Apocalypse, Cataclysm & Mega-Disaster - Past and Future

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Dotini

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This thread is the place to discuss apocalypses, cataclysms, mega-disasters and the like, whether past, present or future.

I kick off with recent reports of near-misses by asteroids.

Science
Bus-sized asteroid will whiz by Earth today, coming closer than the Moon
Mike Wehner,BGR News Thu, Feb 2 10:14 AM PST
asteroid.jpg

Earth-ending apocalypse movies always start with sky-gazers spotting an astroid that nobody knew about until it was too late. If the speedy space rock called 2017 BS32 was just 100,000 miles closer to our planet than it is, we’d have been in for an interesting afternoon, but thankfully the bus-sized body will just cruise by our planet instead of causing us any headache. What’s potentially worrisome, however, is that scientists only just spotted the rock, and it’s now the fourth asteroid to come within sniffing distance of our planet so far this year.

Science
Is The World Coming To An End? Asteroids Are Flying Past Earth More Often Than Usual [VIDEO]
International Business Times Thu, Feb 2 4:05 PM PST
3945e30491ad21802d287b87faf3443a
Space rocks appear to be taking aim at Earth. The fourth asteroid this year buzzed the Earth about midday Thursday, passing between the Earth and moon. It wasn’t quite as close as the one in September that missed us by just 24,000 miles, nearly as close as some geosynchronous satellites, or Sunday’s visitor, which passed within 32,200 miles. The latter, which was just 19 feet wide, wasn’t spotted until a few hours before it flew past. Asteroid 2017 BS32, which was first spotted Monday by astronomers from the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System, was about 100,000 miles out when it made its pass. It measures 36-by-82 feet — about the size of a bus — and when it made its flyby at ..
https://www.yahoo.com/news/m/f891d331-d71b-3d18-b278-aab5499274f2/is-the-world-coming-to-an.html
 

Dotini

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My favorite doomsday scenario is a nearby super nova showering one side of the planet with gamma rays.

https://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/starsgalaxies/gammaray_extinction.html

The half of the planet that faces the supernova dies immediately. We'd have no warning, it could happen at any moment.
IMO this scenario is held unlikely, since there are no known supernovae candidate stars in our neighborhood at this immediate time. But, if such a scenario were to eventuate, it would likely throw the entire globe in chaos and confusion, and conflict.
 

Dotini

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Key word, there.
True. And we know that nearby supernovae are most likely to happen when our solar system is passing through one of the spiral arms of the galaxy, where most stars are born and die supernova. And we are currently within a spur or branch of one of those arms, so our odds are higher of enduring a supernova now compared to when our solar system is passing between arms. I do believe the geological record shows periodic mass extinctions, some of which reflect a correlation with passage through a spiral arm.

So yes, doomsday could certainly come through exposure to nearby supernovae gamma rays.

But we are vulnerable to gamma rays - cosmic rays - at all times, as distant supernovae are sending them out all the time. We are especially vulnerable just now, as the protective magnetic fields of both Earth and Sun weaken, and allow more of these rays in. In to first nucleate clouds at low level and change our climate. They are also causing more danger for airplane passengers. The measured count of cosmic rays, gamma and X-rays, has increased 12.4% since 2015.
 
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Skip to 1 min:
You would be surprised how often Big Asteriods hit Earth, some huge ones are luckily exploded by our atmosphere but if they landed could be devastating.

Luckily most of our surface is water and most our land doesn't have people on it.
 

Dennisch

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. But, if such a scenario were to eventuate, it would likely throw the entire globe in chaos and confusion, and conflict.

If we would get hit by a healthy dose of Supernova, one side of the planet gets torched, and the other side will die within seconds because the atmosphere will be blown into space.

There would be no one left to engage in conflict.
 

BobK

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nucleate clouds at low level and change our climate.
Nah. Ain't gonna happen. CO2 is what causes climate change, Everybody knows that, the news is full of it. And not just any old CO2 either, just the CO2 produced by humans. That's what causes climate change.

Although, granted, blasting the atmosphere completely off the planet like @Dennisch says, yeah I suppose that could count as "climate change". Or climate cessation.
 

Dotini

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If we would get hit by a healthy dose of Supernova, one side of the planet gets torched, and the other side will die within seconds because the atmosphere will be blown into space.

There would be no one left to engage in conflict.
Is it established that the Earth has been hit by supernovae in the past? Maybe not, since the atmosphere is still here. :confused:
 

Dennisch

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Is it established that the Earth has been hit by supernovae in the past? Maybe not, since the atmosphere is still here. :confused:

Scientists think we have been hit by space radiation in the past, triggering a massive extinction.

But the source wasn't close enough to completely destroy the atmosphere. I think the threshold for something like that was 6000 - 8000 lightyears or something. Closer and we're all death, further away and it's pandemonium on Earth.

I prefer it to be the first option. A big flash and poof. We are gone.
 
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Is it established that the Earth has been hit by supernovae in the past? Maybe not, since the atmosphere is still here. :confused:
From what I have read our ozone can repair itself from any damage, just it will take several years.
 

Blitz24

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From what I have read our ozone can repair itself from any damage, just it will take several years.
Well if the gamma ray kills all of us, at least the climate change humans have caused will cease to be an active factor in damaging the planet.
 

Danoff

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It would destroy half of the ozone layer mate. That's a very long way away from any such thing.

The article says a 10-second burst would destroy ozone, but a "nearby" supernova would irradiate half of the planet with enough gamma radiation to wipe out most life.
 
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Second paragraph?

The scientists calculated that gamma-ray radiation from a relatively nearby star explosion, hitting the Earth for only ten seconds, could deplete up to half of the atmosphere's protective ozone layer. Recovery could take at least five years. With the ozone layer damaged, ultraviolet radiation from the Sun could kill much of the life on land and near the surface of oceans and lakes, and disrupt the food chain.

That's the ozone layer.

This is a total none story anyway. Gamma Bursts are directional. The odds of one hitting us are truly astronomical.
 

Danoff

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Second paragraph?

That's the ozone layer.

This is a total none story anyway. Gamma Bursts are directional. The odds of one hitting us are truly astronomical.

Yup, my bad. It's the ozone portion facing the supernova that gets wiped by the gamma radiation, and then influx of radiation that ensues destroys everything.

http://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/what-if/what-if-ozone-layer-disappeared.htm

Also, apparently, a rapid loss of heat. The odds of one hitting us are astronomical for sure, but apparently they have caused extinctions in the past.
 

Touring Mars

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there are no known supernovae candidate stars in our neighborhood at this immediate time.
How about Betelgeuse? It's well within the 6000 l.y. range and could (for all we know) have exploded already - it is unlikely that it has, and it is also unlikely that we would be adversely affected if it did, but it's certainly a candidate for going supernova...
 

Danoff

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Second paragraph?



That's the ozone layer.

This is a total none story anyway. Gamma Bursts are directional. The odds of one hitting us are truly astronomical.

How about Betelgeuse? It's well within the 6000 l.y. range and could (for all we know) have exploded already - it is unlikely that it has, and it is also unlikely that we would be adversely affected if it did, but it's certainly a candidate for going supernova...

Like all of the apocalypse scenarios (I like the yellowstone scenario as well, especially because I'm NOT far from the epicenter on that one), the odds are low that it would happen. The odds are astronomical that we'd get hit by an asteroid too, but of course that, like the gamma ray burst and yellowstone, has happened in the past and caused mass extinction.

The thing I love about the supernova scenario is the unevenness of the destruction. It hits a face of the planet, which means, presumably, some portion of the planet will fare far better than some other portion of the planet - which is fascinating to me.

Yellowstone would of course devastate the US/Canada/Mexico disproportionately, but ultimately it become a worldwide disaster. Perhaps the supernova GRB results in a worldwide disaster just the same - I don't know how much ozone stays put relative to the ground it's over.

One of the reason that I find the unevenness of destruction so fascinating is the question of whether you'd want to be at ground zero or try to live through it. Would you rather, like me, be right next to yellowstone when it goes off? Or would you want to be in Russia and try to survive?
 
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Dotini

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How about Betelgeuse? It's well within the 6000 l.y. range and could (for all we know) have exploded already - it is unlikely that it has, and it is also unlikely that we would be adversely affected if it did, but it's certainly a candidate for going supernova...

I'll hop out on a limb and suggest a supernova, while always possible and eventually a certainty, should not be at the top of the list of apocalypses, cataclysms and mega-disasters to come. See article below.

@Danoff
I like the Yellowstone scenario. I've been there a few times, once on a motorcycle, and there are signs of increased activity like swarms of mini-earthquakes, geyser activity and new science discoveries as to the status of the mega-plume lurking beneath.

I also like the magnetic field collapse/magnetic pole shift scenario. The Earth's magnetic field is weakening, polar wander is accelerating, and cosmic rays are up 12.4% since 2015.

Even so, the scariest scenario of all is probably the mega-asteroid impact. There has been a sharp increase in meteors and fireballs just this year. And one of the most talked about astronomy stories is the likelihood of finally locating Planet X, its orbital path and period. There could be periodic destructions associated to close approaches to Planet X in the past. Its period is thought to possibly be near to 12,000 years ago, when the oceans changed level by nearly 400 feet as we came out of the ice age, large animal extinction event, etc.

http://www.space.com/22009-betelgeuse.html
The coming supernova

When astronomers say Betelgeuse is expected to explode soon, they mean shortly in astronomical terms: within a million years, according to several sources. Predicting exactly when it will turn into a supernova is difficult, however, as it depends on precise calculations of its mass as well as an understanding of what is going on inside the star.

Betelgeuse is so vast — its size would extend beyond Jupiter's orbit if it were placed in the sun's position in the solar system — that several telescopes have captured images of the star and spotted it shedding mass. Starting in 1993 and continuing for at least 15 years, its radius shrank by 15 percent, an astonishing amount for so short a time.

"We do not know why the star is shrinking," said Edward Wishnow, a research physicist at UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory, in 2009.

"Considering all that we know about galaxies and the distant universe, there are still lots of things we don't know about stars, including what happens as red giants near the ends of their lives."
 

Danoff

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Even so, the scariest scenario of all is probably the mega-asteroid impact.

I dunno, the asteroid impact isn't really all that likely. We've charted most of the big ones. That's not to say that it's impossible, it's definitely possible. But more likely is a small asteroid that won't really do a lot of damage.

Wow Betelgeuse shrank by 15 percent in 15 years? Holy cow! :eek:
 

Dotini

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A magnetic pole reversal would unleash a dangerous period when compasses would point in all different directions and the Van Allen radiation belts would drop much closer to Earth's surface. But no one knows for sure when and how bad.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/scientists-tracking-dangerous-weakening-earths-223256543.html

What currently has geophysicists like us abuzz is the realization that the strength of Earth’s magnetic field has been decreasing for the last 160 years at an alarming rate. This collapse is centered in a huge expanse of the Southern Hemisphere, extending from Zimbabwe to Chile, known as the South Atlantic Anomaly. The magnetic field strength is so weak there that it’s a hazard for satellites that orbit above the region — the field no longer protects them from radiation which interferes with satellite electronics.

...analyses reveal an astounding feature: There’s a patch of reversed polarity beneath southern Africa at the core-mantle boundary where the liquid iron outer core meets the slightly stiffer part of the Earth’s interior. In this area, the polarity of the field is opposite to the average global magnetic field. If we were able to use a compass deep under southern Africa, we would see that in this unusual patch north actually points south.

This patch is the main culprit creating the South Atlantic Anomaly. In numerical simulations, unusual patches similar to the one beneath southern Africa appear immediately prior to geomagnetic reversals.
 
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A Level 8 Volcano could come close, whilst the intial eruption likely wouldn't end all life or even most of it, the massive amount of ash in the sky would make tempratures drop worldwide to the point most areas of earth wouldn't be liveable
 

TenEightyOne

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A Level 8 Volcano could come close, whilst the intial eruption likely wouldn't end all life or even most of it, the massive amount of ash in the sky would make tempratures drop worldwide to the point most areas of earth wouldn't be liveable

That's a lot of bollocks.

We have survived Level 8 eruptions and will continue to do so. Super-volumetric ejections of the types we see in several millions-of-years-old evidence occurred when the planet was a very different body. Those feature Level 8 on the Newhall Scale are no longer thought likely to be able to eject that kind of volume. See Newhall's own research or that of Guillaume Gualda for more.

If we were to return to Ice Age conditions (and a Level 8 could certainly do that) it's unlikely that "most areas of earth wouldn't be liveable", simply because those areas don't exist now. Tell Evenks or Inuits that they simply can't live where they live, it's impossible! :)
 

Dotini

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Permian - Triassic Extinction Event

...from Wikipedia



Marine extinction intensity during the Phanerozoic
%
Millions of years ago




Plot of extinction intensity (percentage of genera that are present in each interval of time but do not exist in the following interval) vs time in the past for marine genera.[1]Geological periods are annotated (by abbreviation and colour) above. The Permian–Triassic extinction event is the most significant event for marine genera, with just over 50% (according to this source) failing to survive.

The Permian–Triassic (P–Tr) extinction event, colloquially known as the Great Dying,[2] the End Permian or the Great Permian Extinction,[3][4] occurred about 252 Ma (million years) ago,[5] forming the boundary between the Permian and Triassicgeologic periods, as well as the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras. It is the Earth's most severe known extinction event, with up to 96% of all marine species[6][7] and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species becoming extinct.[8] It is the only known mass extinction of insects.[9][10] Some 57% of all families and 83% of all genera became extinct. Because so much biodiversity was lost, the recovery of life on Earth took significantly longer than after any other extinction event,[6] possibly up to 10 million years,

There is evidence for one to three distinct pulses, or phases, of extinction.[8][13][14][15] Suggested mechanisms for the latter include one or more large meteor impact events, massive volcanism such as that of the Siberian Traps, and the ensuing coal or gas fires and explosions,[16] and a runaway greenhouse effect triggered by sudden release of methane from the sea floor due to methane clathrate dissociation or methane-producing microbes known as methanogens;[17] possible contributing gradual changes include sea-level change, increasing anoxia, increasing aridity, and a shift in ocean circulation driven by climate change.

Coal gap
No coal deposits are known from the Early Triassic, and those in the Middle Triassic are thin and low-grade.[21] This "coal gap" has been explained in many ways. It has been suggested that new, more aggressive fungi, insects and vertebrates evolved, and killed vast numbers of trees. These decomposers themselves suffered heavy losses of species during the extinction, and are not considered a likely cause of the coal gap.[21] It could simply be that all coal forming plants were rendered extinct by the P–Tr extinction, and that it took 10 million years for a new suite of plants to adapt to the moist, acid conditions of peat bogs.[21] On the other hand, abiotic factors (not caused by organisms), such as decreased rainfall or increased input of clastic sediments, may also be to blame.[20] Finally, it is also true that there are very few sediments of any type known from the Early Triassic, and the lack of coal may simply reflect this scarcity. This opens the possibility that coal-producing ecosystems may have responded to the changed conditions by relocating, perhaps to areas where we have no sedimentary record for the Early Triassic.[20] For example, in eastern Australia a cold climate had been the norm for a long period of time, with a peat mire ecosystem adapted to these conditions. Approximately 95% of these peat-producing plants went locally extinct at the P–Tr boundary;[63] Interestingly, coal deposits in Australia and Antarctica disappear significantly before the P–Tr boundary.[20]

During the early Triassic (4 to 6 million years after the P–Tr extinction), the plant biomass was insufficient to form coal deposits, which implies a limited food mass for herbivores.[21] River patterns in the Karoo changed from meandering to braided, indicating that vegetation there was very sparse for a long time.[77]

---------------------------------------------------------------------

coalform.jpg


Curiously, out-of-place artifacts (Ooparts) are said to occasionally be found in coal deposits.
 
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That's a lot of bollocks.

We have survived Level 8 eruptions and will continue to do so. Super-volumetric ejections of the types we see in several millions-of-years-old evidence occurred when the planet was a very different body. Those feature Level 8 on the Newhall Scale are no longer thought likely to be able to eject that kind of volume. See Newhall's own research or that of Guillaume Gualda for more.

If we were to return to Ice Age conditions (and a Level 8 could certainly do that) it's unlikely that "most areas of earth wouldn't be liveable", simply because those areas don't exist now. Tell Evenks or Inuits that they simply can't live where they live, it's impossible! :)

Extinction wouldn't be possible from a Volcano but when you consider the economic problems it will cause to the richest nation and the fact air travel will not be possible for probably a decade, getting help to the areas that will experience vast cooling will be incredibly difficult, mass migration towards the equator would have to happen, and honestly I don't really know how that will work for those in poorer nations, but either way massive loss of life will happen and how we as a human race sort this issue out will be quite a challenge.

Still the Yellowstone Super Volcano is capable of releasing more energy then any known asteroid that has ever hit earth so It's not something to take lightly.
 

Dotini

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The collapse of all but one of the many late Bronze Age civilizations around the Mediterranean around the year 1200 BC led to a dark age of about 300 years. Some anthropologists see parallels between this historic systems failure and the potential fate of our own, current civilization.

drought
famine
earthquakes
invaders and refugees
rebellion


Do we have any Bronze age scholars who would agree on the causes of the Bronze Age collapse? Are there any relevant parallels between our situation today and those of the past? Are there any true, respected academics or scholars today who worry about the potential collapse of our current civilization?
 
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Michael88

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Volcanoes, asteroids, war....

I think we are closer to an ''apocalypse'' than we have ever been before, the cause is something small, really small, which is found everywhere on this planet. Germs.

The black death managed to kill 1/3 of the entire population in Europe, and that was in a time when the world was much MUCH less densely populated and there was no way train, plane or car which have a dramatic effect on increasing the spread.

But we have meds?

Multi resistant germs, thanks to decades of careless use of anti biotics, especially in the stock breeding sector, more and more germs become completely immune to even the strongest anti biotics. Deaths caused by resistant germs are constantly rising, there are cases where the patient received 15-30 different anti biotics and none of them helped.

Imagine something like the black death in this day and age, basically an illness that spreads and kills easily, with no real way to treat it. Imagine 1/3 of the western population would perish. Our infra structure is very vulnerable to these kinds of scenarios. How many workers does the food industry need, from the farmers to the transportation to the factories and the stores? A scenario like this would make the entire food industry collapse in no time at all.And thats all that is needed to make mankind decline into utter chaos.

Waste disposal would halt very quickly, like all other public services, turning cities into giant waste dumps only increasing the spread of many other diseases.

My point is, modern civilization has a tipping point which is very quickly reached by something like a pandemic.
Beyond this tipping point things go downhill fast and recovery is nearly impossible.