From: Homeland Security News Wire
To: Scott Jenkins,
Subject: Emergency Management: Serbia's epidemic worry | Climate class action | Pentagon planning
Date: Thu May 22 21:11:48 MDT 2014
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Emergency ManagementWEEKLY
Thursday, 22 May 2014
In Serbia, worries shift from floods to epidemic outbreaks

For five days, rains pelted the Balkans. The worst of the waters have receded, but with temperatures in the mid-80s and rising, the most pressing concerns have shifted to an almost inevitable outbreak of disease in the coming weeks. Contaminated water has covered homes, towns, and fields, turning much of Serbia’s most fertile agricultural region into a poisonous stew of toxic chemicals, rotting carcasses, and disease-carrying insects. There have been no epidemic outbreaks -- so far. Serbia's Health Ministry said this will almost certainly change very soon. The ministry has alerted physicians and hospitals to be prepared for a wave of intestinal ailments, respiratory infections, skin diseases, hepatitis, perhaps worse.

Trend: Climate change class actions

Farmers Insurance is accusing 200 communities in Illinois of failing to prepare for severe rains and flooding. The charges were made in lawsuits which are the first in what may well be a wave of litigation over who should be liable for the possible costs of climate change. The lawsuit filed last month by Farmers nearly 200 localities in the Chicago area argues that local governments should have known rising global temperatures would lead to heavier rains, and yet these local governments did not do enough to fortify their sewers and stormwater drains. The legal debate may center on whether the steady rise in the number and intensity of natural disasters is foreseeable or an “act of God.” The cases focus attention on how city governments should manage their budgets before costly emergencies occur.

Extreme weather brings old smelters' lead to the surface

When a mile-wide tornado swept through Joplin, Missouri, it killed 158 people and injured thousands. It also kicked up toxic remnants from the city’s industrial past, remnants which are still haunting the city's residents on the third anniversary of the disaster. As tornado season ramps up, and some natural disasters become more common across the United States, experts warn that storms and floods can bring smelters’ ugly past back to the surface. A nationwide study of 229 shuttered smelters found nearly 30 percent are located in areas prone to floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes.

NOAA: Near-normal or below-normal 2014 Atlantic hurricane season

In its 2014 Atlantic hurricane season outlook issued earlier today, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a near-normal or below-normal season. The main driver of this year’s hurricane outlook is the anticipated development this summer of El Niño. El Niño causes stronger wind shear, which reduces the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes. El Niño can also strengthen the trade winds and increase the atmospheric stability across the tropical Atlantic, making it more difficult for cloud systems coming off of Africa to intensify into tropical storms.

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Sea level rises threatens U.S. national monuments

Some of the sites most at risk from climate change are U.S. national landmarks, scientists find in a new report. The report details how a rising sea level, extreme heat, wildfires, droughts, and other weather events will affect thirty locations regarded as most at-risk. Among these at-risk locations are where the first Americans lived, where slavery began and ended, where prospectors found gold, and more. NASA's Kennedy and Johnson Space Centers, in Florida and Texas, respectively, would be affected by rising sea levels, as would the Statue of Liberty.

For Pentagon planners, climate change is already an issue to deal with

While 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is under way and that human contributions to it are largely the cause, public debate continues around climate change, humanity’s role in it, and whether or not its effects will be as severe as the scientific community -- and recently, for example, the Obama administration -- are projecting. There is little debate over climate change at the Pentagon, however, where the realities of temperature increases are now a part of everyday planning."The Pentagon is seeing this as a problem," says a retired Army Brigadir General. "Instability is accelerating. Climate change is an accelerator of instability. The Pentagon understands that. They’re looking at what sorts of force structures and equipment they’re going to need to have available to deal with increasing instability that will be most affected by climate change.”

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Also noted

Washington county plans for future 911 outages | Emergency managers stress need for social media volunteers | Extreme weather leaves conflict-hit communities even more vulnerable | How El Niño might alter the political climate | Insurers well-positioned to handle extreme weather: S&P | New York lawmakers pass tax relief bill for Sandy victims | BP to appeal oil spill claims settlement to Supreme Court

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