Shrinking the financial fallout of natural disasters

TOKYO, 9 December 2013 (IRIN) – Relief will be more easily and quickly available, and the economic fallout much more manageable, if governments project and plan fiscally for potential natural disasters and their human and economic toll well in advance, experts say.

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has calculated that since 2000, economies have lost as much as US$2.5 trillion due to natural hazards. In 2011 Thailand lost around 5 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) to floods, and Japan lost some 4 percent of its GDP to the earthquake and tsunami.

The latest major disaster in the region, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, is likely to cause losses of around $12.5 billion, or 5 percent of the 2012 GDP in this lower middle-income country, Margareta Wahlstrom, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, told IRIN. –

Multiple hydel projects on Chenab worry experts

The Chenab is poised to become one of the more dam-congested rivers in India, with the government planning to generate around 15,000 megawatts of electricity through 60 hydropower projects in the states of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh…

When Disaster Rains, Talk – IPS

The 2013 South Asian Monsoon has left a trail of death and destruction from the southern coast o fSri Lanka, through Uttarakhand, India into Pakistan. Experts say that real time data and information sharing among the affected countries could reduce the dangers posed by the rains. –

Sturdy variety shores up India’s wheat output

Sturdy variety shores up India’s wheat output

Sandip Das: New Delhi, Jul 09 2013

The decline in wheat production due to the unusually high temperatures and rains during March and April this year could have been much sharper if it was not for large-scale adoption of a temperature-tolerant variety by farmers in the key growing areas of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh.

Although the ministry of agriculture has not revised wheat production estimates for 2012-13 from 93.62 million tonne (mt), agricultural scientists agree that there is a 10-15% decline in output because of rains in March and unusually high temperatures in April, which affected flowering.

However, large-scale cultivation of the temperature-resistant HD 2967 variety, developed by Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), minimised the fall in wheat output.

“Since 2011, when we introduced the variety, the adoption by farmers has been encouraging,” KV Prabhu, head, division of genetics, IARI, a premier institute under the agriculture ministry, told FE. According to Prabhu, the adoption rate of the HD 2967 variety has been around 50% this year in northern states.

The HD-2967 variety has given yield up to 21.4 quintal per acre against 20 quintal/acre for other varieties.

“Next year, we expect 70% farmers to adopt the variety as fluctuations in temperature during the flowering season become a regular trend in key growing areas,” he said. The variety not only deals with higher temperatures prior to harvesting, but also takes care of the yellow rust disease.

Indu Sharma, director of Karnal-based Directorate of Wheat Research (DWR), said that thanks to some heat-resistant varieties, such as PB 343,PB 550 and HD 2967, developed by IARI, DWR and Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), farmers have been able to sustain production despite the fluctuations in temperature witnessed during the last few years.
Meanwhile, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently pegged India’s wheat production at 87 mt this year, which is 7% lower than the government’s latest estimate of 93.62 mt. “The rains and high humidity also led to a higher incidence of rust in north India and lodging in the early harvested wheat varieties,” the USDA said.

IARI has been experimenting with various wheat varieties from an estimated 28,000 wheat genes available with National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR).

In a first-of-itskind experiment to identify specific traits from the country’s huge genetic resources, NBPGR has characterised more than 5000 varieties of wheat germplasms for development of better seed varieties that can withstand climate change.

Top agricultural scientists associated with the charasterisation drive say that the purpose was to provide genetic variability, which helps in quality seed development.

Environment Apps for Children

Today, President Obama is expected to announce a national plan for climate change in the US. Last week, the White House released a video leading up to a speech he would give today at Georgetown University.

In the video, President Obama says, “There’s no single step that can reverse the effects of climate change.” But when it comes to the world we leave our children, we owe it to them to do what we can.”

Read more:

The Urban Jungle: Small steps to a big Solution

This week, the World Bank released a report, Turn Down The Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and the Case for Resilience, which is a scientific analysis of climate change on specific regions. While the report gives a clearer picture of how climate change will affect each of the Sub-Saharan, South East Asian and South Asian region, there’s one interesting thing the report mentions.

It says: “Climate change poses a particular threat to urban residents and at the same time is expected to further drive urbanization, ultimately placing more people at risk to the clusters of impacts outlined above.”

Read more: