It Could Always Be Worse
The next time the car won’t start and the milk you poured on your cereal is sour and the kids have the flu and the cat is having more kittens in the washroom, just tune into The RSOE Emergency and Disaster Information Services (EDIS) from Budapest, Hungary. Your crises will seem much more cope-able, given the fact that volcanoes, earthquakes, floods and epidemics are much bigger problems than your mismatched socks.
This highly-informative web site provides a Google-Earth-based map of the world with tables listing and categorizing world wide “events’ of natural and man-made disasters–always a good way to gain an “it could always be worse” perspective.
Chose a disaster. Any disaster. Take for instance the fact that there is an Earth-approaching object the size of a football stadium hurtling through space at 21 thousand miles and hour that, on February 16, will miss the planet by only .04 Astronomical Units! Duck and cover! That sounds scary until you find that four hundredths of the distance to the sun is 13 times farther from Earth than the moon. Close call! Read on….
There was a “nuclear incident” on the shore of Lake Michigan over the weekend. No cause for alarm, folks, nothing to see here, be on your way. It was an electrical cable issue, nothing to do with radioactive stuff, they say. Homer Simpson is alive and does not glow in the dark.
Note that a score of 8 is at the top of the list of “volcanic explosivity index” and one of those is the super-volcanic Yellowstone Caldera. Just one eruption of the many in the past few million years produced 2,500 times as much ash as the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption. Here’s another good reason for my daughter to bring her family from SD to NC. Listening, girlie?
To learn more about any given event, click the little information “i” to the right of the row, and from the window that opens, click “description” to learn about the hanta virus cases in New Mexico or the higher-than-normal cases of spinal meningitis in New York.
Seriously, this is a great resource. See for instance the category called “mass death of animals.” There are more than 20 entries here, just in 2011. This, as you know, is a topic I am very interested in following, and being as current as possible.
To carry this more firmly beyond the arm-chair browsing realm, these incidents of extremes will be increasingly compounded by climate chaos; the droughts, fires, floods and sea level changes that result will increasingly impact humans; and we have no other Earth to go to.
This comprehensive overview from TomDispatch of the interwoven issues of climate-oil-food and civil society is worth a read and much thought. Increasingly, the emergency and disaster information will include human responses to these “natural” events, including large numbers of displaced people.
I’ll leave it to your political bias and available information to imagine how many future “emergency events” might have been avoided or softened if we had shown the courage, wisdom and determination to stop our addiction to fossil fuels in the 70s when we knew this kind of world was ahead of us if we didn’t.
- World’s largest volcano in Yellowstone National Park to wipe out two-thirds of US? (dailymail.co.uk)
- Yellowstone Caldera has Risen Three Inches Per Year for Last Three Years (acceleratingfuture.com)
- Be thankful it’s not today (dailykos.com)