Sunday, August 18, 2013

Future flood losses in major coastal cities

Source: Nature via Vice Motherboard

With climate change and subsidence, present protection will need to be upgraded to avoid unacceptable losses of US$1 trillion or more per year. Even if adaptation investments maintain constant flood probability, subsidence and sea-level rise will increase global flood losses to US$60–63 billion per year in 2050. To maintain present flood risk, adaptation will need to reduce flood probabilities below present values. In this case, the magnitude of losses when floods do occur would increase, often by more than 50%, making it critical to also prepare for larger disasters than we experience today. The analysis identifies the cities that seem most vulnerable to these trends, that is, where the largest increase in losses can be expected.

Right now, global loses due to flooding run about $6 billion per year, hitting primarily four cities: Miami, New York, and New Orleans in the United States, and Guangzhou in China. Together those four pay out just under half of the yearly global total.

Zurich unveils 'sex boxes' for prostitutes

Here's an interesting example of direct democracy at work.

Source: The Local

But with local residents fed up of prostitutes and clients plying the streets, notably along the riverside Sihlquai, the authorities decided to try to shift the sex trade from the city centre.
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The sex-box plan was approved by Zurich's voters in March 2012 -- referendums from the local to the national level are the bedrock of Switzerland's system of direct democracy.

Insight: After disaster, the deadliest part of Japan's nuclear clean-up

Source: Reuters

The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is preparing to remove 400 tons of highly irradiated spent fuel from a damaged reactor building, a dangerous operation that has never been attempted before on this scale. ... more than 1,300 used fuel rod assemblies packed tightly together need to be removed from a building that is vulnerable to collapse, should another large earthquake hit the area.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) is already in a losing battle to stop radioactive water overflowing from another part of the facility, and experts question whether it will be able to pull off the removal of all the assemblies successfully.
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The operation, beginning this November at the plant's Reactor No. 4, is fraught with danger, including the possibility of a large release of radiation if a fuel assembly breaks, gets stuck or gets too close to an adjacent bundle, said Gundersen and other nuclear experts.
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Tepco has already removed two unused fuel assemblies from the pool in a test operation last year, but these rods are less dangerous than the spent bundles. Extracting spent fuel is a normal part of operations at a nuclear plant, but safely plucking them from a badly damaged reactor is unprecedented.
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The utility says it recognizes the operation will be difficult but believes it can carry it out safely.

Nonetheless, Tepco inspires little confidence. Sharply criticized for failing to protect the Fukushima plant against natural disasters, its handling of the crisis since then has also been lambasted.