The surge of news and web searches of the 99942 Apophis asteroid has spawned a new wave of worry over the doom of this planet. If it isn’t the fear of the asteroid, it is the fear of the 2012 doom prophesies. There are so many wild and outlandish theories of how the human race will meet it’s demise that people have let their fears run amok. I am seeking to put their fears in perspective. There is no reason to worry about obscure and vague prophesies of the world’s end. Instead, why don’t you direct your fear to the following list of possible ends to our existence?
1. Super Volcano
Do you remember visiting Yellowstone National Park on your family vacation? The scenic woodland, the wildlife, and Old Faithful are memories made for greeting cards. Well…under this seemingly calm and peaceful veneer ticks a time bomb that has the potential to put a very large dent in our existence; there resides a super volcano.
A traditional volcano resembles a mountain and has a vent to spew the lava. However, the super volcano in Yellowstone is essentially a very large magma chamber 5 or more miles underground. The destructive potential of this monster is larger than anything that this world has witnessed in recent memory. “The 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption blew 1,300 vertical feet off the mountain, sent an eruption column 80,000 feet high in 15 minutes, ejected 1.4 billion cubic yards of ash detectable over 22,000 square miles, and killed 57 people. But the last major eruption at Yellowstone, some 640,000 years ago, ejected 8,000 times the ash and lava of Mount St. Helens (Discovery Channel).”
The power of volcanoes is measured on the VEI scale ranging from 0 to 8. The regular eruptions found in Hawaii are measured at 0 on this scale. The Yellowstone eruption would be rated as an 8. “The last VEI 7 eruption was in Toba, Indonesia, 74,000 years ago, and it caused such global cooling that some scientists think it nearly drove humans to extinction (Discovery Channel).”
Yep, mass lava eruptions, ash clouds so large that ash will fall in Philadelphia, massive earthquakes and the possibility of an ice age to follow are all reasons to look forward to this beauty. Just open wide and say AHHHHH!
2. Super Virus
(It seems like a lot of things that can kill us start with super)
A super virus is a virus that becomes resistant to antibodies. We have seen the potential of regular viruses. The Small Pox virus was estimated to have killed at least half a billion people. Even in modern time we have our own viruses to be wary of (swine flu anyone?). Now imagine that there isn’t a cure. There is not a plastic bubble big enough to protect humanity. The term virus will be measured with the same trepidation and despair as cancer; not to mention the dirty looks that the slightest sniffle will bring.
3. Biological Terrorism
We look at terror attacks as horrific displays of hate and violence, tearing apart families and killing thousands. Yet, even attacks on the scale of 9/11 can pale in comparison to the capabilities of a biological attack. Biological attacks are carried out with the intent of spreading viruses, bacteria, radiation, or toxins. This form of terrorism is not aimed at specifically destroying a building; in fact the attack may completely lack an explosion of any kind. The center for disease control and prevention defines biological attacks as “the deliberate release of viruses, bacteria, other germs (agents) used to cause illness or death in people, animals, or plants. These agents are typically found in nature, but it is possible that they could be changed to increase their ability to cause disease, make them resistant to current medicines, or to increase their ability to be spread into the environment. Biological agents can be spread through the air, through water, or in food. Terrorists may use biological agents because they can be extremely difficult to detect and do not cause illness for several hours to several days. Some bioterrorism agents, like the smallpox virus, can be spread from person to person and some, like anthrax, cannot (Center for Disease Control).”
4. Nuclear Holocaust
The ability to destroy the world is within reach of human hands. In fact, the ability to destroy the world with a large factor of overkill is within human hands. Between all the nations that have nuclear missile capabilities, that is the quantity of nuclear missiles that are in procession. What does a nuclear attack spell out for the targets? Well, by examining the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we can assume that there will be large scale destruction, death, and a nuclear fallout that will leave victims with enough radiation poisoning to turn you into a human night light…for however short a time.
So…Would you like to play a game? (sorry, couldn’t resist)
5. Climate Change
I am not talking about a few degree drops in temperature. Watch the movie “The Day After Tomorrow” to understand the scale that I am referring to. Massive floods coupled with an ice age are enough to make the toughest man cringe. The fear is not simply regarding the destructive capabilities of climate change. Australia has been facing back to back droughts these past couple of years. The problem is that at it’s core, climate change is not an engine that can fully be controlled by humans (yet). Ladies and gentlemen, Mother Nature has been here much longer than we have, so at least throw up a salute before you cut down an acre of forest.