Scientists In Houston Tell A Story Of Concrete, Rain And Destruction


Hurricane Harvey was the worst flood in Houston’s history. Scientists and citizens are still piecing together why it was so bad, but it’s becoming clear that a lot of the damage comes down to how people have built America’s fourth-largest city.

You can see the problem from your car. Houston is a sprawling web of strip malls and 10-lane freeways.

Hydrologist Jeff East stands under one of those freeways, beneath an overpass and above the east fork of the San Jacinto River. The river is more like a trickling stream, 20 feet below. But East points to a line of seeds and debris in the grass by the highway. “Actually there’s a high water mark over here,” he says.

Debris left at the high-water mark is like a bathtub ring around Harris County. Along with gauges in the San Jacinto River, it shows flood levels never seen before. “This is the highest that it’s been since we’ve been gauging the site since the 1940s,” East says.

Bermuda needs comprehensive contingency plan

Does Cayman need a comprehensive contingency plan?

On November 5, Bermuda residents became stunningly aware of the radical vulnerability of our island’s economic success.
For more than 30 years, international business has poured billions into the local money supply, infrastructure (buildings), government tax coffers, businesses, households, events, education, and charities. As a result, Bermuda has had an enormously enviable standard of living — for most of us, but not all. We’ve grown used to having what we want when we want it.
We’ve touted our monoline-focused business model smugly, some would say. We relied complacently on our sterling reputation as a premier international financial centre.
Then it happened.
While not a single “black swan event” — the outlier that everyone hopes never happens, such that no one plans for such an outcome, as described in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s black swan theory — the cumulative effect of a series of events facing Bermuda have the potential for major consequences.
Each of the five events below can singularly deliver a significant economic body blow to our reputation, but taken together, no one wants to contemplate the outcome.