The Psychology of Disaster

In relating this blog to my major (psychology) I learned that there is something called disaster psychiatry. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the symptoms that come with it can be a result of many things besides war. Some common psychiatric responses to disaster are: major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and PTSD. Following a diagnosis, some immediate post-disaster psychiatric interventions are necessary. Some examples are: establishing safety, encouraging ventilation of feelings, and providing reality orientation.

A recent article in TIME magazine highlights types of psychological first aid that can help, and types that can actually harm victims of disasters; speaking in particular of the recent disaster in Japan. There is a technique called “critical incident stress debriefing” often used by counselors who travel to disaster sites. Research has found that some versions of this technique may actually double the victim’s chance of suffering from PTSD! It is not clear why this is.

Kelly M.

Sources: |

Posted in General | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Keeping Up With the Disaster…

When Japan was devastated by natural disasters the world came together. My major is Telecommunications focusing on social media, and as awful as these disasters are it is quite something to see people come together to help Japan using their social media networks.

When the disasters first hit, during the week of March 14th, the majority of the subjects on blogs, Twitter, and YouTube were about this matter. While all 3 types of media focused on the earthquake/tsunami and now the radiation being released they each brought the world something different. Blogs were seen as an emotional release. Twitter meanwhile were being used to share breaking news. However, the most devastating videos of the tsunami and earthquake were being posted on YouTube, and they were horrifying. These videos along with the blogs and Twitter has helped raise over $136 million for Japan and that number is still rising. So, while this tragedy of events is awful the social networks have helped in ways nobody thought possible.

Lindsay M.

sources: |

Posted in Current Event | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tsunami devastations reach farther than just point of impact

As we have learned, a shift in a subducting plate zone near Japan caused for vertical displacement of water and resulted in a tsunami. The waves reached nearly 40 feet tall. However, Japan’s government has estimated that the damages from the tsunami could reach well over 25 trillion yen, which comes out to $309 billion. This would put the 2011 Kanto-Tohoku earthquake and tsunami among the top five most financially devastating natural disasters of all time. One important aspect to take into consideration is the impact of this disaster on Tokyo. Tokyo will feel the effects of power loss in the country. 32 power plants have been shut down and will cost companies in Tokyo extra money to run their businesses. The main power plant in Fukushima is 250 km away from Tokyo. If the economic hub for the entire country of Japan suffers massive economic repercussions, the disaster could be felt for decades.

Shawn C.

Sources: |

Posted in Recent Event | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. Sneaking Pills To Citizens!

Due to the recent events of the highly discussed Japan earthquake and tsunami, radiation  exposure is possible and in the area. The U.S. embassy in Tokyo has been secretly giving out Potassium Iodide (KI) pills to U.S. citizens. Each person receives seven of the KI pills that protects against the deadly effects of radiation. Interestingly, people that are involved with the military and mostly through the word of mouth are finding out about the distribution of these pills. Other governments such as the United Kingdom have also taken action but are giving out fewer KI pills then the U.S., for example the UK is giving out only two KI pills to their citizens.

Jason G.

Sources: |

Posted in Current Event | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Deadly Yellow

The Yellow River has taken its toll on China by flooding and causing a devastating amount of deaths. The flood of the Yellow River in 1887, caused approximately 900,000 lives to be lost. Due to the elevation of the river, farmers had to build many dikes to contain the rise of the river. However, when the rain fell heavily, is when the river would rise so much creating such a drastic flood. The flood spread about 50,000 square miles of Northern China so fast because of the plain that surrounds it. It left millions homeless and millions at loss. However, this is not the only time the Yellow River has flooded. Before this flood, in 1642 the river flooded causing around 300,000 casualties. As if that isn’t enough the river also flooded in 1931 and 1938 causing over millions of deaths each time.

Sources: |

Stephany M

Posted in Historical Event | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Radiation Doesn’t Scare Me!

We all know about the earthquake in Japan that resulted in a very devastating Tsunami. One of the big problems that this tsunami created was the destruction of nuclear power plants, and the radiation that they are now giving off. Despite the possibility of death, some Japanese people refuse to leave their home because of the radiation. In a city called Futaba, the government is forcing people to evacuate because of the threat and still some families will not comply. It is believed that moving and changing environments seems like more of a problem to some of these families. There are other instances around Japan in which people simply will not leave their homes; an 85 year old woman whose family’s house is just 24 miles from an affected plant, refuses to leave. Although it may seem foolish, you must admit that these select people have courage.

Sources: CNN |

Nathan M.

Posted in Current Event | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s economic clean-up

Japanese companies are major exporters in the global market. When the disaster occurred on 3/11/2011, it was a scary sight for many importers and investors dealing with Japanese companies. An initial hypothesis may predict doom for many business people. Contrary to this initial thought, a major natural disaster in a developed, booming economy, may not actually cause as much damage as first thought. This is because strong companies will be able to rebuild themselves in the long run. After a natural disaster, the economy focuses on redistributing money, for example to construction workers. Still, a major economic problem lies with a lasting effect of the disaster, problems with the nuclear plants. It creates power depletion, which forces factories to shut down. From an economic standpoint, getting these nuclear plants up and running could be a key to Japan’s economic survival.

Mike M.

Sources: |

Posted in Current Event | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Flooding Fitzroy

Western Australia experienced flooding of the Fitzroy River due to mass amounts of rainfall in mid-march. Flooding of the river endangered both people and property, instigating an evacuation of the areas subject to the flood’s destined path. The river’s protrusion onto surrounding lands shows the severity of the flood when compared with the photo taken via satellite two weeks prior to the flood. Both photographs are provided in the ‘reference’ section below. This 480-kilometer river seems to extend approximately 20 kilometers in areas where it appeared shallow and miniscule before. This sudden extension of the river removed people from their homes and put antique art pieces in harms way. Additionally, the flood is damaging the surrounding lands by drowning any and all surrounding vegetation and presumably removing animals from their habitats. The flood will also halt the evacuated people from continuing their daily routine by placing a large, irremovable barrier in their way until the river finally recedes to its normal level so that they can return home.

Michael M

Reference: | Australia Bureau of Meteorology Warning

Posted in Recent Event | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Major Effects of Minor Changes

Scientists around the world today believe that average temperatures will continue to rise consistently for years to come. We have already witnessed effects that are believed to be directly related to climate change. Members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predict that over the next century we could see an increase of approximately 2.5 to 10 degrees. Although these temperature changes don’t seem drastic, they can cause extreme changes to the environments within our planet. For example if temperatures were approximately 5 degrees lower than what they are today, they could possible cause another ice age. The slightest increase in these temperatures over time could lead to changes in ocean levels, dramatically altering coastal areas around the globe.   

Cameron C.


Posted in Future Event | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Energy Problems in Japan after losing its oil refinery plants and nuclear plants

Japan is having severe energy problems after losing its oil refinery plants and nuclear plants from earth quakes and tsunamis. A half million homeless Japanese people are suffering with low temperature, limited electricity, and lack of oils while being huddled in evacuation centers. Most of them can’t even operate their heaters, cell phones, and cars. Furthermore, waters and foods are contaminated by radioactivity. Since we don’t know when severe earthquakes occur, we need to prepare for this kind of situation. Also, we need to prepare the time when we consumed all the natural resources because Japan’s tragic situation can be occur without earthquakes and tsunami. Therefore, we should place nuclear plants on safe places and buy products which can be operated and charged by human labor or solar energy for emergency. Finally, coastal nations should reconsider their long-range energy plan.

Kangjun C.

Sources:MSNBC and The National

Posted in Current Event, Future Event | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

2011 Earthquake in Myanmar

With all the attention on Japanese tsunami / earthquake combo the press has also taken a great interest in the earthquake that happened on March 24th, 2011 in Myanmar. Myanmar is located on the Indian Ocean east of India. The idea of a possible tsunami was intoxicating the public when news bulletins flashed, however, the ~7.0 earthquake was not on the coast, but 70 miles inland on the Myanmar/Laos border. Even though there was no possibility of a tsunami the death toll continues to climb. The number of deaths is currently at 75 people, which to Japan’s staggering 10,151 doesn’t compare realistically. As we have gone over in class the location that these natural occurrences happen greatly increase the death toll along with the monetary loss. So what seems relatively small can actually turn out to be disastrous.

Sources: Myanmar link | Japan link

– A. Cook

Posted in Current Event | Tagged | Leave a comment

Radioactivity and Food

The crisis in Japan started on March 11, 2011, after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake. Soon after the earthquake, a Tsunami hit Japan. Japan has now been suffering from many difficulties. The new issue the Japanese face is shortages and food safety. The Japanese are concerned about their tap water safety and produce that could be tainted by radiation. A few days ago, Japanese officials warned the public about radiation in tap water, and the public was advised to not give tap water to infants. Because of the fear of radiation poisoning, stores in many communities in Japan are running out of bottled water, milk, and food supplies. So what does this mean for the rest of the world who imports food from Japan? Many countries (Australia, Russia, U.S., Canada, etc.) are no longer accepting imported food from Japan because of a radioactive steam leak that occurred. Japanese officials are doing all they can to monitor food safety, but they can only do so much when radioactivity is involved.

Sources: USA Today from Friday, March 25, 2011 and

Emily C

Posted in Current Event | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A Study Abroad Student’s Worst Nightmare

Imagine being away at college while disaster strikes your home country, with no way to contact your loved ones.  Twenty year old Akiko Kosaka was put in this very horrific situation when a 9.0 earthquake hit Japan, followed by destructive tsunami waves. Kosaka is attending the University of California at Riverside, but hails from Minami Sanriku, a Japanese fishing village that was struck by the tsunami. Minami Sanriku is missing over half of it’s 17,000 residents. Akiko believed her family had been lost as well. Kosaka had all but given up hope. That was until a friend back in Japan texted her that there was a YouTube video of her hometown that Kosaka’s sister, 24-year-old Shoko was alive and well in. The video shows the Akiko’s house still standing, with a sign reading “We are all Safe”.  Do you believe in miracles? On March 15, Kosaka became a believer.

Will N. |

Posted in Current Event | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Japan and the American Economy

The devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan recently has left the island nation in shambles, destroying homes and businesses alike. Japan’s economy is obviously reeling, but how does that affect the American economy? The jury is still out on this question. Some experts say that America could see an influx in jobs as companies try to pick up the business slack and help to rebuild Japan. With Japan being an export laden economy this could give United States companies more opportunities to sell their products overseas in its place. However, some experts believe that the extra need of raw materials by Japan will drive up prices on things such as plastics and steel. Fortunately though, America is an exporter of these goods and could possibly even receive an economic boost from all the construction activity as Japan tries to rebuild.

Nick G.

Sources: Chicago Tribune | Fox News

Posted in Current Event | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Food and Water in Possible Ruins

Not only is the country of Japan in ruins, but their food and water could be as well. Japanese are taking many precautions on food and water to make sure it is safe for the survivors of the Tsunami, as well as making sure the residents themselves are not contaminated with radiation. Tests were taken because extreme levels of radioactive substances were found in the water and food. Some substances, Iodine being in abundance, had more then 100 times higher the radio active material then government approved standards. But after tests were done, they were proven not present as a menace to human health. Government officials have banned some products that were produced around the plants where the radiation was discovered. This, however, does not mean that the radiation could never impact a person. If the radioactive substances lurk around and are constantly consumed for a long period of time, they could eventually harm human well-being.

Sources: CNN/Wall Street Journal

Andrea N.

Posted in Current Event | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Earthquakes in Thailand

Thailand experienced two earthquakes during the night of March 24th. The first one was a 7-magnitude quake, while the second one occurred about 30 minutes later being a 5-magnitude. They occurred on the fault line on the Burmese-Lao border. Experts say these happened due to tectonic plate movement as a result of the Japanese earthquake [rvd: this expert is likely wrong]. People who were North and West of Thailand, and in Bangkok, experienced the effects of the quakes. It was about 6 miles deep, which is fairly shallow. People who were in high buildings especially felt shaking as an effect of the earthquakes. So far the only reported death is a 55-year old woman who’s roof collapsed on her while she was sleeping.

-Dylan C.

Sources: CNN |Bangkok Post | USS Post

Posted in Current Event | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A “wave” of recent events

On March 11, 2011 an earthquake-triggered tsunami hit the coast of Japan, taking out virtually everything in its path. The tremor that triggered the tsunami was scaled at 8.9, the most powerful earthquake Japan has ever experienced. The earthquake was the fifth largest that the world has witnessed since early 1900, and is roughly 8,000 times stronger than the quake last month in New Zealand. However, the tsunami also caused unrest in the United States. The tsunami was believed to be traveling over 800 mph across the pacific ocean, causing people in the coastal area of Washington, California, and Oregon to evacuate from their homes. While the damage in the United States was not as significant as it was in Japan, the damages were felt world wide.

Sources: BBCDenver Post

Published By: Ben G

Posted in Current Event | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Worldwide Relief Efforts Follow Disaster in Japan

On March 11, 2011, an unbelievable 8.9 earthquake occurred Japan. This earthquake caused a tsunami to strike North-Eastern Japan, off the Pacific coast causing severe widespread damage.  Not long after this tragedy hit, relief efforts began across America and other parts of the world. American Red Cross, UNICEF, Save the Children, Mercy Corps, Salvation Army World Service Office, and many, many more organizations are all contributing in the effort of helping tsunami victims. This disaster has touched many around the world and many brand names and celebrities have made donations. Gwen Stefani donated $1 million dollars to Save the Children and Tory Burch and other brands also support Japan relief efforts. Tory Burch is having 100 percent of their proceeds of every Japan Relief T-shirt go to the American Red Cross.  It amazes me the amount of effort being put in to help those in need at this time.

Meghan Gleeson

Sources: PBS | NYdailynews | justluxe

Posted in Current Event | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Japan’s Recent Earthquake and Tsunami Devastates the People and the Economy

The earthquake and tsunami that recently struck Japan has caused substantial damage to its economy. This natural disaster has caused a huge sell off Asian stocks. With such a large crash in the stock market, The Bank of Japan has placed 183.8 billion into its economy in order to maintain liquidity, and this amount still hasn’t stopped the decline of the Japanese stock market. Along with the stock market fall, billions of dollars are also being spent to aid the vast search/rescue mission of providing water, shelter, and food to survivors. The Tokyo Electric Power Company has blacked out certain regions of Japan to conserve power, which has inhibited the use of subways and railways making it difficult for commuters to get to work. Many homes and businesses have been destroyed and it is going to take a lot of time and money to restore the damaged area.

Michael N. 

Sources: Ny Times | The Street

Posted in Current Event | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Social Media Plays a Large Role in Japan Disaster Response / Relief

Social media is playing a large role in Japan’s disaster response and relief. Facebook, MySpace, Skype and Twitter accounts are allowing family and friends to know their loved ones are safe.  It is a great way to keep them updated on what is going on in Japan throughout the day. YouTube is playing a large role as well. Those in Japan are able to take videos and post them for others around the world to see.  There have been millions of viewers checking out the effects of the disaster. 

Sending text messages to the Salvation Army, the American Red cross and International Medical Corps has helped raise millions of dollars. These organizations, along with many others, are accepting $10 donations via text messages.  This is a great way to donate to those in need. Although it may take time to receive the money, it is quick and efficient for donors. 

Sarah N.
Sources: MCDM | MSNBC

Posted in Current Event | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Japan Tsunami Sends Ripple Across the Financial World

The tsunami in Japan created a disaster beyond belief. It destroyed buildings, houses, cars,and flooded a large area of dry land. But past the physical damaged caused, the financial damage is almost just as bad. The disaster caused hundreds of millions of dollars to be recalled from stock markets around the world. People panicked, thinking that the disaster would result in them losing invested money. The economy of Japan is now in even more trouble then before and is facing a costly disaster relief effort. Worldwide, the stock markets were shaken and faced critical losses; the GDP of Japan is expected to drop up to 1% due to the disaster. Although many analysts expect the economy to be driven positively by the rebuilding effort, others, however, are predicting Japan to face a recession due to the falling stock markets. The disaster had a huge financial effect not only in Japan, but worldwide.

Matt C.T.

Sources: | Daily mail

Posted in Current Event | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

New Research Suggests Quartz May Be a Big Deal!!


A recent study conducted by Anthony Lowry [rvd: Utah State University] observing gravity, heat-flow measurements and the speed at which seismic waves travel suggests that quartz may be behind the formation and location of earth faults, mountains, valleys and plains. Lowry and partner Marata Perez-Gussive found using Earthscope that there is a correlation between geologic events and deposits of quartz; when present it indicates an area in Earth’s crust that is weak (fault lines). Also, quartz is believed to be linked to continental drift and the movement of earth’s plates. Trapped water in quartz is released when heated and under stress, which may be the result of sliding plates. Being able to asses the likelihood and strength of a possible earthquake based on its quartz content could give us clues, such as to where to build a dangerous buildings such as a nuclear plant.

Bronwyn C. |

[rvd: Lowry research page | Earthscope | Nature Commentary]

Posted in General | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Engineers Save More Lives Than Doctors

Recently in Japan, there was an earthquake and a tsunami. Luckily for the people of Japan, buildings have to follow strict regulations. Inside the tall, tall towers of modern Japan hide extra steel bracing, giant rubber pads, and hydraulic shock absorbers, all of which make Japan’s buildings some of the toughest in the world. All of this is thanks to the Civil Engineers in charge of planning the buildings, because without them, the people would be, for the lack of better word, screwed. Since Japan is much more prone to natural disasters than the U.S., they are prepared for any and all natural disasters which may occur. Japan also has sirens and escape routes in place in order to maximize the number of lives saved. Japan’s building codes combined with strict education and experience make it so that they are one of the most well prepared countries in the world to take on natural disasters.

James C.

Sources: NY Times | CBS News

Posted in Current Event | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

New Zealand Earthquake Has Californians Questioning


Because of the tremendous impact that the New Zealand earthquakes had on the country and the news media, citizens of California are now re-evaluating the way they’ve been building their buildings. In New Zealand, many of the types of buildings that were completely destroyed are being looked closely after in California. These types of buildings are brick buildings with concrete frames made around the ’60s or ’70s that don’t have any reinforcement. In Christchurch, a 40-year old building that was not retrofitted collapsed and was said to have buried around 120 people. The buildings in California may now need to be retrofitted to cause less damage during shakings in a potential earthquake. California has had a hard time even getting hospitals and college campuses retrofitted, so it might cause a problem financially for the state. It’s better to do something now to prevent problems than cause even more damage when future earthquakes happen.

Cristina T.

Sources: LA Times | Newser

Posted in Future Event, Recent Event | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brazilian Landslides Wreak Havoc

In January of last year, Brazil experienced some of the worst landslides in it’s 190 year history as a country. Displacing nearly 14,000 Brazilian residents and killing hundreds of people, the landslides have been a huge catastrophe to the South American nation.

Over a period of 24 hours, Brazil’s mountainous regions saw rainfall of over 10 inches. So much rain in such a short period of time  caused massive mudslides. The reason for such high casualties is that the mudslides hit heavily populated areas during the night meaning most people were sleeping and had no warning of the encroaching disaster.

Brazil’s economy will take a dive from the landslides mostly in part to the affected tourism regions of Teresópolis, Petrópolis and Nova Friburgo. Rescue crews are hard at work looking for missing survivors and The Brazilian government has said it will be giving the affected areas money to rebuild.

Sam D.

sources: |

Posted in Recent Event | Tagged , | Leave a comment

My Storm Chaser Experience

I know we have a few weeks before we begin studying tornadoes, but I wanted to blog about this topic because it is the only natural disaster that I have encountered in my lifetime. When a series of tornados hit Detroit on July 2 of 1997, I was with my family at a local beach. One minute the weather was perfectly fine and the next minute, dark clouds brought along strong winds and heavy rains that nearly blew us off our feet. We could look up in the sky and see the cyclone forming as we were racing to safety. Fortunately, the tornado was moving away from our location. It was a terrifying experience and my family and I were lucky to have survived but the damage had been done to our home and neighborhood. After the storm had passed, it left seven people dead and millions of dollars in damages across the cities of Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck. This experience was so surreal because, as an 8-year-old child, I thought things like that only happened on TV but clearly, I was mistaken. To see pictures of the damages caused by this tornado, follow this link.

Keiara T

Sources Cited: Website Boileau | Wikipedia

Posted in Historical Event | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Irish Potato Famine

The Great Potato Famine was the result of crop failures in Ireland’s most stable crop caused by airborne fungus. This event shows how natural disasters don’t only effect the present lives of peoples, but also the history. Because of the widespread famine that was created by the crop failures, many families immigrated to the U.S. Irish immigrants had a big impact on US history because of their influences on labor movements, social organizations, and political movements. One of the most interesting aspects is the creation of the many gangs made up of minority groups in the United States, and their relation to the creation of the fire department. Before there were official fire brigades, Gang members made up the fire departments because insurance companies would pay a reward to companies that arrived first. Though inefficient , these companies inspired the formation of an official fire department in New York.

Devon D.

Sources: | | Youtube

Posted in Historical Event | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Chinese Mining City Struck By Massive Earthquake

On July 28th, 1976, the worst earthquake in modern times (by death toll) struck the city of Tangshan, China. The earthquake was a massive 8.3 on the Richter scale and officially killed 250,000 people and injured another 164,000. Some say there were many more dead from the natural disaster. The earthquake was so big that it knocked down over 90% of all building in the city. After the initial shock of the 8.3 earthquake there was an after shock around 16 hours later that was recorded as a 7.8 magnitude on the Richter scale which just added to the total deaths and injuries. There actually were warnings to the earthquake, which were rising and lowering to water levels by 3 feet. Not many people were educated with what this meant, and/or many people could not do anything about it. The reason for this being ranked in the top ten of “worlds worst disaster” rankings is because of the amount of deaths, and the amount of buildings lost.

Brad R

Sources: | USGS

Posted in Historical Event | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Airlines Sit and Watch the Euros Fly By

The ash cloud that came from the volcano in Iceland about a year ago had a huge economic impact on the whole world.  It shut down airlines for over a week and cost them about 130 million Euros per day. Other transportation services, however, benefited in the short run from the ash cloud.  People couldn’t fly, so they used ferries and trains instead.  Since this only went on for about a week, the ferry and train companies couldn’t benefit too much though. Also, it didn’t really effect tourism that much because it was not in prime tourism season. The people who had delayed flights overseas that were stuck in Europe were forced to spend more money there so it offset some of the losses. Imports and exports were minimally effected because it makes up 1% of the UK’s trade. Overall, it didn’t really effect anything except the airlines; but it effected them a lot.

-Austin R.

source: bbc

Posted in Recent Event | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Cyclones of Madagascar

On February 14, 2011 the category 3 tropical cyclone known as Bingiza ravished through Madagascar with wind speeds up to 115 mph. This cyclone destroyed several houses and buildings in the northern part of the big island before making its way into the Mozambique Channel where it was reduced to a tropical storm because of the much lower 40 mph winds. Even though the storm is being considered as a relatively weak one compared to other category 3 cyclones it still has done much damage even though it only claimed six lives. Bridges, roads, and other vital infrastructures were damaged, leaving many villages without access to food, water, and hospitals. The economic impact of this cyclone was also felt with many coffee and rice farms having been destroyed.

Nick T.

Sources: |

Posted in Current Event | Tagged , , | Leave a comment