New York Times: These Billion-Dollar Natural Disasters Set a U.S. Record in 2017

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From the New York Times: By Kendra Pierre-Louis

Extreme weather events caused a total of $306 billion in damage in the United States last year, making 2017 the most expensive year on record for natural disasters in the country, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday.

A trio of major hurricanes, Harvey, Irma and Maria, contributed hundreds of billions to the total. But the year was seemingly mired in disaster, from a freeze in the Southeast that damaged fruit crops in March, to hail storms that whipped across Colorado, Oklahoma and other central states in May, to the tornadoes that struck the Midwest in June.

Unusual consequences of extreme weather could be found all over the map. Thirteen cows died in a field in Pennington County, S.D., after ingesting anthrax spores from the soil; they had changed their grazing patterns during a drought that lasted much of the year in South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana. The cows’ demise was a small part of the $2.5 billion of damage that struck the three states.

In all, there were 16 natural disasters that caused more than $1 billion of damage in 2017. In 1980, when NOAA first started tallying records, there were only three such disasters, adjusted for inflation. This year’s $306 billion in damage broke a record set in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina contributed to a total of $215 billion in damage, also adjusted for inflation.

Pompeii@Madre

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The exhibition Pompei@Madre. Materia Archeologica (“Pompei@Madre. Archaeological Matter“) – curated by Massimo Osanna, Director of the Parco Archeologico di Pompei, and Andrea Viliani, Director of Madre · museo d’arte contemporanea Donnaregina of Naples, with the curatorial coordination for the modern section by Luigi Gallo – is based on a rigorous research activity resulting from unprecedented institutional collaboration between the Madreand the Archaeological Park / Pompeii Superintendence, the most important archaeological Italian site and one of the most visited worldwide.

Based on a comparison and discussion of respective research methodologies, disciplinary fields and collections, Pompei@Madre. Materia Archeologica consists in studying the potential multiple relationships between archaeological heritage and artistic research, creating a dialogue between extraordinary but little-known and rarely displayed archaeological material from Pompeii and modern and contemporary artworks.

The exhibition, presented in a large part of the exhibition spaces of the Madre museum, is divided into two chapters:

  • Pompei@Madre. Materia Archeologica (third floor): November 19th 2017 – April 30th 2018
  • Pompei@Madre. Materia Archeologica: The Collections (ground floor and first floor): November 19th 2017 – September 24th 2018

 

Into the Volcano: Werner Herzog

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In an unnerving documentary, images of throbbing magma are spliced with stories of the people living with the threat of spectacularly destructive eruptions

 On the edge … Oppenheimer, left, and Herzog in Vanuatu. Photograph: Peter Zeitlinger/Netflix

With Into the Inferno, Werner Herzog returns to the subject of active volcanoes, for which he has long had an intense, horrified fascination. There is a nihilistic awe with which he presents his primeval images of churning red lava and throbbing magma, pulsing beneath the Earth’s crust with their terrible destructive power. He loves to fly over volcanoes in a helicopter and look down directly into the boiling epicentre. It triggers a kind of Kurtzian horror. Or perhaps ecstasy.

Despite the title, however, Herzog does not explicitly compare volcanoes to hell. The nearest he comes to theology is a final monologue, delivered in his unmistakable rasp: “It is a fire that wants to burst forth and it could not care less about what we are doing up here. This boiling mass is just monumentally indifferent to scurrying roaches, retarded reptiles and vapid humans alike.” He also interviews a tribal community elder in Vanuatu, who lives in the shadow of a volcano and professes he is mesmerised by the fiery liquefaction of lava in which he sees a vision of the world’s end: “Everything will melt, the stones, the trees, everything, like water …”