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What is the most likely catastrophy to devastate humanity?

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by shunyadragon, Mar 30, 2019.

  1. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon Veteran Member
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    Some say . . . the eruption of a super volcano like the Yellowstone caldara, others say the impact of large meteorite. Both of these are possible, but very unlikely and in the distant future.

    The prime possibility is a large Solar Flare that would create catastrophic geomagnetic fury, and wipeout satalites, aircraft, all modern cares and other vehicles, water supply systems, all electric power systems, and all other technology we depend on for everyday life, GONE!


    Here's What Would Happen if a Solar Storm Wiped Out Technology as We Know It

    Here's What Would Happen if a Solar Storm Wiped Out Technology as We Know It

    PETER DOCKRILL
    21 JUN 2018
    It's a strange and lucky irony that the worst solar storm in recorded history happened at a time when human civilisation wasn't yet uniquely vulnerable to the Sun's inescapable geomagnetic fury.

    The Carrington Event – aka the solar storm of 1859 – saw a huge solar coronal mass ejection unleashed at Earth's protective magnetosphere, producing an epic geomagnetic storm the scale of which modern civilisation had never before witnessed.

    As a barrage of charged particles collided with Earth's magnetic field, intense auroras lit up skies around the world – but with strong electrical currents sweeping across the globe, the repercussions went far beyond colourful visuals.

    Telegraph systems covering Europe and North America went down, as sparks flew from equipment, giving electric shocks to their human operators and even starting fires. Amid the electrified tumult, machines that had been disconnected from their power supplies eerily continued to relay their truncated messages.

    It was, in other words, technological chaos. Yet from the comparatively futuristic perspective of 2018, as far as tech apocalypses go, it all sounds rather quaint and contained.

    If a similar-scale solar storm were to strike Earth's pervasive technological systems right now – over a century and a half later – what would happen?

    Nobody knows for sure how bad things would be, but given how scarily reliant we are on today's deep-rooted technological and electronic superstructures – compared to the primitive and relatively rare contraptions of 1859 – it would certainly be no picnic.

    Perhaps our most relevant clue lies in some strange events that befell the world in the month of March, 1989.

    Back then, a severe but not-Carrington-class solar storm struck Earth, courtesy of another coronal mass ejection from the Sun. Again, intense auroras resulted, leading some to think they could be seeing hazy after-effects of World War III.

    Yet it wasn't a nuclear strike disrupting radio signals and satellite communication systems, but the flow of charged particles getting caught up in Earth's magnetic field lines.

    The most extreme results were felt in Quebec, Canada, where the power grid went offline, meaning some 6 million people were immediately deprived of electricity. For many, the outage lasted only hours, but for others it took days for the power to come back on.

    It's this kind of medieval scenario that has scientists at the White House worried a doomsday-scale geomagnetic storm on the level of the Carrington Event could effectively send the world back to the Dark Ages.

    The thinking goes that "the big one", when it hits (about once every 500 years, if not sooner) would be powerful enough to knock out electrical and communications systems across Earth for days, months, or even years – nixing power grids, satellites, GPS, the internet, telephones, transportation systems, banking, you name it.

    And forget taking out Quebec – we could be talking about all of Canada going offline, maybe the whole world – and with only hours of warning before technological darkness falls.

    It sounds like something out of a disaster movie, but it's not the stuff of fiction. Conservative estimates suggest we could be looking at up to US$2 trillion of damage in the first year of such a calamity, with a recovery effort that could take a decade for the world to pull off.

    On the more extreme side, others say US$20 trillion is a more reasonable figure – an inevitable damage bill that should perhaps make us reassess the risk factors of space-borne destruction.

    "In terms of risk from the sky, most of the attention in the past was dedicated to asteroids," astrophysicist Abraham Loeb from Harvard University explained to Universe Today last year.

    "But a century ago, there was not much technological infrastructure around, and technology is growing exponentially. Therefore, the damage is highly asymmetric between the past and future."

    In a best-case scenario, a severe geomagnetic storm might only result in limited communications disruptions. But as history has shown, even such small-scale interference with the wrong kind of technological systems can have devastating consequences – like taking the world to the brink of nuclear war.

    Just where a more powerful solar storm might take us next – or when – is the million-dollar question. Under majestic auroras, we might be forced to undergo a brutal, incalculable reset.

    "An event of [Carrington] scale could be catastrophic if it happened tomorrow," director of research for MIT's Energy Initiative, Francis O'Sullivan, told CNET last week.

    "It's not just the lights going off now. It's bank accounts disappearing… If you think what would happen if the stock exchange was taken offline for a week or month or if communications were down for a week or a month, you very quickly get to a point where this might be one of the most important threats the nation faces, bar none."
     
  2. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    I'd go with drug resistant germs.
     
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  3. shmogie

    shmogie Well-Known Member

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    None of the above. Many will be surprised.
     
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  4. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon Veteran Member
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    That happens after the super solar flare. Technology could eventually deal with it, except when there is no longer any technology.
     
  5. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon Veteran Member
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    Bo!
     
  6. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    I'm not really a betting man, but in reality, I won't be surprised whatever happens, and seriously doubt ti see anything in this lifetime. A few lifetimes from now, maybe. "Doomsday' at some degree, has been around for a long time. My mother, probaby in the 60s, if memory serves, lamented, 'Who in their right mind would bring children into this world?" Same thing was lamented during both wars. That first one was over 100 years ago now.
     
  7. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon Veteran Member
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    True, of course over time many feared catastrophic events real or imagined such as religious apocalypses.

    I am only making a comparison of actual potential of catastrophic events that would devastate humanity, and this one is the most likely. Actually, the one in 1859 only caused minor problems of inconvenience, because we were in a low tech world, before that they would be hardly experienced except for extra brilliant world wide Northern and Southern lights.
     
    #7 shunyadragon, Mar 30, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2019
  8. danieldemol

    danieldemol Well-Known Member
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    The most likely doomsday scenario is me being late for breakfast
     
  9. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    I'm a real man and make my own breakfast. That way I'm never late. In fact, I'm incredibly punctual. I'm right there when it's ready. Not too early, not too late.
     
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  10. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Tail Wagger
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    So only computers in autos, RV's and Trailers would survive.

    I'm guessing the most likely thing would be that some omnivorous insects would mutate to produce an airborne allergen that stunned humans. It would be ants or wasps. People in colder regions would be safe but would suffer from terrible food shortages and would be plagued by annoying migrations of desperate people from warmer climates. Most scientists and technicians would of course be eaten. Also the schoolteachers would be eaten along with anyone who was too sweet.
     
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  11. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon Veteran Member
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    Nice plot for grade D sci-fi movie, but I think it has been done. The previous super solar storms showed not significant effect on life.

    The electronics in most computer, modern cars, RV and Trailers may be fried. If you drive a 1956 Chevy pickup no problem. To cause significant damage it would have to be as big as the 1859 Carrington event. Lesser events would be an inconvenience.
     
    #11 shunyadragon, Mar 30, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2019
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  12. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    I give thermonuclear war about 50/50 odds within the next few decades. I expect India and Pakistan the most likely candidates.
     
  13. Nowhere Man

    Nowhere Man Bompu Zen Man with a little bit of Bushido.

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  14. 1137

    1137 | O.S. Co-founder
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    The stupidity of blind faith.
     
  15. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Tail Wagger
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    That is a gracious answer.

    I really do think that some day there will be a harmful and frightening mutation in the insects, such as in the bed bugs which so far we cannot kill without using DDT. Perhaps they will begin to spread disease. I don't know when it will happen or what it will be, but I bet on insects. Insects are tiny machines which mutate and specialize faster than mammals. Remember how much damage the fleas did during the Black Plague? Look at the behavior of killer bees. Consider how deadly tiny spiders can be. Insects are highly mobile and adaptable, like we are; and they scare the living crap out of us for some reason.
     
  16. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon Veteran Member
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    When we are gone the arachnids will rule the world.
     
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  17. Brickjectivity

    Brickjectivity Tail Wagger
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    My runner up is de-evolution by a virus similar to Zika.
     
  18. shunyadragon

    shunyadragon Veteran Member
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    We will start over with the Silurian Period.
     
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