storm system that spawned several possible tornadoes as it slammed the American Southeast has risen to at least six, officials said Thursday as search crews went out to look for more victims and survivors.

Officials in central North Carolina said the deaths of a woman and a child in Davidson County were weather-related. However, Emergency Services director Jeff Smith did not have any other details early Thursday. Suspected tornadoes were reported Wednesday in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina. Severe weather also hit Georgia. Dozens of homes and buildings were damaged and thousands of people were without power as trees and power lines were downed. In South Carolina, three people were killed and five injured when a likely tornado swept through a rural community near Rock Hill, about 20 miles south of Charlotte, N.C. One person died in northern Georgia when a tree fell on a car, the fire department in Forsyth, Ga., confirmed. NBC station WCNC reported that search crews in York County, S.C., were to head back out Thursday morning to look for anyone who still might be unaccounted for and help cleaning up.

Power crews were on scene and had began the process of restoring power to customers, WCNC reported. The station said rescuers in York County walked through wreckage of trees blown down by the winds during the night, desp erately searching for survivors. Local resident John Hatfield said his dogs had raised the alarm. "It was raining pretty hard and my dogs beat the door down and as soon as we let them in we felt the house shake, big rumble, suddenly got wet, the power went out, started flashing," he told WCNC. When he came out he saw nothing but devastation, the station reported. A car flipped on its roof in his neighbors yard. Another buried under trees. "It’s kind of disturbing and that's the most disturbing part, seeing that child's car seat sitting by the road, not knowing what kids were injured or people were hurt. Not knowing is a bad thing," Hatfield added.

Less than seven months ago, a massive tornado roared past the campus of archrival University of Alabama in the western part of the state. It was the worst bout of weather for the state since about 250 people were killed during the tornado outbreak in April. Both campuses were spared major damage this time. In Rock Hill, Simone Moore told The Herald newspaper that she was sitting on her back porch when she saw the tornado touch down and then quickly move back up. She said after the storm passed, she noticed a nearby trailer had vanished. "Everything's gone," Moore said. "Even the cows in the pasture." As weather service experts fanned out to assess damage, Auburn graduate student Staci DeGeer didn't have any doubts about what sent a pair of trees crashing through her mobile home at Ridgewood Village. "It's tornado damage. I'm from Kansas; I know tornado damage," said DeGeer, who wasn't home at the time. "It's kind of hit or miss. There will be two or three (trailers) that are bad and then a few that are OK." A similar scene occurred in southeastern Mississippi, where Jones County emergency director Don McKinnon said some people were briefly trapped in their homes as trees fell on them. Mobile homes were tossed off their foundations. In all, 15 people were hurt in the area. Forecasters said a cold front stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Northeast was to blame. Temperatures dropped in some areas from the low 70s to the 50s as the front passed, and winds gusted to near 30 mph.  - MSNBC.
WATCH: Storms move through south.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Japan's Nuclear Dead Zone Spreading Far & Wide!

Here are several quite startling news stories coming out of Japan regarding the crisis of the widespread emission of nuclear radiation from the Fukushima Power Plant.


Government announce that most of the radioactive cesium has piled up within 2 centimeters of soil surface.
Most of the radioactive cesium emitted by the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant has piled up within two centimeters of the soil surface, the government has announced. The Cabinet Office's Team in Charge of the Lives of Disaster Victims announced on Nov. 16 the detailed results of its survey on cesium dosage and accumulations in the soil, forests, buildings, rivers and other environments. Based on the results, the Cabinet Office has concluded that "most of the cesium can be removed if the top two centimeters of the soil is scraped away from its surface." The survey, conducted between July and September, covered the Fukushima Prefecture town of Tomioka, which is designated as a no-go zone, and the town of Namie, which has both a no-go zone and an evacuation preparation zone. Officials said 80 to 97 percent of cesium detected in those areas' schools, parks, rice paddies and other locations was found within two centimeters of the soil surface. - MDN.
Farmland in parts of Japan is no longer safe because of high levels of radiation in the soil, scientists have warned, as the country struggles to recover from the Fukushima atomic disaster. A team of international researchers said food production would likely be "severely impaired" by the elevated levels of caesium found in soil samples across eastern Fukushima in the wake of meltdowns at the tsunami-hit plant. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, suggests farming in neighbouring areas may also suffer because of radiation, although levels discovered there were within legal limits. "Fukushima prefecture as a whole is highly contaminated," especially to the northwest of the nuclear power plant, the researchers said. The study looked at caesium-137, which has a half life of 30 years and therefore affects the environment for decades. The legal limit for concentrations in soil where rice is grown of the sum of caesium-134 and caesium-137, which are always produced together, is 5,000 becquerels per kilogram (2.2 pounds) in Japan. "The east Fukushima prefecture exceeded this limit and some neighbouring prefectures such as Miyagi, Tochigi and Ibaraki are partially close to the limit under our upper-bound estimate," the study said. - Seed Daily.
Meanwhile, a recent study has revealed that half of radioactive materials from Fukushima fell into sea.
More than half of the radioactive materials that were emitted into the atmosphere in the days after the Fukushima nuclear disaster have since fallen into the ocean, according to a recent simulation by a team of researchers. Between 70 and 80 percent of the radioactive cesium from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Fukushima Prefecture had fallen into the sea by April, with the rest having fallen on land, according to the simulation done by the Meteorological Research Institute in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, and other researchers. "The Fukushima nuclear power plant is located on the eastern edge of Japan, so only small amounts ended up falling on land because (such materials) get carried by the westerlies between March and April," said Yasumichi Tanaka, a senior researcher at the Japan Meteorological Agency institute and a member of the research team. However, it suggests the fallout that did not make landfall polluted the ocean, he added. A simulation model applied in the study was developed by the institute and the agency, and was used to see how such radioactive isotopes as cesium-131, cesium-134 and cesium-137 got dispersed in the days after the disaster triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. On the premise that the materials were dispersed with each particle being the size of less than 1 micrometer, the simulation showed they largely completed a trip around the globe in roughly 10 days after first crossing the Pacific. - MDN.
Japanese government is now considering banning cesium-tainted rice shipments from Fukushima.
The Japanese government is considering banning shipments of cesium-contaminated rice from the Onami area in the city of Fukushima that was affected by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said Thursday. "We're considering restricting shipments of rice harvested in the Onami area in the city of Fukushima...and we'll draw a conclusion swiftly," Fujimura, the government's top spokesman, said at a press conference. Excessive levels of radioactive cesium were found Wednesday in rice harvested in the area, the first time such levels of the isotope have been detected in the national staple since the crisis erupted at the Fukushima nuclear power station, crippled by the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami. But Fujimura also said that rice containing excessive levels of cesium has not been put on the market so far as it was found in tests conducted before being shipped. "I've heard the problem will not become serious," he said, adding the government will continue to make efforts to prevent the spread of unfounded rumors about Japanese products being contaminated by radioactive substances. - MDN.
According to Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, TEPCO recently discovered hydrogen buildups within the containment buildings in Fukushima Units 1, 2 and 3. Could there be another explosion, and if so how? Fairewinds conducted a laboratory experiment to show that if oxygen is present with hydrogen in a nuclear power containment, a deflagration explosion might occur.

WATCH: Hydrogen buildup at Fukushima?

PLANETARY TREMORS: Unusual Geological Event in MultiCountries - Seismic Swarm Developing in Caribbean/South American Region?!

Earlier this week, I highlighted the event report from the Hungarian National Association of Radio Distress-Signalling and Infocommunications (RSOE) that operates the Emergency and Disaster Information Service (EDIS) about the alarming and unusual geological event in the Caribbean and South American Tectonic Subduction Zone. Today, the recent list of earthquakes from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) seems to indicate unusual and ongoing active stress in the region.

Strong Guatemala earthquakes today have been felt across the region. The last terremoto today Thursday November 17, 2011 rocked nearby Mexico. The temblors began Wednesday evening. No reports of injuries have been detailed by local news. Moments ago, at 7:30 am local time, a 5.1 magnitude terremoto struck Guatemala. USGS reports to news that the quake had a significant depth, however, striking sixty miles below the earth’s surface. The quake was centered west of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.

It was felt however roughly twenty miles east in Chiapas, Mexico. The quake was roughly six hundred miles from Mexico City. The quake was southeast of Tapachula, east of Puerto Madero. It struck west of Nahuala and Santa Cruz del Quiche. Third minutes earlier, another quake, registering 5.0 magnitude struck the country as well. The quake, however, registered a shallower depth.

In related news, a strong 5.7 magnitude quake struck last night in Ecuador. The quake registered a marginal depth of eighteen miles below the earth’s surface. Local news puts the quake west of Manta, roughly ninety miles west of Portoviejo. No reports of injuries have been detailed by national news. - Lalate.
Click HERE for an extensive posting from the Pole Shift Ning on the divergent plate system under Guatemala and the shared Polochic fault with Chiapas, Mexico.


NOTE: Thanks to Jacqui Chasson for contributing to this feature.

MYSTERY: Symbols of an Alien Sky, Man-Made or Natural Phenomena - The Latest UFO Sightings And Aerial Anomalies Around The World?!

Here are several of the latest unidentified flying objects (UFOs) seen recently across the globe.

News report concerning a UFO that appeared over Jing Xian, China, on the 14th of November, 2011. This was a multiple witness sighting, and the object seemed to be observing the activity below with interest.

WATCH: UFO over China!


Lady Marta Yegorovnam from Petrozavodsk city in Russia, reported that she had been keeping a frozen alien body in a refrigerator for a couple of years. The alien was found next to the woman's summer house. The body was said to be 'very hot' and that metal fragments were lying beside it. Before finding the body the lady heard a terrible noise. The creature was 40-50 cm long, had a big head, mouth and orbits. It was also wearing a one-piece garment. Two days ago the lady was visited by some people who confiscated the body for the purpose of its investigation and, according to their words, took it to the Karelian Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences. However, employees of the Research Center who were interviewed later said that they had never heard of the discovery. Where was the body taken?

WATCH: Russia Today's report on the "dead alien" story.


Speaking of Russia, here is a spectacular sighting from the Motherland.

WATCH: Bright UFO over Russia.


Unknown lights in triangle formation above Miami, Florida on Wednesday, the 16th of November, 2011 around 8 pm.

WATCH: UFOs in triangle formation over Miami, Florida.


Strange UFO activity was seen and recorded in the night sky above Gouy-Lez-Pieton in Belgium on Tuesday, the 15th of November, 2011.

WATCH: Strange UFO sighting in the sky above Belgium.

FUK-U-SHIMA: Japan's Nuclear Dead Zone Spreading Far & Wide!


Here are several quite startling news stories coming out of Japan regarding the crisis of the widespread emission of nuclear radiation from the Fukushima Power Plant.


Government announce that most of the radioactive cesium has piled up within 2 centimeters of soil surface.
Most of the radioactive cesium emitted by the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant has piled up within two centimeters of the soil surface, the government has announced. The Cabinet Office's Team in Charge of the Lives of Disaster Victims announced on Nov. 16 the detailed results of its survey on cesium dosage and accumulations in the soil, forests, buildings, rivers and other environments. Based on the results, the Cabinet Office has concluded that "most of the cesium can be removed if the top two centimeters of the soil is scraped away from its surface." The survey, conducted between July and September, covered the Fukushima Prefecture town of Tomioka, which is designated as a no-go zone, and the town of Namie, which has both a no-go zone and an evacuation preparation zone. Officials said 80 to 97 percent of cesium detected in those areas' schools, parks, rice paddies and other locations was found within two centimeters of the soil surface. - MDN.
Farmland in parts of Japan is no longer safe because of high levels of radiation in the soil, scientists have warned, as the country struggles to recover from the Fukushima atomic disaster. A team of international researchers said food production would likely be "severely impaired" by the elevated levels of caesium found in soil samples across eastern Fukushima in the wake of meltdowns at the tsunami-hit plant. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, suggests farming in neighbouring areas may also suffer because of radiation, although levels discovered there were within legal limits. "Fukushima prefecture as a whole is highly contaminated," especially to the northwest of the nuclear power plant, the researchers said. The study looked at caesium-137, which has a half life of 30 years and therefore affects the environment for decades. The legal limit for concentrations in soil where rice is grown of the sum of caesium-134 and caesium-137, which are always produced together, is 5,000 becquerels per kilogram (2.2 pounds) in Japan. "The east Fukushima prefecture exceeded this limit and some neighbouring prefectures such as Miyagi, Tochigi and Ibaraki are partially close to the limit under our upper-bound estimate," the study said. - Seed Daily.
Meanwhile, a recent study has revealed that half of radioactive materials from Fukushima fell into sea.
More than half of the radioactive materials that were emitted into the atmosphere in the days after the Fukushima nuclear disaster have since fallen into the ocean, according to a recent simulation by a team of researchers. Between 70 and 80 percent of the radioactive cesium from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Fukushima Prefecture had fallen into the sea by April, with the rest having fallen on land, according to the simulation done by the Meteorological Research Institute in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, and other researchers. "The Fukushima nuclear power plant is located on the eastern edge of Japan, so only small amounts ended up falling on land because (such materials) get carried by the westerlies between March and April," said Yasumichi Tanaka, a senior researcher at the Japan Meteorological Agency institute and a member of the research team. However, it suggests the fallout that did not make landfall polluted the ocean, he added. A simulation model applied in the study was developed by the institute and the agency, and was used to see how such radioactive isotopes as cesium-131, cesium-134 and cesium-137 got dispersed in the days after the disaster triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. On the premise that the materials were dispersed with each particle being the size of less than 1 micrometer, the simulation showed they largely completed a trip around the globe in roughly 10 days after first crossing the Pacific. - MDN.
Japanese government is now considering banning cesium-tainted rice shipments from Fukushima.
The Japanese government is considering banning shipments of cesium-contaminated rice from the Onami area in the city of Fukushima that was affected by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said Thursday. "We're considering restricting shipments of rice harvested in the Onami area in the city of Fukushima...and we'll draw a conclusion swiftly," Fujimura, the government's top spokesman, said at a press conference. Excessive levels of radioactive cesium were found Wednesday in rice harvested in the area, the first time such levels of the isotope have been detected in the national staple since the crisis erupted at the Fukushima nuclear power station, crippled by the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami. But Fujimura also said that rice containing excessive levels of cesium has not been put on the market so far as it was found in tests conducted before being shipped. "I've heard the problem will not become serious," he said, adding the government will continue to make efforts to prevent the spread of unfounded rumors about Japanese products being contaminated by radioactive substances. - MDN.
According to Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, TEPCO recently discovered hydrogen buildups within the containment buildings in Fukushima Units 1, 2 and 3. Could there be another explosion, and if so how? Fairewinds conducted a laboratory experiment to show that if oxygen is present with hydrogen in a nuclear power containment, a deflagration explosion might occur.

WATCH: Hydrogen buildup at Fukushima?

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Thousands of Piranhas Invade Brazilian Beach!

Thousands of flesh-eating piranhas have infested a beach popular with tourists in western Brazil and have bitten at least 15 unwary swimmers.

Officials in the city of Caceres in Mato Grosso state say this is the first time they have had a problem with piranhas at the Daveron beach on the Paraguay river, where the aggressive fish began schooling about two weeks ago. "People have got to be very careful. If they're bitten, they've got to get out of the water rapidly and not allow the blood to spread," firefighter Raul Castro de Oliveira told Globo TV's G1 website yesterday. Elson de Campos Pinto, 22, was bitten on Sunday. "I took a dip in the river and when I stood up, I felt pain in my foot," Pinto told G1. "I saw that I had lost the tip of my toe. I took off running out of the river, afraid that I would be further attacked because of the blood. I'm not going back in for a long time."

City officials said the beach will remain open because it's an important draw for tourists in Brazil's Pantanal region, known for its ecotourism. Each September, Caceres hosts what local officials bill as Brazil's biggest fishing festival, a weeklong event that draws 200,000 people for fishing tournaments and concerts. Gonzaga Junior, a spokesman for the city government, said he didn't think the piranha attacks would hurt that event since it is many months away. He tried to put a positive spin on the problem. "Everyone knows there are piranhas in the region and have always taken the necessary precautions," he said. "What is different this time is that they've appeared where they never appeared before."

The city has seen far fewer people than normal use the beach recently because of the piranha attacks. It was deserted on Tuesday, a national holiday in Brazil, normally a heavy beach day. Officials have put up large signs with blood-red letters warning swimmers of the risk: "Attention swimmers. Area at risk of piranha attacks. Danger!" Local fisherman Hildegard Galeno Alves said that when he throws out a fishing net near the beach of late he catches numerous piranhas. "I come here with my kids and I always see blood on the river banks," he told G1. "The worst is that the attacks are in shallow water, next to the bank." Despite making his living off the river, Alves left no doubt about his feelings for the water. "I would never even think of going in there," he said. - SMH.

PLANETARY TREMORS: Fear Strikes Turkey Following Third Quake!


Turkey
was hit by another powerful 5.2-magnitude earthquake Tuesday morning and thousands of displaced Turks are living in tents after losing their homes to the damage from these tremors.

This is the nation's third major quake in a matter of weeks, not including the dozens of tremors and aftershocks the people in the Van area have experienced. This quake follows another 5.7-magnitude quake last week and a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that killed over 600 people at the end of October. The string of violent disasters littered by tremors and aftershocks has thrown the citizens of eastern Turkey into a frenzy of fear.

International Mission Board reports that most people don't feel safe. Thousands are living in tents between damaged buildings. Many lost family and friends in the initial quake. Survivors sleep in tents in sub-freezing weather without proper clothing. These now-homeless people run the risk of developing bronchitis and other illnesses from the cold, as well as from the smoky fires lit inside the tents for warmth. Buildings continue to crumble, and relief workers are doing all they can to tend to physical needs. The emotional scars of fear surrounding these disasters need a great deal of tending as well. - One News Now.
Exodus from quake-hit Van as fresh tremor hits. Rental prices throughout eastern Turkey have been skyrocketing in response to demand driven by people seeking to escape Van after the province suffered two devastating earthquakes over the last month. “We have been searching for a house for five days along with other quake survivors from Van. Rental prices have appreciated at a rate of 30 percent. Rental prices range between 800 and 1,200 Turkish Liras on average. This situation needs to be alleviated." Quake survivors have been mainly relocating to the neighboring provinces of Diyarbakır and Bingöl following last week’s 5.7-magnitude earthquake. Some are taking refuge in their relatives’ homes, while others in better financial shape are choosing to look for rental opportunities. "The tents are inadequate because they are not resistant to winter conditions.

Turkey ought to accept international aid as this is urgently needed...I got a tent via my own means [after] the first quake. My sister was poisoned because of the stove I had lit up for heating and we could not find any hospital to treat her. We were then forced to retreat back home when the cold and the snow arrived and got caught in the second earthquake on the fourth floor with eight people in total. The roof collapsed on us and we barely made it out alive through the ruins. It is entirely a miracle that we are still alive." 70,000 people reportedly appealed to a community center within just two days to take advantage of temporary housing opportunities in the social facilities of public institutions in other provinces. The survivors will be allowed to reside in such facilities until June 12, 2012. “The people of Van have experienced an irreversible trauma with the second quake. It seems unlikely that the people of Van will again return to the city after this temblor." It has already become apparent that children of school age were also going to run into problems. - Hurriyet Daily News.

ANIMAL BEHAVIOR: Thousands of Piranhas Invade Brazilian Beach!


Thousands of flesh-eating piranhas have infested a beach popular with tourists in western Brazil and have bitten at least 15 unwary swimmers.

Officials in the city of Caceres in Mato Grosso state say this is the first time they have had a problem with piranhas at the Daveron beach on the Paraguay river, where the aggressive fish began schooling about two weeks ago. "People have got to be very careful. If they're bitten, they've got to get out of the water rapidly and not allow the blood to spread," firefighter Raul Castro de Oliveira told Globo TV's G1 website yesterday. Elson de Campos Pinto, 22, was bitten on Sunday. "I took a dip in the river and when I stood up, I felt pain in my foot," Pinto told G1. "I saw that I had lost the tip of my toe. I took off running out of the river, afraid that I would be further attacked because of the blood. I'm not going back in for a long time."

City officials said the beach will remain open because it's an important draw for tourists in Brazil's Pantanal region, known for its ecotourism. Each September, Caceres hosts what local officials bill as Brazil's biggest fishing festival, a weeklong event that draws 200,000 people for fishing tournaments and concerts. Gonzaga Junior, a spokesman for the city government, said he didn't think the piranha attacks would hurt that event since it is many months away. He tried to put a positive spin on the problem. "Everyone knows there are piranhas in the region and have always taken the necessary precautions," he said. "What is different this time is that they've appeared where they never appeared before."

The city has seen far fewer people than normal use the beach recently because of the piranha attacks. It was deserted on Tuesday, a national holiday in Brazil, normally a heavy beach day. Officials have put up large signs with blood-red letters warning swimmers of the risk: "Attention swimmers. Area at risk of piranha attacks. Danger!" Local fisherman Hildegard Galeno Alves said that when he throws out a fishing net near the beach of late he catches numerous piranhas. "I come here with my kids and I always see blood on the river banks," he told G1. "The worst is that the attacks are in shallow water, next to the bank." Despite making his living off the river, Alves left no doubt about his feelings for the water. "I would never even think of going in there," he said. - SMH.

MONUMENTAL EARTH CHANGES: THE AGE OF OBAMA and the End of America - 2011 Record Year in Extreme Weather, $50 Billion Damages!

The United States had 14 extreme weather events in 2011, each costing over $1 billion. The rise in these events not only impacts administrative planning in counties and cities, but is also dramatically affecting the insurance industry.

According to Dr. Jeff Masters, meteorologist with online weather forecasters Weather Underground, 2011 has been a unique year. Masters, a meteorologist for over 30 years, says three or four extreme weather events is the national average, but 2011 broke the previous record of nine events in 2008. “Looking back on historical records, which go back to the late 1800s, I can’t find anything that compares,” he said via a teleconference organized earlier this week by the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The nonprofit organization coordinated the event to coincide with the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s impending report on managing extreme weather events, due Nov. 18. Data released in August from the National Climatic Data Center, which houses an active archive of weather data, detailed 10 extreme weather events this year. Two of the events were the January–February Groundhog Day blizzard, which killed 36 people and brought Chicago to a standstill, and Hurricane Irene, which killed 46 people and cut off electricity supplies to some 7 million businesses and households in late August. Since August, Masters says weather events that surfaced include Tropical Storm Lee in September, which brought record floods to areas along the Susquehanna River, the longest river on the U.S. East Coast; and the October snowstorm in the northeast, which to date has cost Connecticut alone an estimated $3 billion. Extreme events this year cost an estimated $50 billion, Masters said.


It is no wonder the insurance industry is becoming nervous. Rowan Douglas is CEO of Willis Analytics, a new arm of the global insurance company Willis Group, set up to advise companies on the financial impact of natural catastrophes. Speaking to the teleconference from his office in London where he said the focus has been on the floods in Thailand, Douglas said predictability of extreme weather events around the world is now critical. Historical data is no longer enough, and formulating predictions requires new allegiances between climate scientists, public policy analysts, and the insurance industry. Presently, insurance companies pay a levy, just like individuals, for insurance in catastrophe prone areas. The levy goes into a central fund that is used to buffer the industry against natural catastrophes. Predicting how much capital was required to withstand demands during times of crisis was critical in maintaining the resilience of the insurance industry, Douglas explained, with companies looking as far ahead as “10, 20, or 30 years into the future.” “Climate science is moving into an era where it can give insurers real insight to the events of greatest concern,” he said. Douglas said another area of change in the industry, which he described as a “megatrend,” was the insurance industry’s focus now on mitigation and adaptation not only at the global level, but also at the local level. “That is also a major driver bringing the world of science, insurers, and public policy closer together,” he said. - Epoch Times.