Asteroid Impacts Bigger Danger Than Previously Thought

I have discussed the cataclysmic effects of asteroids on this blog before. I discussed the one that hit the Russian city of Chelyabinsk, the Apophis Asteroid near-miss. Asteroid impacts have been featured in dystopian fiction, such as the 1997 TV movie Asteroid and numerous other movies with a storyline of an asteroid that is set to impact earth, or does impact earth.

Now, it appears that asteroids are hitting the earth far more frequently than previously thought. NASA astronauts have been seeing an increase since 2001. From that article, “Bad news, earthlings. A former NASA scientist says it’s mere happenstance that an Armageddon-style asteroid hasn’t hit a densely populated area in the last few years.” A sobering number is that since 2001, 26 different explosions on the scale of an atomic bomb have been identified just since 2001.

Fortunately, there is an organization, B612 Foundation of scientists who literally are working to save the earth from meteors and other objects which could destroy anything from a house to life as we know it. Will they succeed? Will they get funding? It seems unlikely that anyone will significantly fund them, since they appear to produce nothing that adds to anyone’s output or profit. No government will fund them because it will not just benefit any one country, but the same or similar technology can be used for war or defense.

People have been fascinated by fictional accounts of asteroids or meteors hitting earth, or humans making use of asteroids or meteors by mining them since the 19th century. Numerous short stories and novels have been written, with increasing numbers of them written throughout the 20th century into the 21st century. A partial list of some early stories involving asteroids is available.. It remains a common plot device in dystopian and apocalyptic fiction – genres which are growing in popularity.

Fiction aside, asteroids, meteors, and meteorites are a real threat within the solar system. NASA filmed one breaking up just this year, and Yale University has a video out of the approach of an asteroid in 2002.

This still seems to be an item for science fiction, but these are very real. Cnet reports a 1 in 74,817,414 to be killed by a metor strike in a given year. Compare this to the odds of being killed by a bee or wasp sting – something that many people fear – of 1 in 25,364,571 per year – or a little less than triple the odds of being killed by a meteor. Tulane University shows a grimmer set of numbers for causes of death over a lifetime. They give the odds of being killed by a meteorite at 1:3000 at the lower end – which indicates it’s nearly as likely as death by a firearms accident and being killed by a meteorite is three times as likely as death by drowning. Even at the high end of their figures, with dying from a meteor impact being 1:250,000, that’s much more likely than being killed in a shark attack. Anyone who remembers after the movie Jaws or any of its follow-ons came out, can remember how worried average people were.

Why are the odds so high? Simply put, if meteorites cause deaths, they will likely kill entire cities, or all along the coastline of a particular ocean! Millions or even billions of people will die at once, as opposed to one, a few, or even dozens in these more common types of death, such as drowning or firearm accidents.

So, this is another scenario which will kill off humankind, or civilization, or even a majority of us. It’s a matter of when. It could be thousands or even millions of years from now, or perhaps tomorrow. There is no way to tell. We could easily get more warning, but what good would that do? Panic on a grand scale would just last longer. We could lower this risk, but it won’t be seen as a problem by those who could fund it until after it’s happened.

NASA has put out a warning scale for future incoming meteors, using familiar color-coded warnings from white through green through red. Red on the Torino Scale? Just say “goodbye”.

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More terrorism and war due to increasing water shortage

I first mentioned Peak Water as an upcoming problem in 2010. At that time, water was viewed by many in the industrialized world as a free or nearly free resource. Some people even viewed it as a problem when they were flooding.

Now, the idea is becoming much more mainstream. It’s on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGM07RpjCfw. It’s also in The Guardian in an article dated 8-Feb-2014. Rural communities are finding their water supplies drying up. 1 billion people do not have reliable access to safe drinking water. California, Brazil, the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and China are among the hardest hit regions and nations by this water loss. There are a number of reasons for it. Fracking using a great deal of fresh water making it undrinkable permanently is one cause. Climate change is another. The demand made by cities for huge quantities of water is another.

Regardless of the reason, people without water are desperate with nothing to lose. Their lives will not last more than a week without water. Desperate people take desperate actions. If it’s sudden, they may rise up in a revolt, terrorism, or organic invasion of a neighboring area believed to have water. If it’s slower-advancing and long-term, they may be looking to migrate. There is no more “frontier” to homestead and frontier as there was in the 18th and 19th centuries. No one is going to take in huge numbers of immigrants and water refugees. These desperate people or their equally desperate governments may declare war. Some of the hardest-hit areas have had strife for decades or centuries – and this lack of water will not help anything!

Posted in Earth changes, Uncategorized, Warfare | Leave a comment

Cynics have arrived!!!

Cynics4bettertomorrow.org has become popular enough that it is now ranked on Alexa.com. Alexa ranks the top 20 million blogs in the world. Cynics4bettertomorrow.org is ranked 15,723,707 as of this posting.

The first 5 sites listed with links to here are:
1. atheistforums.org
2. theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com
3. coedtoplesspulpfiction.wordpress.com
4. stuffchristianculturelikes.com
5. intertel-iq.org

What a combination!

Okay. #2 makes sense, as it’s kind of along the same lines. I’ve got an atheist blog/user community. I’ve got co-ed topless pulp fiction – which is an interesting idea. I suppose that it’s one thing to do instead of procreating, and reading pulp fiction may be one of the most productive things we can do until the end actually gets here. #5 is a high IQ society. Clearly, if one intelligently looks at ALL of the data and trends in the world, it’s obvious that 7+ billion human beings and counting – and increasing per capita consumption is heading for a crash and burn – due to running into one of the many constraints such as food, water, oxygen, clean air, overcrowding, violence, pandemics, decaf coffee and on and on.

The one I don’t understand though is #4 – or maybe I understand all too well! Is the utter destruction of civilization, human kind, higher life, all life on earth, or the planet itself really the path toward eternal bliss for the faithful? Well, I guess it might as well be. While optimists reading this blog might view the content of any of my scenarios or predictions to be warnings which could be changed, the Cynical position is that it’s too late to stop it. It’s kind of like if I should walk outside one day and see numerous Minuteman3 missles taking off into the air. At that point, it is too late for anyone, especially an ordinary person with no particular political power or authority to do anything to stop it. The choice would be to be frightened, or to get out some popcorn and lawnchairs, coats if needed, and sit outside and watch the pretty rockets. The latter would be my preference, but it wouldn’t really matter anyway. For those who like to fish, a 1986 Far Side cartoon explained it very well “No size restrictions and screw the limit!”. You can see it at http://www.pinterest.com/pin/249316529342006198/. I don’t see any point to having a Pinterest account, so it is not my picture. I don’t know where that person stands on the cynics/pessimist/optimists continuium.

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10 popular, delicious foods may be ruined, expensive or unavailable by 2050

These include

  • Coffee
  • Inexpensive chocolate
  • Peanut Butter
  • French Wines
  • Beer – especially craft beers
  • Apple pie
  • Fresh Fish
  • Bananas
  • Avocados

The tenth, while not strictly-speaking a food, will have dire implications
Water
. We are already to Peak Water. According to a 2010 report commissioned by the National Resources Defense Council, around one-third of U.S. counties “will face higher risks of water shortages by mid-century as the result of global warming.”. Within the US, if the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline goes through the center of the country, and if it has a significant leak, as all pipelines have at some point, the most dire predictions are that the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides drinking water to over 2 million Americans and irrigates a significant amount of the crops grown in the US “Breadbasket”, this situation could become more dire. Many of the mainstays of the US diet, including beef, pork, chicken, corn, wheat, potatoes, and beans could become quite expensive and less available.

Some of the foods or drinks in that list are mainly luxury items. Humans can live quite well without French Wines or Craft beers or Coffee. Chocolate is a luxury item, as loved as it is. Many would not like being without their favorite drinks. If food becomes more expensive, in smaller supply, or completely unavailable many will die from lack of protein from meat or beans or starches.

Posted in Earth Abuses, Earth changes, Financial crisis and issues, Overpopulation, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Antarctic half Thermohaline Circulation Collapsing

Think we’ve got global warming, climate change, larger-than-normal storms, and yes – even uncharacteristically southern snowstorms now? Well, you haven’t seen anything yet!

As the headline says, The Antarctic half Thermohaline Circulation is Collapsing. That’s interesting for scientists, but what does that mean for everyday people?

The Thermohaline Circulation is what feeds the Gulf Stream and other oceanic currents. The Antarctic and the Arctic portion of them give these currents their cold water, to take to more temperate and tropical areas. It keeps many areas habitable. For instance, it’s what causes the climate of Britain to be fairly moderate, quite unlike such places as Greenland and St. Petersburg.

Just how this is happening is rather complex. Suffice it to say that with some of the Antarctic ice sheet melting, that forms a layer of low density fresh water around the continent of Antarctica, stopping the overturning process. Read Antarctic half Thermohaline Circulation is Collapsing or NASA‘s description of this – an article written 9 years ago. This has been accellerating since the 1970s. NASA gave it a 70% chance of shutting down the Gulf Stream in the next 200 years, and a 45% chance within the next 100 (90 now). Harvard University also published a paper giving the same predictions – and that if or when this happens, climate change would become extremely rapid.

While those of us who are not scientists, or earth scientists, or meteorologists may not understand all of the intricacies of what these papers say, one thing is clear: Climate change is going to be devastating… and within the lifetime of many children.

The question is whether or not this change can be stopped, slowed-down, or reversed? Or, have we gone on too long, and it’s too late? One thing is for certain: If we continue to listen to a contingent who are in denial of this happening, and continue to push on for more greenhouse emissions in the name of “progress”, the growing economy they will have created will come to a screeching and painful halt when this climate change becomes a reality – flooding many coastal areas, freezing other areas, causing droughts in some areas while it floods some areas. It may make some tundra-land more temperate, but that soil will take thousands of years to become capable of growing crops.

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Polio-like infection an “emerging disease”

The BBC reports a “Rare ‘polio-like’ disease”. The disease has occurred in 20 children in a 100-mile radius, all of whom had been previously vaccinated for polio.

The American Academy of Neurology reported that 5 children have developed paralysis in arms and/or legs associated with a new strain of enterovirus, called enterovirus-68. This is a unique strain of enterovirus in that it shows attributes of enteroviruses and the rhinoviruses. See the report on it Journal of General Virology/a>

Time Magazine reports that only 2 of the 5 children who are experiencing paralysis – which appears to be permanent – test positive for enterovirus-68. As such, enterovirus-68 fails Koch’s hypothesis for being “the cause” of this new, mysterious paralytic disease which is polio-like.

Koch’s Postulates are as follows:

  • It must be found in every case of that disease.
  • It must not be found when the disease is not present.
  • It must be capable of living outside the tissues.
  • It must then be capable of reintroduction into the organism and producing that disease.

Enterovirus, including enterovirus-68, have previously been seen only in cases associated with colds or flu-like symptoms. There was an outbreak of enterovirus in 2011. Notably, there was an association made between enterovirus and type-1 diabetes, an auto-immune disease and the environmental factor of exposure or infection with enteroviruses. See tge National Institutes of Health article. This one is clearly different: It is causing paralysis as well as the more typical cold or flu-like symptoms.

Even World Net Daily has a report on this.

Is it really a new virus, or is it the same old disease, polio, which I warned on this blog before that the US is ripe for having another of? It may be of a new or slightly different serotype than polio which is being vaccinated for? Note that all of the children who have the disease had already received a polio vaccine. It is known that funding is far more plentiful, and prestige is higher in searching for a brand-new disease than rediscovering a return of an old, well-known, preventable disease.

The Times of India has an even more cynical outlook on this than I do. In their article, “Has polio returned to US after 35 years?”, they bring up the same things that everyone else does.

It is worthy of note that this “new” enterovirus-68 is related to polio viruses, has the same oral-fecal transmission that polio does, and sewer and water systems have not been maintained as to keep polio and related pathogens out of the water or sewer systems. Of note, only three countries are believed to have endemic polio: Pakistan, Nigeria, and Afghanistan. People are returning from Afghanistan in high numbers, although they have been vaccinated for polio, but vaccines are not 100% effective, and one can be a carrier without showing signs of the disease.

Clusters of this paralytic disease blamed on enterovirus-68 have been seen in the Phillipines, Japan, and the Netherlands as well as California.

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H10N8 Deadly Flu Strain hits China

It seems that it’s every other week or so that we run across some new flu strain that threatens to be an especially deadly pandemic. So far, they fizzle out. Either they don’t catch on that far, or they spread widely as nothing especially deadly. Of course, thousands die every year from seasonal flu. But, that’s part of the baseline risk of being alive. These especially deadly flus exceed that, especially when they become pandemic and spread across the globe.

Dr Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, said: “We should always be worried when viruses cross the species barrier from birds or animals to humans as it is very unlikely that we will have prior immunity to protect us. ”

H7N9 is still out there, infecting more people, especially in China. In this era of global travel, it’s unlikely that the disease will remain in China.

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Life expectency drops for many US women for unclear reasons

In spite of all of the advancements in medicine and technology over the past several decades, http://www.alternet.org/gender/new-study-american-women-are-dying-younger-their-moms” title=”youngerthanmom”>American women can expect to live shorter lives than their mothers by an average of 5 years. At the same time, there has been a life expectancy improvement throughout most of the country in men’s life.

According to The Atlantic, this seems to be correlated highly with what county and what part of the US the woman lives in. It may be some cultural oddity that has sprung up. It may be due to years of it being as socially acceptable for women to smoke as men are coming home. However, men’s life expectancies are increasing in the same counties amont the same demographics where it’s decreasing for women. Oddly, in many places where in one county women are dying earlier – in the next county which is not different in many obvious ways, the life expectancy may have improved over the same period. These early deaths among women seem to be correlated to how much education the woman has – non high school graduates are hit hardest by this phenomenon.

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New and updated page on main website.

I would like to call your attention to the main website, and some new pages.

A correspondent has their own cynical prophecies for the next decade or so regarding the United States of America, and what the future holds for us – socially and economically. That page is http://cynics4bettertomorrow.org/USfuture.html, and puts a little bit different angle on doom-and-gloom. It is linked to my updated page on cynical prophecy which is at http://cynics4bettertomorrow.org/worldfuture.html

Posted in Financial crisis and issues, Overpopulation, Social Commentary, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

At least 320,000 mammalian viruses await discovery

Every other day, it seems that there is a new news article about a “new” virus, somewhere in the world, that threatens a massive disease outbreak.

The Smithsonian has recently reported that there are a minimum of 320 thousand such viruses which can affect mammals.

The good news is that with modern techniques, 85% these viruses could all be cataloged over a 10-year period for about $1.4 billion in funding. While that sounds like a lot, over $16 billion have been spent so far in the SARS epidemic alone – researching it, and finding cures and preventions of the disease. Only one such epidemic or pandemic would more than pay for the research costs 10 times over. There would still be 15% or so which would remain unknown, but those would be the ones which are rare and difficult to collect adequate samples of. Those could multiply and cause epidemics or pandemics too.

I seriously doubt though that this huge research project will ever happen. No government and certainly no corporation wants to spend $1.4 billion to research something that has not happened yet. No philanthropic organization will spend that kind of money on an all-out general disease prevention effort with no smiling and grateful faces to show of the victims who recovered with or without long-term disabling effects. There is a lot more public support for spending 10 times that amount after there is a pandemic like SARS or polio, or 100 times that amount on AIDS/HIV – with no cure, vaccination, or effective prevention other than avoiding infection. It’s a lot more prestigious to find a cure for anything from polio to AIDS to SARS than it is to have cataloged arbitrary and unknown Virus 81432 this week.

Any one of those 320,000 viruses could be the cause of the next pandemic, or mutations from any of them which are low-risk threats in their present form. Finding the 85% most common virii is an attainable goal, and having a head start on identifying it and developing a vaccination or other cure would be helpful to all of human kind. But, I strongly doubt that we have any interest in doing this.

Posted in Health, healthcare crisis, Pandemics, Social Commentary, Uncategorized | 2 Comments