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Earth United States Science

Is the Yellowstone Supervolcano About To Blow? 877

An anonymous reader writes "Apparently, Yellowstone National Park has been having a very unusual number of earthquakes. Many of the most recent tremors have been deeper underground, an ominous sign. Combine that with a rapid rise in elevation over the past three years, and the possibility that earthquake activity from surrounding areas could trigger such an eruption on its own, and you've got the possible warning signs of a supervolcano eruption that would wipe out half to 2/3 of the continental US, plunge global temperatures, and wipe out a very significant chunk of world food sources. Here's a little more info to make your New Year brighter!"
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Is the Yellowstone Supervolcano About To Blow?

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  • Suddenly... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @07:44PM (#26286519)

    Suddenly the economy doesn't sound like such a big problem after all.

  • Re:drilling (Score:2, Insightful)

    by moniker127 ( 1290002 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @07:53PM (#26286609)
    No. I could not be. Its a fucking volcano, it erupts when it wants. Don't make one thing about another.
  • Re:Can't decide (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @07:54PM (#26286617)

    After the fact.

  • Pressure applied (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @08:02PM (#26286691)

    Of the top of my head, I remember that the Air Force got caught pumping waste chemical weapons into the subsurface under Rock Flats

    Hey, here's a thought - PUMPING STUFF UNDERGROUND increases pressure.

    PUMPING STUFF OUT OF THE GROUND reduces pressure.

    Given that magma wells are many miles below the surface, tapping a bit of oil that sits relatively near the top is doing nothing for a massive supervolcano.

    So basically the top of your head is an idiot, hopefully it's not spread any further than that.

    Couple that with George Bush's legislation

    Too late! He thinks George Bush is congress now!

  • Re:Global Warning (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stile 65 ( 722451 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @08:03PM (#26286695) Homepage Journal

    It's more likely to cause global cooling, as TFS and TFA state.

  • Re:Global Warning (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mtn453 ( 1442435 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @08:06PM (#26286729)
    It would more likely knock out all human life in the USA and burn/melt most of the populated areas of Canada and Mexico. Don't forget it will cause a huge drop in temperature which will cause a mini ice age Doesn't really matter where you are in the world as everyone will most likely starve to death in a couple years anyways. I think it was Mt Toba that went off last time... which dropped the human population down to 10,000 and kicked off a mini ice age 75,000 years ago.
  • by hobo sapiens ( 893427 ) <TEA minus caffeine> on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @08:07PM (#26286745) Journal

    The linked articles do not really raise any cause for concern. The title sure has a ZOMG!!! factor to it, but in reality it's just a bunch of what-ifs. Move along, nothing to see here.

  • Jesus Christ, the summary is a bit alarmist, no? "Wipe out half to 2/3 of the continental United States?" Uh, no. It would leave half the United States under a dusting of ash. That's not the same as "wiping it out". Because, see, once the ash is cleaned up, the people, places and things underneath are all still there. At worst, it'll mean some clogged pipes and some really dirty shoes for a week or so.

    The eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980 left approximately 1/3 of the United States under a dusting of ash as well. Guess what?! We're all still here! In fact, after a couple of weeks, it was like nothing had happened. During the eruption things got a little scary for those who were very close (and deadly for those who were very, very close), but it was just more annoying than anything else for those who dealt with the ash clouds further away. It was basically like just having a big pile of dirt slowly emptied all over a big swath of the country.

    As apocalyptic predictions go, this one's pretty benign.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @08:12PM (#26286809)
    That's ok. It'd take out red states much more than blue ones.
  • by HTH NE1 ( 675604 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @08:19PM (#26286867)

    We need to stop Lavos from destroying the world!

    Some things are fixed, some things are in a flux. Yellowstone is a fixed point in history. What happens, happens. There's no stopping it.

  • by Unix Ronin ( 1442443 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @08:27PM (#26286927)

    Well, this is true, but what you have to remember is that those "mathematical models" were created by imbeciles who believed that all events in the financial market were independent (i.e no event in the market affects any other event), that the market can grow forever without limit, and -- worse -- still believe that when an event that the models say is a once-in-a-hundred-years event happens three times in six months, it's not an indication of a basic flaw in the model, but rather a rare fluke that means it's now statistically certain it'll NEVER happen again. The global financial sector's "mathematical models" are worthless, and always have been. They built a house of cards using imaginary money as cards, and the question was only one of when the house of cards would collapse.

    The financial market and the Yellowstone basin are hardly related. Our models of vulcanism are incompletely understood, and based on what is -- on a geological scale -- a very short period of observation, a mere century and a half or so in the case of Yellowstone. But they are at least based on observation and study, not wishful thinking. Yes, many of the models indicate that there could be another supervolcanic event at Yellowstone "any time now". But on a geological timescale, that "any time now" could be a thousand years away.

    This is interesting news, and absolutely bears close monitoring, but I think it's a little premature to run around shouting that the sky is falling. But regardless of the actual risk from Yellowstone, I don't think that the failure of the consensual delusion passed off as mathematical models of the global economy constitutes anything that can be used as evidence for anything except for how stupid a whole lot of ostensibly really smart people can actually be, when they're blinded by greed.

  • by WalksOnDirt ( 704461 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @08:35PM (#26287037)

    The Toba eruption is generally thought to have been larger than any of the Yellowstone eruptions. The largest Yellowstone eruption was pretty close, though. Source: []

  • Re:Suddenly... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pyro_peter_911 ( 447333 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @08:36PM (#26287041) Homepage Journal

    Fortunately, I heeded the advice to SELL SELL SELL all of the stocks in my 401(k) portfolio and invest in Guns, Ammo, and Booze. I should be in pretty sweet shape if the Apocalypse occurs in the next few months.


  • by ricky-road-flats ( 770129 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @08:39PM (#26287077)
    The *luck* of the United States recently? WTFF?

    You elect an imbecile to the most powerful office in the world. Twice.

    You spend/borrow your way into a financial crisis.

    You alienate and disgust 99% of the rest of the world with (just off the top of my head) Guantanamo, bombings inside Pakistan, extraordinary renditions, the whole Iraq fuckup, Kyoto, etc.

    You remove more and more of the basic rights of your own citizens.

    Apart from that, please think about the majority of humanity around the world, count your fucking blessings, and shut the fuck up. Try living just one day as an average Somali, Haitian, Zimbabwean, or Burmese.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @08:41PM (#26287097)

    That was a Doctor Who reference you insensitive clod!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @08:55PM (#26287203)

    Try living just one day as an average Somali, Haitian, Zimbabwean, or Burmese.

    I'm sure you're posting to Slashdot from an average Somali, Haitian, Zimbabwean, or Burmese household. On a high horse, no doubt.

  • just speculating (Score:2, Insightful)

    by shakuni ( 644197 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @08:58PM (#26287223)

    Has tapping this as an energy source ever been considered ? i am not a geologist but I am thinking if there is so much geothermal energy right beneath our feet (probably very deep) of such enormous magnitude there could be a way to tap into this.

  • by rhyder128k ( 1051042 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @09:15PM (#26287361) Homepage

    Oh come on, this is Slashdotland. Every day a new cure for cancer/AIDS is found, along with a new storage tech that stores things at an atomic level. Every week Microsoft stares bankruptcy in the face because Linux is taking over. When Rockstar Games don't have a "controversial" new release out, the editors have to balance the good news with a few downers.

  • by Mystery00 ( 1100379 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @09:18PM (#26287387)

    21C? I hope it erupts soon! It's going to be 40C for the next four days here (Australia).

  • Re:Suddenly... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Daswolfen ( 1277224 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @09:24PM (#26287435)

    The process of eating and drinking is kind of conducive to human life, and booze is useless as a source of water (doesn't quench thirst or prevent dehydration... does the opposite in fact).

    Obviously, you didn't think that through. If you have guns, ammo, and booze, then you can use the first two to get food and water.

    Haven't you ever played Fallout?

    The booze is for cleaning the wounds.

  • by Darkk ( 1296127 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @09:28PM (#26287467)

    That is why you always hear about towns and ancient cities being wiped out by a nearby volcano. After the town gets plastered with ash and dust the remaining in the air lingers on getting into people's lungs putting them to slow death.

    We have the means to quickly get away from it but at a large scale such as Yellowstone it's going to affect ALOT of things including livestock that we feed on.

    Those who survive the initial blow will have a long battle of finding food and keeping warm.

    Seems the only real safe place would be aboard the international space station but can't stay there forever either.

    So I would stock up on canned food and water. And plenty of seeds for replanting because you are on your own when it happens.

  • Re:Um no (Score:4, Insightful)

    by delong ( 125205 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @09:30PM (#26287501)

    Actually, the number of deaths would be negligible. Yellowstone sits in the most sparsely populated region of the U.S. The actual direct destructive power of the volcano would only effect a 40 square mile area, which except for Jackson Hole, is largely empty.

    Laramie, Cheyenne, Bozeman, Billings, etc would be hit hard by ashfall, but Denver would only get about a foot. Folks know ash collapses roofs. So, gasp, folks would clear the ash as it accumulates. Many or most people would evacuate anyway.

    This is alarmism. At its worst, there will be an immense disruption of the electrical and telecommunications grid, immense expense from ash damage and removal, alot of immediate deaths and some ash deaths.

  • Re:Totally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <slashdot AT pitabred DOT dyndns DOT org> on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @09:40PM (#26287577) Homepage
    Damn you ironic moderators!
  • Re:Suddenly... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gandhi_2 ( 1108023 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:00PM (#26287711) Homepage

    Those who beat their swords into plowshares will plow for those who don't.

    If you have guns and ammo, while your neighbors do de facto have food and water access.

    See also: Somalia

  • Re:Global Warning (Score:3, Insightful)

    by an unsound mind ( 1419599 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:06PM (#26287741)

    Everyone will starve to death?

    Not quite that level of an apocalypse.

    It'd kill off, say, a few billion people. Places such as Mexico could still farm food, enough to sustain hundreds of thousands of people.
    And the situation would recover fairly quickly - we'd almost certainly see a complete crash of global economy, energy prices soaring like never before and cannibalism becoming a viable survival strategy, but the end of the human rice? Hardly.

  • by FatdogHaiku ( 978357 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:10PM (#26287761)

    But this was human civilization from 75,000 years ago, which intellectually and technologically pales in comparison to human civilization today. Wouldn't the advancements we've made since the Toba eruption help us to endure the effect of another mega-eruption?

    I think most of our advances would be the first casualties. The amount of fine ash (powered glass-like substance) would ruin many of the things we depend on, like power generation, plumbing and sanitation, food distribution... all gone for a considerable period. It may be impossible to grow crops for several seasons due to acid contamination, there is a lot of sulfur in the type of magma under Yellowstone. As a race, we might survive in bunkers if they still exist... sadly the people that will have access to those facilities are not the people I would want to repopulate the world with... not the "fittest" genetically or even mentally, just the ones with political clout. Carpenters, farmers, doctors and paramedics are some of the people I would want to see survive, raising the odds for the species a bit.

  • Re:Global Warning (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sheepofblue ( 1106227 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @11:02PM (#26288147)

    Don't confuse the end of the world panicky Lemmings with facts...

  • by Keen Anthony ( 762006 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @11:24PM (#26288289)

    True, but I was thinking about technologies like consumer available solar power, water filtration, thermal clothes, and hydroponic vegetables. My end-of-the-world scenarios have been the product of '70s and '80s apocalyptic films like The Day After, Threads, and The Road Warrior... okay that last bit is a stretch.

    Obviously life post-ELE will be bleak, but would it be any better because of these tools without considering what desperate people with guns and missiles do.

  • by Schemat1c ( 464768 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @11:44PM (#26288389) Homepage


  • by Shark ( 78448 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @11:48PM (#26288409)

    Might want to re-consider solar power in such an event... At least on the short to mid-term.

  • More, or Less? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @11:55PM (#26288443) Journal

    Many small earthquakes may or may not be a sign of increased pressure, but it's definitely a sign of increased release of pressure. Not being released in small increments could mean a major quake later.

    Rather than worrying about lots of earthquakes, maybe we should be worried when there's a lack of them.

    There, that should give the professional Doomsdayologists in the media plenty to write about, since the lack of seismic activity almost everywhere may be a sign of impending (sometime, maybe, who knows, but let's call it this anyway) doom.

  • Re:Global Warning (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Milkyman ( 246513 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @12:35AM (#26288635)

    evacuated to where exactly? and by whom? you saw what happened to katrina do you really think we're any more prepared for anything like this?

  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @12:42AM (#26288673) Journal

    A "few meters" of ash covering most of the US would be a pretty major issue. Almost none of the roofs are rated to carry that. All the planted crops, except trees, are killed. All trees less than a few meters die, naturally. You can't plow it. Most plants won't grow in it. Cars won't run for very long when it's in the air and nobody's digging a car out of a few meters of ash without patience, and if you did there's no where to drive it where you won't get bogged down in soft crunchy ash. The ash is suffused with toxic gases, some of which precipitate as acids. When it rains it kills all the life in all the rivers, and the silt changes the course of major rivers and minor streams. When it gets to the Atlantic and the Gulf it kills almost all of the fish in the ocean. It interferes with cell phone reception, TV and radio. A few meters of ash is enough to clog every hydro power plant, every nuclear power plant in the country. It blocks all the railways and all the highways of course, and that's how we move food around. And if you're not directly affected but you don't like America, that would be a fine day to attack. In summary, it's a big deal. Lava? A local issue where a good plan is not to touch the lava, not to get downstream of the lava. Ash, though, it'll wreck your whole week.

    Link. [] A few inches of ash is a big deal. I've been there. A few meters? It boggles the imagination.

  • by Keen Anthony ( 762006 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @12:48AM (#26288703)

    That's not a sad thing. I have none of those skills. Sure I can make a radio out of two coconut halves, but that's it!

    Now that I think of it, the typical modern American community is totally unprepared for anything which would isolate it, considering how interdependent communities are nowadays.

  • Re:Suddenly... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bladesjester ( 774793 ) <slashdot AT jameshollingshead DOT com> on Thursday January 01, 2009 @12:53AM (#26288727) Homepage Journal

    No, because the people with guns and ammo would be inclined to shoot you and take the precious things from you because you were defenseless.

    You have entirely too much faith in the good nature of your fellow man during times of great turmoil.

  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @01:16AM (#26288799) Journal

    Yellowstone will erupt in this dramatic fashion. The Siberian Traps will too. The 1.5km-diameter (or much more) space rock will definitely strike earth in the future. A comet will too. These aren't tinfoil hat ideas - everybody in the related sciences agrees that these events will occur. It's just a matter of time. Maybe it will be a long time, as we think about it usually, or maybe it will be a short one. Each of these events is neither more likely nor less likely to happen on a particular Monday a million years hence than they are on July 4, 2012.

    They will happen and when they happen there's a good chance they'll wipe out all human life still on the Earth. Events like these don't have to wipe out mankind. We can choose to not let that happen. Or not.

  • Re:Global Warning (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @03:13AM (#26289249) Journal

    you saw what happened to katrina do you really think we're any more prepared for anything like this?

    Despite the bunging of Katrina's aftermath, what I saw in *advance* of Katrina was quite useful. The Mayor BEGGED people to leave town on local television. Everybody had several days' warning, they just chose not to leave. And it's the idiots that didn't leave that were starving, peeing on and raping each other in the stadium a week later.

    It would be terrible if it happened - I have a good friend in Montana, but if warnings were as good as Katrina's, I'd be just fine. As a Californian, if I see Arnie telling NorCal folks to bail, I'm gone in 60 seconds, with my kids in the back, laptop and backup drives in hand!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 01, 2009 @04:03AM (#26289443)

    And if you're not directly affected but you don't like America, that would be a fine day to attack.

    Attack what with what? They would need equipment capable of traversing this ash-filled wasteland. If they manage to encounter people, they are likely barracaded and armed. The attackers might even be doing a favor by bringing supplies. Who cares if some in your camp eat it? The survivors have more food plus whatever is scavanged from the foolish attackers. Attackers who would be hard pressed to attack ash pile A or ash pile B. If we were attacked with nukes, it is likely our silos are still active and may be able to retailate (assuming satellite communication remains). If they still had nukes, why waste them on a land that may be unoccupied for years? A typical nuke attack would be the city, but a typical survivor might be rural America - hard to hit. Nuclear winter on top of a supervolcano may have little to no affect. Ash might make a hell of shield. Survivors would be hunkered down taking their daily vitamin and portion of rice - but oh noes - the background radiation just went up a but and someone might get cancer.

  • by zwei2stein ( 782480 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @05:45AM (#26289719) Homepage

    (emphasis mine)

    As for that "several million years" figure for a devastating explosion of the kind TFA is describing, consider that the United States as a nation is still less than 250 years old. I'm not saying it can't happen, but the idea that "it hasn't happened in a long time so it must be ready to happen now" is just a popular Las Vegas delusion.

    Problem is, that this statistical delusion is delusion only if you examine unconnected "mathematical" events.

    But this supervolcano explosion thing is different: pressure builds up till it explodes. Question is when pressure is high enough so that its boom time. And we know three previous instances of how long it took.

    Propability does not apply, statistics do. Nor "we know shit about this" applies.

  • Re:Global Warning (Score:1, Insightful)

    by lysergic.acid ( 845423 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @06:43AM (#26289871) Homepage

    yea, i'm sure your wilderness survival skills will come in real handy when you're dying of silicosis & respiratory failure.

    i mean, a supervolcano just covered the western half of the United States in ash fall, and the first thing you think to do is to grab a gun and go outside and head into the wilderness? here's a tip for you and your hunter friends with "wilderness survival skills": when the global temperature has just dropped by 20+ degrees, it's better to stay indoors.

    and you also won't be needing your guns (well, assuming you're not in the small minority of the population who freaks out during stressful situations turning into homicidal sociopaths) as there will be plenty of freshly killed animals in the first few weeks following the eruption. and after that there won't be any game left for you to hunt--but hey, cannibalism is always an option!

  • Re:Global Warning (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @06:43AM (#26289875) Homepage

    When the volcano erupts it makes a lot of the petty things we care about today seem insignificant.

    How bad an eruption will be depends also on the type of ash that gets ejected. And it will probably be worse for those living east of that eruption since the majority of the ash will be carried east on the jetstream.

    A major climate change caused by an eruption will cause great changes in where crops can be grown and which types of crop that you can grow. The changes in climate will cause major migration of people, war and famine. I suspect that equatorial regions will be the least affected by this while regions like the US, Canada, Europe and Northern Asia will be a very tough area to live in. Inuits moving to Florida?

  • Re:Global Warning (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:14AM (#26290087) Journal
    It would depend on the time of year. If the ash fell while the crops were growing, then it would block them from getting the sun and crush them, killing them very effectively and eliminating a year's yield. If it fell at another time, it would just fertilise the soil.
  • Re:Global Warning (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Socguy ( 933973 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:24AM (#26290119)

    The Mayor BEGGED people to leave town on local television. Everybody had several days' warning, they just chose not to leave. And it's the idiots that didn't leave that were starving, peeing on and raping each other in the stadium a week later.

    That statement is incredibly offensive. Yes there were some 'idiots' that chose not to leave, however, the majority of the people who ended up "peeing on and raping each other in the stadium" were the poor and the elderly and the sick of New Orleans who didn't have the resources to leave or the resources to stay anywhere else even if they could get out.

    Strangely enough, most of the people who did manage to have the resources to get out were the white folks. When you take the fact that the government rescue effort was abysmal at best and didn't really get rolling until the airwaves were blanketed by some pretty ugly imagery, some might even speculate that 'George Bush hates black people'. Of course I would never ascribe to malice what can be explained by incompetence. All the same, it seems like a sad state of affairs when the preferable alternative is multiple levels of sheer incompetence.

  • by Richard Kirk ( 535523 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @08:30AM (#26290137)

    Nice sounding idea. There's lots of energy down there. If we take it away, then everything down there ought to cool down, and become safe. Easy, no?

    Well, not really. What we have here is something like a giant steam engine boiler twenty miles across with the safety valve stuck down. In the days of steam locomotives, if you thought there might be a crack in a boiler, then you filled the whole system with water and pressurized it. That way, if the boiler gave a little, the water would escape and the pressure would rapidly drop. Water is not elastic, so you have little stored energy, and you don't get an explosion. Gas is much more springy so you would get much more bang and flying bits with pressurized gas. Superheated steam is like a really compressed gas with liquid densities, so that is even worse still.

    If you have an old-fashioned boiler with rivets, then as the pressure builds up, it will creak and the rivets will give a bit, and the steam will leak, a bit, but the whole system does not fail explosively. However, suppose you went around patching all the tiny leaks, and made the boiler rigid - it then has no way of failing other than by splitting in half. I have a nasty feeling that taking heat energy out of the weak places in the Yellowstone dome - if we could extract heat on that scale - would make it stiffer and more rigid, while the reduction in temperature may cause the gases to come out of solution, which would make the big explosion more likely.

    For safety reasons, what we need a series of local eruptions that release pressure and gas like a safety valve or a weeping rivet, but that won't do the environment much good ( though if we recover some of the energy and use it to replace coal-fired power stations, it might not be that bad either ). However, you aren't going to get me to climb onto a 20-mile long steam boiler with a stuck safety valve and drill little holes to relieve the pressure.

    We could build geothermal power stations, but the energy they are likely to be able to extract will be so tiny when compared to what's down there that they won't make any difference, unless you are talking of planet-scale engineering. On the plus side, I don't think we risk making things significantly worse either. Right now, and such power stations are in the wrong place for the US power grid.

    Nice idea, though. I hope someone, somewhere is seriously looking at ideas like this. However, in the particular case of Yellowstone, we don't know of other volcanoes like this, so we can only look at the past history of this one. Most of the supervolcano theory is pretty young, and I don't think we really know enough about the materials at the pressures and temperatures to be able to dick with it with confidence. We know it doesn't blow up often, so we would be very unlucky if it blew up tomorrow. Right now, the best plan is probably to measure it very carefully, and learn all we can about how volcanoes work in depth. These little earthquakes tend to come in bursts, but we don't really know why.

    Thank you for reading. We now return to our regular Internet schedule AAAGH! THIS IS IT OMFG WE ARE ALL GONNA DIE! And the angel sounded the trumpet a forth time and one third of the world's Zune players fell silent... Nostradamus has written: it's gonna be the Y2K bug all over again. Buy guns! Buy ammo!! THESE ARE THE END DAYS! (etc)...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 01, 2009 @10:09AM (#26290517)

    The rest of the world is so nice though.

    France and Russia certainly don't produce weapons that they sell around the world. The land mines in Afghanistan weren't produced by Germany. Britain doesn't have a huge defense industry. The European Union isn't corrupt. And OPEC just wants to stabilize prices so the world is happy.

    Get real. The US just happens to be the country in the spotlight, but practically every other country is just as bad. And if you don't think so, and somehow your government is honest and loves you, then you are living in a dream world.

    Wake up. The US certainly isn't perfect. But are you (and your country) -really- any better? What is your country doing to help the people in Somali, Haitia, Zimbabwe, and Burma?

  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @11:20AM (#26290813) Journal

    2012 is also predicted to be the year Sarah Palin is elected President. Coincidence? I think not!

    Shit. We should be worried then. I don't think she can see Yellowstone from her house......

  • Re:Global Warning (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phoenix321 ( 734987 ) * on Thursday January 01, 2009 @11:25AM (#26290841)

    If you expect civil society and all it's benefits to remain intact during a predicted doomsday scenario of this size, you're either being idealistic or truly naive.

    Resources and staff for police and law enforcement will be diverted to even more important events and projects, and the remainder will not be sufficient everywhere.

    It won't be total lawless anarchy, but way too few officers for a lot of people in a way too large county. Which is ironically resembling the "Wild West" society model of former times.

    I don't want to dive too deep into the Nerds vs. Jocks contest you just entered. For any thinkable doomsday scenario, having a manageable-sized group of healthy adults with a very diverse skillset is probably the best preparation.

    Nevertheless, people without real physical or directly applicable theoretical skills could be dead weight, though, when the current situation requires immediate self-defense against predators or nature and self-procurement of foodstuffs.

    Society has to be pretty stable and evolved to make good use of people with majors in comparative literature or liberal arts and sciences.

    Note that I'm not saying they are useless for wealth creation, but their primary fields of education are pretty limited when society is in a state that bears, hurricanes, thugs or hordes of refugees are literally knocking at the door.

  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @11:53AM (#26290981)
    habit of bombing things like wedding parties

    Really? A habit of it?

    So, we can use your definition of "habit" to also say that Pakistanis have a habit of murdering school teachers for teaching, a habit of blinding women with battery acid for having the audacity to turn down a the sexual advances of an old man who already has three other wives? Ah yes, the Pakistani Habit of sending religious zealots into other countries where they take over villages by force and then march women into what used to be soccer fields and shoot them in the head at lunch time in front of a crowd for... teaching their daughters to read?

    What? Those aren't reasonable descriptions of the "habits" of all Pakistanis?

    Do you suppose that any Pakistani military operation (say, in the middle of shooting people while arguing over who owns Kasmir, for example) has ever involved the death of anyone other than their intended targets? Ah, so Pakistanis are in the habit of killing innocent people? Or is it that you're just in the habit of being a breathless troll with no perspective whatsoever?
  • Re:Global Warning (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phoenix321 ( 734987 ) * on Thursday January 01, 2009 @12:28PM (#26291195)

    I don't remember hearing anything about evacuation officers disallowing people to board because of their skin color. It would've been all over the news for weeks, even for a single isolated event.

    I DO remember, however, that of most people who actively REFUSED to be evacuated were from predominantly black quarters. It was suggested they were trying to protect their property from burglars.

    I also DO remember who was the predominant group among the school bus drivers who did NOT appear when they were all be called to evacuate people en masse. It has been suggested, that they were also at home protecting their property.

    Now it's a questionable choice when people prefer to protect your TV set over being evacuated to safety - and an even more questionable decision to NOT show up on your duty as an evacuation bus driver and rather protect your TV set. In any case, the choice to rather die or let other people die than let someone break into your house is purely personal, and certainly independent of George W. Bush's skills or lack thereof - or anyone else's, for that matter.

    But I'm sure there is a plausible explanation why some people who were supposedly "staying at home to protect their property" were later seen looting and ransacking property of those who evacuated.

    When the televised results of absurdly wrong personal choices make some people speculate if "George W. Bush hates black people", one could reasonably well speculate if "black people hate Walmart", because that's what it looked like on TV.

    One could still argue that many people would loot an unprotected Walmart Superstore given the chance, regardless of their skin color. But then again, where were the poor people who are not black? Did they somehow catch the Whites-only buses from 1962 or did they stay at home, protecting their TV, listening to country music with their rifles and bibles in hand?

    It's all probably a giant conspiracy when they filmed the looted Walmart with all looters being black by pure chance. That black POLICE OFFICER who seemed busy looting the store with all the others probably was casted for this role, her threat to use her gun if the camera team wouldn't stop filming well rehearsed to sound surprised and convincing.

  • "about to" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by speedtux ( 1307149 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @12:48PM (#26291329)

    On geologic time scales, "about to" could be 5000 years in the future.

  • Re:Global Warning (Score:4, Insightful)

    by damburger ( 981828 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @01:13PM (#26291475)

    If you expect civil society and all it's benefits to remain intact during a predicted doomsday scenario of this size, you're either being idealistic or truly naive.

    In WW2, only 15% of soldiers actually shot at the enemy - and they were under fire and had been explicitly trained to kill. Even in a truly life-or-death situation, humans are not nearly as violent as disaster melodramas like to make out.

    In times of hardship and disaster, the default mode of most humans is cooperation not competition. People pull together in hard times, which can be verified in Britain by talking to people alive during the war.

  • by zmooc ( 33175 ) <.ten.coomz. .ta. .coomz.> on Thursday January 01, 2009 @01:24PM (#26291553) Homepage

    once the ash is cleaned up

    Um. How would you clean up a layer of ash 20 centimeters thick that spans half a country?! That's enough debris to create about 30 new Mount Everests... Well that's if it were compacted; in its dusty form it's probably more like half a meter thick. Since it tends to collect in lower areas, expect up to a meter of very fine (like quicksand) ash in the streets. This will not be cleaned up; mother nature will add add a bit of water and half the country will effectively become a massive mudslide or it will be covered under a big fat slab of concrete heavy enough to make just about any house collapse. Well, not just about any house, only the houses that are still standing after the massive mudflows...

    This ash is not just normal ash either, it is like tiny splinters of glass that form a layer of concrete when water is added. Lungs are very wet places as fat as this ash is concerned...

    Also, your comparison with Mount St. Helens makes no sense; if Yellowstone were to blow, it would produce 300-1000 times as much debris as Mount St. Helens did in 1980. Volcanos like Yellowstone probably produce enough debris to not only trigger an ice age, but the dust they leave in the atmosphere might very well be enough not to have any agricultural production for years. So Yellowstone might not just be big enough to wipe out half the United States, it might be big enough to wipe out most of humanity. The summary is not "a bit alarmist", it is very conservative.

  • Re:Global Warning (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Miststlkr ( 593325 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @01:28PM (#26291583)
    You have clearly not been to New Orleans, have you? There is a huge majority of black people, whites are the minority. If you set a camera in front of a Walmart at any time it will likely still look like all black people were shopping/looting/malingering/loitering/shopping/shopping/smoking/walking-past there. It's just the way the racial distribution works there. Adding to that the fact that seemingly a majority of the white folk live in the better neighborhoods like the Garden District [where I lived, which had no water damage, BTW...] and the fact that property is and has been CHEAPER IN THE LOWEST PARTS OF TOWN... go figure... guess who lived in the most affected areas? Hey.. the lower income families! The water didn't care what color your skin was.
  • Re:Um no (Score:2, Insightful)

    by delong ( 125205 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @02:04PM (#26291791)

    Do you actually believe this? "No new food on the planet for a year?" Give me a break. This supervolcano, even in a worst case scenario, would not be sufficient to create global subzero temperatures and block enough sunlight to prevent crops globally. This is more alarmist garbage unsupported by any facts.

  • Re:Global Warning (Score:3, Insightful)

    by budgenator ( 254554 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @03:03PM (#26292191) Journal

    Actually they were supposed to use the fleet of school and municipal Buses to assist the evacuation per their local emergency plans, but they kept the buses locked up until they flooded. Bush's biggest mistake was not declaring a Federal state of emergency and remove the ineffective the mayor and governor from the command loop and Federalizing the National Guard and Police.

  • Re:Global Warning (Score:3, Insightful)

    by damburger ( 981828 ) on Thursday January 01, 2009 @06:01PM (#26293659)
    It comes from research conducted by the US army, which contrary to what one nut on snopes says hasn't been debunked; the reason kill rates have gone up is because, with a better understanding of the psychology of killing, military training programmes have changed.
  • by falconwolf ( 725481 ) <> on Thursday January 01, 2009 @10:44PM (#26296083)

    Maybe that has something to do with that region of Pakistan harboring the people who murdered almost 3,000 Americans?

    Using that line of reasoning, is it reasoning?, the US should then be attacking Saudi Arabia. Most of the 911 hijackers were Saudis.

    Kyoto is a flawed treaty. It will cripple the economy of the developed World while giving a license to pollute to the developing World (China/India). Why the hell should we cripple our economy if they aren't going to be on board with solving the problem?

    Though I didn't want to see a President Gross, er Gore, I voted against Bush by selecting Gore on the ballot because of Kyoto. Having said that, after President Bush came out against Kyoto something he said provoked me to do some research. I didn't know it before but Kyoto did not have limits on GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions on either China or India. And both countries are building a lot of coal fired power plants. So from one perspective Bush was right, however he still could have encouraged or pushed businesses to cut emissions and develop renewable energy sources. What does he do? He instead tries to relax emission regulations, so power plants can emit more pollution.

    You remove more and more of the basic rights of your own citizens.


    Warrentless wiretaps [] and searches as well as the PATRIOT Act [].


  • You are wrong. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jotaeleemeese ( 303437 ) on Friday January 02, 2009 @08:50AM (#26298827) Homepage Journal

    It is widely documented that during natural disasters people organize themselves and help each other.

    Some people in the US have an irrational love of guns, violence and oppression as a way to confront any major crisis.

    In most situations what is required is human kindness and good organizational skills.

    The brutes that will try to go hunting and make themselves strong, will not be allowed back in the village and will be left to rot psychologically by being ignored by the rest of the new community. Or will be organized by the clever people (i.e. politicians) as they had always been.

    People with a gun just become the tool of somebody else's bidding.

Loose bits sink chips.