Now the future is a kind of attenuating peninsula; as we move out on it, one side drops off to catastrophe; the other side, nowhere near as steep, moves down into various kinds of utopian futures. In other words, we have come to a moment of utopia or catastrophe; there is no middle ground, mediocrity will no longer succeed. So utopia is no longer a nice idea, but a survival necessity. "Remarks on Utopia in the Age of Climate Change,"
from Kim Stanley Robinson. Previously.
posted by gerryblog
on Dec 22, 2011 -
An erupting stratovolcano poses numerous hazards for nearby habitation, but none nearly so terrifying and deadly as the pyroclastic flow
. Pyroclastic flows
, comprised of tons of superheated sulfuric gases, particulate rock materials and ash, can reach temperatures of 1,830 °F and travel at alarming speeds up to 450mph. Convection of materials within the clouds causes them to become a suspension, fluidizing
noxiously across the surrounding landscape for miles, in some cases even uphill or across open water. Wherever these clouds come in contact with humans the result is catastrophe, as the residents of Herculaneum
and St. Pierre
, Martinique learned within minutes of the eruptions of Vesuvius in 79AD and Pelee in 1902-- both towns were overwhelmed by pyroclastic clouds, igniting all flammable materials and incinerating and suffocating the inhabitants. None survived Herculaneum
, while just two of St. Pierre's
26,000 survived, one of whom was a prisoner condemned to death and awaiting his execution in a dungeon cell. Despite their incredible capacity for violence, pyroclastic flows are also capable of producing mesmerizing
, awe-inspiring beauty
posted by baphomet
on Feb 18, 2009 -
The End Of The World As We Know It
. If you want to imagine the catastrophe - how you would cope, what would you do to save yourself and your family - where do you turn for advice?... The idea of dying together, all of us, in some ways seems less appalling than the thought of going alone.
posted by amyms
on Apr 1, 2008 -
Collapse of civilization: Not necessarily a bad thing
Many will no doubt find the foregoing discussion of collapse depressing or pessimistic. In “How Civilizations Fall: A Theory of Catabolic Collapse”, John Michael Greer hints at why this is, writing, “Even within the social sciences, the process by which complex societies give way to smaller and simpler ones has often been presented in language drawn from literary tragedy, as though the loss of sociocultural complexity necessarily warranted a negative value judgment. This is understandable, since the collapse of civilizations often involves catastrophic human mortality and the loss of priceless cultural treasures, but like any value judgment it can obscure important features of the matter at hand.” Greer goes on to characterize collapse in terms of ecological succession.
…Collapse happens precisely because it improves our lives—and it happens when the alternative is no longer tolerable.
posted by halekon
on Dec 27, 2005 -
"Killer in Our Midst : Methane Catastrophes in Earth's Past and Near Future" (a free net book)
- During the greatest extinction pulse known to have happened in the history of life on Earth - the Permian catastrophe - 90% of then existing species perished. This astonishingly well written, authoritative, free book may be the most important thing you will ever read on the net or off of it : it explains in great detail an inevitable Methane catastrophe, if humans do not stop adding CO2 to the Earth's atmosphere, during which "not only would a considerable percentage of existing plants and animals be killed off, but a large percentage of the human population as well" (or the whole species). In the worst scenarios the atmosphere itself could become poisonous to Oxygen breathing life. Mundane laws of physics, expressed in impending Methane Hydrate release, dictate to humanity : cut CO2 release or perish. Simple.
posted by troutfishing
on Oct 13, 2005 -
NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory recently detected
[reg required] the largest explosion ever detected in the universe: an eruption releasing the energy of hundreds of millions of gamma ray bursts
. Just to put it in perspective, a single GRB
releases enough radiation to wipe out
just about everything human beings would require for survival in a 1000 light year radius. (The Milky Way spans ~100,000 light years, while the United Federation of Planets
spans about 8,000). Arthur C. Clarke has gone so far as suggesting that GRBs might be one of the reasons for Extra-Terrestrial silence: Gamma Ray Bursts
are so large and inescapable, a single one would wipe out even an enormous galactic empire. Makes killer asteroids
seem downright quaint
posted by absalom
on Jan 8, 2005 -
A cyclone has essentially flattened
the tiny Pacific island nation of Niue. Although only one of the island's 1200 inhabitants has died, the infrastructure is so battered that the government may simply call it quits,
ceding control to New Zealand. Although suffering from sharp population declines over the years, Niue had been one of the most technologically advanced microstates, being the first country to install free Wi-Fi
accessible to all of its residents and visitors. And they control the top-level domain .nu
- or do they? The recent natural disaster may highlight the fact that the story of the .nu domain is one of economic and legal exploitation.
And if Niue folds, can you run a website from a domain attributed to a deleted country?
A fascinating sidebar to this fascinating story. (Via /.
posted by PrinceValium
on Jan 12, 2004 -
The Day Britain Stopped
tells the story of what might happen if the 'integrated' transport system in the UK fails. On BBC Two last night, it made for shocking viewing and would doubtless have caused some people to question the idea of leaving the house, let alone getting on a plane to go anywhere. You can watch the full ninety minute programme online by following the link above if you've got the time and the Real One
posted by feelinglistless
on May 14, 2003 -
Let us prepare for impact.
A group of scientists is working on a standardized protocol for dealing with the possibility of a comet or massive asteroid striking the Earth, saying humans can do more than the dinosaurs ever could before a colossal impact precipitated their extinction 65 millions years ago.
"We have now overcome the giggle factor."
I don't know if we have........
posted by nonharmful
on May 7, 2001 -