The History Channel: Magnetic Storm (The Universe series, 2010), After Armageddon (2009), The Crumbling of America (2008), Extinction 2012, Seven Signs of the Apocalypse, That's Impossible: Weather Warfare, Global Warning, The Plague, the Mega-Disaster series, especially Noah’s Great Flood, The Little Ice Age, and Journey to 10000 B.C., How the Earth was Made series programs Yellowstone, Hawaii, Mt. Saint Helens and Mt. Vesuvius,
Weather Channel: "It Could Happen Tomorrow," a series that examines the impact of potential mega-disasters throughout the United States. Episodes include an earthquake on the New Madrid Fault, an eruption on Mt. Rainier, and flash flooding in Boulder, Colorado.
The Science Channel: Super Comet - After the Impact.
ABC News: "Earth 2100 A.D."Articles of Interest
"Earthquake Hazard in the New Madrid Seismic Zone Remains a Concern." USGS fact sheet, 2009.
"A Future Space Weather Catastrophe: A Disturbing Possibility ". By Jeff Masters. WunderBlog 4/3/2009.
"7 Tipping Points That Could Transform Earth." Wired.com 12/23/09
"Global Warming Could Cool North America in a Few Decades?" National Geographic 9/14/09.
"Methane Releases From Arctic Shelf May Be Much Larger and Faster Than Anticipated." National Science Foundation 3/4/10.
Methane gas articles. UC Santa Barbara
"Alarm Over Dramatic Weakening of Gulf Stream." Guardian, U.K. 12/ 01/05
"Multiple earthquakes rattle Yellowstone." Denver Post 1/3/09
"The Dangerous and Dynamic Thermal Springs in California’s Long Valley Caldera." U.S.G.S. Fact Sheet 2007
"Sun's protective 'bubble' is shrinking." Telegraph, U.K. 10/19/08
"Earth Magnetic Field Reversal." Pure Energy Systems News 2/27/05
"Polar Ice Melt Is Accelerating." BBC News. 12/08
"Arctic Ice Shelves Crumbling Rapidly in Canada." National Geographic 9/3/08
Why Gaia is wreaking revenge on man's abuse of the environment The Independent, U.K. 1/16/06
Disease Outbreak News
World Health Organization
Arctic Report Card
U.S. Geological Survey
Updated info on earthquakes, volcanoes, and other hot spots worldwide.
Yosemite Wilderness Guidelines
National Park Service
Apocalypse 2012: A Scientific Investigation Into Civilization's End (2007) by Lawrence E. Joseph.
Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It's Too Late (2010) by Scott B. Williams.
When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency by Matthew Stein
The Unthinkable - Who Survives When Disaster Strikes (2008) by Amanda Ripley
What Everyone Should Know About the Future of Our Planet: And What We Can Do About It (2008) by Bill McGuire.
The Revenge of Gaia (2006) by James Lovelock
When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikes by Cody Lundin.
The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht.
Crisis Preparedness Handbook: A Complete Guide by Jack A. Spigarelli
The ark started moving, it drifted with the tide
The unicorns looked up from the rocks and they cried
And the waters came down and sort of floated them away
That's why you never see unicorns to this very day
-- Shel Silverstein
Eyjafjallajokull - April 2010. Photo: Ludie Cochrane
Last updated: July 7, 2012
While many scientific forecasts and spiritual prophecies warn of mega-disasters in our near future, the details remain murky. Climatologists and other experts keep revising their models, so no one knows for sure when or where the next catastrophe will hit -- let alone if it will amount to a doomsday event.
Yet the string of recent natural disasters worldwide suggests the time for kicking the can down the road has ended. Moreover, a recurring theme of Great Flood legends is that people who wait until the last minute to form exit strategies are the ones most likely to perish. The more time spent planning an evacuation in advance, the better your chances of survival.
This section of the Mega-Disaster Planner briefly recaps all the doomsday scenarios looming on the horizon, then explains how to factor them into a well-formulated plan. Topics covered below include:
Scroll down to read the entire article.
Significant tectonic shifting around the globe is predicted by many scientists, now that polar ice melt is changing the weight distribution of the planet. That means people who live near major fault lines, volcanoes and seacoasts may have more to worry about than those who don't.
Charles Hapgood’s theory of crustal displacement argues that sudden, massive movements of the Earth’s crust take place from time to time. It's an idea dramatized in the Roland Emmerich film 2012, but most geologists today insist the continental plates will continue to inch along like they always have. This is known as the "uniformitarian" view of geology, which counters the catastrophist view that prevailed for much of the 19th century.
Even if the uniformitarians are right and huge crustal displacements are not imminent, that's not to say things are calm and cozy within the interior of the Earth. Right now, two supervolcanoes are simmering under Yellowstone National Park and the Mammoth Lakes/Long Valley region of California, southeast of Yosemite. According to volcanologists, both calderas have entered the red zone and could blow anytime. That could mean a hundred thousand years from now, or tomorrow. Either way, a host of seismic monitoring devices have been installed in recent years at both locations. (See Yellowstone and Long Valley Calderas for more on this threat.)
In Washington's Cascadia Range, Mt. Rainer may be the next player on the volcanic stage, according to those who study it. The subduction of the North American Plate under the Pacific remains a growing threat just offshore, where geologists believe a once-every-300-years earthquake/tsunami is due again soon. (The last one happened in 1700 A.D.) Fortunately, the 1980 Mt. Saint Helens eruption provided the state with a much needed wake-up call about an apocalyptic future. Since that time Seattle, Tacoma and other cities have implemented extensive contingency plans for possible flooding and lahars (mud flows).
Geologists at Mt. Rainier have noticed that the rock on its northwest flank is badly eroded. Like Mt. Saint Helens, it may some day collapse and trigger a similar eruption. Since the 14,000-foot peak is covered with a cubic mile of ice and snow, the event would also produce a lahar of biblical proportions, as the mud and hot gases race down two rivers towards populated areas. At best, residents in Pierce County would have about 40 minutes to get to higher ground. (For a closer look at this threat, check out the 2006 documentary Living in Mount Rainier's Shadow, which airs occasionally on the Weather Channel, part of the series It Could Happen Tomorrow.)
New Madrid Fault. (Mike Keckhaver)
In the midwest, the litte-known New Madrid Fault may also be due for an earthquake. It crosses five state lines, cuts across the Mississippi River in three places, and across the Ohio River in two places. According to a USGS fact sheet issued in 2009, "Many structures in Memphis, St. Louis and other communities in the central Mississippi River Valley region are vulnerable and at risk from severe ground shaking." Five quakes registering at least 8.0 occurred over a three-month period in 1811-1812, causing the Mississippi River to reverse direction for a time. While a repeat of that episode is unlikely any time soon, geologists say there's a 40 percent chance that a quake in the 7.0 range will strike before 2040.
Southern states have their own dire concerns to ponder in the wake of climate change, particularly hotter summers accompanied by pervasive drought conditions. A parched landscape generates mega-wildfires, such as the ones we've seen in Texas , Arizona, Oklahoma and Florida in 2011. It seems a negative Arctic oscillation has combined with La Nina to keep the South high and dry. (In fact, half the counties in the United States have been declared disaster areas this summer, due primarily to high heat and litte precipitation. In 2011 and early 2012, the northern states were hammered with excessive precipation and flooding. But by the summer the mercury spiked and now those states began experiencing a rash of wildfires.
Wildfires in Arizona had already scorched well over a half million acres by the start of Summer, 2011. (photographer unknown)
Ironically, it was the huge snowpack in the Rockies that caused the EF-4 and EF-5 twisters that leveled huge cities in 2010 and 2011. This time the mechanism of destruction was a bank of frigid mountain air colliding with hot air pushing up from the Gulf of Mexico. As we discovered, this volatile mixture can spawn mile-wide wedge tornados like the ones we saw in Joplin and Tuscaloosa in the spring of 2011.
But as FEMA trailers are becoming an everyday thing in the heartland, building codes and zoning ordinances have a long way to go to catch up with the new normal of climate extremes and instability. For that reason, a pre-emptive evacuation (i.e. moving to another part of the country) is worth considering. And if you decide to leave, be sure to carefully research the geology, severe weather, wildfire and flooding potential of any new locale before putting down roots there.
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