It’s common knowledge that this election season has been one of the most divisive in recent history. It almost seems as if half of the country is in a panic over the possibility of a Trump presidency, while the other half is convinced that Hillary is the worst thing that can possibly happen to the nation. In times like this it is important to remember the things that bring us all together… even if those things are impending mega-disasters! So, in an effort to give us all something to panic about together here are three impending disasters that both Republicans and Democrats can agree would totally suck.
Personally, there is no natural disaster that scares me as much as a tsunami. For those of you who don’t already know, a tsunami is a wave (or more accurately a series of waves) generated by earthquakes, landslides, volcanic activity, or even certain weather events. Tsunamis vary in size and intensity based on a variety of factors, and can be extremely devastating. Just take a look at videos from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami or the 2011 Japan tsunami to see just how devastating these waves can be. Fortunately for those of us that live on the east coast of the USA, tsunamis are not nearly as common in the Atlantic Ocean as they are in the Pacific. Unfortunately, the east coast of the USA is practically sitting across from not one, but two huge ticking-time bombs. The more widely known of these ticking-time bombs is the unstable volcanic island called La Palma. La Palma is located across the Atlantic, and is part of a group of small volcanic islands known as the Canary Islands. Some scientists have speculated that during a future eruption a large section of the already unstable island may collapse into the ocean, causing a mega-tsunami. As if a regular tsunami wouldn’t be bad enough, a mega-tsunami (as the name implies) is massive even in comparison to the major tsunamis witnessed in recent times. Some studies have predicted that the waves that would be generated by this event could reach around 200ft and destroy everything within 20 miles of the east coast of the USA. Now, before you sell your beach house and move to high ground you should know that scientists have also claimed that even if La Palma does collapse it is unlikely to cause major damage outside of the immediate area. Other studies have even shown that it is more likely that La Palma will collapse in smaller segments, instead of all at once.
The second potential tsunami time-bomb aimed at the east coast may not be as dramatic as the potential collapse of La Palma, but is still a terrifying prospect. Just off the coast of Virginia and North Carolina there is an unstable continental shelf. If a landslide were to occur in this area it has been predicted that it could produce an 18ft high tsunami wave. Although that doesn’t sound nearly as dramatic as the 200ft mega-tsunami that could be produced by the La Palma collapse, the damage would still be catastrophic. What makes this potential disaster stand out is not only the fact that it is likely to occur, but also due to it’s proximity to the coast. Since the unstable shelf is so close to the coast a tsunami would likely strike before citizens had a chance to evacuate to safe locations.
- Yellowstone Super Volcano
As if mega-tsunamis weren’t bad enough we also have super volcanoes to worry about. Just like a mega-tsunami is basically the monster version of a tsunami, a super volcano is exactly what the name implies. By now most of you have probably heard of the super volcano located under Yellowstone National Park. If this super volcano were to erupt it is predicted that in addition to absolutely decimating the immediate area, it would also cover a 500-mile radius with over 4 inches of ash. Even if you live outside of the blast zone and manage to avoid being smothered by the fallout, you would not be spared from this disaster. In addition to the direct damage the eruption would cause, it could also lead to other environmental catastrophes worldwide. It has been predicted that the sheer amount of ash and debris that the eruption would launch into the atmosphere would result in a “volcanic winter”. This would lead to food shortages world-wide and could potentially end life as we know it.
- First-Strike Policy
Unlike the other two entries on this list, this potential doomsday is completely avoidable, yet arguably the most likely to actually occur in our life times. While almost everyone is aware that nuclear weapons are a huge threat to life on Earth, you may not be aware of just how easily a nuclear war could break out. The doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (or M.A.D. for short) is one of the main reasons we have managed to not blow up the planet in a nuclear war so far, but also sets the stage for all out nuclear war. At the heart of M.A.D. is what is known as the “First Strike Policy”. What this refers to is a nuclear power’s ability to launch a nuclear attack at another nuclear power, with the goal of eliminating as much of the enemy’s nuclear and conventional arsenal as possible. This would theoretically be a preemptive strike, meaning that it took place prior to the perceived enemy actually doing anything. While it may seem like a smart policy to deter nuclear war, it is scary to think that all it would take to set off nuclear Armageddon is a misunderstanding, or even a technical error. So far we have been fortunate to avoid any mistakes of the sort, but have come close many times. One such occasion occurred during the cold war when a radar glitch made it appear that the Soviets were launching missiles at the USA. Another occurred when a training exercise was confused with a real attack and nearly resulted in actual nuclear war. What makes this even scarier is that almost every nuclear power follows the same policy.