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March 4, 2010 / Dave Gorham

Disaster Preparedness . . . for Space Weather?

Image: SkyNews

Armageddon as a theme was a huge seller for books and movies throughout The Zeros – my preferred term the previous decade – and it’s a genre that’s not going away any time soon.  Asteroids, Mayan prophecies, instantaneous and catastrophic changes in the weather, plagues . . . all great stuff.

But what about the real possibilities for wide-scale catastrophe?  And how come nobody’s doing anything about it?

Well, now somebody is.  Last week, FEMA administrator Craig Fugate and other FEMA officials joined representatives from NOAA, the National Weather Service, Swedish emergency management agencies and representatives from the European Commission for a workshop in Boulder to discuss preparedness and ways to ensure effective communication in the event of a widespread catastrophic disaster.  They discussed cooperation and planning for such menaces as flooding, hurricanes and even space weather events that could affect international communication technology.

According to Administrator Fugate, “Disasters don’t recognize borders, so working together is crucial for keeping both Americans and people around the world safe.”  Indeed.  And they’re right.  Having the meetings now is a thousand times more productive than having them after the next large-scale threat has been identified.

Their planning ahead tells me two things.  For one, as always, I’m glad to hear that our international government agencies are being proactive about contingency planning – something we should all do on a constant and vigilant basis.

But, two . . . is there something they know that we don’t?

For more information on the meeting, go to


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