Phil Pauley Blog

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Looking Back on the Natural Disasters of 2011 and a Message of Hope For 2012

If you're moaning about the weather or the economy this Christmas, don't! We had it easy in the UK during 2011. This year will go down in history as one expensive and lengthy meteorological and environmental disaster. It added to the 13 hottest years on record, all of which have occurred within the last 15 years. Mother Nature at her rampaging worst effected every continent on the Earth...
Europe experienced some of the coldest weather on record. 
Some 6,000 flights in the UK alone were cancelled. 
Temperatures in Russia were the coldest for over a century. 
The northern US experienced prolonged arctic blizzards.
In Australia, torrential rains caused flooding on a scale the country had not experienced before generating 10" of rain in 24 hours. 
Brisbane River burst its banks creating 15ft-high floodwaters leaving 20,000 homes overwhelmed and an area three-times the size of Britain was declared a disaster zone. 
New Zealand was devastated by an earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale. 
The disaster, that destroyed the heart of Christchurch, wrecked more than 1,000 buildings with a rebuild cost estimated at over $30billion
Japan experienced an earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale - one of the five biggest quakes ever recorded. 
The movement of tectonic plates suddenly shifted seawater to the surface, creating a huge wall of water.
An estimated 10 billion tonnes of water hit the Japanese coast and travelled six miles inland. 
In the town of Minamisanriku, 10,000 people were killed and 95% of all housing was swept away.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor was critically damaged causing reactors to overheat. 
In total, the disaster in Japan cost $310billion, claimed 20,000 lives and destroyed 100,000 homes.
USA experienced the worst series of storms in its history. 
The number and intensity was unprecedented with 200 tornados ripping through 16 US states in 48 hours leaving 38 people dead.
Two weeks later, the disaster was repeated when a super-outbreak created 336 separate tornados in less than two days. 
In total, 753 tornados hit the US, the highest number ever recorded which caused $20 Billion dollars worth of damage.
A huge tornado hit Joplin, Missouri, USA, with winds traveling at more than 200mph, the tornado was more than one mile wide. 
Six square miles of Joplin were flattened and it was declared the single deadliest tornado since 1947.
Chile's Puyehue volcano underwent a violent eruption spewing vast clouds of electrically charged dust particles into the air creating colossal electrical storms and dazzling displays of lightning.
We all went on holiday.
Around 65 million people on America's east coast were thought to be at risk with seven states declared official emergency zones and mandatory evacuation notices issued as Hurricane Irene left a trail of destruction and wide spread panic.
Mercifully, Hurricane Irene never fulfilled scientists worst predictions, however, the rain storms that accompanied it created significant flooding, leaving three million homes without power and a $6billion repair bill.
Unprecedented rains plagued many countries around the world. 
Thailand experienced its worst floods for 50 years with four million acres of farmland drenched and floods swept into Bangkok, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate nationwide.
Turkey experienced the horribly destructive earthquake measuring 7.2 which destroyed 2,000 buildings and killed 6,000 people in the city of Van.
Severe drought plagued much of Africa especially in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia throughout the year.
Some 13 million people required emergency aid.
This was followed by widespread flooding which destroyed homes and villages.
Flash floods and landslides caused by illegal logging tore through the Philippines. 
Approximately 350,000 people in 13 provinces were affected with most of their infrastructure, crops, livestock, houses, schools, roads and bridges destroyed.
This year has been defined by natural disasters on an unprecedented scale. With 50million social and environmental refugees forced to move this year alone, mankind's footprint becomes less defined, the population has fewer places to hide from nature than ever before.
With the effects of climate change and meteorological events widely predicted to create more unpredictable social and economic patterns, it is fair to say that man has not escaped his battle with the elements, himself, his leaders, his neighbours or the environment.
Increasingly, scientists and economists stress that there is almost nothing that can be done to prevent an increase in natural weather disasters if climate change is not addressed. And with this years global infrastructure rebuild cost estimate of over a trillion dollars, can the global economy afford to rebuild year after year of extreme events.
However, there is a small ray of light that I'd like to leave you with! 
According to the Mayans, 2012 marks a re-birth of our world, and the end of an important era founded in separation, greed, lack of social responsibility and a disconnection from our planet. The "NEW WORLD" that we move towards is about oneness and the concept of "WE ARE ALL ONE" across the world...

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