Rolling Stone recently featured an article listing 9 unfolding disasters, man-made or otherwise, that could usher in the Apocalypse for humanity. I’ve got one more.
I’ll start with their list:
- Eventually, an earthquake, followed by a tsunami, will envelope the Pacific Northwest. FEMA estimates of such an occurrence, which will be the result of building atop the Cascadia Subduction Zone before anyone knew it existed, will kill 13,000 and injure another 27,000. That quake is way overdue. The cycle generally runs about very 243 years. It’s been 315 years since the last big one, so it could happen while I’m writing this or next week, or in 50 years. Bu it will happen. When it does, the havoc created will be unprecedented.
- Fukushima. The nuclear power plant at Fukushima experienced an unprecedented disaster on March 11, 2011. It is still leaking, and the cleanup is due to last for decades or perhaps even centuries. Those who were evacuated in the aftermath of the event have been found to be about five times more likely to suffer from psychological stress than the norm.
- Although BP would like you to believe otherwise, the Deepwater Horizon, which blew up over 5 years ago, is still oozing oil. The effects of the disaster are far from over and will be with us for generations. All one needs to do is investigate the ongoing effects of the Exxon Valdez spill that occurred in 1989 to understand that the ramifications of the Deepwater Horizon have not yet reached their peak. The BP spill dumped 172 million gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico. The Exxon Valdez spill was tiny by comparison, at 10.8 million gallons.
- The Great Pacific Garbage Patch continues to grow and, even though the world is aware of it, human beings continue to use the ocean as a disposal site for anything they don’t feel like dealing with. The toxic stew that is the result of microplastics mixing with larger debris is posing lethal problems for marine life.
- The Republic of Maldives is a string of about 1,200 islands situated off the coast of India. Most of the islands are uninhabited but there are people on them, and there is a government. Back in 2009, the Maldivian government held a cabinet meeting underwater to protest the non-action of the world community regarding the unfolding climate disaster and what it means for not just that island nation, but of others as well. The Maldives are 2 meters above sea level at their highest point. A rise in the oceans of 3 feet would almost completely submerge most of the land. If you don’t care about those islands, then perhaps you might consider this: If you enjoy vacationing or living in Hawaii, there will be a lot less of it.
- The California drought has been in the news a lot and for good reason. California provides a large majority of the fruits and vegetables Americans consume. It also sits atop the San Andreas Fault, which is overdue for a major quake, so you’ve got a double whammy there. Interrupt food production in California, and watch the prices go through the roof – not to mention the overall availability of food.
- Mass extinctions due to human activity have ramped up at an alarming rate. Scientists have found that vertebrate extinctions over the last 100 years are up to 100 times the background rate they set for comparison by utilizing past extinction events. If you think of the Earth as a self-contained organism that depends on diversity of species to create a habitat conducive to human life, it doesn’t take much of a stretch to understand that we are killing the very things that help to keep us alive.
- Climate change is here; it is real, and it is creating havoc. The western United States has incurred billions of dollars in damage and loss from a wildfire season that has destroyed homes, wildlife habitats, and businesses. With the impending El Niño due this winter, there will floods and mudslides to tax a system that is already overtaxed from the disasters that have come one after another. As I mentioned in a previous post, there are some scholars who have blamed the severe drought in Syria for the mass movement of Syrian farmers into cities ill-prepared for the influx. The resulting chaos fomented a civil war that continues to take a heavy toll and has led to the rise of ISIS in the region.
- Due to pressures that include social, political and professional consequences, scientists aren’t being completely truthful about the scope of the climate problems we face. In other words: we’re in deep shit; they know it, but nobody wants to hear it, so they (the scientists and researchers) downplay what we are actually facing. Much like corporations can cook the books to make a bad situation look better, scientists offer solutions that look good and play well, but in reality just don’t cut it.
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- Last, but not least, here’s my entry to the list. Remember that movie The Day After Tomorrow—the one where the Atlantic Ocean circulation was cut off, leading to an abrupt ice age? Well, that won’t be happening the day after tomorrow, but scientists are concerned and keeping watch on a small patch of record cold in the North Atlantic. Yup, in the midst of record high temperature around the globe, there’s this one little spot up near Greenland and Iceland that has experienced extremely cold temperatures for the past eight months; according to Deke Arndt, chief of climate monitoring at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, it has been “really persistent over the last year and a half or so.” And it’s no fluke; the measurements have been recorded in an area densely populated by buoys. A change or a shutdown of the Atlantic circulation current could pose dire consequences for rising waters on the east coast of the United States, as well as temperatures in the North Atlantic and Europe. Scientists will be keeping an eye on developments in the coming years.
So what does all this mean? It means we’d better clean up our act and stop pretending nothing is going on. It’s that, or our children and their children will inherit a world in which chaos, war, and starvation rule. It also means that we will get to a point where, no matter what we do, we will not be able to turn the tide, and the next mass extinction will be us.
Remember that when you cast your votes in the upcoming election.
Ann Werner is the author of thrillers and other things. Visit her at Ann Werner on the Web