Articles on Natural disasters

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Workers at Fukushima in January 2018. Behrouz Mehri/AFP

Fukushima seven years later: case closed?

On March 11, 2011, a nuclear disaster struck Japan. Translated testimony by the power plant's manager reveals how close the world came to a greater catastrophe -- and how much there is to be learned.
People in the U.S. and the Caribbean share vulnerability to climate change-related disasters, but only in the Caribbean is the public truly worried. Why? US Navy

Caribbean residents see climate change as a severe threat but most in US don’t — here’s why

New research suggests politics and risk perception may explain why the US and Caribbean see climate change so differently, though both places are ever more vulnerable to powerful hurricanes.
Paris “under water” and other European cities facing drastic climate change should trigger planners to think urban spaces differently. S.Faric/Flickr

When climate comes unhinged, we need to re-think how to build our cities

In the future, Europe will suffer from more heat waves as well as extreme rainfall, presenting new challenges for planners and health care services. Building resilient cities can help.
Puerto Rico’s power utility, PREPA, has been decimated by years of scarcity and bad management. But will privatizing it really turn the lights back on for Puerto Ricans? AP Photo/Carlos Giusti

Why privatizing Puerto Rico’s power grid won’t solve its energy problems

Many Puerto Ricans are happy to see their broke power utility sold off to whoever can get the lights turned back on. But privatizing the island's energy grid may bring more problems than relief.
Fires break out across San Francisco after the April 18, 1906 earthquake. USGS

California’s other drought: A major earthquake is overdue

According to current forecasts, California has a 93 percent chance of an earthquake with magnitude 7 or greater occurring by 2045. Early warning systems, now in development, could limit casualties and damage.
A Westpac Little Ripper drone helped rescue two teens off the coast of Australia by dropping a flotation device to them. Westpac Little Ripper

Robots to the rescue: Saving lives with unmanned vehicles

Drones and unmanned aerial vehicles are already saving lives in search and rescue operations, but they still need improvements if they're to be widely used in the most dangerous situations.
Searching for victims after a rain-triggered mudslide that blanketed a village and killed at least 178 people in north China’s Shanxi province, Sept. 13, 2008. AP Photo/Andy Wong

Global toll from landslides is heaviest in developing countries

While the Montecito, California mudslides took 20 lives, landslides kill far more people in developing countries. Tighter construction standards and early warning systems could help reduce their toll.
If more people live in the Adelaide Hills, they are more likely to be exposed to bushfires. David Mariuz/AAP

Natural hazard risk: is it just going to get worse or can we do something about it?

What decisions can we make today to reduce the future risk of hazards like floods and fire? Particularly in a time of climate change, modelling various plausible futures helps us plan for uncertainty.
Burned area in Santa Rosa, California, Oct. 11, 2017. US Department of Defense

Why were California’s wine country fires so destructive?

Fire is part of the ecology in much of California, but recent wildfires have caused much more damage than past burns of similar size. A fire ecologist points to two key factors: winds and population growth.
Hurricane Maria denuded forests in Puerto Rico, revealing once-hidden homes and communities. A graffiti-sprayed saying is now popping up across the island, noting that “Behind the trees live people.” Lucas Jackson/Reuters

I’m a librarian in Puerto Rico, and this is my Hurricane Maria survival story

A Puerto Rican librarian with a personal relationship to hurricanes describes the brutal reality of life on this Caribbean island more than a month after Maria and Irma left their mark.
In explaining the causes of wildfires, the media and policymakers typically point to environmental factors, but that’s not the whole story. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Don’t blame California wildfires on a ‘perfect storm’ of weather events

The media and policymakers often say a 'perfect storm' of environmental factors cause wildfires but that ignores the role of irresponsible urban planning and development in raising fire risks.
Plush toys, recovered from a flooded home, hang out to dry on a wrought iron gate in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Ramon Espinosa/AP

The mental health toll of Puerto Rico’s prolonged power outages

Long after the hurricane's over and the power comes back, residents can still experience lasting mental health issues.

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