Archive | Disastrous

It’s about damned time

Proposed new rules for oil trains:

Two federal agencies have proposed new safety regulations for oil trains. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the Federal Railroad Administration, both divisions of the Department of Transportation, announced the proposals Wednesday, which are aimed at sharing information with state emergency management agencies. The agencies also want to require a new test for the flammable liquids.

“This rule goes one step further to hold industry accountable to plan and prepare for the worst case scenario,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a release. ”It would help to ensure that railroads have comprehensive plans to respond to derailments when they occur and better ensure the safety of communities living near railroads.”

The rules would require railroads to boost their current response plans from “basic” to “comprehensive” under the federal Clean Water Act, as well as prepare for the worst case scenario.

Each month, the railroads would have to provide state and tribal emergency managers with information on the number of high-hazard flammable trains expected to travel each week through each county, along with the routes of the trains and a description of the flammable liquids onboard.

As Hurricane Matthew moves out, Zika could move in

#News:  Virus Zika Mulai Menyebar di Malaysia0

WASHINGTON — As the waters from Hurricane Matthew recede, coastal residents from Florida to the Carolinas may have something else to worry about: Zika. The high winds broke through screen doors and windows, knocked out power and left behind small and large bodies of standing water that could be new breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Scientists raised… Continue Reading →

Storm surge


I’m very worried about my good friend Wendy, who moved earlier this year to West Palm Beach. She lives one half-block past the evacuation zone — she says you’re not allowed out on the road unless you’re in the official zone. I’m worried because she’s in a one-story ranch house.

We were already having trouble when I talked to her on the phone earlier today; the signal kept dropping. She promised to let me know she’s okay when it’s all over.

What are Republicans doing about all these broken heat records?

குறள் 15

So we just had the hottest month in the past 1,000 years, and the scientists say just five more years of carbon dioxide emissions at current levels will destroy any chance of restraining temperatures to a 1.5C increase and avoid runaway climate change.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says we’ve had 14 months of record-breaking temperatures. That means global warming is closer to the point where scientists predict devastating, irreversible consequences.

A few weeks ago, we had a “rare” late-August tornado outbreak in Indiana. Yes, notice the increase in the use of the word “rare” in weather stories – also “unusual,” “unprecedented,” and “record-breaking.”

Chris Field, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution and Stanford University, said in a recent interview, “The scary thing is that we are moving into an era where it will be a surprise when each new month or year isn’t one of the hottest on record.”

Everything gets more unusual by the minute.

You will be surprised, I am sure, to know that the Republicans still aren’t doing squat. I suppose they all have spaceships to take their families to a better place, amirite?

Fortunately, President Obama just signed the Paris climate change agreement — with China. This is a big fucking deal, and I’m hopeful the next President Clinton will take it even further.


honey bee on Sedum spectabile -3

So somebody decided to improve what was already working to kill mosquitos, and killed zillions of honey bees:

It marked a departure from Dorchester County’s usual ground-based efforts. For the first time, an airplane dispensed Naled in a fine mist, raining insect death from above between 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Sunday. The county says it provided plenty of warning, spreading word about the pesticide plane via a newspaper announcement Friday and a Facebook post Saturday.

Local beekeepers felt differently.

“Had I known, I would have been camping on the steps doing whatever I had to do screaming, ‘No you can’t do this,’” beekeeper Juanita Stanley said in an interview with Charleston’s WCSC-TV. Stanley told the Charleston Post and Courier that the bees are her income, but she is more devastated by the loss of the bees than her honey.

The county acknowledged the bee deaths Tuesday. “Dorchester County is aware that some beekeepers in the area that was sprayed on Sunday lost their beehives,” Jason Ward, county administrator, said in a news release. He added, according to the Charleston Post and Courier, “I am not pleased that so many bees were killed.”

Yet another benefit from global warming

Happy oyster day! In honor of this day we are running Beau Soleil oysters on the half shell with orange-sriracha granite #nationaloysterday #beausoleiloysters #oysters #georgiaseagrill #instafood #instayum

Fortunately for me, I don’t like oysters. But this is not a good sign:

But new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that the warming waters may hold an additional danger: Changed temperatures are leading to increases in a bacteria called Vibrio, which can cause fatal illness in people who eat shellfish or swim in ocean waters.

Vibrio is probably little known to most Americans, though it has caused major outbreaks in European coastal cities. But the bacteria is what lies behind the old advice to only eat oysters in months with an r in the name—that is, not in summer. Vibrio burgeons in warmer water. It collects in shellfish such as oysters when they filter water while feeding and then makes people ill when they eat the shellfish raw. It can also cause grave infections if it gets into a wound or a nick in the skin.

Which is a good place to add this from Paul Krugman:

It’s interesting to ask why climate denial has become not just acceptable but essentially required within the G.O.P. Yes, the fossil-fuel sector is a big donor to the party. But the vehemence of the hostility to climate science seems disproportionate even so; bear in mind that, for example, at this point there are fewer than 60,000 coal miners, that is, less than 0.05 percent of the work force. What’s happening, I suspect, is that climate denial has become a sort of badge of right-wing identity, above and beyond the still-operative motive of rewarding donors.

In any case, this election is likely to be decisive for the climate, one way or another. President Obama has made some serious moves to address global warming, and there’s every reason to believe that Hillary Clinton would continue this push — using executive action if she faced a hostile Congress. Given the technological breakthroughs of the last few years, this push might just be enough to avert disaster. Donald Trump, on the other hand, would do everything in his power to trash the planet, with the enthusiastic support of his party. So which will it be? Stay tuned.

Oh the water

I work with a guy whose Baton Rouge house is surrounded by water. This storm system is just horrible:

Heavy rains drenched parts of southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi Friday, causing dangerous floods that killed at least two people, cut off an entire town, shut down highways and prompted numerous rescues.
Heavy rains drenched parts of southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi on Friday, causing dangerous floods that killed at least three people, cut off an entire town, shut down highways and prompted numerous rescues.

In Louisiana, all seven major roads into Greensburg, near Baton Rouge, were under water and the small town largely cut off, according to Michael Martin, director of operations for the St. Helena Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Only large National Guard vehicles have been able to get into and out of town, Martin said. At least two dozen high-water rescues were carried out Friday, with stranded residents pulled from cars, rooftops and, in one case, a tree.

Rescue workers in some areas waded through waist-deep flood waters to get stranded residents and their pets to safety.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency, with rain expected for several more days.

Fatal hot air balloon crash raises new legal questions

Hot air balloon

Following the deaths of all sixteen passengers after a hot air balloon crashed in Texas on Saturday, July 30, 2016, investigators have raised new legal questions concerning liability for balloon accidents. The hot air balloon allegedly caught fire and crashed into an open field, possibly after hitting a power line nearby.

The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has opened a federal probe of the crash in the hopes of uncovering what exactly happened and how such events can be prevented in the future.

Meanwhile, the answers to legal questions that have arisen since the incident are abundantly unclear: Who is liable for hot air balloon accidents? Are they subject to the same liability laws as aircraft? Is it impossible to determine liability given the nature of navigating a hot air balloon?

Though balloons are technically governed by U.S. Federal Aviation Regulations since they are human-operated, their regulation is often hindered by the fact that they are mostly controlled by the throes of nature.

This has created a host of issues in pursuing a liability claim in this case, and is likely to do so if such accidents happen in the future.

The NTSB has performed investigations into 800 hot air balloon accidents in the United States from 1964 to 2016, noting that 71 of these accidents caused fatalities.

The organization apparently issued a recommendation letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in April 2014, warning that the current loose regulations could result in risking a “high number of fatalities in a single air tour balloon accident.”

Furthermore, there has been speculation as to how thoroughly hot air balloon operators are trained and vetted. It was recently discovered that the pilot in the recent crash, Alfred “Skip” Nichols, had pleaded guilty to drunk driving charges at least three times between 1990 and 2010, and he also pled guilty to a drug-related charge and served prison time in 2000.

Personal injury attorney Thomas Soldan commented, “Answers to these difficult liability questions are still few and far between. As the NTSB investigation continues, it is likely that more information will come out that will help determine who is responsible for the crash, and what legal measures can be taken to prevent such tragedies in the future.”

Since the crash, advocates for tighter regulations have called for stricter background checks, asking hot air balloon companies take more legal responsibility in ensuring passenger safety.

As predicted

Global warming is causing the spread of formerly-rare or dormant bacteria and viruses. This is one example:

Temperatures have soared in western Russia’s Yamal tundra this summer. Across Siberia, some provinces warmed an additional 10 degrees Fahrenheit beyond normal. In the fields, large bubbles of vegetation appeared above the melting permafrost — strange pockets of methane or, more likely, water. Record fires blazed through dry Russian grassland.

In one of the more unusual symptoms of unseasonable warmth, long-dormant bacteria appear to be active. For the first time since 1941, anthrax struck western Siberia. Thirteen Yamal nomads were hospitalized, including four children, the Siberian Times reported. The bacteria took an even worse toll on wildlife, claiming some 1,500 reindeer since Sunday.

According to NBC News, the outbreak is thought to stem from a reindeer carcass that died in the plague 75 years ago. As the old flesh thawed, the bacteria once again became active. The disease tore through the reindeer herds, prompting the relocation of dozens of the indigenous Nenet community. Herders face a quarantine that may last until September.

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