Are we all going to die? Yes...someday. Possibly all at once. There have been a lot of predictions of the end of the world in the recent decades. As far as we can all tell, they haven't happened (unless we're all in the Matrix or in some kind of weird pergetory, or both). And with the year 2012 Mayan calendar predictions, the movie 2012 with John Cusak, and bunch of other crap goin on, all this might make us a little nervious. Of course most of it is crap, but some crazy stuff has actually happened...and although there are a few things we can to do prepare or prevent a few, a lot of it we can't prevent and there's nothing we can do. So, I made a list of a few that might kill us all, enjoy!
The earths magnetic core, and the field it produces is a poorly understood phenomena. Some have even used Cray super computers to crunch the number in order to understand why it’s still going strong instead of slowly losing its magnetic power.
In the movie The Core, the Earth's core stops rotating and our planet's magnetic sheath collapses. Which would be really bad, since all that radiation from the sun would blast us and we would have to wear a lot more powerful sun block, or, more accurately, live underground forever.
But...the core won’t just up and stop spinning. But it might flip it’s polarities.
It happened before:
How bad will it be?
There is some debate as to how bad this might be. Scientists at NASA say this won’t be a huge deal. Sure the magnetic field that protects us might weekend a bit, but we’ll still have atmosphere, so it won’t be a huge deal. And magnetic “north” might end up in Wisconsin somewhere, but who cares, all that will do is make the “northern lights” more visible to those of us who live further “south”.
David Kerridge, British Geological Survey says “"There is strong evidence that the field is decreasing by about 5% per century." But goes on to say ““there is no evidence that when it has happened in the past it has seriously affected life on Earth.”
Ok, so we’ll all be totally fine then, right? Well, not everyone agrees. There is at least one guy who thinks this might be a big problem. Dr Paul Murdin, Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, says this, “On Mars, when its magnetic field failed permanently billions of years ago, it led to its atmosphere being boiled off. On Earth, it will heat up the upper atmosphere and send ripples round the world with enormous, unpredictable effects on the climate.”
But who is Paul Murdin guy, he’s some 2012 world ending nut case right? Well, no, here he is having helped author the book Secrets of the Universe, and here his phone number and picture, so you can call him if you want. (seriously, that’s his profile the International Astronomical Union website, isn’t the internet awesome/evil?)
2) Wall of Water or Flood
The earth is a funny thing. Sometimes with erosion and plate tectonics, things get shifted around so big bodies of water form. We call them lakes and we mostly like them. We like to swim in them, fish in them, and drink from them, and generally have a good time. The problem is, water can be VERY destructive we released all of the freekin sudden. Or sometimes it just decides explode under the ocean and send a wall of water, destroying freekin’ everything.
Lake Sarez was created 90 years ago by an earthquake. It keeps 17 cubic kilometres of water at bay, but because of continuing earthquakes, many think this natural dam might give way, releasing that water and killing hundreds of thousands of people. The biggest problem is its location. There isn’t much road to speak of, so the only thing the UN and the World Bank are doing is...monitoring it. Good job guys. You monitor the hell out of that dam.
Then there is Canary Islands, which apparently a big rock resides...that might fall off into the ocean. Some scientists say it it will one day fall into the ocean and create a huge tsunami, sending a wave of water across the Atlantic, killing millions of people. British and U.S. scientists warn that this 300 foot wave could destroy the coasts of Florida and Brazil.
3) New York Hurricane
Hurricane Irene came close to hitting New York hard, but it ended up not being that bad. But storms have hit it in the past, and one major storm in 1938 caused the deaths of over 600 people who had no warning of the quickly approaching storm.
But with advanced, early warning technology, this shouldn't be a problem right? Well, it depends on how early the warning is, and how many people you have to evacuate, and if the early warning system actually works. Take the Sri Lanka, Sumatra tsunami for instance, they had a early warning boyeys setup out at sea to detect an oncoming tsunami. Problem was...someone vandalized them, and they didn’t work. So some people didn’t get enough warning to get to high ground.
“But New Yorkers wouldn’t vandalize an early warning system!” You might say. “And we’re not taking about a tsunami here, this is a hurricane...those things are slow and those lovely New Yorkers would have tons of time, right?”
The 1938 storm came on fast, giving residents no time to react. And a “1821 storm caused tides to rise 13 feet in one hour, flooding all of lower Manhattan to Canal St.” How much time would it take to evacuate 1.6 million people (just in Manhattan), with really only two ways to go go to escape the New York Islands: New Jersey and Westchester County, while literally millions of other people are attempting the same thing? The answer, scarily, is probably longer than the early warnings might give them.
And lets not forget that Irene DIDN’T hit that hard, that might make people cry “wolf” of they are warned about another storm coming and not leave like some didn’t or couldn’t for Catrina. And that brings up another question. Even with early warnings, not everyone has a car. A TON of people in New York simply don’t have a personal vehicle, so they would either have to hop on a bus, walk or bike. These people might actually get out faster, but not everyone can do that, what about the old people or those who can’t walk? And, let’s not forget there’s very few ways to get in or out of New York.
And that’s just the human cost. What about the financial cost from damages to the city? Some estimate it could be in the cost could be up to $40 billion, and that’s just a category 3 storm.
How to prevent:
A part from slowing down our polution and hopefully slowing global climate change which would hopefully lessen extreme weather, there really isn’t a good way to prevent hurricans. But we can prepare for them and evacuate. But what if we could change the path of a hurricane? Scientists think we might be able to, and are already working on it.
The recent movie Contagion did a very good job in portraying what normal, level headed people in charge of responding to a pandemic would do. They would try their damnest to find a cure or vaccine as soon as possible...while millions of people died, including their friends and family. Outbreak, if you recall, was a bit more sinister where the “cure” was really a bomb to wipe out the town that was infected so they could keep the super bug as a possible weapon.
The truth, however, is far less sinister, and far more stupid.
It happened before:
The Black Death killed killed 30–60 percent of Europe's population in the between 1348 and 1350, and reduced the world population from an estimated 450 million to between 350 and 375 million in the 14th century. This is before jets were flying between countries and continents, greatly increasing the speed at which a virus can spread. Also, our populated areas are MUCH dense than they were in the 14th century. It could be worse...so we need to figure out how to prevent it, or react quickly at least.
It’ll happen again:
The H5M1 virus outbreak of 2009 wasn’t as bad as it could have been. It killed %60 of people who contracted the virus. Thankfully, it didn’t spread very quickly. But some doctors and scientists thought that with just a simple mutation, it could be as deadly and MORE contagious. So, someone created it ON PURPOSE. Some say if that newly created H5M1 virus that is more contagious got out, it could kill half the world’s population. At first, the Dutch research planned to publish his findings...but some thought that was a bad idea (thank you) and that plan was halted.
How bad would it be?
Well, because of how quickly and easily we move about our planet, an easily communicable disease would likely spread faster than we could react. In the movie Contagion, it moved between two continents before anyone knew there was a problem. It hit at least two major populated areas before they could contain it in just one city. It could spread quickly and be deadly before we could stop the spread, millions could die.
How could we prevent it?
Wash your f$#king hands! Oh, and maybe we shouldn’t be creating new viruses that can kill us, we probably have enough of those already.
It happened before:
We should all know by know what killed the dinosaurs. But if you don’t, here’s what happened. Some dude in a time machine went back and coughed on a butterfly and that butterfly went and landed on a Tyrannosaurus Rex and the common cold killed every dinosaur in the world. Er, wait, no, a rock, a huge freekin’ rock slammed into the Yucatan Peninsula instantly vaporizing everything in the vicinity and throwing the entire world into a nuclear winter for years, perhaps decades. What dinosaurs were left after the initial explosion and cold died off because of the lack of food since few plants could survive without much sunlight. The only things that survived were the little things that didn’t need to eat much (rodents, smaller dinosaurs, etc...). If you believe in evolution, this is where we come from, those little rodent things, and where birds come from, those little dinosaurs that survived the blast. Alligators, crocodiles and turtles pretty much stayed the same, they still look prehistoric and ugly.
There are other, more recent asteroid hits that have caused big problems. Wikipedia has a good list here.
This was bad, killed everything off and life pretty much had to start over. But that won’t happen again, right?
Well, in 2005, YU55 passed within the orbit of the moon and Earth. It was a rock 1,312 feet wide. It only missed us by 201,700 miles. Which may seem like a long way...but that’s pretty dang close in space.
YU55 shouldn’t come around again for another 200 years, but there are other rocks that will be whizing by that might hit us. In 2029 a smaller will come close to say hi.
The Risk and the problem:
You might think this is no big thing. That we have tons of time to figure stuff out. But the problem is, we’re not watching all the asteroids because we don’t have enough money, because we’re spending more on fighting terrorism, which doesn’t even come close to causing the amount of damage a big asteroid would make. If we find one that is about to hit us, we would need to find it a few decades before it gets near us in order to get to it and try one of several ideas to stop it from hitting us. But there are blind spots to our telescopes, though NASA is working on it. But NASA is just one organization, from just one of the nations on our planet that might be affected by an impact. If we are truly going to try to prevent any and all major impacts that could harm our world, countries, cities, coast lines, etc..., we all need to work together. But... screw it, we all know that won’t happen.
How bad would it be:
It would depend on how big the asteroid was, of course. Every 200 - 300 years an asteroid has hit us that caused a lot of damage and destruction throughout the world. It would have the potential of ruining an already rocky economy, hurting food supplies and causing other earth born disasters throughout the world including earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis, which would then of course damage the world even more. The worst case scenario is that an asteroid large enough to kill almost everything would hit, and then we wouldn’t have anything to worry about anymore. We would go like the dinosaurs and maybe a few million years from now cockroaches would evolve and discover our bones and our odd fascination with body piercing.
6) Yellowstone will kill us all
Big valcano’s can be extremely scary, and very destructive. Mount St. Hellens, Kratoa, the Thera volcanic eruption, to name a few, were all extremely destructive. But the volcano movies featured in Volcano or Dante’s Peak pale in comparison to what happened 640,000 years ago, and what will happen again...someday...maybe soon.
It happened before:
You might think Yellowstone is that place where those pesky bears come and take your food and run off and make some funny quip about humans. But that would be Jeyllystone. Yellowstone is that place where people feed bears...and then get eaten. It’s also where that awesome Old Faithful geyser is, that used to go off every freekin’ our. But then it got not quite as faithful after an earthquake. “Earthquake, in the middle of the lower 48?” you might ask. Well, yeah. Ever wonder why it smells like that? Ever wonder where all that hot water is doing shooting up into the air? Well...it’s because of the huge freekin’ lake of liquid hot magma underground.
About 640,000 years ago, it blew up. And when I say “blew up”, I’m not talking about an island sinking explosion like Thera, or even a volcanic winter eruption like Toba. No, I’m talking about an explosion that sent 240 cubic MILES of rock, dust, and volcanic ash and debris that made it 1,000 miles away and layered it a half a meter deep. The force of the explosion was 17,000 times that of a 50 megaton bomb.
It will happen again:
In, 2009, geologist Christopher C. Sanders urged officials to evacuate Yellowstone and stay as far away as 200 miles because he believed Yellowstone was about to erupt. He was wrong, but there were signs that it might, and that doesn’t mean that it won’t soon.
“Scientists are predicting that the world's largest super-volcano in one of America's most popular national parks could erupt in the near future. Yellowstone National Park’s caldera has erupted three times in the last 2.1million years and researchers monitoring it say we could be in for another eruption. They said that the super-volcano underneath the Wyoming park has been rising at a record rate since 2004 - its floor has gone up three inches per year for the last three years alone, the fastest rate since records began in 1923.”
Good thing that it didn’t actually erupt then, but what WOULD happen if it did?
"An area the size of North America can be devastated and pronounced deterioration of global climate would be expected for a few years following the eruption," Professor Self explained. "They could result in the devastation of world agriculture, severe disruption of food supplies and mass starvation. These effects could be sufficiently severe to threaten the fabric of civilisation."
“It would explode with a force a thousand times more powerful than the Mount St Helens eruption in 1980. Spewing lava far into the sky, a cloud of plant-killing ash would fan out and dump a layer 10ft deep up to 1,000 miles away.Two-thirds of the U.S. could become uninhabitable as toxic air sweeps through it, grounding thousands of flights and forcing millions to leave their homes.”
The biggest problem here is that there is no way to prevent this. At this point, it’s just about survival. That’s it. God bless and good luck.
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