risk

East African humanitarian crisis

https://www.nbcnews.com/slideshow/news/refugees-flee-drought-war-in-east-africa-34244347

Severe food and security crises in Africa East Africa is suffering a deep humanitarian crisis brought about a complex interaction between war and climate, with large refugee fluxes affecting at least seven countries. The situation is compounded by strong social inequalities, fragile governments, disorganized states and the deliberate policy of some of them to use…

Global food supply trends in 2014, and beyond!

This post analyses the trends of yield, area, and production in the 31 countries that together make up 80 percent of the world supply of maize, rice, wheat, and soybean. These 31 countries (actually 30 + 1, where 1 stands for China) which are the key focus of CropWatch analyses, also provide 80 percent of…

Forecast and even planned: the Vajont dam disaster

The post on the risky business of forecasting is updated every time something happens with the trial of the scientists who failed to predict the L’Aquila earthquake. The trial reminded me of another story that happened in Italy: the Vajont disaster. In this case, the forecast was perfect (and far more certain than earthquake prediction) … but…

The risky business of forecasting

Forecasting the future is a difficult task, as there are many more ways to be wrong than right! In addition, a forecast is not just a statement about what might happen, it is also embedded in a context that may be as relevant as the forecast itself when it comes to assessing its credibility and…

Pandemic or not pandemic: Tipping points & H1N1

Experts I’ve interviewed over the past six years generally agree that such a Next Big One is not only possible but probable. They agree that it will almost certainly be a zoonotic disease — one that emerges from wildlife — and that the causal agent will most likely be a virus. They agree that sheer…

Civilisation-ending volcanic winter (note 1)

First published 20120718 /  last updated on 20120924 Is climate change the worst nightmare scenario for our future? We know it is there to stay, and experts tell us daily about what we are to expect (note 2). Nevertheless,  the science of impacts is a very uncertain business, because it relies – through models and…

The cost of hunger and malnutrition

Malnutrition remains the world’s most serious health problem and the single biggest contributor to child mortality. Nearly one-third of children in the developing world are either underweight or stunted, and more than 30 percent of the developing world’s population suffers from micronutrient deficiencies (WB 2006, introduction.) Needless to say, many authors, summits and international declarations…

Mixing oil, water and food in Saudi Arabia

Updated 20110922 In reaction to the first oil crisis of the mid seventies, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia decided to decrease its dependency on food imports by developing local food production using water from deep, non-renewable aquifers. This has now been going on for about thirty years now, and the country realized that, maybe, water…

La famine de 1845 en Irlande

Cette famine me fascine depuis longtemps. J’ai écrit ce petit texte il y a quelques années, et j’ai rassemblé pas mal de documentation sur le sujet. Disons que cette ébauche me servira d’amorce quand je parviendrai à me décider! Cette famine offre un exemple classique de pénurie complexe: les facteurs incluent des problèmes phytosanitaires (mildiou),…

Climate-crop impacts: some data issues

1. Introduction (*) Crop-climate interactions are of relevance for a number of applications, in food security, crop insurance, market planning and climate change impact assessments. All these fields have an interest in crop modelling and forecasting. The interest of forecasting goes beyond the immediate subjects discussed here, as all science is somehow about “forecasting”, i.e.…

Einstein on crises

Below is a text by Einstein, which I got somewhere on the web. I like it because I have always considered that crises are opportunities to change directions. As Le Chatelier had observed, chemical systems tend to resist changes. While we are certainly complex chemical systems, humans are no exception: we just hate changes (e.g.…