Monday, 2 January 2012

Are we safe? Can I come out from under the bed yet?

“Nothing bad will happen to the Earth in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.” {National Aeronautics and Space Administration}

I’m getting in early to back NASA’s take on the Doomsday scenario being touted for 21 December 2012 – before those chain emails telling me my end is nigh according to the Bible or the Mayan Calendar begin to arrive in tiresome droves.
For those who would rather enjoy the thrill of the scare, here is a Wikipedia list of the joyful hand of the great bearded father in the sky mass extinction event possibilities awaiting us over the next twelve months, two years, decade, century or wad eva…..
·         A sudden change in the physical constants governing the universe, such as that created by a vacuum metastability event.[2]
·         A close approach of a black hole to the solar system.[3]
·         A gamma ray burst or other devastating blast of cosmic radiation.[4] One especially deadly hypothesized source is a hypernova, produced when a hypergiant star explodes and then collapses, sending vast amounts of radiation sweeping across hundreds of lightyears. Hypernovas have never been observed; however, a hypernova may have been the cause of the Ordovician–Silurian extinction events. The nearest hypergiant is Eta Carinae, approximately 8,000 light-years distant.
·         A drastic and unusual decrease or increase in Sun's power output; a solar superstorm leading to partial or complete electrical or technological death of human civilization. (See solar flare.)
·         Abrupt geomagnetic reversal and/or drastic decrease of magnetic field of the planet Earth. Consequences can be the same as in the cases of cosmic radiation or solar radiation blasts.
·         The solar system passing through a cosmic dust cloud, leading to a severe global climate change.[5]
·         An abrupt repositioning of Earth rotation axis.[6] It could be caused by extremely powerful internal geological or/and external cosmic factors. If it happens abruptly (and not slowly within a very prolonged interval of time) it will generate enormous multiple earthquakes, multiple volcano eruptions, a hypercane or multiple megacyclones, giant tidal waves and megatsunamis all around the globe.
·         An impact event causing a collision (or extremely close passage) of a large meteorite, asteroid or comet. A common theory postulates that the extinction of the dinosaurs occurred approximately 65 million years ago as a result of the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event when a large asteroid struck the earth, producing atmospheric dust which blocked solar energy and caused a significant lowering of temperatures worldwide ("nuclear winter"). Evidence for this theory includes a sedimentary layer of iridium in the geological record and a large crater in the area of Chicxulub, Mexico. The Tunguska event (1908) was on a much smaller scale. In the case of a close passage of an object (a large asteroid, comet or planet) with a significant gravitational impact on Earth, the consequences could be the same as in the case of an abrupt repositioning of Earth rotation axis. And such a repositioning of the axis would not necessarily have to take place for the earth to see the same global effects.
·         A geological event such as massive flood basalt, volcanism, or the eruption of a supervolcano[7] leading to the so called Volcanic Winter (Similar to a Nuclear Winter). One such event, the Toba Eruption,[8] occurred in Indonesia about 71,500 years ago. According to the Toba catastrophe theory,[9] the event may have reduced human populations to only a few tens of thousands of individuals. Yellowstone Caldera is another such supervolcano, having undergone 142 or more caldera-forming eruptions in the past 17 million years.[10] Massive volcano eruption(s) will produce extraordinary intake of volcanic dust, toxic and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere with serious effects on global climate (towards extreme global cooling (nuclear winter when in short term and ice age when in long term) or global warming (if greenhouse gases prevail)).
·         An exceptionally devastating hypercane[11] probably combined with global dust storm, taking up to the atmosphere enormous quantities of dust.
·         A global pandemic (assuming that the causing agent of the pandemic would have a natural origin) with very high or even 100% mortality rate.[12] ………..
·         A global pandemic with very high or even 100% mortality rate caused by a human-made infectious agent, which could be released among population on purpose. The source could be an individual, a laboratory workers group, a terrorist group, governmental or international organization.
·         A nuclear, chemical, or biological war. A "softer" and "stealthier" case of each of these three types of warfare could be nuclear, chemical, or biological terrorism. Again the source could be an individual, a laboratory workers group, a terrorist group, religious zealots, governmental or international organization.
·         A grey goo scenario, in which self-replicating machines (often imagined to be nanomachines) get out of control and indiscriminately consume all kinds of matter in the process of building more replicas of themselves, eventually making earth inhospitable for biological life altogether.  
A note of caution - none of the above will impress the boss as a good reason for not turning up to work this week.
I wouldn't try to convert your local priest, pastor or rebbe either as that might see them leading you into A&E for a quick scan of the ol' brain box.

No comments: