Moore Tornado

  • Monday 20th May 2013 at 15:01 was the time of touchdown of the Moore Tornado. It remained grounded for 45 minutes
  • At least 24 confirmed dead
  • The worst effected area was to the south of the city of Moore, Oklahoma, which was hit with wind speeds over 200km/h
  • About 120 people had to be hospitalised
  • President Obama ordered federal authorities to join the search for survivors in the wreckage
  • On the 21st, 24 victims had been identified and returned to their families, although 40 other deaths had occurred, and the bodies had not yet been identified. 20 of the dead were children
  • Several children were hit when Plaza Towers Elementary school took a direct hit. The school’s roof was torn off and the walls knocked down, and 7 children died there
  • Briarwood Elementary school was also damaged
  • The tornado was about a mile wide, and at some points reached about 2 miles’ wide
  • Moore had been prepared for tornadoes, but not of that magnitude. There was a warning in place, but the tornado veered on an unexpected route. It was hard to keep out of the way of it
  • More than 200 Oklahoma National Guardsmen were called in to help search and rescue
  • The path of destruction was a line heading roughly east through the city
  • Many residents did not have anywhere to shelter, due to not having secure basements. There were also insufficient public shelters
  • Scored a 4 on the Enhanced Fujita scale (enhanced Fujita being made to account for events that the Fujita scale can’t accurately showcase)
  • The storm system stretched from Texas to Minnesota
  • A lack of funds and fatalism among residents has meant that response to prevent future events has been minimal
  • Several hundred people were injured
  • Education funding was limited, so schools could not afford proper measures
  • People had been wrongly informed that tornadoes could only hit in the late afternoon and evening
  • Normal behaviour in Oklahoma, due to the presence of so many storms, is to be constantly checking the weather out
  • Many storm chasers follow similar events so that their paths and impacts can be better predicted in the future; and some follow them just to see what they look like. Average people will sell the footage they get from tornadoes to actual TV stations
  • Doppler radar improvements mean that dangerous storms, and storm systems likely to create tornadoes can be more easily identified. Supercell storms which create tornadoes have distinctive patterns of movement within them, which Doppler radar can detect.
  • The loss of recognised places and landmarks can be over-whelming for citizens, especially those who come back to check on friends and relatives, or those who work in journalism, and therefore didn’t see the event itself
  • Frequent weather warnings can create complacency- Oklahoma can receive 80 warnings in a single month
  • Some people say that if they don’t live in tornado-prone areas, their taxes shouldn’t be used to help fund tornado shelters and warnings
  • Citizens of Moore are trying to raise money to add shelters and safe rooms to all the schools in the area, to not only protect children but the whole community
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Hong Kong Mudslides 1972

In the 60 years since 1947, 470 people have been killed by landslides in Hong Kong, mostly because of failures associated with slopes that people have interfered with or created. The two largest were the fatal Po Shan Road and Sau Mau Ping on 18th June 1972 (138 fatalities) and 25th August 1976 (18 fatalities).

1972

  • Multiple incidents of landslides have occurred throughout Hong Kong, especially in Wan Chai. Po Shan and Shui Fan landslips have killed 148 people
  • Landslides in 1972 led to improvements in guidelines for hillside excavation and safety and rescue procedures
  • The Po Shan Road caused the largest loss of life from a single mudslide in Hong Kong
  • On 18th June, all British Forces in Hong Kong were mobilised, all police and fire services leave was cancelled and the Civil Aid Service and Auxiliary Medical Servicees were called in to assist rescue Operations

Po Shan Road Landslides, Hong Kong, June 18th, 1972

Work on a construction site above the road, together with exceptionally heavy rainfall in early 1972 caused the landslide.

  • Approximately 40,000m^3 travelled 230 m down slope
  • 138 people killed
  • 20 injured
  • Two buildings destroyed, one of which was 40m high, and one severely damaged
  • Rain storm after the mudslide worsened conditions
  • The main mudslide was 10 seconds long, and forced itself through buildings
  • The road was blocked by falling mud at a construction site, and cracks appeared in a retaining wall
  • The slip carried away nearly all the bamboo framing and metal sheet covering
  • Several buildings underwent subsidence
  • Residents were urged to leave their homes and apartments as a precaution
  • Po Shan Road was cordoned off to the public and nearby homes were evacuated
  • After 8pm, an even larger slip occurred, and in less than 10 seconds, it cleared a section from Po Shan Road to Kotewall Road, destroying several homes and retaining walls
  • The Slip knocked Kotewall Court completely off its foundation and collapsed several flats at Robinson Road and Babington Path
  • 67 were killed and 20 injured in less than a minute
  • Because of the lack of lighting, and because of the rain, as well as the destruction of the transport network, rescue efforts were sporadic
  • Some landslips continued to occur, causing withdrawals of emergency personnel

Sau Mau Ping Landslide, June 16th 1972

  • Landslide buried a squatter village at Sau Mau Ping licensed area
  • 71 people were killed
  • The mud spilled over Tsui Ping Road and into Kwun Tong Resettlement Estate
  • Many of the dead were children

Aid in Afghanistan

Oxfam has reported that much of the aid donated internationally to Afghanistan is wasted. A large proportion of the aid is paid to foreign workers to build large of short-term projects that do not contribute to the needs of the poorest or those living in rural areas. There are examples of local officials taking from the aid money or taking bribes before any of the money reaches the poor.

Foreign aid in Afghanistan is focused on national economic need and not on the immediate needs of most of the populous. Also, some aid is tied, so that when a country gives aid to Afghanistan, the Afghani government has to do something for them in return.

The conflict and instability in the country makes it difficult to reach the poorest people in rural areas.

Earthquake Resistant Building Design

Means of creating earthquake resistant buildings in an…

HIC

  •  Computer controlled weights in the roof help to reduce movement by travelling around to specific places to balance out the movement of the building, and help prevent it from toppling
  • Steel frames can sway, which reduces strain on the building during movement, so reducing the chance of a collapse
  • Automatic window shutters prevent any glass that breaks from falling on anyone
  • Open areas close to buildings allow anyone who has been evacuated to assemble. This allows people to be checked for so that emergency services know how many people are missing, and  means that even if something does collapse, it is less likely to fall on anybody
  • Foundations are sunk into the bedrock to avoid clays. Clay can easily enter liquefaction, which makes collapses more likely and also more devastating when  occur
  • “Birdcage” style interlocking frame on the exterior provides a stronger overall structure, meaning less of the building will collapse if there is damage
  • Panels are attached with flexible joins to the outside. Materials  to be flexible so that the sudden strains that the earthquake applies cause less damage, which stops them from bending or snapping
  • Road system built to allow quick access for emergency services. This allows faster response times after an earthquake, and helps limit secondary impacts, such as fires, from occurring, and saves some of the victims’ lives
  • Rubber shock- absorbers take the initial impact before the main foundations can be hit

 

LIC                         

  • Education and training – show people, especially poor people, how to build more robustly, and how to use resources more sustainably and cost-effectively
  • Incorporate new engineering techniques – lighty reinforced flat slab foundation below two layers of reinforced hollow concrete bricks (designed to cause minimal damage in the case of a collapse) forming the base of the wall, covered by damp proofing (to protect against moisture and insects). Wall frames formed of timber latticed with treated bamboo gives high strength and flexibility to a fairly light structure. Galvanised chicken mesh is attached to this so that outer materials, such as cement render can hang on it.
  • Replacing old materials – remove heavy clay roof tiles and replace them with a lightweight corrugated cement-fibreboard roof. This reduces the load on the walls, and in turn, both the chance of collapse and risk of injury if it does collapse
  • Reinforced steel corner pillars provide strength and flexibility to the structure
  • Any work with mixed stone pieces can use parts of other homes which collapsed during quakes- this would prevent the accumulation of debris, and quick action to gather it could assist aid workers.

 

Community Baboon Sanctuary

The Sanctuary was established in 1985 to protect one of the few remaining healthy populations of black howler monkeys in Central America. The monkeys are referred to as “baboons” because, when African people were first kidnapped for slavery, they had not encountered anything similar before. They assumed that the monkeys had to be baboons as those were the only comparably loud primates that they knew of.

When it was first established, the sanctuary was the only wildlife management project that was completely voluntary, and dependent on co-operation from local land-owners. Eight villages and dozens of land owners make up the participants.

Rural Villagers participating in the sanctuary have a respect for the monkeys which are abundant in their area. Landowners responded quickly responded to the need to preserve the monkeys’ land. Nearly all the land-owners on the 46km^2 sanctuary have signed a voluntary conservation pledge, committing themselves to make sure that their practices with their land work in unison with the needs of the wildlife. Each landowner follows their own individualised conservation plan to protect the monkeys’ habitat.

Individual plans include protecting forests along riverbanks, leaving feeding trees when clearing land, and maintaining forest corridors around farmed areas, so howler monkeys can still travel freely. Management practices benefit landowners by reducing erosion, preventing river situation and allowing for more rapid forest regrowth under slash-and-burn farming. Land owners can continue their normal agricultural methods, while locals show visitors around on guided tours, and provide information on things like the Creole language. Tour routes wind around each other. A museum at the main center allows visitors to learn about the area’s culture and history,

The black howler monkeys are one of six species of howler monkey present in Central and South America. It can be heard over a mile away. They normally live in small groups and travel between trees to feed. They have similar facial expressions to humans.

Costa Del Sol- Part II

Factors Which Encourage Tourism

  • Climate – hot summers. Even in winter, constant rain is rare.
  • Long stretches of sandy beach (although some are just shingle, and some of the sandy beaches are artificial)
  • Lots of high-density low-priced, high-rise hotels and apartments. Unfortunately, this creates a “concrete jungle” effect suddenly, and very compactly against the shoreline.
  • Good transport links. The N340 motorway runs very close to the sea shore and Malaga airport is next to some of the largest tourist resorts.
  • Nightlife. Many businesses offer flamenco or disco music, alcohol and food. Most resorts have their own nightclubs.
  • A wide range of shops in the area
  • Water sports
  • Golf (although this is putting a strain on local water resources.
  • Historic centers such as Seville, Gibralta and Granada
  • Cultural locations (Mijas)

Development of Tourism Butler’s Model

Exploration

In the 1950’s, the Costa del Sol was only really used for fishing and for farming. There was very little guest accommodation, but the environment was virtually entirely unspoiled.

Involvement

There was still little tourism to the area, especially compared to later figures. The landscape was still in very good condition, but there were more amenities for guests.

The government encouraged the growth of tourism within Spain, as it was a way to provide jobs and raise the standard of living. In Costa del Sol, new hotels and apartment blocks building was encouraged, along with swimming pools, and other sources of entertainment.

Development

Large hotels were built from breeze blocks and concrete. Many new accommodation blocks for tourists were built. Lots of jobs were created in tourism and construction, while more locally-inclined jobs like fishing started to decline. Amenities started to be built upon farmland. Roads started to improve far more than before.

Tourists demanding more amenities to have a better visit, and to fill up their free time while there.

Consolidation

More large hotels built. Time-share apartments became more common. Up to 70% of people had jobs in tourism, due to the multiplier effect.

Stagnation

As more resources are used for the tourists, the features that originally attracted tourists to the area start to deteriorate- such as there being a lot of litter or pollution in the sea. Tourists will start to seek other locations that still have those features.

Decline/Rejuvenation

The world recession in the early 1990’s meant there was limited available money for tourism, and that, ultimately, the prices in Costa del Sol were too high. The impact of this was far greater due to there being cheaper locations elsewhere for holidays. Older hotels were starting to get run-down and low quality.

The government has been trying to encourage the continuation of tourism. VAT has been reduced to 6% in luxury hotels to try to maintain cheap holidays. Stricter controls to improve the quality of the environment have been introduced, including for cleaner beaches and reducing sea pollution.

Date 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s
Tourists UK -> Spain 1960: 0.4 million 1971: 3.0 million 1984: 6.2 million;

1988: 7.5 million

1990: 7.0 million
Changes in Tourism Few tourists Rapid increase, encouragement from government Maximum (carrying) capacity reached; tourists outstripping resources such as water supply Decline. World recession; prices too high
Accommodati-on Limited, few hotels, some cottages Large hotels, more apartments Large hotels built Older hotels run down. Only high-class hotels allowed to be built
Local employment situation Mainly fishing + farming Construction, workers helping in tourism (eg hoteliers, waiters). Decline in food industry Up to 70% working in tourism Unemployment increases due to decline in tourism (up to 30%)
Infrastructure Limited access, few amenities. Poor roads. Limited street lighting Some road improvements; congestion. New bars, discos, restaurants and shops N340 opened. “Highway of Death”. More urban congestion. Marinas and golf courses built Bars and cafes closing. Malaga by-pass and new air port opened
Environment Clean. Little pollution. Quiet Farmland built upon. Wildlife moving out. Beaches and sea less clean Mountains obscured by hotels. Crime rising (drugs, mugging, vandalism). Noise pollution.  Omnipresent litter. Attempts to clean beaches; EU blue flag beaches. New parks and gardens opened. Nature reserves

“Texas is Gilead and Indiana is Gilead”

Longreads

The Hulu adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale could not have been more timely, and therefore chilling. “In February, the book overtook George Orwell’s 1984 on the Amazon best-seller list. Texas is Gilead and Indiana is Gilead and now that Mike Pence is our vice president, the entire country will look more like Gilead, too.”

In The New Republic, Sara Jones (a former fundamentalist Christian whose education prepared her for a life of tending home and making babies and obeying a husband) writes about The Handmaid’s Tale, how its world could not exist without conservative women — represented in the book by the character Serena Joy — and what it ultimately means for those women’s lives.

America is rich in Serena Joys. One need look no further for her contemporary counterparts than Michelle Duggar and her daughters; or Paula White, the televangelist who allegedly led Donald Trump to Christ

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Stem Rust Fungus

Puccina graminis is the scientific name for stem rust fungus, which affects wheat and barley crops. Wheat makes up much of the staple diet in 97% of countries. Between barley and wheat, they make up 25% of the world’s food supply, and help keep billions of people from being malnourished.

Over the years, the fungus has caused devastation numerous times; the fungus can effect fields that are nearing harvest, and can reduce crop yields by up to 80%, Different strains effect different crops, but the strain that effects wheat is the most damaging to human food stocks.

Transmission

Stem rust is a parasitic fungus- it feeds on living tissues of its host. It can infect either cereal plants or Berberis (Barberry), a genus of shrubs which grow freely in temperate and sub-tropical regions. It forms five different types of spores.

The disease is transmitted when spores from infected plants are carried to other crops by the wind. It can also be transmitted if it’s grown in soil where an infected plant previously was. It can pass thousands of miles in certain conditions through soil. The pattern of the infection is used to determine the source (a fan of infection implies it’s local, overall coverage for a distant field).

Mode of Infection

Spores need water in order to germinate. They use hypha (thread-like structures) to penetrate the stomata of the leaves or stem of the plant to gain access to water, and in turn, to other internal tissues. Hypha secrete enzymes such as cellulases which digest plant cells and then they absorb nutrients into the fungus. The hyphae branch to form a mycelium that feeds and grows, hidden in the stem or leaves of healthy-looking plants.

The fungus grows best in hot days (25-30°C), mild nights (15-20°C), and wet leaves (from rain, dew or irrigation). The spore relies on this water to germinate.

Pathogenic Effects

Symptoms start 7-15 days after the plant has become infected. Rust-red pustules break through the epidermis of the stem of leaf, which can contain up to 100,000 similarly coloured spores; any of these can be blown by the wind to infect more plants.  This can happen many times over a crop’s growth cycle, until black spores (which can last over a winter) are finally formed. It’s at that stage that the crop itself becomes blackened and worthless.

Symptoms:

  • Absorbs nutrients, reducing crop yield
  • Pustules break the epidermis, making transpiration more difficult for the plant to control; their metabolism becomes less efficient; the plant is more likely to dry out; secondary infections become more likely
  • Mycelium grows into vascular tissue, absorbing water and nutrients; interference of supply to crop
  • Weakens stems so plants are more likely to be damaged or topply due to the weather, reducing harvest efficiency

Controlling Stem Rust in Wheat

Stem rust is fast-acting upon its host. Some farming practices encourage its spread;

  • High nitrate soils favour the fungus; fertilisers encourage the fungus.
  • Many farmers in HICs deliberately avoid disturbing the soil; if there are any spores in the soil, they are likely to be near the top where they can more easily infect the next crop
  • Regular irrigation provides both water for the plants to grow, and the virus.

To avoid the virus, start by avoiding such practices, where possible. Then;

  • Use bigger spaces between plants to reduce moisture and increase distances for spores to have to travel
  • Reduce fertiliser application
  • Use earlier-maturing crops which avoid the time of maximum spread
  • Remove wild Berberis so part of the life cycle is interrupted, reducing further spread

Fungicides can be used to control the growth of stem rust, but the cost of this can make it uneconomic to grow the crop at all.

Genetic Resistance

The main method of fighting the fungus historically has been to just develop more hardy breeds of crop. In the mid 1900’s, scientists discovered genes that hep gives resistance to rust attacks, especially Sr31. Wheat strains were breed to have this variant that were very resistant to the fungus, and by the ’70s, the virus seemed to be under control.

In 1999, an unknown strain of wheat stem rust fungus appeared in Uganda, known as Ug99. This strain can overcome almost all of the known resistance genes in wheat; Sr31 has no protective effect. The spores have been covered to other East African countries, and even as far as Yemen and Iran, and are continuing to spread. Scientists have calculated that 80-90% of wheat could be susceptible to this strain.

Scientists are working to develop new strains of resistant wheat to prevent Ug99 from spreading into some of the most important wheat-growing areas of the world. A package of genes have been found that can be engineered into various varieties, giving resistance to all stem rust strains and infections. However, the cost, environmental and ethical concerns in some countries about GM crops (many of which can be counter-acted by sterilising plants carrying the modification, though this creates a dependancy on the original supplier and can hinder development in LICs) mean that this solution is not yet widely adopted.

 

Qatar – Development

Development

If development was measured only by money, Qatar would be the most developed, with a GDP/capita of US$106,000. 14% of citizens are millionaires; the government has so little need for money that there is a 0% tax rate. Qatar is a member of OPEC, and bases the economy almost entirely on oil. The Emir says he prioritises his citizen’s wellbeing, including in advanced health care and education and expanding infrastructure for the 2022 world cup.

Qatar has the highest life expectancy in the Middle East (82 years for men and 78 years for women)- no-one lives below the poverty line.

Qatar is a developing site for tourists, due to being so under-explored. It has gained a reputation for a luxurious destination with a feeling of authenticity. The capital has a large range of cultural attractions, and natural wonders.

Issues Holding Back Development

  • No political freedom, with no political parties
  • No war of asserting civil rights
  • Trade unions are not allowed
  • No transparency in governance
  • Sharia Law still implimented
  • Qatar is not a member of the ICJ
  • Significant gender inequality
  • Ranks 86th in the world for literacy
  • The population is only 330,000, so a small gene pool has lead to high occurence of genetic diseases
  • Wealth is leading to the highest growth of obesity and diabetes in the world
  • Qatar has the highest CO2 emissions per capita in the world.
  • They are the highest consumers of water/person/day – 400 liters
  • Petrol is cheaper than water
  • The ITUC rates Qatar as one of the worst places worldwide for workers. Migrants make up 54% of the workforce- 545,000 from India and 341,000 from Nepal. Sub-contractors recruit these workers and there are many reports of slave-like conditions. (In 2014, DLA Piper published 60 recommendations to improve conditions for workers and Qatar has promised to implement them, however, there is little evidence of anything having been done about this).

2022 Football World Cup Controversy

There is a lot of talk of getting the world cup away from Qatar, due to the stepping down of the president of FIFA – Sepp Blatter- and concerns about both the climate and the lack of football culture.

The Qataris say that their being chosen is proof that there’s nothing wrong and hint at a fall out if they were replaced. In total, the emirates host 1.5 million migrants who are working to produce the stadiums- those same workers who are almost in slavery.

The kafala system gets payments from various Southern Asian countries which give them permission to send workers to Qatar. Many of these migrants owe money to recruitment agents; desperate for money they are forced to work long hours in unsafe conditions. Employers withhold wages, confiscate passports or cram workers into horrendous quality accommodation.

The minister of labour and social affairs- Abdullah bun Saleh al-Khulaifi is confident that the system wil be replaced with a fairer system based on 5 year contracts, and giving them more freedom.

Qatar has improved their housing. Qatar is building 7 new cities to house 258,000 migrant workers. The largest- Labour City- would have universal air conditioning and a 24,000 seat cricket stadium. Housing inspectors are increasing, but so is the migrant worker population; which is expected to hit 2.5 million by 2020.

Bolivia – How Being Landlocked Hinders Development

Much of Bolivia’s trade passes through Chile, and the deals between them cannot reduce the distance between the Bolivian cities and their historic coastline. This would not be an impediment to the Bolivian economy if trade could flow freely, but it cannot.

Most of the world’s 45 landlocked countries are poor. Of the 15 lowest scoring countries by the Human Development Index, 8 are landlocked; all of these are within Africa. Landlocked areas within large countries- the PRC being a good example of this- are normally far less developed and far poorer. Even within countries with access to coastline throughout, areas closer to more heavily used ports are more developed- as shown in the difference between areas like Lincolnshire and Yorkshire vs Kent and Surrey within the UK.

Even compared to countries with similar climates and histories, landlocked countries have still lagged behind in development; the GDP difference between two such countries can be as high as 40%.

Some landlocked countries have managed to develop strong economies- such as Switzerland. Switzerland’s main industry is banking, which requires no transport, so their geographical location does not matter to their economy. Most of Switzerland’s physical exports are small and expensive. Countries like Botswana (which is still an LIC) rely on diamonds, which can be flown, as opposed to shipped, equally. No landlocked countries cannot readjust to neighbour richer countries, or choose to have diamonds, so many landlocked countries are stuck in a bad position for their own development.

Landlocked countries are seen as unreliable by businesses, as transit states can interfere. A strike by Chilean officials in 2013 caused a 20km long line of lorries in Bolivia; this is an especially great risk in Africa, where civil strife is more common, so trade routes often have to be adjusted. Businesses need to be more heavily stocked so that they can cope with the unpredictable situation more easily.

International agreements promise all countries will have access to the sea, but goods still have to be moved to the coastline through other states, and responsibility relies on the government of the states that good travel through.  Border officials in both the source country and the transit country often accept or demand bribes, and cause further delays. Lorries travelling to poor, landlocked countries can end up travelling at half the speed of lorries in neighbouring maritime countries.

Landlocked countries generally attracted fewer entrepreneurs from other countries, and thus fewer ideas that could then develop the economy further; some economists calculate that Bolivia’s GDP may be up to 20% larger if it were not landlocked.