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Re: Avoiding a Catastrophe Of Human Error

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  • Mike Neuman
    International Tsunami Information Center (ITIC) Not much use being a Member State it seems. Located in Honolulu, the International Tsunami Information Center
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 7, 2005
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      International Tsunami Information Center (ITIC)

      Not much use being a "Member State" it seems.

      Located in Honolulu, the International Tsunami Information Center
      (ITIC) was established in November 1965 by the Intergovernmental
      Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the United Nations Educational,
      Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). In 1968, IOC formed
      an International Coordination Group for the Tsunami Warning System in
      the Pacific (ICG/ITSU). The present Member States are:
      Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Cook Islands, Costa Rica,
      Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji,
      France, Guatemala, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua,
      Peru, Republic of the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russian
      Federation, Samoa, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States of
      America.

      ITIC supports ICG/ITSU by monitoring the activities of the Tsunami
      Warning System in the Pacific (TWSP), coordinating tsunami technology
      transfer among Member States interested in establishing regional and
      national tsunami warning systems, and acting as a clearinghouse for
      tsunami preparedness and mitigation activities. The Richard H.
      Hagemeyer Pacific Tsunami Warning Center PTWC) serves as the
      operational headquarters for the TWSP. The system makes use of the
      hundreds of seismic stations throughout the world that are available
      in real, or near-real, time to locate potentially tsunamigenic
      earthquakes. It has near real time access via satellite and telephone
      to nearly 100 water level stations throughout the Pacific that can be
      used to verify the generation and possible severity of a tsunami. The
      system disseminates tsunami information and warning messages to well
      over 100 points scattered across the Pacific.

      The International Tsunami Warning System in the Pacific is one of the
      most successful international scientific programs with the direct
      humanitarian aim of mitigating the effects of tsunami by saving lives
      and property. ITIC maintains and develops relationships with:

      Intergovernmental Organizations

      All Member States of the International Tsunami Warning System; IOC;
      ICG/ITSU; International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG); World
      Meteorological Organization (WMO); World Data Centers (WDC-SEG);
      International Council of Scientific Unions (ISCU); the United Nations
      Disaster Relief Organization (UNDRO); and the United Nations
      Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

      Non-Governmental Organizations

      Research and academic organizations, universities and institutions
      worldwide, as well as disaster management, preparedness, and response
      agencies.

      The Scientific Community

      Under ITIC's ITSU Tsunami Training Program, scientists, engineers,
      and tsunami program managers can spend up to two weeks at ITIC and
      PTWC learning about tsunamis and tsunami warning systems. ITIC also
      maintains a comprehensive tsunami reference library that tsunami
      researchers can use.

      Local Authorities

      ITIC informs local authorities of Member States of developments in
      tsunami research and education. ITIC initiates, co-ordinates, and/or
      conducts technical training programs, workshops, and seminars dealing
      with all aspects of tsunami preparedness. ITIC aims to make
      authorities more aware of the tsunami hazard and assists in planning
      programs for the protection of life and property and for evacuations
      from dangerous areas during tsunami warnings.

      The General Public

      ITIC informs the general public of the tsunami hazard through
      lectures, publications, educational materials and disaster
      preparedness programs.

      ITIC Engages in the Following Activities:

      Tsunami Education

      ITIC's public education program is directed towards coastal
      residents, their local officials, school teachers, mass media people,
      policy makers, and the general public. It includes lectures, audio-
      visual aids, seminars, posters, photographic displays, television and
      radio coverage, and publications. ITIC's ITSU Training Program
      provides opportunities for scientists to work on tsunami-related
      problems and familiarize themselves with the Tsunami Warning System
      and Civil Defense procedures.

      ITIC facilitates the exchange of scientific and technical personnel
      between ITSU Member States for the purpose of providing training and
      familiarization with automation equipment, new instrumentation, and
      new methods and procedures of the Tsunami Warning System and the
      Civil Defense. Additionally, ITIC provides informational training to
      many transient scientists from Member States.

      Tsunami Research

      For each tsunami, ITIC assists the World Data Center (Solid Earth
      Geophysics, Tsunamis) in soliciting and collecting as complete a set
      as possible of seismic and tsunami wave records showing the event,
      together with supplementary data and descriptive information. ITIC
      prepares and disseminates a report of each tsunami. ITIC collects
      tidal records from selected gauging stations throughout the Pacific
      that have recorded a tsunami.

      ITIC maintains an extensive data file and library on tsunami. ITIC
      identifies research needed to improve tsunami prediction and the
      International Warning System. It cooperates with national scientific
      and professional organizations in encouraging and applying tsunami
      research. ITIC encourages, facilitates and participates in field
      investigations of destructive large tsunami. It has developed a Post-
      Tsunami Survey Field Guide that provides survey procedures and
      instructions to all Member States.

      Tsunami Technology and Information

      ITIC arranges for the availability of technical information on
      equipment required for an effective tsunami warning system. It
      ensures that knowledge of new technology is made available to all
      Member States. It arranges for the provision of advisory and
      consultative services to Member States wishing to upgrade their
      warning system capability. In close cooperation with the
      International Tsunami Warning System and the ad hoc committees of
      ICG/ITSU, ITIC seeks technical improvements for the Tsunami Warning
      System, and for member countries. It provides tsunami data and
      information to scientists, engineers, administrators, and the general
      public throughout the world.

      Public Relations

      ITIC maintains good working relations with a number of national and
      international organizations participating in the International
      Tsunami Warning System. Good public relations are also pursued with
      the media and the general public.

      Publications

      ITIC prepares and publishes tsunami research reports and papers,
      newsletters, historical tsunami catalogs, glossaries, bibliographies,
      books and educational materials. It maintains a web site with
      information on the International Tsunami Warning System, on FAQ's of
      tsunamis, and a Tsunami Newsletter covering recent events. It
      publishes an Annual that brings to tsunami researchers, engineers,
      educators, and government officials a summary of the past year's
      tsunamis and other activities related to the Tsunami Warning System.
      It is distributed to approximately seventy countries.

      Staff:

      Director: Dr. Laura S. L. Kong (USA)

      Associate Director: Emilio Lorca(Chile)

      Technical Information Specialist: Linda S. Sjogren (USA)

      ITIC Webmaster: Tammy W. L. Kaitoku (USA)
      http://www.prh.noaa.gov/itic/more_about/itic/itic.html

      --- In ClimateArchive@yahoogroups.com, "patneuman2000" <npat1@j...>
      wrote:
      >
      > ... "But nations of the world need to address the challenge of
      > monitoring the entire range of natural hazards in a balanced,
      > globally coordinated way.
      >
      > "Fortunately, thanks in large part to retired Vice Adm. Conrad
      > Lautenbacher, the NOAA administrator, such a concerted international
      > effort is underway. More than 50 nations will be meeting in Brussels
      > next month to solemnize agreements governing a decade of cooperation
      > in enhanced global monitoring for public safety, economic growth,
      and
      > protection of the environment and ecosystems.
      >
      > But for many participating nations, the agreements will simply mean
      > changes and adjustments in the use of resources. New warning
      > capabilities will not be in place for years -- at least not under
      > current levels of investment. Here at home, Congress and the federal
      > agencies could put meat on the bones of these proposals by
      increasing
      > the funds available. Considering that the level of U.S. investment
      in
      > such monitoring and the associated research and services is only
      about
      > 0.1 percent of gross domestic product, and that weather-sensitive
      > sectors (agriculture, energy, transportation, etc.) make up a third
      of
      > our economy, this would be a matter of common sense."
      >
      > Excerpt above is from the article below.
      >
      > Pat N
      >
      > --- In fuelcell-energy@yahoogroups.com, "janson2997"
      > <janson1997@y...> wrote:
      >
      > Avoiding a Catastrophe Of Human Error
      >
      > By William H. Hooke
      >
      > Wednesday, January 5, 2005; Page A17
      >
      > We live on a planet of extremes and cataclysm. A year to the day
      > before the Dec. 26 tsunami, whose death toll has surpassed 150,000,
      > the Bam earthquake in Iran killed 46,000 people, injured 20,000 and
      > left 60,000 homeless. In India the Gujarat earthquake of 2001
      resulted
      > in more than 20,000 deaths and 167,000 injuries. In 1998 Central
      > America lost 10,000 lives to Hurricane Mitch. The 1976 Tangshan
      > earthquake in China killed 250,000.
      >
      > Nor are such losses confined to the developing world. In 2003 a
      > European heat wave killed about 20,000 people; the 1995 Kobe
      > earthquake in Japan killed 5,000. Insured losses worldwide for the
      > 2004 hurricane season came to $35 billion; the total losses were far
      > higher. Here's the sober truth. Hurricanes, brutal cold fronts and
      > heat waves, ice storms and tornadoes, cycles of flood and drought,
      and
      > earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are not unforeseeable
      interruptions
      > of normality. Rather, these extremes are the way that the planet we
      > live on does its business. Hurricanes, in some parts of the world,
      > provide a third of the average annual rainfall. What we
      call "climate"
      > is really an average of extremes of heat and cold, precipitation and
      > drought. And climate change? The issue is not the small increments
      in
      > the averages but what lies behind them: the projected changes in
      storm
      > patterns, intensity and tracks, and the altered outlook for floods
      and
      > drought. For island nations, or even the United States, the impact
      of
      > a one-foot change in average sea level over a century can in some
      > respects be accommodated far more readily than the devastation of a
      > single 6- to 15-foot storm surge sustained for just 24 hours during
      > that hundred years.
      >
      > In this connection, the geological record is not comforting. All the
      > evidence from paleoclimatology and geology suggests that over the
      long
      > haul, the extremes we face will be substantially greater than even
      the
      > strongest in our brief historical record. Can we blunt these
      > catastrophes? What measures can and should we take to reduce loss of
      > life and suffering, mitigate economic disruption and protect the
      > environment and ecosystems in the face of extreme events? There are
      > several:
      >
      > • Monitor. This measure has been discussed repeatedly in the days
      > since Dec. 26. Scientific research and technological development
      have
      > led to great advances in our ability to anticipate the development,
      > track and intensity of many natural hazards, and to detect many
      more.
      > In the wake of the latest disaster it is tempting to focus attention
      > on this particular threat -- namely by our attention to a tsunami
      > detection system such as that developed by Eddie Bernard at the
      > National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). But nations
      of
      > the world need to address the challenge of monitoring the entire
      range
      > of natural hazards in a balanced, globally coordinated way.
      >
      > Fortunately, thanks in large part to retired Vice Adm. Conrad
      > Lautenbacher, the NOAA administrator, such a concerted international
      > effort is underway. More than 50 nations will be meeting in Brussels
      > next month to solemnize agreements governing a decade of cooperation
      > in enhanced global monitoring for public safety, economic growth,
      and
      > protection of the environment and ecosystems.
      >
      > But for many participating nations, the agreements will simply mean
      > changes and adjustments in the use of resources. New warning
      > capabilities will not be in place for years -- at least not under
      > current levels of investment. Here at home, Congress and the federal
      > agencies could put meat on the bones of these proposals by
      increasing
      > the funds available. Considering that the level of U.S. investment
      in
      > such monitoring and the associated research and services is only
      about
      > 0.1 percent of gross domestic product, and that weather-sensitive
      > sectors (agriculture, energy, transportation, etc.) make up a third
      of
      > our economy, this would be a matter of common sense.
      >
      > • Warn. Monitoring doesn't tell the whole story. When information on
      > an impending hazard is available to only a few government officials,
      > it is virtually useless. The warning must be in the hands of the
      > public -- those of us in harm's way. For many events, such as
      > earthquakes and tsunamis, the warning time is too short to rely on
      the
      > handoff of information between intermediaries. Nations must pay more
      > attention to technical means for disseminating warnings directly to
      > those affected. In this country, it means programs such as all-
      hazards
      > NOAA Weather Radio, but also systems linked to cell phones, pagers
      and
      > all the technology of the home and workplace. In the case of
      > earthquakes, it might mean warning systems that automatically take
      the
      > steps needed to protect critical infrastructure, without human
      > intervention (and fatal delay).
      >
      > • Prepare the public. Those in Sumatra, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand
      and
      > elsewhere simply did not know how to interpret the meaning of the
      > scene before them -- an ocean suddenly receding far from the coast,
      > with fish flopping around on sediment that moments before had been
      > underwater. Such public awareness by itself, with or without
      > government warnings, could have triggered an immediate and massive
      > exodus to higher ground. Arguably, more lives might have been saved
      > through such awareness -- and the precious seconds it would have
      > bought -- than through any technical means.
      >
      > Here at home, K-12 education offers a powerful tool for building
      > public awareness and for providing additional benefits. We can teach
      > children (society's most vulnerable population) about the hazards
      they
      > face. As they enter adulthood, they will bring that awareness with
      > them. Children are fascinated by natural extremes. Earth science
      > education therefore serves as a gateway, stimulating their interest
      in
      > all branches of science, including physics, chemistry, biology and
      > mathematics.
      >
      > But the earth sciences, including meteorology, climatology,
      hydrology,
      > oceanography, geology and many other disciplines, can go only so far
      > in protecting the public. Our community, and the warnings and
      > forecasts we provide, have their limits. To protect ourselves on
      this
      > wild ride on our untamed planet, we must take additional measures.
      > Here are just a few:
      >
      > • Adopt less risky behavior. Many of the dazed and injured in Asia
      > have no livelihood to return to, no prospect of getting their lives
      > back on track. The tragedy will not just persist for years -- it
      will
      > grow. To protect against the property loss and economic disruption
      of
      > disasters, we must adopt more prudent land-use policies, especially
      in
      > coastal regions and other hazardous zones. We must strengthen
      building
      > codes and their enforcement. When we ignore these measures we behave
      > like the man who, instead of eating better, exercising, giving up
      > smoking and making other lifestyle changes, just figures that when
      the
      > heart attack comes, the ambulance will be there and the bypass
      surgery
      > will make him as good as new.
      >
      > • Focus on social equity. Like every such disaster, this one
      > aggravates and compounds existing social inequities. Statistically,
      > those hit the hardest are the ones who were struggling to begin
      with:
      > the poor, the elderly, the sick, women and children, ethnic
      > minorities. Do we want to protect ourselves (and others) from
      natural
      > hazards? Then let's work together to take care of today's basic
      needs
      > -- food, clothing, and shelter -- so there's a surplus to put toward
      > greater safety over the long haul. In 1998 Hurricane Mitch undid a
      > decade of World Bank investment in Central America. Donor nations
      and
      > nongovernmental organizations such as the World Bank must link aid
      and
      > investment to strategies for reducing vulnerability to natural
      > hazards.
      >
      > In the face of these realities, the United States has options. At
      one
      > extreme, we can focus on domestic concerns and continue to be
      > surprised by disasters abroad -- tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes,
      > volcanic eruptions -- and the horror they occasion, as well as their
      > enduring and destabilizing effects on geopolitics. At the other, we
      > can seize this unique opportunity to be a good neighbor.
      >
      > Congress and the executive branch should think long-term about this
      > threat to humanity's interests and work strategically with others to
      > build a safer, richer, more congenial world. Address natural hazards
      > and we'll build the international collaborations and trust needed to
      > handle freshwater and resource issues, pollution, poverty and other
      > global problems. Tackle those concerns and we'll defuse a lot of
      > potential armed conflict. The investment amounts to pennies on the
      > dollar; the unquantifiable social benefits are immense.
      >
      > The writer, a former NOAA employee, directs the American
      > Meteorological Society's policy program and chairs the Disaster
      > Roundtable of the National Academies of Science-National Research
      > Council. The views expressed here are his own.
      >
      > http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A48619-2005Jan4?
      > language=printer
      >
      > j2997
      > --- End forwarded message ---
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