resilience starts with information
Boston-area transit spends $101M in weather resilience investments
Every region has its transportation challenges; in the Northeast, a major challenge comes in the form of weather. MBTA’s preparations are essential to ensuring the Boston area continues to function properly regardless of weather conditions, considering the area receives an average of 43 inches of snow every winter and much of its transportation infrastructure is exposed to harsh outdoor conditions.
By performing ongoing resilience improvements, MBTA prevents against a system disaster that could leave riders stranded in dangerous conditions. Not all cities heavily weigh weather risks or invest in these types of upgrades, and a winter storm can mean a widespread transit shutdown or severely delayed and reduced service. MBTA’s upgrades to its switch functions not only improve system reliability, but also rider safety.
MBTA wisely recognized that actual transit service is not the only factor to remaining resilient — communication also boosts the system’s operations. Strengthening communication with riders increases transparency and trust. In addition, calling on transit users to keep in touch via social…
New study links natural disaster with revolutions
From 305-30 BCE, ancient Egypt was ruled by the Ptolemaic Dynasty, a Greek family put in place after Alexander the Great conquered Egypt. Though Egypt’s wealth and importance were legendary during this time, it was also a period of great civil unrest. Perhaps because they were being ruled by foreigners, the Egyptian people revolted against their leadership several times during the 200s, sparking civil wars. But now scientists believe these revolts may have broken out in part because of a chain reaction started by volcanoes halfway across the world.
There’s no doubt that the Egyptians were chafing under the yoke of their foreign monarchs. The days of the great pharaohs were over, and leaders from the north were replacing Egyptian culture with Greek gods and architecture. But why did the Egyptians’ resentment boil over into open revolt sometimes and remain at a steady simmer otherwise? Historian Francis Ludlow of Trinity College, Ireland, and his colleagues believe that ash, dust, and other particles released by volcanoes during the 200s BCE caused temperatures to cool around the globe. Cooling resulted in less water evaporation, which meant less rain for northern Africa and, therefore, less flooding of the life-giving Nile River.
Because the ancient Egyptians were a farming culture that lived and died by the harvest, the annual Nile flood was key to survival. Floods meant nutrient-rich waters fed the fields and everyone could eat. Nile levels were so important to the Egyptian economy that the government based tax amounts on readings from “Nilometers,” stone wells fed by the river where they could measure its height in cubits. If the levels were trending too high…