State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Category: Natural Disasters63

  • Scientists Respond to Earthquakes in Malawi

    In December, nearly a dozen earthquakes of magnitude 5 or greater rattled the southeast African nation of Malawi, killing four, injuring hundreds, and making thousands homeless. The region had been calm for decades, so the earthquakes caught everyone by surprise. But aftershocks continue, and more quakes can be expected. Seismologists from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth…

  • Rebuilding Haiti: The 10-Year Plan

    The horrors of Haiti’s earthquake continue to unfold. The quake itself killed perhaps 100,000 people. The inability to organize rapid relief is killing tens of thousands more. More than 1 million people are exposed to hunger and disease and, with the rain and hurricane seasons approaching, are vulnerable to further hazards. Even an economy as…

  • Haiti: Physics of Quakes Past, and Future

    The earthquake that struck Haiti took place along what is called a strike-slip fault—a place where tectonic plates on each side of a fault line are moving horizontally in opposite directions, like hands rubbing together. When these plates lock together, stress builds; eventually they slip; and this produces shaking. This quake was fairly shallow; it…

  • Witnessing the Desperation of the Poor

    At the moment the Haiti earthquake struck, two Earth Institute staffers were in Port-au-Prince assessing how to make the country less poor, and less vulnerable to natural disasters. Marc Levy and Alexander Fischer of the Center for International Earth Science Information Network were working with the Haiti Regeneration Initiative, a nascent program to repair Haiti’s…

  • Needed in Haiti: Reinforced Buildings—and Economy

    The Jan. 12 Port-au-Prince earthquake is almost unique in modern history. It is about the worst natural extreme to affect some of the worst-off people on earth.   What does disaster recovery mean when this happens? Poor countries suffer more from natural extremes like hurricanes, droughts and floods than do rich countries. Everything about richer countries…

  • Haiti: America’s ‘Teachable Moment’

    President Obama is providing the leadership we need and hoped for in the face of the horror of the Haitian earthquake. The clearest evidence of American unity behind the effort to respond to the tragedy in Haiti took place at the White House on Saturday, Jan. 16, as Obama joined forces with two ex-presidents to…

  • Port-au-Prince and New Orleans

    Extremes of nature, like hurricanes and earthquakes, can occur almost anywhere. Their effect can be anything from a nuisance–the storm that ruins the seaside vacation–to the tsunami that takes more than a quarter of a million lives and ruins the livelihoods of countless more. Human losses are the most tragic of these disasters’ many consequences,…

  • How to Help Haiti Recover

    President Obama has declared that the United States will not forsake Haiti in its moment of agony. Honoring this commitment would be a first for Washington. To prevent a deepening spiral of death, the United States will have to do things differently than in the past. American relief and development institutions do not function properly,…

  • The Haiti Earthquake

    The quake in Haiti came suddenly—but the results were predictable. At the moment it struck, scientists from the Earth Institute and other parts of Columbia University were in Port-au-Prince with a UN-sponsored project assessing how to reduce the nation’s obvious vulnerability to natural disasters. It is clear that the extreme toll came as much from poverty…

  • Scientists Respond to Earthquakes in Malawi

    In December, nearly a dozen earthquakes of magnitude 5 or greater rattled the southeast African nation of Malawi, killing four, injuring hundreds, and making thousands homeless. The region had been calm for decades, so the earthquakes caught everyone by surprise. But aftershocks continue, and more quakes can be expected. Seismologists from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth…

  • Rebuilding Haiti: The 10-Year Plan

    The horrors of Haiti’s earthquake continue to unfold. The quake itself killed perhaps 100,000 people. The inability to organize rapid relief is killing tens of thousands more. More than 1 million people are exposed to hunger and disease and, with the rain and hurricane seasons approaching, are vulnerable to further hazards. Even an economy as…

  • Haiti: Physics of Quakes Past, and Future

    The earthquake that struck Haiti took place along what is called a strike-slip fault—a place where tectonic plates on each side of a fault line are moving horizontally in opposite directions, like hands rubbing together. When these plates lock together, stress builds; eventually they slip; and this produces shaking. This quake was fairly shallow; it…

  • Witnessing the Desperation of the Poor

    At the moment the Haiti earthquake struck, two Earth Institute staffers were in Port-au-Prince assessing how to make the country less poor, and less vulnerable to natural disasters. Marc Levy and Alexander Fischer of the Center for International Earth Science Information Network were working with the Haiti Regeneration Initiative, a nascent program to repair Haiti’s…

  • Needed in Haiti: Reinforced Buildings—and Economy

    The Jan. 12 Port-au-Prince earthquake is almost unique in modern history. It is about the worst natural extreme to affect some of the worst-off people on earth.   What does disaster recovery mean when this happens? Poor countries suffer more from natural extremes like hurricanes, droughts and floods than do rich countries. Everything about richer countries…

  • Haiti: America’s ‘Teachable Moment’

    President Obama is providing the leadership we need and hoped for in the face of the horror of the Haitian earthquake. The clearest evidence of American unity behind the effort to respond to the tragedy in Haiti took place at the White House on Saturday, Jan. 16, as Obama joined forces with two ex-presidents to…

  • Port-au-Prince and New Orleans

    Extremes of nature, like hurricanes and earthquakes, can occur almost anywhere. Their effect can be anything from a nuisance–the storm that ruins the seaside vacation–to the tsunami that takes more than a quarter of a million lives and ruins the livelihoods of countless more. Human losses are the most tragic of these disasters’ many consequences,…

  • How to Help Haiti Recover

    President Obama has declared that the United States will not forsake Haiti in its moment of agony. Honoring this commitment would be a first for Washington. To prevent a deepening spiral of death, the United States will have to do things differently than in the past. American relief and development institutions do not function properly,…

  • The Haiti Earthquake

    The quake in Haiti came suddenly—but the results were predictable. At the moment it struck, scientists from the Earth Institute and other parts of Columbia University were in Port-au-Prince with a UN-sponsored project assessing how to reduce the nation’s obvious vulnerability to natural disasters. It is clear that the extreme toll came as much from poverty…