Department of Defense - Defense.gov An aerial view from a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter shows flooding around Cedar Rapids,

US – IOWA farmers face devastation from historic flooding

Missouri River Flooding 
Aerial photos of the Missouri river flooding in Sioux City, Iowa, South Sioux City, Nebraska, and Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, on June 8, 2011. Levees were built near homes to prevent the Missouri river from flooding properties.

Air Force Photo by: Tech. Sgt. Oscar Sanchez
Missouri River Flooding
Aerial photos of the Missouri river flooding in Sioux City, Iowa, South Sioux City, Nebraska, and Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, on June 8, 2011. Levees were built near homes to prevent the Missouri river from flooding properties.
Air Force Photo by: Tech. Sgt. Oscar Sanchez

Historic Midwest Flooding Has Devastating Consequences for Farmers – AIWA! NO!

The record flooding in the Midwest that has now been blamed for four deaths could also have lasting consequences for the region’s many farmers.

Flooding has swamped fields and stockpiles and drowned or harmed livestock in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and other states. In Nebraska alone, the loss of crops and livestock is estimated to total nearly $1 billion, Reuters reported Tuesday.

© Planet Labs Inc.
Satellite images show just how high the water has risen along the Platte and Missouri Rivers, including a large portion of a US Air Force Base under water.
© Planet Labs Inc.Satellite images show just how high the water has risen along the Platte and Missouri Rivers, including a large portion of a US Air Force Base under water.

“The economy in agriculture is not very good right now. It will end some of these folks farming, family legacies, family farms,” Iowa farmer Farmer Jeff Jorgenson told The Associated Press. “There will be farmers that will be dealing with so much of a negative they won’t be able to tolerate it.”

One of those farmers might be Anthony Ruzicka of Verdigre, Nebraska. His family has been farming the same plot for five generations, since the 1800s. But the floods have destroyed their farmhouse, littered their alfalfa and corn fields with chunks of ice and killed at least 15 of their cattle.

“There’s not many farms left like this, and it’s probably over for us too, now,” Ruzicka The New York Times. “Financially, how do you recover from something like this?”

Not only crops were lost. The floods have damaged roads, bridges and railways farmers rely on to move their products to processing plants and shipping centers, Reuters reported. Such a major blow to U.S. farmers is likely to have national consequences.

“This will impact the food on your table,” Chair of Nebraska’s Democratic Party Jane Fleming Kleeb tweeted, as The New Food Economy reported.

Bad Timing

The floods come at a bad time for farmers for a variety of reasons. Seasonally, the floods have come just as farmers usually start their spring planting and need dry weather in order to get seeds in the ground.

At the same time, farmers in the region are generally suffering. The number of farms that filed for bankruptcy last year rose by 19 percent, the highest level in more than ten years. Further, incomes from farming have fallen by more than 50 percent because of a global glut of grain, Reuters reported. To make matters worse, a trade war with China has meant the country has stopped importing U.S. soybeans. Many farmers had stored last years’ crops of grain and soy in hopes of better prices, and now some of those stores have been destroyed.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” Winslow, Nebraska farmer Tom Geisler, who lost two storage bins full of corn, told Reuters. “We had been depending on the income from our livestock, but now all of our feed is gone, so that is going to be even more difficult. We haven’t been making any money from our grain farming because of trade issues and low prices.”

Animal Losses


Human lives weren’t the only ones impacted by the floods. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters that the governors of Nebraska and Iowa had told him that up to one million calves may have been killed, Reuters reported in another article. Hog farms in Iowa were also flooded, according to The Associated Press.

Pets have also been caught up in the flooding. Rescue Lieutenant Jami Mitchell of Waterloo Fire/Rescue told Reuters that the number of animals rescued from homes in Waterloo, Nebraska included 87 dogs, eight cats, one rabbit, two birds, two hamsters and 26 horses.

But even animals who survived may have health problems because of the ordeal.

“Standing in the cold water and being cold certainly isn’t good for the health of the animal,” Nebraska Cattlemen spokeswoman Talia Goes told Reuters.

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Africa has been dealing with the impacts of climate change since the 1970s. The most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) described the African continent as the one that will be most affected.

What does Africa need to tackle climate change?

Out of the 10 countries most affected by greenhouse gas emissions, six of them are in Africa, yet the continent only receives 5 percent of dedicated climate funding, writes Abou-Sabaa [Reuters]
Out of the 10 countries most affected by greenhouse gas emissions, six of them are in Africa, yet the continent only receives 5 percent of dedicated climate funding, writes Abou-Sabaa [Reuters]

One Planet Summit showcases Africa’s role against climate change – Maria Macharia

While Africa is responsible for merely 4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, 65 percent of the continent’s estimated population of 1,3 billion people is considered to be directly impacted by climate change.

It is against the backdrop of this irony that global leaders, entrepreneurs, international organizations, and civil society meet in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Thursday next week to help accelerate focus and attention on climate investments in line with the Paris Agreement objectives.

The stakeholders will meet under the auspices of the One Planet Summit (OPS), which also focuses on promoting renewable energies, fostering resilience and adaptation and protecting biodiversity in the continent.

“OPS, which is in its third edition, is the French initiative to engage states and global ministers to implement climate policies,” said Mr Lõhmus. Nairobi will be the first first regional host of the OPS.

One Planet Summit (OPS) is held following the realization that resources and solutions for renewable energy already exist in Africa but there is a need to speed their financing and mainstream their development

AIWA! NO!

French President, Emmanuel Macron, and his Kenyan counterpart, Uhuru Kenyatta, as well as World Bank Group Interim President Kristalina Georgieva and UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed, will co-chair the conference, which will be among the highlights will co-chair the conference, which will be among the highlights of the fourth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-4) running from March 11-15.

Ado Lohmus, a UNEA special envoy, this week confirmed Macron will be in the East African country next week.

“On the 14th, he (Macron) will open the OPS, which will also be meeting here in Kenya alongside UNEA,” Lohmus said in Nairobi this week.

More than 2000 delegates from around the world have registered to attend UNEA-4 and are to be a key part of OPS proceedings.

OPS is one in a series of some climate events this year leading up to the UN 2019 Climate Summit and to the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 25) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

In December 2018, the World Bank Group announced a major new set of climate targets for 2021-2025, doubling its current 5-year investments to around $200 billion in support for countries to take ambitious climate action.

Africa, from the shores of Lake Chad to the Congo Basin, is being hardest hit by the effects of climate change but it can also be at the forefront of solutions

The new plan significantly boosts support for adaptation and resilience, recognizing mounting climate change impacts on lives and livelihoods, especially in the world’s poorest countries. The plan also represents significantly ramped up ambition from the World Bank Group, sending an important signal to the wider global community to do the same.

Ahead of the OPS, Kenya government officials assured preparations for the OPS were progressing well, with the country having previously held international events of this nature.

Last year, Kenya co-hosted the first-ever global conference on the sustainable blue economy, alongside Canada.

OPS is held following the realization that resources and solutions for renewable energy already exist in Africa but there is a need to speed their financing and mainstream their development.

Judy Wakhungu, Kenya’s Ambassador to France, and French State Minister for Ecological and Inclusive Transition, Brune Poirson, recently held meetings to finalise plans for the OPS and UNEA-4.

Macron has previously spoken of his government’s goal to be a strategic partner to Africa in the field of climate change adaptation.

France is the largest financial contributor to the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), alongside Germany and followed by the Council of the European Union.

At the Africa-France Summit held in Mali in 2017, the French president announced that financing for renewable energy in Africa would be increased from €2 billion to €3 billion, implemented by the Agence Française de Développement (French Development Agency) over the 2016-2020 period.

“Africa, from the shores of Lake Chad to the Congo Basin, is being hardest hit by the effects of climate change but it can also be at the forefront of solutions. It can succeed where Europe has not always been able to,” Macron prominently said during a state visit to Burkina Faso in late 2017.

This week, the World Bank, a partner for the OPS, stated cities in Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Nairobi, could inform global action on climate change.

Nairobi already has a strong private sector presence as the eighth most attractive city in Africa for foreign direct investment, according to the global institution.

“As such, it can share important lessons learned with other cities in the region and around the world. The One Planet Summit provides the perfect space to do just that by actively inviting new partners to collaborate and launch new initiatives,” the World Bank stated.

The Greenpeace and AirVisual analysis of air pollution readings from 3,000 cities around the world found that 64% exceed the World Health Organization’s annual exposure guideline for PM2.5 fine particulate matter – tiny airborne particles, about a 40th of the width of a human hair, that are linked to a wide range of health problems.

90% of people breathe polluted air; New Delhi is world’s most polluted big city, Beijing eighth

Beijing ranks #122 on the list of the world's most polluted cities
Beijing ranks #122 on the list of the world’s most polluted cities

As temperatures fall, air quality worsens in the Indian capital – AIWA! NO!

New Delhi was the world’s most polluted capital city in 2018, two groups monitoring air pollution said on Tuesday in a study of the amount of fine particulate matter known as PM2.5 in 61 capital cities around the world. 

The Indian capital, home to more than 20 million people, was followed by the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka and Kabul, capital of Afghanistan, according to the study by IQ AirVisual, a Swiss-based group that gathers air-quality data globally, and Greenpeace.

FILE PHOTO: Men walk in front of the India Gate shrouded in smog in New Delhi, India, December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
PHOTO: Men walk in front of the India Gate shrouded in smog in New Delhi, India, December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

The Indian capital, home to more than 20 million people, was followed by the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka and Kabul, capital of Afghanistan, according to the study by IQ AirVisual, a Swiss-based group that gathers air-quality data globally, and Greenpeace.

New Delhi’s toxic air is caused by vehicle and industrial emissions, dust from building sites, smoke from the burning of rubbish and crop residue in nearby fields.

The city’s average annual concentration of PM2.5 in a cubic meter of air was 113.5 in 2018, the groups said in their report, more than double the level of Beijing, which averaged 50.9 during the year, making it the eighth most polluted in the world.

FILE PHOTO: A man rides his bicycle in front of the India Gate shrouded in smog in New Delhi, India, December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
FILE PHOTO: A man rides his bicycle in front of the India Gate shrouded in smog in New Delhi, India, December 26, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

PM2.5, or particles of 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, is so dangerous because it lodges deep in the lungs.

The World Health Organization sets a daily mean air quality guideline of 25 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic meter of air.

China struggled for years to enforce environment rules and crack down on polluting industries, but it has benefited in recent years from vastly improved legislation and greater political will to combat poor air quality.

“In mainland China, in particular, this has led to significant improvements in year-on-year reductions in PM2.5 levels,” the groups said in their joint study.

India is home to 15 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, they said.

“The question which remains to be answered is whether there is enough political will to aggressively fight the health emergency India faces today and move away from polluting fuels and practices,” said Pujarini Sen, spokeswoman for Greenpeace India.

Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani


Indonesia’s latest tsunami raises global questions over world disaster preparedness

Indonesia tsunami raises questions over governments’ disaster readiness and preparedness.

Debris are seen after the tsunami damage at Sunda strait at Kunjir village in South Lampung, Indonesia, December 28, 2018. Antara Foto/Ardia
Debris are seen after the tsunami damage at Sunda strait at Kunjir village in South Lampung, Indonesia, December 28, 2018. Antara Foto/Ardia

By Fergus Jensen and Fanny PotkinCIGONDONG/JAKARTA, Indonesia REUTERS|AIWA! NO!| – As Indonesia reels from the carnage of yet another natural disaster, authorities around the globe are working on how they can prepare for the kind of freak tsunami that battered coasts west of Jakarta this month.

The Dec. 23 tsunami killed around 430 people along the coastlines of the Sunda Strait, capping a year of earthquakes and tsunamis in the vast archipelago, which straddles the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire.

No sirens were heard in those towns and beaches to alert people before the deadly series of waves hit shore.

Seismologists and authorities say a perfect storm of factors caused the tsunami and made early detection near impossible given the equipment in place.

But the disaster should be a wake-up call to step up research on tsunami triggers and preparedness, said several of the experts, some of whom have traveled to the Southeast Asian nation to investigate what happened.

“Indonesia has demonstrated to the rest of the world the huge variety of sources that have the potential to cause tsunamis. More research is needed to understand those less-expected events,” said Stephen Hicks, a seismologist at the University of Southampton.

Most tsunamis on record have been triggered by earthquakes. But this time it was an eruption of Anak Krakatau volcano that caused its crater to partially collapse into the sea at high tide, sending waves up to 5 metres (16 feet) high smashing into densely populated coastal areas on Java and Sumatra islands.

During the eruption, an estimated 180 million cubic metres, or around two-thirds of the less-than-100-year-old volcanic island, collapsed into the sea.

But the eruption didn’t rattle seismic monitors significantly, and the absence of seismic signals normally associated with tsunamis led Indonesia’s geophysics agency (BMKG) initially to tweet there was no tsunami.

Muhamad Sadly, head of geophysics at BMKG, later told Reuters its tidal monitors were not set up to trigger tsunami warnings from non-seismic events.

The head of Japan’s International Research Institute of Disaster, Fumihiko Imamura, told Reuters he did not believe Japan’s current warning system would have detected a tsunami like the one in the Sunda Strait.

“We still have some risks of this in Japan…because there’s 111 active volcanoes and low capacity to monitor eruptions generating a tsunami,” he said in Jakarta.

Scientists have long flagged the collapse of Anak Krakatau, around 155 km (100 miles) west of the capital, as a concern. A 2012 study published by the Geological Society of London deemed it a “tsunami hazard.”

Anak Krakatau has emerged from the Krakatoa volcano, which in 1883 erupted in one of the biggest explosions in recorded history, killing more than 36,000 people in a series of tsunamis and lowering the global surface temperature by one degree Celsius with its ash.

BROKEN WARNING SYSTEM

Some experts believe there was enough time for at least a partial detection of last week’s tsunami in the 24 minutes it took waves to hit land after the landslide on Anak Krakatau.

But a country-wide tsunami warning system of buoys connected to seabed sensors has been out of order since 2012 due to vandalism, neglect and a lack of public funds, authorities say.

“The lack of an early warning system is why Saturday’s tsunami was not detected,” said disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Nugroho, adding that of 1,000 tsunami sirens needed across Indonesia, only 56 are in place.

“Signs that a tsunami was coming weren’t detected and so people did not have time to evacuate.”

President Joko Widodo this week ordered BMKG to purchase new early warning systems, and the agency later said it planned to install three tsunami buoys on the islands surrounding Anak Krakatau.

The cost of covering the country is estimated at 7 trillion rupiah ($481.10 million). That is roughly equivalent to Indonesia’s total disaster response budget of 7.19 trillion rupiah for 2018, according to Nugroho.

But other experts say even if this network had been working, averting disaster would have been difficult.

“The tsunami was very much a worst-case scenario for any hope of a clear tsunami warning: a lack of an obvious earthquake to trigger a warning, shallow water, rough seabed, and the close proximity to nearby coastlines,” said seismologist Hicks.

In the Philippines, Renato Solidum, undersecretary for disaster risk reduction, said eruptions from the country’s Taal volcano had caused tsunami waves before in the surrounding Taal Lake.

He told Reuters that what happened in Indonesia showed the need to “re-emphasize awareness and preparedness” regarding volcanic activity and its potential to trigger tsunamis in the Philippines.

The United States has also suffered several tsunamis caused by volcanic activity, including in Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington, according to the national weather service.

MORE EDUCATION

In Indonesia earlier this year, a double quake-and-tsunami disaster killed over 2,000 people on Sulawesi island, while at least 500 died when an earthquake flattened much of the northern coastline of the holiday island of Lombok.

In a country where, according to government data, 62.4 percent of the population is at risk of being struck by earthquakes and 1.6 percent by tsunamis, attention is now focused on a continued lack of preparedness.

“Given the potential for disasters in the country, it’s time to have disaster education be part of the national curriculum,” Widodo told reporters after the latest tsunami.

For Ramdi Tualfredi, a high school teacher who survived last week’s waves, these improvements cannot come soon enough.

He told Reuters that people in his village of Cigondong on the west coast of Java and close to Krakatau had never received any safety drills or evacuation training.

“I’ve never received education on safety steps,” he said.

“The system…totally failed.”

($1 = 14,550 rupiah)

(Additional reporting by Wilda Asmarini, Tabita Diela, Bernadette Christina Munthe in Jakarta, Linda Sieg and Tanaka Kiyoshi in Tokyo, and Neil Jerome Morales in Manila.; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)


Indonesian rescuers use drones, sniffer dogs as tsunami death toll tops 400

People rest at an evacuation centre at Labuhan after a tsunami hit Banten province, Indonesia, on December 25, 2018. Photo: REUTERS

|AIWA! NO!|LABUHAN, INDONESIA: Indonesian rescuers on Tuesday used drones and sniffer dogs to search for survivors along the devastated west coast of Java hit by a series of tsunamis that killed at least 373 people, warning more victims are expected to be uncovered as the search expands.

Indonesian rescuers use drones, sniffer dogs as tsunami death toll tops 400
Indonesian rescuers use drones, sniffer dogs as tsunami death toll tops 400

Thick ash clouds continued to spew from Anak Krakatau, a volcanic island where a crater collapsed at high tide on Saturday sending tsunamis smashing into coastal areas on both sides of the Sunda Strait between the islands of Sumatra and Java.

At least 128 people remain missing. More than 1,400 people were injured, and thousands of residents had to move to higher ground, with a high-tide warning extended to Wednesday.

Rescuers used heavy machinery, sniffer dogs, and special cameras to detect and dig bodies out of mud and wreckage along a 100 km (60 mile) stretch of Java’s west coast and officials said the search area would be expanded further south.

“There are several locations that we previously thought were not affected,” said Yusuf Latif, spokesman for the national search and rescue agency.

“But now we are reaching more remote areas…and in fact there are many victims there,” he added.

The vast archipelago, which sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, has suffered its worst annual death toll from disasters in more than a decade.

Earthquakes flattened parts of the island of Lombok in July and August, and a double quake-and-tsunami killed more than 2,000 people on a remote part of Sulawesi island in September.

“At least 373 people have died, while 128 people are currently missing,” Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, a spokesman for the disaster mitigation agency, said on Monday evening.

It took just 24 minutes after the landslide for waves to hit land, and there was no early warning for those living on the coast.

“EVERYTHING IS DESTROYED”

Authorities and experts have warned of further high waves and advised residents to stay away from the shoreline.

“Since Anak Krakatau has been actively erupting for the past several months additional tsunamis cannot be excluded,” said Dr. Prof Hermann Fritz, from the Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States.

Rescue efforts were hampered by heavy rainfall and low visibility. Military and volunteer rescue teams used drones to assess the extent of the damage. One team used sniffer dogs to search for survivors at the beach club where a tsunami washed away an outdoor stage where the Indonesian rock band Seventeen were performing at a party for about 200 guests.

Destruction was visible along much of the coastline where waves of up to two metres (six feet) crushed vehicles, lifted chunks of metal, felled trees, wooden beams and household items and deposited them on roads and rice fields.

Nurjana, 20, ran uphill after the tsunami hit. Her beachside snack stall was washed away.

“I opened the door straight away and saved myself. I jumped over the wall,” she said. “Everything is destroyed.”

Out in the strait, Anak Krakatau (Child of Krakatau) was still erupting, belching white smoke and ash into the sky.

The meteorology agency said that an area of about 64 hectares, or 90 soccer pitches, of the volcanic island had collapsed into the sea.

In 1883, the volcano then known as Krakatoa erupted in one of the biggest blasts in recorded history, killing more than 36,000 people in a series of tsunami, and lowering the global surface temperature by one degree Celsius with its ash. Anak Krakatau is the island that emerged from the area in 1927, and has been growing ever since.

Saturday’s high waves isolated hundreds of people on Sebesi island, about 12 km (seven miles) volcano.

“We are completely paralysed,” Syamsiar, a village secretary on the island, told Metro TV, calling for food and medicine.

President Joko Widodo, who is running for re-election in April, told disaster agencies to install early warning systems, but experts said that, unlike tsunami caused by earthquakes, little could have been done in time to alert people that waves were coming.

MEMORIES OF 2004

“Tsunamis from volcanic flank collapse are generated right at the coast and often close to populations,” said Eddie Dempsey, lecturer in structural geology at Britain’s University of Hull.

“The interval between the volcanic collapse and the arrival of the waves is minimal.”

The timing of the disaster over the Christmas season evoked memories of the Indian Ocean tsunami triggered by an earthquake on Dec 26, 2004, which killed 226,000 people in 14 countries, including more than 120,000 in Indonesia.

Food, water, blankets, and medical aid has started arriving in the area.

District chief Atmadja Suhara said he was helping to care for 4,000 refugees, many of them homeless.

“Everybody is still in a state of panic,” he said. “We often have disasters, but not as bad as this.”

“God willing,” he said, “we will rebuild.”