Risk of Gulf of Mexico tropical system increases

Waters around southeastern Mexico and over the south-central Atlantic have the potential to yield the next tropical systems of the 2017 hurricane season.

Tropical system may form near the southwestern Gulf of Mexico next week

A broad area of disorganized showers and thunderstorms over Central America will drift northward over the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico this weekend.

“This feature has a good chance to become a tropical depression and tropical storm next week,” according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski. “There are still multiple scenarios for development and track at this time.”

Risk of Gulf of Mexico tropical system increases; Another threat may follow in central Atlantic

A clockwise flow of dry air is forecast to develop over the southeastern United States early next week. If this scenario unfolds and lingers, then Florida and the northeastern Gulf of Mexico could be sheltered from the storm.

However, if this feature is weak or breaks down, then the door could be opened for the tropical system to drift into the northeastern Gulf of Mexico.

While winds aloft over the Yucatan Peninsula, the southwestern Gulf of Mexico and the northwestern Caribbean Sea are currently too strong to allow development to occur, these disruptive winds are projected to ease next week. A situation to be closely monitored.

Tropical wave over the central Atlantic bears watching

A second area of concern in the Atlantic basin is a strong tropical wave that recently moved off the west coast of Africa.

Tropical waves are clusters of showers and thunderstorms that move westward near the equator. Over time, these clusters can begin to spin and evolve into a tropical depression, tropical storm and hurricane.

Tropical development in this part of the Atlantic during June is rare.

The next names on the list of tropical storms for the 2017 are Bret and Cindy. Tropical Storm Arlene formed and dissipated in the middle of the Atlantic during April. Arlene never directly affected any land areas.

Source: AccuWeather


Resilience bonds: a secret weapon against catastrophe

The costs of natural disasters are becoming too much to bear – and it’s driving up premiums no matter where you live. The solution may be a transformative type of insurance never seen before.

In a conference room overlooking downtown Miami, British executives are talking about why they know south Florida’s streets so well. It isn’t because of the sunshine. It’s because of the area’s risk for disasters like hurricanes and flooding.

“There are hundreds of my colleagues… who know the zip codes of these counties in this part of the world almost as well as the residents here,” says Rowan Douglas, head of capital, science and policy at the London-based risk management group and insurance broker Willis Towers Watson. “This area of the world is protected to some degree by a global community of everyone else who buys their insurance policy. My mother-in-law in northwest Spain is sharing risk with Florida.”

It will be a financial and scientific revolution, and it will save billions of dollars and thousands, if not millions, around the world of lives – Rowan Douglas

Enter a new idea that could transform not only the global economy, but how disasters affect us: a resilience bond. As well as guaranteeing help to communities after a catastrophe, it would help fund projects and strategies they need to become less vulnerable to begin with. “Resilience bonds are, in my view, the next exciting and innovative frontier in infrastructure and resilience finance,” says Samantha Medlock, former senior advisor to the Obama White House on resilience and now senior vice president at Willis Towers Watson.

The concept is part of an overall trend, experts say, that could transform how communities work: as risk modelling has become more and more sophisticated, the private sector is getting closer to being able to turn not only risk, but resilience, into numbers.

Resilience bonds could help places vulnerable to natural disasters, like Mexico, better prepare for catastrophe – not just help clean up after it.

It’s like a life insurance company being able to tell you not only how likely you, specifically, are to have a heart attack in the next five years, but also exactly how much walking a half hour a day or cutting out red meat could reduce that risk… and what that increase in health is likely to be worth, in cash, to your future.

That ability to put ‘hard numbers’ on what previously have been seen as ‘soft’ concepts, like the value of resilience, is huge, industry insiders say. “It will be a financial and scientific revolution, and it will save billions of dollars and thousands, if not millions, around the world of lives,” says Douglas.

Fix-it mentality

When it comes to preparing for future disasters, humanity tends to be woefully optimistic. In the same way that it’s difficult to convince individuals to fork out money for a life insurance policy, it’s tough to get governments to carve out spending for just-in-case scenarios when they also need to prioritise streets and schools.

Worldwide, just 26% of economic losses due to natural disasters were covered by insurance in 2016. “That means people dying or suffering, and governments and aid agencies and charity and philanthropy filling that gap. Or not filling that gap, as the case may be,” says Daniel Stander, managing director of consulting company Risk Management Solutions (RMS), which works with companies and governments to model and manage catastrophe risk.

Buying insurance for your household (or city) is one thing. Another is making your community resilient to begin with. Here’s the problem: it’s difficult to pay for something when the risk of doing nothing is hard to quantify.

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy cost the New York City area some $19 billion in damages.

Pilot project

A resilience bond is “an innovative variation on the cat bond”, says Medlock. It would work like this: imagine City X wants to build higher seawalls or fix its levee, but doesn’t have access to funds. When it goes to buy a multiyear, parametric cat bond for flooding, the insurer takes the expected impact of that planned investment into account and lowers the premium the city has to pay. With that cost saving in the budget, City X now has the money to fund its seawalls and levee – even if no disaster ever occurs.

At the moment, this hasn’t happened yet. But it’s close. “We’re probably not years away from this sort of a concept becoming real,” says Medlock. “We could be months away.”

Source: BBC

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Is there a way to tackle air pollution?

The search for solutions to the threat of polluted air is generating ideas that range from the modest to the radical to the bizarre.

A London primary school may issue face-masks to its pupils. The council in Cornwall may take the extreme step of moving people out of houses beside the busiest roads.

Four major cities – Paris, Athens, Mexico City and Madrid – plan to ban all diesels by 2025. Stuttgart, in Germany, has already decided to block all but the most modern diesels on polluted days. In India’s capital, Delhi, often choked with dangerous air, a jet engine may be deployed in an experimental and desperate attempt to create an updraft to disperse dirty air.

RELATED: Climate Disclosure Project’s report shows progress on emissions but says it’s not enough

The World Health Organization calculates that as many as 92% of the world’s population are exposed to dirty air – but that disguises the fact that many different forms of pollution are involved.

A man walks in a public park on a smoggy morning in New Delhi
In India’s capital, Delhi, often choked with dangerous air, a jet engine may be deployed in an experimental and desperate attempt to create an updraft to disperse dirty air.

For the rural poor, it is fumes from cooking on wood or dung indoors.

For shanty-dwellers in booming mega-cities, it is a combination of traffic exhaust, soot and construction dust.

In developed countries, it can be a mix of exhaust gas from vehicles and ammonia carried on the wind from the spraying of industrial-scale farms.

In European cities, where people have been encouraged to buy fuel-efficient diesels to help reduce carbon emissions, the hazard is from the harmful gas nitrogen dioxide and tiny specks of pollution known as particulates.

The first step is to understand exactly where the air is polluted and precisely how individuals are affected – and the results can be extremely revealing.

Source: BBC