Reading Around the Internet: November 10, 2014

The news in the US was dominated this last week with election… stuff… But a couple of things crossed my desk that were on-point for DPP’s themes…

USACE and Climate Change

The US Army Corps of Engineers has released its plan for adapting its work to take into account both climate change and sustainability issues. It’s titled “U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Climate Change Adaptation Plan.” Their news release is here, along with links to this plan and their 2014 Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan. The two documents provide an overview of the plans the Corps has for focusing “on sustainability and on mainstreaming climate change adaptation of our constructed and natural water-resources infrastructure…” The Corps, of course, is very important in natural disaster operations, as well as many mitigation efforts. While they do have to coordinate with other agencies, the navigable water of the US — all of them — fall under their jurisdiction. That makes these reports very important indeed.

President Executive Orders and Climate Change

As everyone in the US is aware, there was an election in the US. Just before the election on November 1st, President Obama issued an Executive Order with the intent of preparing “the Nation for the impacts of climate change by undertaking actions to enhance climate preparedness and resilience…” This is a follow-up and extension of policy that has already been underway for some time. If you read through the press release and the language of the Executive Order, you can see that it is designed to advance the work that has been on-going since as early as 2001 (with regard to critical infrastructure).


Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano, which has been rumbling since mid-August, has been keeping Icelanders inside, and causing earthquakes. Since November 7th, there have been 200 earthquakes ash the volcano continues its activity. The gases from the volcano have meant that school children have had to stay in doors, and people who have upper respiratory sensitivities are being told to stay inside and warm up their houses in order to keep the gases from getting inside. As the interviews in this Bloomberg report indicate, the only thing residents can do is let Mother Nature take her course.

Winter Weather… Is Here…  

A lot of my readership will be experiencing winter weather here this coming week. has an overview of the weather here. It’ll be unseasonably cold here in southeast Missouri, but my thoughts always turn northward when these storms hit to my old stomping grounds in Minnesota. Good luck family and friends up north! Stay warm and stay safe!

Reading Around the Internet: October 26, 2014

Happy Halloween! And for everyone experiencing the beauty of autumn, as we are here in Cape Girardeau, I hope you get outside to enjoy it!

This week’s Reading Around the Internet isn’t just about disasters or property. I’ve included a summary of a piece about the judicial selection process as well as upcoming elections, since both are matters that can have a direct impact on the various topics we blog about:

Obama’s Appointments to the Federal Judiciary

Who our judges are matters a lot, or at least most political scientists think so. Yet one thing we also know: it’s not as easy as thinking that, when the President is a Democrat, he’ll nominate liberals; and when the President is a Republic he nominates conservatives. Different presidents have had different agendas with the courts. Jeffrey Toobin, writing in The New Yorker, takes a look at President Obama’s nominees. Toobin asked President Obama what he thought the most significant decision was at the Supreme Court during his time in office. The answer surprised Toobin, causing him to comment, “In other words, Obama’s favorite decision was one in which the Court allowed the political process to go forward, one state at a time. There’s more good material than this in the article — definitely worth the read.

(In the name of full disclosure, Professor Sheldon Goldman, who is quoted in the piece, was one of my most important professors in graduate school — he’s also one of the foremost experts in the US on judicial selection. But no, I am not recommending it just because he’s quoted — it really is an interesting piece about a very important topic.)

Pondering Preparedness Post-Sandy

Jennifer Peltz and Wayne Parry take a close look at disaster preparedness after Sandy in the region hit by that superstorm. Peltz and Parry argue that, though a lot of effort has been put into preparations, and a lot of preparations have been made, there’s still much to do. Work on floodgates, backup power systems at the hospitals, and the installation of generators at gas stations, as well as redrawn evacuation-zone maps have been produced since Sandy. However, a lot of work has yet to be completed, and so many areas remain vulnerable.


We do in fact have an election on the horizon! The Christian Science Monitor reports that environmental groups, in a bid to make climate change a bipartisan issue, have begun to Republic party candidates. Not all Republicans are getting this support, but key Republicans are. When you read this, keep an eye on the part in the article that describes the environmental groups’ fundraising structure. They have deeper pockets now than in past years, says the article, partly because of some changes in strategy.

Ebola Vaccine

Several countries are working to develop a vaccine for Ebola. The Guardian reports on the progress, as well as providing some of the history of the virus and analysis of the dangers it poses.


Hawaii’s Klauea volcano has been producing a lava flow for quite some time, but recently the lava flow has picked up speed. As it advances on the small town of Pahoa in the Puna district of the Big Island, residents are being warned that evacuation may be necessary within the next few days. has some good coverage, and as it often does, some great photos. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory also provides daily updates here. In the meantime, Hawai’i’s governor has requested federal aid to supplement his state’s own preparations. Keep in mind that Hawai’i has also experienced torrential rains and flooding after being hit by tropical storms — and the storm season is not yet over.