Adonis Diaries

Archive for April 28th, 2021

What natural disasters cost the global economy in 2020

By Tim McDonnell Climate reporter. of Quartz. December 29, 2020

Obsessing about climate change

Covid-19 is clearly the crisis that defined 2020.

Yet, millions of people were forced to grapple with natural disasters alongside the pandemic. A massive deluge of record-breaking catastrophic events:

Atlantic hurricanes, devastating wildfires, floods, and even locust storms added up to one of the world’s most damaging and expensive years of natural disasters in the last half-century.

According to a Dec. 15 analysis by the reinsurance giant Swiss Re, global economic losses from natural disasters amounted to $175 billion this year.

Of that, $76 billion were insured, the fifth-highest total since 1970.

With some notable spikes in 2005 (Hurricane Katrina) and 2017 (Harvey, Irma, and Maria), average annual insured losses have risen steadily in the last few decades, up from $7.4 billion, adjusted for inflation, in 1979.

That’s the result of 3 main factors:

Rising property values in developing countries, increasing insurance coverage in developed countries, and climate change driving more frequent and severe storms and wildfires across the board.

This year, the most expensive series of events was the Atlantic hurricane season, according to a Dec. 28 report from the UK-based nonprofit Christian Aid, with a record 30 named storms, 12 of which made landfall in the US.

The figures below capture insured losses only; the full scale of damage is much higher.

The US is also expected to break another record, for the number of disasters causing damages of $1 billion or more.

Since 1980, the average has been around seven disasters.

This year, it could be 20, due to hurricanes, West Coast wildfires, and storms and flooding in the Midwest.

Still, while the geophysical impacts of climate change are widely distributed among rich and poor countries, the economic toll is felt most acutely in the poorer States, where disaster insurance is still a rarity.

According to Munich Re, almost three-quarters of the $5.2 trillion in global natural disaster damages since 1980 were uninsured.

And although some governments in the Caribbean and Africa have started to partner with insurance providers in offering disaster insurance to their citizens, the vast majority of damages there remain uninsured.

We have this insurance gap,” Ernst Rauch, Munich Re’s chief climate scientist, said in an interview.

“In low-income countries the gap was 95%-plus in the 1980s, and today it’s exactly the same. Nothing has changed, and this is very frustrating.” (Frustrating? Why, are there enough money saved with these poor citizens to mind paying overcharged insurance fees?)

The 2020 film AK-47. This amateur inventor who shot to global fame

A review of the 2020 film AK-47: Kalashnikov

By Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin / April 21st, 2021

AK-47: Kalashnikov (2020) is a biographical film about Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov (1919–2013), the inventor and designer of the AK-47 automatic rifle.

This Russian film, released in February of last year, follows the young Kalashnikov as he is bombarded by Germans during WWII and is interspersed with flashbacks of his childhood.

Disturbed by the failure of a newly designed gun that nearly gets a comrade killed when it jams, he examines the parts and lists out various problems with the new design.

An amateur inventor who had been playing around with various types of primitive gun designs since he was child, Kalashnikov goes back to work in a steam engine workshop after being injured in battle.

There he is assigned a desk and tools, and struggles to assemble a new gun design he had been drawing up. Help is at hand when the other workers in the workshop offer their after-hours services to help him tool the parts necessary for his new design.

After this, his life takes many twists and turns as he struggles to perfect his design and he gains acceptance through inventor competitions, testing ranges and the military hierarchy.

The story focuses on his drive and sincerity in producing a safer gun that would help the Soviets win the war. Although the gun he is famous for was Not produced until 1947 (“Avtomát Kaláshnikova” (Russian: Автома́т Кала́шникова, lit. ‘Kalashnikov Automatic Gun’), its reliability and design ensured its wide use in many armies around the world in subsequent decades.

The film also strives to show Kalashnikov as a role model for how someone with a basic education (Kalashnikov left school after seventh grade) can achieve so much in the way of plaudits and global fame.

In AK-47: Kalashnikov, the testing processes of the gun were not complete successes but Kalashnikov is given more promotions and more help in developing his ideas.

With the development of new technologies, a simplified, lighter version of the automatic rifle was developed which soon became the most ubiquitous variant of the AK-47.

In the real world, the popularity of the design meant that “approximately 100 million AK-47 assault rifles had been produced by 2009, and about half of them are counterfeit, manufactured at a rate of about a million per year.

Izhmash, the official manufacturer of AK-47 in Russia, did not patent the weapon until 1997, and in 2006 accounted for only 10% of the world’s production.”

Kalashnikov’s first submachine gun

The film is beautifully shot with realistic battle scenes and panoramic landscape settings. The relations between the soldiers, and between the soldiers and their superiors are developed without the stereotyped or charicatured portrayals seen in films like Enemy at the Gates (2001), as Kalashnikov gets help and encouragement all around him, even at his lowest points when he feels like giving up.

In these days of instant-everything and easy consumption access to any product, it is refreshing to see male and female workers with so many skills (including his drafting technician who becomes his wife) bringing an idea from drawings through precision tooling to the finished gleaming weapon.

Kalashnikov himself did suffer “spiritual pain” about whether he was responsible for the deaths caused by his weapons, but also believed that their use was defensive rather than offensive.

The AK-47 has been used in many anti-colonial wars and received the ultimate praise when appearing on some national flags and coats of arms.

Like any weapon, his guns have been used in terrorist organisations but one could argue that overall its reliability and simplicity evened up the stakes in many an asymmetrical war.

Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov (1919–2013)
Kalashnikov at the Kremlin, December 2009

Kalashnikov was hospitalized on 17 November 2013, in Izhevsk, the capital of Udmurtia and where he lived and died on 23 December 2013, at age 94 from gastric hemorrhage.

A statue dedicated to Kalashnikov was commissioned by the Russian Military Historical Society and unveiled in Moscow in 2017. It is a 7.5m (25ft) monument, which shows Kalashnikov holding an AK-47 in his arms.

It was soon spotted that the technical drawing of the gun etched onto a metallic plate at the base of the monument was actually of an StG 44 rifle used by the Nazis during WWII.

The symbolism of this mistake was not lost on the public, a country that lost millions of its people at the hands of the Nazi invasion which started on Sunday, 22 June 1941.

The section of the metallic plate with the gun design was soon removed with an angle grinder.

Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin is an Irish artist, lecturer and writer. His artwork consists of paintings based on contemporary geopolitical themes as well as Irish history and cityscapes of Dublin.

His blog of critical writing based on cinema, art and politics along with research on a database of Realist and Social Realist art from around the world can be viewed country by country at http://gaelart.blogspot.ie/Read other articles by Caoimhghin.

Keeps Me Sane

Posted on  October 16, 2008 and written in 1998

Reading keeps me sane.

The time for enjoying a great book is still there, and always will be.

I always expect jewels on human relationship.

I like surprises which reveal feelings that I would never divulge

Either to a shrink or to anyone at my deathbed,

Feelings that reveal emotions I thought were my exclusive domain.

Puerile ideas that I would be ashamed to express,

Dangerous tendencies that I like to ignore.

      The more I read, the more I am convinced that I am sane,

That everyone is sane given time to read as much,

That humankind shares every thought and emotion that I can come up with.

Accepting that humbling knowledge needs time,

Time to reach a stage of vulnerability where life seems too complex, 

For diminishing energy and forever growing dreams.

      Run baby run, though you are sane and think otherwise.

Sink baby sink, though you are not much different than your neighbor.

Once I realized that feelings are common to all, 

What little work remained is a trifle to many.

It is a job you did all your life with no effort: 

Acting normal.

Just act normal to all who cannot stand reading.

Why wait to be reincarnated, now and then,

Over thousands of years, as a new kind of animal?

Why not have a thousand human souls in a lifetime?

Every character in a story is you

Under different time, country, climate, class, birthrights, condition, 

In different situations, social, political, financial and gender.

You span the whole gamut of human emotions

You are the good, the bad, the evil, the saint.

You are the rich, the poor, the nobleman, the peasant.

You are the genius, the idiot, the hardworking, and the fainéant.

Pick a well described character, good or evil.

Personify it and the story changes as you change,

Your heart and mind reedit the story as you change character

Because it could have been you; it is you indeed.

You can be everybody, everywhere and it is still a fact,

You are a changed person, many peoples in one.

Keeps Me Sane (Continue 2)

How can your best friend empathies with you if he hates reading?

How can someone who cannot know himself

Empathies with your many selves?

The odds that a one-life man could empathies with someone

With a thousand lives is almost nil.

You earned the rights to be richer, more complex, and much different.

You ought to feel proud on this discriminating dimension.

      My everlasting appreciation to my heroes

The writers who bared their souls,

Who endured the ultimate hardship

To make it possible for me to endure myself.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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