Artist's depiction of the "Zombie Apocalypse" : a generic term designed to embody all possible real apocalypses including from CMEs and extinction level asteroid strikes.
Devastation in Puerto Rico today - still 85 % without power, water after 4 weeks. How about waiting four YEARS for those essentials to arrive?
As the popular 'Walking Dead' series returns this Sunday, millions waiting with bated breath for Rick & Gang to hollow out the Saviors' skulls, the Zombie Apocalypse resumes once more. Of course there is no actual possible apocalypse of that sort, i.e. with "walking dead" or "biters" rampaging across the ravished terrain, though one sometimes wonders about the Trump followers. But we can acknowledge that the term kind of covers all generic end-of world scenarios in the sense of the remaining humans having to fend for themselves to survive day to day.
In defining these I consider potential catastrophes that have the capability of halting all electric power, as well as water, not just for months - but YEARS. Given electric power can mean the difference between life and death - as we've seen in dozens of scenes from the island of Puerto Rico after Maria struck (mainly in hospitals), and water is essential for life (again as we've seen in Puerto Rico, i.e.
this is a no brainer. And not a Zombie no brainer either. Is Puerto Rico an outlier? I don't believe so, and let's dismiss right now Dotard's giving himself a "ten" for dealing with the aftermath. No, this egomaniacal simpleton earns a '1' if that much (disallowing fractional ratings). He's completely blown it, e.g.
If we get struck with any of the major catastrophes in Trump's miserable term, you can basically phone it in, as in 'all over'.
The major takeaway of this year full of catastrophes - from Harvey, to Irma, to Maria and the California wildfires is that counting on your federal government to help save or rescue you is a lost cause. Not if the catastrophe is in the mega class, or if you have to live amongst a lot of brown or black people. But forget even those differences, I am convinced - after seeing the pathetic response in Puerto Rico - NO one will be rescued after a major catastrophe.
And look, FEMA is overstretched now with the aftermath of 3 major hurricanes and major wildfires, how would they be able to handle a mega catastrophe that wipes out the nation coast to coast? Over the past decade alone, FEMA's denials and reversals have generated uncertainty and anger in many communities, left others (like in Puerto Rico) at the mercy of water borne diseases, and led to long rounds of appeals in others.
What major catastrophes are we looking at? I list them now in the order of their likelihood:
1) Dotard goes ape shit and in a moment of manic pique punches in all the nuclear codes.
This is likely to happen if the Dotard's minders are unable to control his worst, most degenerate impulses after he loses it. After John Kelly's performance two days ago, I am convinced no one - no "adult" - exists to put a leash on this asshole and stop him from exercising his most depraved instincts..
If he punches in all the nuclear codes, a la Greg Stillson's fantasy in 'The Dead Zone', we are looking at over 11,000 nuclear warheads landing in a matter of hours from China, N. Korea, U.S. and Russia, Israel. All electric power be out as in vamonos after the first strikes - probably within 1-2 hours - from multiple EMPs (electromagnetic pulses from air burst) across continents. To get an idea of what this will be like for any survivors, go and watch the movie 'Threads'.
The film is about 1hr and 47 mins long, Brit-made but if it doesn't scare the bejeezus out of you, you are either already: a) brain dead, or b) a zombie and amongst the walking dead.
'Threads' is set in the industrial city of Sheffield, UK, and to be sure one needs to get adjusted to the peculiar accent. But once one does, he or she will be granted an inside look at a future none of us want to face. (One U.S. reviewer said that "Threads makes 'The Day After' look like a day at the races".) Having seen both I concur.
Threads is not for the squeamish or faint-hearted but I do think all those yammering for war or confrontation with North Korea need to see it and let its message soak in. In fact, I think every critically-thinking red blooded citizen ought to see it, if for no other reason to be motivated to let reps know this thing isn't on - not now or ever. (In a recent poll, 46 % of Republican voters indicated they wanted Trump to launch a preemptive strike on North Korea)
Max. estimated time with no power or water: Up to 10 years.
2. Meridian- centered coronal mass ejection (CME)
The coronal mass ejection, such as shown in the image below:
is the ultimate plausible nightmare catastrophe. While it is true it's unlikely to cause the loss of life such as for (1) in the worst case scenario you will be looking at months or years without electric power or water. In other words, you will be in the situation of Puerto Rico after a massive Cat 5 hurricane - except there'll be no place to go for succor or help.
We narrowly dodged such a monster five and a half years ago. But let's not fool ourselves, the day is coming when we may not be so lucky and can't expect to continue to escape with a glancing blow or solar "wrist slap" - as we have.
While it is true - as I noted in previous posts - that flare energy (as well as that to power coronal mass ejections) is limited by the magneto-hydrodynamic potentials available on a star like the Sun, this is not really much consolation if and when a major energy burst whacks us straight on broadside with 1 million amp field-aligned induction currents that have the potential to take out all our power grids in a cascade of failures. Space weather aficionados call such maxi-catastrophes "Carrington Events" after the signature original event that transpired in September, 1859, which incepted geo-magnetic currents so large that for days telegraph operators could actually disconnect their equipment from battery power and send messages solely via the emergent "auroral currents".
In our own current situation, we've become a more vulnerable society by constructing mammoth, interlocked power grids which can crash if the right combination of factors is imposed. While we do have high voltage transformers that connect directly to the ground (zero or earth potential) to neutralize power surges from lightning strikes, these don't afford any protection against powerful geo-magnetic currents that are induced in the earth and flow upward into the grid. Then ...one such mammoth event, could spark calamity. Possibly no electric power for days, maybe longer ...over vast swatches of North America.
In addition, if a monster flare hurls a super stream of charged particles along with the CME we could expect adverse effects on all GPS positioning satellites. Bear in mind that GPS, besides providing directions for road users, allows synchronized cell phone conversations, as well as orchestrates air traffic not to mention 'date stamping' on most financial transactions and guiding the dynamic positioning of the majority of deep sea oil drilling and gas operations.
Imagine then the same deep sea operations and financial transactions (say if you wish to redeem mutual fund shares) occurring when erroneous GPS info is received because a monster flare's radiation has knocked the timing off by even 1 millionth of a second (given the geo-spatial positioning measures accuracy to a few billionths of a second accuracy)? The resulting hundred fold or more time divergence would have catastrophic consequences.
Given the preceding a proactive solution would be advance protection of our power grids from upward directed geo-magnetic currents. Many experts agree a simple solution would be to install large enough resistor -capacitor systems at critical locations (e.g. near power plants or major cities) in order to sever any CME-driven upward field aligned current connection to the grid. (Recall from my basic physics blog, e;g. http://brane-space.blogspot.com/2011/06/introduction-to-basic-physics-electric.html that resistors act to limit current and also capacitors can do the same by collecting charge.)
The problem? Major U.S. power companies don't want to assume the cost for any voluntary installations, which could run $100,000 per transformer. Hence, the grid remains unprotected against the rare - but potentially calamitous - Carrington event CME that smacks us broadside. (As opposed to the glancing blow.)
Even a bit of help could be available if we knew the direction of an oncoming powerful CME event and had some time to prepare. Right now such an entity exists: the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) satellite which can measure the intensity and magnetic orientation of any CME that sweeps by it. The problem is that ACE is nearly on its last legs and a replacement monitor is needed, lest we become "blind" to the killer CME with our name on it.
Fortuitously, a fully -ready space craft that can undertake ACE's duties exists. This Deep Space Climate Observatory (or DSCOVR) could stand between us and utter catastrophe. The problem? The Repukes may want to cut its budget to let it become another useless piece of junk like the solar satellite shot down as part of a missile test back in the Reagan era.
Max. estimated time with no power or water: Up to 2 years.
3. Asteroid strike:
Of course, the ultimate catastrophe would be a Torino scale 9 impact, i.e. an "Earth sterilizing event". Such a calamity would most likely come from an Apollo object, especially a massive Earth orbit crossing object - perturbed out of the asteroid belt. For example, a Gaspra (12.5 x 7 x 7.5 miles) e.g.
impact would obliterate all life on Earth - never to arise again. The crater and blast effects alone would eliminate most of the population on the continent it struck. An ocean strike, creating tidal waves upwards of 2 miles in height, would be even worse. The debris, for its part, would block out most solar radiation for years and probably usher in massive extinction of plants.
The size of object needed is >> 1 km, and an Explosive release: >> 100,000 megatons TNT equivalent.
This is an extreme case and fortunately the odds are in our favor However, a mass extinction event which could render the entire North American continent rubble is a lot more probable. The relevant Torino scale would require an object 330' diameter to 1 km (3330') dia. Also an explosive release of 100 Megatons to 100,000 megatons TNT equivalent.
Max. estimated time with no power or water: Up to 10 years.
Let's make this really simple and easy to grasp: the failure to provide power and water access to Puerto Ricans by now - even after 4 weeks after Maria's strike - means there is zero chance the government will help you get through in the case of any of the preceding cataclysms. And when I write 'you" I refer to anyone in North America and the U.S. in particular.