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Government shutdown 101: 12 ways it could affect you
The News - Disaster Preparedness
September 25, 2013
If Congress fails to fund the federal government by Oct. 1, the start of the new fiscal year, the government will go into partial shutdown. Some government functions – those deemed essential – will continue as usual, while others will be suspended. If a shutdown proceeds the way it would have in 2011 (had the last funding impasse had not been resolved in time), 800,000 of 2.1 million federal employees would be furloughed.Here is a list of what to expect if a shutdown takes place:
 
Overpopulation: Why ingenuity alone won't save us
The News - Current Events
September 25, 2013
overpopulation climate change hunger
It's easy to grasp that in a national park, balance must be maintained between predators and prey, lest the ecosystem crash. But when we're talking about our own species, it gets harder. The notion that there are limits to how much humanity this parkland called Earth can bear doesn't sit easy with us.

The "nature" part of human nature includes making more copies of ourselves, to ensure our genetic and cultural survival. As that instinct comes in handy for building mighty nations and dominant religions, we've set about filling the Earth, rarely worrying that it might one day overfill. Even after population quadrupled in the 20th century, placing unprecedented stress on the planet, it's hard for some to accept that there might be too many of us for our own good.
 
Pakistan earthquake latest: Death toll 238 and rising; New island created
The News - Natural Disasters
September 25, 2013
earthquake new island created
Officials said 238 deaths had been confirmed so far, 208 in Awaran district, and the toll is expected to rise as rescue teams reach more villages in the remote area.

"We have started to bury the dead," said Abdul Rasheed Gogazai, the deputy commissioner of Awaran, the most affected district in Baluchistan province. He said at least 373 people were wounded.  

The 7.7-magnitude quake hit in the Awaran district of Baluchistan province on Tuesday afternoon, destroying scores of mud-built houses and prompting a new island to rise from the sea just off the country's southern coast. The earthquake was so powerful that it caused the seabed to rise and create a small, mountain-like island about 600 meters (yards) off Pakistan's Gwadar coastline in the Arabian Sea.
 
Pakistan Earthquake: At Least 39 Dead as 7.7-Magnitude
The News - Natural Disasters
September 24, 2013
pakistan earthquake 2013 disaster
A 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck southern Pakistan on Tuesday, killing at least 39 people according to early reports. The U.S. Geological Survey placed the epicenter 41 miles north-northeast of Awaran in the province of Balochistan. Mirza Kamran Zia, chief spokesman for the country's National Disaster Management Authority, said 39 people are confirmed dead, most of them buried when houses collapsed onto them. The death toll is expected to rise as rescue efforts continue.

The tremor occurred at 7:29 a.m. Eastern time (4:29 p.m. local time) and shook the Pakistani mountain region, according to the USGS. The quake was relatively shallow, occurring just 12 miles (20 km) below ground, raising the potential for violent shaking near the epicenter.
 
Hong Kong Braces for Super Typhoon Usagi
The News - Natural Disasters
September 21, 2013
super typhoon usagi
Super Typhoon Usagi continued to make its way toward Hong Kong and China's southern Guangdong province on Saturday, as it swept toward the South China Sea with strong winds and heavy rain battering parts of Taiwan and the Philippines.

Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and its Dragonair unit will halt operations in the city starting Sunday evening, the airline said, with plans "to gradually resume services on Monday when weather conditions permit." Hong Kong Airlines and its Hong Kong Express Airways unit likewise canceled Sunday flights scheduled to take off after 6 p.m. Chu Kong Passenger Transport Co., which operates ferries between Hong Kong and mainland China, also announced service suspensions.
 
Planet good for another 1.75 billion years, scientists say
The News - Science-Astronomy
September 20, 2013
end of planet earth

Earth could continue to host life for at least another 1.75 billion years, as long as nuclear holocaust, an errant asteroid or some other disaster doesn't intervene, a new study calculates.

But even without such dramatic doomsday scenarios, astronomical forces will eventually render the planet uninhabitable. Somewhere between 1.75 billion and 3.25 billion years from now, Earth will travel out of the solar system's habitable zone and into the "hot zone," new research indicates.

 
Earth's stongest storm of 2013, packing 160 mph winds, moving toward Hong Kong...
The News - Natural Disasters
September 19, 2013
super typhoon Usagi
Super Typhoon Usagi, the equivalent of a Category 5 Atlantic hurricane, has intensified rapidly in the western Pacific Ocean and will threaten parts of Taiwan, the far northern Philippines and southern China through the next several days.

A tropical cyclone is dubbed a "super typhoon" when maximum sustained winds reach at least 150 mph. Usagi underwent a period of rapid intensification from early Wednesday through midday Thursday (U.S. Eastern time), going from a 55-knot tropical storm to a 140-knot super typhoon in just 33 hours, or just under a 100 mph intensification, based on satellite estimates of intensity.
 
How Much Longer Can Earth Support Life?
The News - Science-Astronomy
September 18, 2013
how much longer can earth support life?
Earth could continue to host life for at least another 1.75 billion years, as long as nuclear holocaust, an errant asteroid or some other disaster doesn't intervene, a new study calculates. But even without such dramatic doomsday scenarios, astronomical forces will eventually render the planet uninhabitable. Somewhere between 1.75 billion and 3.25 billion years from now, Earth will travel out of the solar system's habitable zone and into the "hot zone," new research indicates.

These zones are defined by water. In the habitable zone, a planet (whether in this solar system or an alien one) is just the right distance from its star to have liquid water. Closer to the sun, in the "hot zone," the Earth's oceans would evaporate. Of course, conditions for complex life — including humans — would become untenable before the planet entered the hot zone.
 
Colorado Floods: What Happens to All That Water?
The News - Natural Disasters
September 18, 2013
colorado flooding water
As flood waters slowly begin to recede from central Colorado, new flood warnings have cropped up downstream in Nebraska. Colorado's South Platte River, which runs northeast from the middle of the state into the southwest corner of Nebraska, has taken the burden of much of the record rainwater that hasn't already seeped into the ground.  

A surge in the river began approaching the Nebraska border at about midnight last night (Sept. 17), according to Dave Nettles, an engineer with the Colorado Division of Water Resources, but the crest of the surge had not yet reached the border as of this morning. The crest will likely arrive today, Nettles said, but the exact timing remains uncertain
 
Still hundreds unaccounted for after Colorado floods...survivors sleeping in cars
The News - Natural Disasters
September 17, 2013
colorado flooding disaster
The emergency airlifts of flood victims waned Tuesday, leaving rescue crews to systematically search the nooks and crannies of the northern Colorado foothills and transportation officials to gauge what it will take to rebuild the wasted landscape.

More than 3,000 people have been evacuated by air and ground since last week's devastating floods, but calls for those emergency rescues are now dwindling, federal and state emergency officials said
 
Colorado Disaster: What Is a 100-Year Flood?
The News - Natural Disasters
September 14, 2013
colorado flooding 2013
A massive amount of rain has fallen in the region surrounding Boulder, Colo., causing widespread flooding that's killed at least three people and taken out roads and houses, according to news reports. The event has sent 20-foot "walls of water" rushing down mountainsides, destroying bridges and isolating entire towns, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said in a statement.

The extreme rain and flooding in Colorado was caused when a slow-moving weather system sucked in an unusually large mass of moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, and has been called a "100-year storm." That terminology is a little confusing, though, and requires some explanation.
 
Friday the 13th: Why Humans Are So Superstitious
The News - Weird-Strange
September 13, 2013
friday the 13th superstition
Despite having well-developed brains, complex technologies and centuries of scientific progress, the human species remains a fearful, superstitious lot. And what better day to revisit the nature of superstition than Friday the 13th?

Superstition, it seems, is one thing that binds all of humanity throughout history and across cultural divides. Anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss once wrote that superstitions and belief in magic "are so frequent and so widespread that we should ask ourselves if we are not confronted with a permanent and universal form of thought." [LIVESCIENCE]
 
World's biggest brains predict how Earth will end
The News - Science-Astronomy
September 13, 2013
brains predict how world will end
  • Members of a society, which includes Stephen Hawking and Robert May, will identify threats to humanity and devise ways of ensuring its survival
  • The Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) is led by the Astronomer Royal and Cambridge don Martin Rees
  • Lord Rees believes the main threats to sustained human existence now come from people, not from nature

They are an improbable group of superheroes. But some of Britain's greatest minds have got together to focus their powers on saving humanity from itself. Led by the Astronomer Royal and Cambridge don Martin Rees, famous thinkers such as physicist Stephen Hawking and former Government chief scientist Robert May have formed a society to draw up a doomsday list of risks that could wipe out mankind. From crippling cyber-attacks by terrorists using the internet to cause havoc, to the release of engineered diseases and killer computers, they warn the future is far from rosy.

 
Doomsday? Universe's Fate Depends on True Mass of Tiny Particle
The News - Science-Astronomy
September 12, 2013
tiny particle doomsday
The universe may end in another 10 billion years or sooner if the heaviest of all the known elementary particles, the top quark, is even heavier than previously thought, researchers say.

If the top quark is not heavier than experiments currently suggest, then an even stranger fate may await the cosmos: disembodied brains and virtually anything else could one day randomly materialize into existence. The protons and neutrons that make up the nuclei of atoms are made of elementary particles known as quarks. Protons and neutrons are made up of the lightest and most stable flavors of quark: the up quark and down quark. The heaviest and most unstable flavor of quark is the top quark, which current experiments suggest is about 184 times heavier than the proton.
 
Why Has It Been So Long Since a Major Hurricane Hit the US?
The News - Natural Disasters
September 12, 2013
hurricanes 2013
he United States hasn't been any stranger to hurricanes in the last eight years. Hurricane Sandy, for example, caused about $50 billion in damage and was responsible for more than 150 U.S. deaths last year, although the storm was technically an extra-tropical cyclone when it hit.

But surprisingly, not a single major hurricane, defined as a Category 3 storm or higher on the Saffir-Simpson scale —with minimum wind gusts of at least 111 mph (178 km/h) — has directly hit the United States in nearly eight years. That's twice as long as any major hurricane landfall "drought" since 1915, and by far the longest on record since data began being collected prior to 1900. As of today (Sept. 12), it's been 2,880 days since Hurricane Wilma, the last major hurricane to strike the United States, made landfall on Oct. 24, 2005.

 
10 Essential Skills for the Outdoorsperson
The News - Disaster Preparedness
September 05, 2013
10 essential outdoor skills

With the weather warming and spring-summer camping/hiking/paddling season coming up, it’s time to brush up on your backcountry skills and ensure you’re up to the task of taking this season for all it’s worth.

Looking to get in-the-know on the most useful things an outdoorsperson like yourself needs to know? Read on and check out these 10 articles — 10 Essential Skills for the Outdoorsperson.

 
Largest Volcano on Earth Lurks Beneath Pacific Ocean : Tamu Massif
The News - Natural Disasters
September 05, 2013
Tamu Massif Largest Volcano
A University of Houston (UH) professor led a team of scientists to uncover the largest single volcano yet documented on Earth. Covering an area roughly equivalent to the British Isles or the state of New Mexico, this volcano, dubbed the Tamu Massif, is nearly as big as the giant volcanoes of Mars, placing it among the largest in the Solar System.

Located about 1,000 miles east of Japan, Tamu Massif is the largest feature of Shatsky Rise, an underwater mountain range formed 130 to 145 million years ago by the eruption of several underwater volcanoes. Until now, it was unclear whether Tamu Massif was a single volcano, or a composite of many eruption points. By integrating several sources of evidence, including core samples and data collected on board the JOIDES Resolution research ship, the authors have confirmed that the mass of basalt that constitutes Tamu Massif did indeed erupt from a single source near the center.
 
Map: Where You Donít Want to Be When It Hits the Fan
The News - Disaster Preparedness
September 05, 2013
When it hits the fan America’s population centers will explode in violence, looting, and total breakdown of law and order.

It’s a theory put forth by numerous survival and relocation specialists, and one that makes complete sense if you consider what happens in a truly serious collapse-like scenario. Survival Blog founder James Rawles calls them the golden horde:
 
Tsunami: Facts versus Movie Myths
The News - Natural Disasters
September 05, 2013
tsunami fact vs myth
A tsunami or tidal wave is one of those disasters that are rare, difficult to prep for, but interesting to discuss. If you live inland, you might still be interested in this article, in case you are on vacation near the ocean, or simply because it is a fascinating topic. This particular prepping and survival post discusses the difference between a tidal wave in movies and recent real tidal waves. There are several significant differences between the movie version and a real tsunami, and knowing the differences might affect your response.

The height of tidal waves is one thing that movies get wrong or exaggerate. The typical movie tsunami is hundreds of meters high, taller than many skyscrapers. Strictly-speaking, it’s not impossible for a tidal wave to be that high. A comet or asteroid impact in the deep ocean can generate a tsunami hundreds of feet high, 100 km or more from the site of impact. See the Impact: Earth! effects calculator at Purdue University. But the typical tsunami, caused by an undersea earthquake, is several meters in height, or less. See the NOAA Tsunami site. The largest tsunami in recorded history is said to be the 2004 Indonesia tsunami, with a height of 33 meters (per Wikipedia). [PREP-BLOG]
 
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