The island of Puerto Rico has a remarkably long road ahead relative to rebuilding after Maria and Irma.

After Puerto Rico was pummeled by Hurricane Maria two weeks ago, a Category 4 hurricane with 150 mph winds, the island has been left in shambles. After suffering widespread power outages thanks to Irma, one million Puerto Ricans have been left without electricity. Sixty thousand (60,000) still had not gotten power when Maria brought a total, island-wide power outage and severe shortages in food, water, and other supplies.

As of today, October 2, 2017 there is still no power on the island except for a handful of generators powering high-priority buildings like select hospitals.   The island most likely will not return to full power for another six to nine months. This also means that there are close to zero working cell phone towers and no reception anywhere on the island.  Communication is the life-blood of any rebuilding and humanitarian effort and without landlines and cell phones, that effort will become incredibly long and frustrating. The following digital picture will indicate the great lack of communication.

Fuel for generators is running out (though authorities in Puerto Rico insist that it’s a distribution problem, not a shortage). Puerto Ricans are waiting in six-hour lines for fuel, while many stations have run completely dry.

In most of Puerto Rico there is no water – that means no showers, no flushable toilets, and no drinkable water that’s not out of a bottle. In some of the more remote parts of the island, rescue workers are just beginning to arrive.

To indicate just how dire the situation is:  “According to the US Department of Health and Public Services, a superfund site is “any land in the United States that has been contaminated by hazardous waste and identified by the EPA as a candidate for cleanup because it poses a risk to human health and/or the environment.” These sites are put on the National Priorities List (NPL), a list of the most dire cases of environmental contamination in the US and its territories. These are places where a person can’t even walk on the ground and breathe the air without seriously endangering their health.”  That is exactly where PR is at this time.

Puerto Rico’s fallout from Maria and Irma will result in a long, long road to recovery. Even though the island is home to 3.5 million US citizens, help has definitely been delayed compared to response in the US.    The island’s pre-existing poverty and environmentally dangerous Superfund Sites will make rebuilding a tricky and toxic business, costing in the billions of dollars.

We may get better idea at the devastation by looking at the digital satellite pictures below.

A much more dramatic depiction may be seen below.

CONCLUSIONS:

As recently as 2016, the island suffered a three-day, island-wide blackout as a result of a fire. A private energy consultant noted then that the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority “appears to be running on fumes, and … desperately requires an infusion of capital — monetary, human and intellectual — to restore a functional utility.” Puerto Ricans in early 2016 were suffering power outages at rates four to five times higher than average U.S. customers, said the report from the Massachusetts-based Synapse Energy Economics.  What was a very sad situation even before Maria and Irma, is now a complete disaster.  As I mentioned above—a very long road of recovery for the island.

 

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GLOBAL THREATS

January 9, 2013


There are some things in life we cannot control.  As a matter of fact, I’m beginning to believe there are many things we cannot control but, we can prepare for their occurrence and survive to “fight another day”.   Sometimes being prepared is the only defense mechanism we have.   This is my personal belief.   I, quite frankly, have been extremely disappointed with the operation of FEMA and how they have responded to Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy.   Apparently so much red tape the system simple does not function in a fashion that provides services as designed.  Then again, can anyone really say our government works?

The World Economic Forum Global Risks 2013 report released Tuesday, 8 January 2013, presents a stunning wake up call to the entire world.

The report begins with an unnerving theory that sluggish and stalled economies worldwide are a direct distraction from long-term environmental horrors.  ” Global risks do not respect national borders,” says Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

“Two storms — environmental and economic — are on a collision course,” says John Drzik, Chief Executive Officer of Oliver Wyman Group, one of several companies which collaborates with the Global Risks report. “If we don’t allocate the resources needed to mitigate the rising risk from severe weather events, global prosperity for future generations could be threatened.”

More than 1,000 experts and industry leaders took part in the survey. Researchers asked them to rate the biggest global threats in five categories: economic, environmental, societal, geopolitical, and technological.  The following points reveal the 10 Most Frightening Environmental Risks, based on the experts’ responses.    These have to eye-openers to you as much as they were to me.  Let’s take a look.

  • Failure to Adapt to Climate Change.  We have ample evidence that our climate, on a global basis, is changing—no doubt.  I don’t think there is consensus in the scientific community that all of the change is due to man-made circumstances.   Our climate is changing.
  • Incurable Pollution.  Air, water, soil, you name it.  Human beings are polluters.  We are sloppy with the resources we have been given to manage.  We must make changes in the way we do business on our globe.
  • Antibiotic –resistant Bacteria.   Every year scientists and doctors identify new strains of bacteria.  Bacteria that mutates from earlier strains.  Bacteria we don’t really know how to handle.
  •  Land and Water Management.    We actually should say mismanagement. We just don’t take care of the resources we have.  I honestly believe the most precious commodity on our planet is not gold, not oil, not plutonium—but water.
  • Mismanaged Urbanization.   Urban density in some cities is so great the infrastructure is collapsing.  Water, sewage, roads, bridges, natural gas pipeline, etc.   Name it and we probably need to fix it or completely replace existing services.
  • Persistent Extreme WeatherCan’t do much to mitigate this one unless global warming is part of the answer.
  • Rising Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
  •  Species Exploitation—Ecosystem Collapse.  Right now, there are five (5) billion individual species of animals, plants, etc on our planet.   Each day one or more is eradicated due to urban sprawl and loss of habitat.
  • Unprecedented Geophysical Destruction.  Earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis
  • Vulnerability to Geomagnetic Storms.   Solar flares.

This summary is not very encouraging at all but at least we can agree we have a problem—a big problem.  The issues are bigger than greed, bigger than political parties, bigger than drinking beer at Ruby Tuesdays on Friday night.  We really need to get behind responsible agencies trying to bring sanity towards dinging solutions.

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