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2013: an Ominous Year For Warnings and Predictions 94

Posted by timothy
from the it's-all-here-in-the-quatrain dept.
dcblogs writes "This year may be remembered for its striking number of reports and warning of calamitous events. The National Intelligence Council released its Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds report that included a number of dire possibilities ahead, including the prospect of a catastrophic solar storm, on par with the 1859 Carrington Event. Historical records suggest a return period of 50 years for a repeat of the Quebec-level storm that knocked out the power for 6 million in 1989, and 150 years for very extreme storms, such as the Carrington Event, according to Lloyd's, in a report this year. Scientists at the Idaho National Laboratory recently demonstrated in tests that 'geomagnetic disturbances have the power to disrupt and possibly destroy electrical transformers, the backbone of our nation's utility grid.' This was also the year the average daily level of CO2 reached a concentration above 400 parts per million. In a recent National Academies report this year, 'Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises,' scientists recommend creation of a global early warning system to alert mankind to abrupt climate changes. A recent paper in Nature, Abrupt rise of new machine ecology beyond human response time, said financial trading systems are driving transaction times down to the speed of light, and 'the quickest that someone can notice potential danger and physically react, is approximately 1 second.'"
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2013: an Ominous Year For Warnings and Predictions

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  • by WillAdams (45638) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @12:04PM (#45775853) Homepage

    How are we going to harness tech and knowledge to create a better world for our children and grand-children?

    Is it really an improvement to have machines such as the ShapeOko: http://www.shapeoko.com/ [shapeoko.com] rather than teaching children how to use a set of carving gouges, chisels, saws, &c.?

    Is it inevitable that we will see the banning of commercial fishing as commercial hunting was out-lawed during our grand-parents' day?

    What technologies or organizations are there which offer options for making the world a better place?

      - http://opensourceecology.org/ [opensourceecology.org] --- and their ``global village construction kit are one bright light --- arguably the ShapeOko has a place in that though.
      - http://www.heifer.org/ [heifer.org] --- teach a man to fish and all that

    • by WillAdams (45638)

      Meant to include a link on the commercial fishing --- it's sobering that there's greater tonnage of ships in the water than there are fish:

      http://what-if.xkcd.com/33/7 [xkcd.com]

    • by Richy_T (111409) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @12:09PM (#45775877) Homepage

      Will you teach your children to flake flint hand axes?

      Thought not.

      • Probably, if I ever have children. Flintknaping is fun, easy, the materials are common as rocks, and once you know how to flake out an edge, you'll never be without a tool.
      • Will you teach your children to flake flint hand axes?

        Thought not.

        Around here, if you dig deep enough, you'll hit limestone. Other than that, all we got is sand. No granite, no quartz, no flint. #$@$#@!!

      • by jraff2 (2828801)
        Something like the 1859 Carrington Event or even stranger will provide some warning. Shut the grid down! Turn EVERYTHING OFF! Unplug EVERYTHING! With no live current the device killing current surges will be much less. Go ouside and enjoy the light show. DO NOT use any electrical appliance, not even battery operated, it will be burned out!
        • by icebike (68054)

          DO NOT use any electrical appliance, not even battery operated, it will be burned out!

          And so we have another dire prediction.

          Current induced is proportional to area, Length of transmission lines, etc. Small transistor radios, cell phones, etc would not have the are
          to induce enough current to harm them.

          While there would be no point in using a battery operated phones and radios (the towers would all be shut down), it would be quite safe to do so.
          Older ICE engines will continue to operate properly, (The computerized modern ones may be a different thing).

          It would be a perfect day for a holiday,

    • by istartedi (132515)

      Is it inevitable that we will see the banning of commercial fishing as commercial hunting was out-lawed during our grand-parents' day?

      I was able to find information on commercial hunting in the US with google just now. Illinois was the first state that came up. I bet there are plenty of others. No, you probably can't commercially hunt on public land; but that's a resource issue. Too many people wanted to do it (passenger pigeon extinction, etc.). If you control the land and it's not an endangered spe

    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      How are we going to harness tech and knowledge to create a better world for our children and grand-children?

      We are not going to. You may choose to create a better world for your children and grand children, but I am certainly not going to expend any effort to create a better world for your children or grandchildren. But don't expect me to support you.

      There are too many people on thiis planet - by somewhere between 4 and 5 billion. I'm not contributing to the problem, but it sounds as if you intend to, or

  • by Richy_T (111409) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @12:10PM (#45775885) Homepage

    Time to put on the sack-cloth and roll around in the dirt.

  • The sky ius falling! H. Penny

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @12:22PM (#45775951) Homepage Journal

    Billons were spent between 2003 and 2010 to deny climate change [wired.co.uk] (pdf [drexel.edu]) and probably even more has been used for that goal in the last 3 years. In any case, is more money that was ever used to measure climate change, to detect dangerous asteroids, and prevent the spreading of pandemic diseases.

    Maybe science should stop doing warnings and studies and let things happens with no preparations from our side. We deserve it.

    • Maybe science should stop doing warnings and studies and let things happens with no preparations from our side. We deserve it.

      The problem with this from the scientists' point of view is that we have to live with the consequences too. Now, in my field I'm not likely to be issuing any dire warnings any time soon--but in the unlikely event that I did come across something in my work that could kill millions of people or crash the economy, I'd damn sure want to do something about it, if for no other reason than that my family and friends and I would be just as likely to be affected as anyone else.

    • I don't usually take a side in the arena of climate change....

      The reason is that I have not been able to study all the data myself and if I did it's not my field of expertise. I do not however need to fund and complete my own study to know that climate change will happen regardless of our contributions and that when government gets involved someone is going to profit from their policies. If I want that person to be the average guy including me then the needle needs to fall on cleaner, cheaper, more efficien

    • by quantaman (517394)

      Billons were spent between 2003 and 2010 to deny climate change [wired.co.uk] (pdf [drexel.edu]) and probably even more has been used for that goal in the last 3 years. In any case, is more money that was ever used to measure climate change, to detect dangerous asteroids, and prevent the spreading of pandemic diseases.

      Maybe science should stop doing warnings and studies and let things happens with no preparations from our side. We deserve it.

      Your characterization of the paper is misleading. They're looking at all the groups that have a denialist position and taking a sum of their income, but those groups aren't exclusively doing climate change. The billions help characterize the influence of the advocates but not the amount of advocating they're doing.

      Besides, the biggest denialist advocate in the US is Fox News and the Republican party, I'd say they're worth far more than these advocacy groups to cast doubt on AGW.

  • The Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty is unraveling pretty quickly as a result of the US cooperation with India. Now China is helping Pakistan http://www.newsweek.com/china-commits-65-billion-pakistani-nuclear-project-225076 [newsweek.com] Regional nuclear was is becoming more likely.
  • I was there! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @12:39PM (#45776069)

    for a repeat of the Quebec-level storm that knocked out the power for 6 million in 1989

    I was there. And it was really, really creepy. From my apartment building I could see the electrical arcing from the power station way on the other side of town. The lights went out everywhere, and then the Aurora Borealis started lighting up the sky - something that rarely happens at that lattitude (Montreal). It was - surreal.

    • I could see the electrical arcing from the power station way on the other side of town. The lights went out everywhere, and then the Aurora Borealis started lighting up the sky.

      Hmmm . . . sounds like an X-Men or Spiderman film. My first thought would be that someone is filming yet another comic book movie in my neighborhood, and these were just the special effects.

      • by aquabat (724032)
        I'm a little scared that I can't tell if you're joking or not, about not knowing if the lightning was a special effect, I mean.
  • Yep, Hyperbole is a force which harnesses the innate fears of the masses. But the fact hyperbole falls short doesn't make me less sad about the extinctions of tigers, elephants and great apes, etc. When I see people snickering that polar bears aren't extinct yet, it just makes me sadder. I get truly aggravated by green bumper stickers which discredit the unimpeachable thesis that extinctions of other species are caused by our species at a rate surpassed only by volcanoes, meteors and comets.
  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @02:15PM (#45776811) Homepage

    Like every other year before it.

  • But no commensurate disasters.. Oh we've had bad weather.. but it's been more like the us being the frog being boiled alive. We've adapted to these record tornados, floods etc, where they don't faze us enough...

Everything that can be invented has been invented. -- Charles Duell, Director of U.S. Patent Office, 1899

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