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In the last hundred years humanity has gone through its most progressive era of technological advance. Science and technology has flourished and this process is still going strong. With so many breakthroughs in so many fields, it seems that only the sky is the limit now, and who knows what peaks we could reach next: maybe making a neighboring planet habitable or finding the elixir of eternal life. But if you look at the big picture, you simply can’t get too enthusiastic about human status. Before dreaming of conquering new worlds, take a look in our “own back yard”.
No matter how advanced we might think we are at this point in space and time, I can’t help but notice how miserably we fail when confronted with natural disasters. It’s very little we can do to actually counter nature’s wrath, and all our technological power can be at most used for rebuilding, rather than avoiding natural events. And it seems that here, in the US, the worst is yet to come, as two major cities have yet to face critical disasters.
1. New York will face its most powerful hurricane yet
You might think New York can’t be subjected to anything worse than what has already happened: terrorist attacks, violent neighborhoods, crime and the already infamous hurricanes Irene and Sandy. But you might want to reconsider, as the worst is yet to come. If you think the flooded subways, the damaged buildings and the few billion $ were too much to handle, you can’t even fathom what the next hurricane will bring. Bothe Irene and Sandy were category 1 hurricanes, meaning they were as low on the scale as they could possibly go. The next one, that will hit sometime this decade, will be category 3; we’re talking about a hurricane powerful enough to collapse skyscrapers or to flood the JFK Airport under 25 feet of water. And this won’t be a singled out case. Such a hurricane, studies show, will hit every 10 years from now on. As a result of such force, estimated damage costs have rose to about $500 billion. As for encountering such a force, there’s nothing else to do but perhaps flee for safety when the sirens start blowing.
Avoiding this sort of calamity is very unlikely, as New York’s geographical position makes it nothing less than a hurricane magnet. New Jersey and Long Island form some sort of tunnel (a bottled-neck passage) that easily redirects any forming storms towards New York’s coast. So when the wind starts blowing, New York has no other chance but to face the disaster head-on.
2. Seattle could be swallowed whole by volcanic mudflows
The city of Seattle is well known for repeatedly falling victim to all sorts of earthquakes throughout the years, big or small. But what’s to come will be far more destructive and terrifying than everything else this city had to face so far: the threat of ending it all buried in hot mud. According to recent studies and calculations, it could all be set in motion by an eruption of Mount Rainier, which is known to be one of the most dangerous volcanoes on the face of the planet.
I’m not making this up: Mount Rainier is on the Decade Volcano List. The Decade Volcanoes are 16 volcanoes identified by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior (IAVCEI) as being worthy of particular study in light of their history of large, destructive eruptions and proximity to populated areas.
The spewing of magma and brimstone will be devastating to some extent sure, but it won’t be anything else but the icing on the cake. The destruction will be brought forth by a little something called a lahar. Don’t get fooled by its harmless name; lahars are true harbingers of destruction chaos. They are giant flows of debris, mud, water, trees and pretty much everything else they assimilate along the way, and are very fast-moving. What’s even scarier as that this entire concoction of destruction is as consistent as wet cement and can reach tremendous heights. Because of its large amount of glacial ice, Mt. Rainier could potentially produce massive lahars. The United States Geological Survey has installed a lahar warning system for the area.
A lahar swallowing everything in its path
Believe or not, this event won’t be a first. Sedimentology studies show that this sort of event happened around 5,600 years ago, when a gigantic lahar called Osceola Mudflow (which originated in Mount Rainier), drowned a portion of Puget Sound under about three cubic kilometers of water and debris. The Osceola lahar produced by Mount Rainier (Washington) resulted in a wall of mud 140 metres (460 ft) deep in the White River canyon, which covered an area of over 330 square kilometres (130 sq mi)!!! The USGS states that Mount Rainier is behaving in similar fashion to how it has behaved for millions of years – erupting periodically. In other words, at some point, this WILL happen again.
A similar event occurred in 1985, in Colombia, when 25,000 people lost their life. Just to get the big picture, know this: the Colombian event that claimed 25,000 souls is only 2.5% of the volume of what couldo hit Seattle. In 1998 some scientist released a lahar detection system. But it was a failed attempt, as the system did not deliver. Its readings were based solely on volcanic eruptions, but lahars don’t necessarily need volcanoes in order to form.
It’s true, we’ve come a long way, and history proves it. But we’re nowhere near powerful enough to take on God’s wrath. And probably we will never be. There’s no way of fighting back nature, but with enough vigilance, preparation and determination, we might end being survivors rather than victims. No matter what the future holds, we must never abandon hope.
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