A year after Superstorm, Hoboken prepares for the next disaster

A year after superstorm Sandy caused extensive damage to Hoboken, New Jersey, the city is looking to its past in order to plan for the future. “Hoboken: One Year After Sandy,” an exhibit that recently opened at the Hoboken Historical Museum, aims to not only remember the storm, but to highlight the city’s vulnerabilities and emphasize the need for long-term changes that Hoboken must make in order to continue thriving on the Hudson river waterfront.

The city of over 50,000 people…sits right on the Hudson River, as does much of its critical infrastructure. The Hoboken Terminal serves as one of the New York metropolitan area’s most important transportation hubs, with thousands of commuters passing through via New Jersey Transit, the Metro North Railroad line, Path train, and more each day. The waterfront is dotted with parks and offers spectacular views of Manhattan’s mighty skyline. Further inland (which isn’t very far at all) Hoboken is filled with pastel-colored buildings dating back to the late 19th or early 20th century, and many residents live in ground-floor or basement-level apartments.

According to Juan Melli, communications manager for Mayor Dawn Zimmer, Hoboken sustained over $100 million in private property damage from Sandy and $10 million in public property damage.

Hoboken’s peculiar topography caused uneven flooding throughout the city; much of the city sits in a flood basin below sea level but some areas occupy a higher elevation. Some streets were spared, while others were submerged beneath several feet of contaminated water.

The museum’s exhibit demonstrates this phenomenon with an interactive computer map of Hoboken that models how floodwaters engulfed the city during the storm; it poured in from the north and south, and quickly pooled in lower-lying areas.

Residents have been encouraged to submit multimedia to the exhibit, as well as to share their story of Sandy in a guestbook or record it in a quiet booth off to the side. The museum hopes to create an archive of the accounts and make them available to the public online once the exhibit closes next year…

A recent analysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that sea levels are rising faster than previously – and Hoboken itself was mentioned by the report’s author as being in danger. Future planning is key.

“We’re very comprehensive,” Melli said of the city’s plans to protect itself from future storms. The city has partnered with the Department of Energy to create a “smart grid” that will be more resilient to power outages. The city has also purchased additional flood pumps, is growing its emergency response team, promoting greener and stronger infrastructure, in addition to exploring a plethora of other options.

Know-nothing conservatives, whether Tea Party ignoranuses or simply cheapskate Republicans, in state after state, city, shore or mid-American farm country continue apace in their denial of any change in climate. Rejecting science is considered holy writ in bastions of superstition. They rely on the American tradition of providing aid to communities too stupid to care for themselves, so perverse in their reliance on 14th Century ideology they refuse to allow investigation of future danger or preparation for safety of citizens at risk.

Cities like Hoboken will prove themselves representative of the best of American standards in political action – while bird-brains and turd-brains from North Carolina to Nebraska take chances with the lives of generations to come.

German parliament called to hold session on U.S. spying

The German parliament will hold a special session in November on alleged U.S. spying that included monitoring of mobile phone communications of Chancellor Angela Merkel, the chancellor’s party said Monday…

There have been calls for a special parliamentary investigative committee on the spying accusations, with some deputies demanding to summon whistleblower Edward Snowden to act as a witness.

Germany’s Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told local media on Monday that the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office will have to consider the possibility of interrogating Snowden as a witness if suspicions on the spying prove correct and a case is opened…

German newspaper Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported on Sunday that U.S. President Barack Obama was aware of the alleged monitoring of mobile phone communications of Merkel years ago, but the claim was denied by the U.S. side.

The German government has voiced its anger at possible U.S. intelligence’s tapping of Merkel’s phone, saying it would be “a serious breach of trust” if confirmed.

High-ranking representatives of German security services as well as the chancellery will travel to Washington this week to seek clarifications of widespread spying allegations, German government spokesman Georg Streiter said on Friday.

Some members of the German Parliament want to offer Snowden asylum in Germany – adding to the list of nations willing to do so. “Christian Ströbele of the Green Party has proposed granting asylum to Snowden in Germany – or providing him with witness protection, at the very least. “He’s an important, but vulnerable, witness…”

It’s understandable why every failing church from the Vatican to fundamentalist Protestant sects looks to the United States to be their bastion against change. We are the last best hope of preservation through hypocrisy.

We condemn those nation-states which support violence against our country in the name of regime change – and pile on sanctions, fund guerilla bands and bandits doing exactly the same in other lands. We condemn spying by other countries on political and commercial entities within our borders – and lead the world in the use of technology to spy on every other nations’ political leaders and corporate commanders.

Thawing permafrost key to coastal erosion in Eastern Siberia


One year of erosion, 2011-2012, Muostakh cliffs

The high cliffs of Eastern Siberia – which mainly consist of permafrost – continue to erode at an ever quickening pace. This is the conclusion which scientists of the Alfred Wegener Institute…have reached after their evaluation of data and aerial photographs of the coastal regions for the last 40 years.

According to the researchers, the reasons for this increasing erosion are rising summer temperatures in the Russian permafrost regions as well the retreat of the Arctic sea ice. This coastal protection recedes more and more on an annual basis. As a result, waves undermine the shores. At the same time, the land surface begins to sink. The small island of Muostakh east of the Lena Delta is especially affected by these changes. Experts fear that it might even disappear altogether should the loss of land continue.

The interconnectedness is clear and unambiguous: The warmer the east Siberian permafrost regions become, the quicker the coast erodes. “If the average temperature rises by 1 degree Celsius in the summer, erosion accelerates by 1.2 metres annually,“ says AWI geographer Frank Günther, who investigates the causes of the coastal breakdown in Eastern Siberia together with German and Russian colleagues, and who has published his findings in two scientific articles.

In these studies, he and his team evaluated high resolution air and satellite photos from 1951 to 2012 as well as measurements of the past four years. In addition, the researchers surveyed four coastal sections along the Laptev Sea and on the island of Muostakh…

For the little island of Muostakh east of the harbour town of Tiksi, this may well mean extinction. “In fewer than one hundred years, the island will break up into several sections, and then it will disappear quickly,“ predicts Frank Günther. On its northern tip, the island shows fluctuating annual erosion rates between 10 and 20 meters per year, and it has already lost 24 per cent of its area in the past 60 years. Because the subsurface here consists of more than 80 per cent of ice that has formed within the soil, and since the ice is gradually melting, the island’s surface collapses as well.

RTFA for details and analysis. I put my time in over a decade ago learning – and deciding to back the overwhelming science -about climate change.

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