Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. 24/7 Space News .




DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Apocalypse... but not as we know it
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Dec 12, 2012


The End Of The World As We Know It -- TEOTWAWKI -- is littered with predictions that didn't quite pan out.

Just ask the folks who are still chewing through the food they stashed away at the time of the Killer Blob scare four years ago.

That was when doomsters predicted CERN physicists would reduce the Earth to goo when they switched on their new particle smasher.

In October, a German woman who feared the Earth would be sucked into oblivion in a black hole failed in her court bid to stop the work of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Armageddon experts thus are cueing weary smiles for another non-TEOTWAWKI moment on December 21, supposedly named by the Mayan calendar as the Big One.

"One thing all apocalyptic predictions have in common is that they are false. They never happen," sighs Stephen O'Leary at the University of Southern California.

Even so, many hard-headed scientists take TEOTWAWKI seriously.

Not, of course, in a mystical context.

Nor even as an event that is Goodnight Vienna, a global slate-wiper.

Instead, they tend to see it in the context of a relatively smaller episode that is amplified by human frailty, and so becomes cataclysmic.

The reason: Today's seven billion humans live in a complex and mainly urban society, dependent on long supply chains for food, power and water.

One big shock, and this fragile structure starts to crack.

"A lot of things in this world are very interconnected, and it does make us vulnerable," says Jocelyn Bell Burnell, a top British astrophysicist at Oxford University.

"For example, one thing many people may not have appreciated is that if there is a bad solar storm that knocks out several communications satellites, things like the GPS (the Global Positioning System) will go down."

In the worst scenarios, many millions could die, economies collapse and civilisations could retreat or die, even if the planet -- and humans as a species -- survived.

-- Lobsters in a pot? --

---------------------------

In 1918-1919 so-called Spanish flu, a new strain of influenza against which people had no immunity, killed between 20 and 50 million people, making it the deadliest disease of the 20th century. In rough terms, it was the equivalent of up to 200 million deaths today.

There was a near-miss in 1997, when H5N1 bird flu, a strain that kills up to 60 percent of those it infects, broke out in Hong Kong. The virus was stopped by a drastic cull of poultry. And in 2009, a new virus, H1N1 swine flu, turned out to be relatively harmless.

But virologists say we cannot dodge the bullet forever. Another highly virulent, novel strain, mixed by farm animals and transmitted to humans, is just a matter of time.

Another biggie is climate change.

Super-storm Sandy has prompted much hand-wringing about extreme weather events caused by man-made disruption to the climate system.

But many experts say the worst impacts of global warming will be progressive, not monster single events.

Like the lobster that is slowly cooked to death in a pan of water but doesn't know it, these accumulating threats easily pass under the political radar.

Some specialists foresee repeated droughts that hit the world's bread-basket regions, forcing up the price of cereals and millions of poor people into famine.

"In low-lying areas where you have massive numbers of people living within a metre (3.25 feet) of sea level, like Bangladesh, it means that the land that sustains their lives disappears, and you have hundreds of millions of climate refugees," warns Grant Foster of US climate consultancy Tempo Analytics.

"That can lead to resource wars and all kinds of conflicts."

Then there is the threat from space rocks.

"We have that pretty well under control but it could be nasty if we slipped up," says Bell Burnell.

A familiar nightmare is of the rogue asteroid or comet that smacks into Earth, creating vast fires whose dust would rise into the stratosphere and linger there for years, cooling the planet and shrivelling the vegetation on which land life depends.

In such a way was ended the reign of the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago.

A US-led initiative is monitoring the skies for the biggest asteroids.

But less well-mapped are smaller ones, capable of wiping out a city or region. There are also comets that are undocumented because they return to our neighbourhood on a span of centuries.

In the Cold War, scientists feared a "nuclear winter" from an all-out war between the United States and the Soviet Union.

But recent calculations suggest this scenario could occur even from a limited nuclear exchange at regional level.

A study reported in Scientific American in 2009 found that fires from 100 Hiroshima-sized warheads detonated by India and Pakistan would generate at least five megatonnes of smoke.

"Within nine days the soot would extend around the globe," it said.

"After 49 days, the particles would blanket the inhabited Earth, blocking enough sunlight that skies would look overcast perpetually, everywhere."

.


Related Links
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
A world of storm and tempest
When the Earth Quakes






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





DISASTER MANAGEMENT
N.Z. probe finds numerous flaws in killer quake building
Wellington (AFP) Dec 10, 2012
An office block that collapsed, killing 115 people in last year's Christchurch earthquake was so badly designed it should never have received a building permit, an official report found Monday. The six-storey Canterbury Television (CTV) building crumpled then burst into flames when a 6.3-magnitude quake rocked New Zealand's second-largest city on February 22, 2011, killing those trapped insi ... read more


DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Apollo's Lunar Dust Data Being Restored

To the moon and back for less than 2 billion dollars

NASA's GRAIL Creates Most Accurate Moon Gravity Map

Chinese astronauts may grow veg on Moon

DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Charitum Montes: a cratered winter wonderland

Opportunity Continues Rock Studies

Orbiter Spies Where Rover's Cruise Stage Hit Mars

NASA to send new rover to Mars in 2020

DISASTER MANAGEMENT
What happens to plant growth when you remove gravity?

Scientists say NASA's budget inadequate for its goals

What trends will take upper hand in space exploration?

To reach final frontier, NASA can't go it alone: analysts

DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Mr Xi in Space

China plans manned space launch in 2013: state media

China to launch manned spacecraft

Tiangong 1 Parked And Waiting As Shenzhou 10 Mission Prep Continues

DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Medical Ops, Fan Checks for Space Crew; New Trio Checks Soyuz

Khrunichev Completes Nauka Space Station Module

New Crew of ISS to Perform Two Spacewalks

Space Station to reposition for science

DISASTER MANAGEMENT
ULA Launch Monopoly to End

SPACEX Awarded Two EELV Class Missions From The USAF

Russia Set to Launch Telecoms Satellite for Gazprom

Sea Launch Delivers the EUTELSAT 70B Spacecraft into Orbit

DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Astronomers discover and 'weigh' infant solar system

Search for Life Suggests Solar Systems More Habitable than Ours

Do missing Jupiters mean massive comet belts?

Brown Dwarfs May Grow Rocky Planets

DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Russia saves satellite after launch glitch

Mobile Internet forcing computers to evolve

Malaysia orders Australian miner to ship out waste

$99 Google laptops for schools sold out




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement