The countdown has begun. We have less than a year on this earth.
At least according to the Mayans. However, the good people over at NASA, who are scientists and have much more education than many of us, study this stuff every day and say that the end of the Mayan calendar is not going to be the end of the world.
“Not the end of the world?” you say? Well, not exactly. It just isn’t the Mayan’s prediction that is going to do us in. It might not exactly be 2012, but it is a scientific fact that the Earth isn’t going to last forever.
The television show, Doomsday Preppers, highlights several families per episode preparing for the apocalypse. Each family has a different doomsday scenario that they are prepping for. Now, I haven’t seen all of the episodes, but I have seen quite a few and there seems to be popular reasons why the world is going to end. A solar flare or solar storm, electromagnetic pulse or EMP, an asteroid impact, supervolcano eruption, an economic collapse, or a major pandemic are all reasons why people are prepping. At the end of each episode, Doomsday Prepper’s narrators give a breakdown on the likelihood of any one of the events occurring. Since I am convinced the media wants to make all us gun nuts look like… well, nuts… they give some ridiculously low ratio probability rate for one of these catastrophic events to actually occur. Preparing for the zombie apocalypse, now that’s just silly, right? But what about a supervolcano eruption here in America? Could it happen? It sure could. So could a lot of other things. Read on.
Solar Flare, Solar Storm
A solar flare is when the sun suddenly releases a burst of magnetic energy that produces an intense flare of radiation. Electrons, protons, and other particles speed up during a flare. We see the solar flare because it releases light. A solar flare itself cannot destroy the Earth, but the electromagnetic radiation from the solar storm can destroy satellite communication. In 1859, a massive solar storm caused telegraph lines to burst into flames. In fact, March 8 to 10, 2012 we saw and lived through, one of the biggest solar storms in the last five years. Even though they diverted air traffic away from the poles, no one was the wiser that a large solar storm was occurring.
NASA reports that there will be a peak in solar flare activity somewhere between 2012 and 2014, though we should not be alarmed. If you are over the age of 11, then you have already survived uninterrupted through the sun’s last peak in solar flare activity.
What is more likely, and more damaging is a CME.
Coronal Mass Ejection (CME)
Along the same lines as the solar flare is a coronal mass ejection, or CME. This is when the sun, through a giant explosion, throws particles and electromagnetic stuff into the Earth’s atmosphere. Depending on the size of the CME, it can blow out electric transformers and mess up our satellites. In 1989, Texans were able to view the Northern Lights because of a CME. The same CME caused six million people in the United States and Canada to be without power for nine hours.
OMG! The sky is falling! Literally. And I’m not just being a Henny Penny either. Sixty-five million years ago, an asteroid that was six miles wide wiped out the dinosaurs. A complete extinction requires an asteroid only one mile wide.
NASA is constantly monitoring space junk and estimates when and how close falling junk will be to Earth. On the radar right now is Asteroid 99942 Apophis, which is 300 yards wide. It is big enough to wipe out Los Angeles, and Asteroid 2012 DA14, expected to pass Earth on February 15, 2013. Asteroid 2012 DA14 is 164 feet wide. A mere rock by space scientists’ standards, but in 1908 a 131-foot “space rock” completely flattened 772 square miles of forest in Tunguska, Siberia. In comparison, the impact of the asteroid was the same as if 185 nuclear bombs were to go off. It killed wildlife, caused a seismic shockwave felt in England, and changed the way of sunlight reflection. Reportedly, people could read outside at night in Asia.
Since its discovery in 2004, the probability of Asteroid 999942 Apophis hitting earth has dropped, but NASA reports that it will still make a very close call to Earth. Apparently, 18,300 miles away in space distance is close. Really close. The asteroid is supposed to pass us on April 13, 2029.
Jason Charles, a New York firefighter and a 9-11 first responder is a declared prepper. Featured on an episode of Doomsday Preppers, he says he is preparing for a supervolcano, “If the volcano goes off today, it would take two days for the ash to circle the globe, block out the sun and that’s when the bad stuff really starts to happen.” Jason isn’t wrong. If a supervolcano was to erupt, it has the potential to release so much ash, soot, sulfur, and carbon dioxide to change the Earth’s climate.
A supervolcano occurs when magma builds up underground and there are not enough holes for the volcano to release all the steam, resulting in the volcano to spit out all of its magma at once. Scientists have found evidence of 50 supervolcanoes all over the world. Yellowstone is one of them.
Yellowstone’s crater has risen 10 inches in the last 10 years. Scientists predict that if it were to blow, three feet of ash would cover half of the United States. In our lifetime, massive non-supervolcano eruptions affected climate, air travel, and caused casualties.
Supervolcano eruptions occur on average every 600,000 years. We are now 40,000 years overdue.
Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)
An electromagnetic pulse or EMP is the result of a nuclear bomb or an electromagnetic bomb (e-bomb) built for the purpose for creating an EMP. According to the Washington State Department of Health Office of Radiation Protection, an EMP is the “ionization of air molecules by gamma rays generated from the explosion. These gamma rays ionize the air molecules by interacting with the air molecules to produce positive ions and recoil electrons called Compton electrons.”
Yes. I know. It sounds like something from a sci-fi movie, but what an EMP does is very real. The reaction is not radioactive, but it does cause complete failure of all electronic systems. In 1962, an EMP from testing hydrogen bomb Starfish Prime 900 miles off the coast of Hawaii knocked out the streetlights in Oahu. An EMP clearly would pose “a real threat to the nation’s critical infrastructure.” (Washington State Department of Health Office of Radiation Protection) An EMP would have the power to disable computers, satellites, radios, railways, phone lines, electrical lines, and access to water, communication systems, television, and radar. Translation? Life as we know it would stop.
Quite a few countries, including the United States have admitted having non-nuclear e-bombs, specifically made to destroy communication systems.
There is not one person I know who has not felt the blow our economy has gone through in the past four years. Some of the politicians would like to tell us that the global recession is over, but as of February 2012, 12.8 million US citizens were still unemployed and the average hourly earnings had only risen by 15 cents since February 2011. (Bureau of Labor Statistics) CBS news also reports, “The national debt also now exceeds 100 percent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, the total value of goods and services.” This means that if you took every dollar made by every person in the USA all year and used every single penny to pay down the national debt, we still would not break even. Pretty scary, huh? Besides that, gas prices are not slowing down either.
Experts say that increased fuel costs means that our economy slows down and in March 2012, we are seeing another spike in oil prices. As of March 10, 2012, the price of oil per barrel is only $35 less than the record-breaking price in 2008. If gas prices got so high that big rigs could not afford to transport goods, everything would come to a screeching halt.
Is the state of our economy getting better or are we on the way to the “Second Great Depression?”
You may think we had an easy flu season this year with no global outbreak of swine flu or bird flu. However, the first quarter of 2012 reported 20 cases of the bird flu H5N1 to the World Health Organization (WHO), 60 percent of those infected died. Just because the media frenzy is over does not mean that the flu is not.
Right now, the flues we do know about only transfer from human to human, but American and Dutch scientists have created an airborne H5N1 strain. Meaning just breathing in the air, you could contract the bird flu. When an influenza virus arises, we are all susceptible, because our bodies have yet to build immunity to the new flu strain.
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, “U.S. airlines carried 730 million total system passengers during the full year 2011.” That is a lot of people in close contact with each other. Let’s say a sudden and horrible strain of new flu breaks out in Indonesia and half those passengers catch the flu. That is 365 million infected airline passengers. In the worst-case scenario, two percent of those who got infected die. That is 7.3 million deaths. Not even to mention how many of those infected, in turn infected others. It is not unlikely.
The Center for Disease Control’s Division of Global Disease Detection and Emergency Response reports that they discovered five brand new pathogens to the world in 2010. Two of those discoveries were in Thailand. If you know anything about Thailand…what happens in Thailand, doesn’t stay in Thailand.
So yes, 2012 was a pretty easy flu season for us in America, but that may not be the case next year.
Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen in 1999 said,
“With advanced technology and a smaller world of porous borders, the ability to unleash mass sickness, death, and destruction today has reached a far greater order of magnitude. A lone madman or a nest of fanatics with a bottle of chemicals, a batch of plague-inducing bacteria, or a crude nuclear bomb can threaten or kill tens of thousands of people in a single act of malevolence. These are not far-off or far-fetched scenarios. They are real-here and now.”
Will December 21, 2012 be our last day on Earth? Probably not. Will we see doomsday during our lifetime? No one knows. On the off chance it will happen, I want to be prepared for it. So should you.