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Why Disasters Are Getting Worse

 
 
OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Nov, 2009 07:43 pm
@Setanta,
Okay Set. I see a lot more common ground between your position and the author's than you do. No matter.
Setanta wrote:

By the way, O'Bill, when you write:

"Meanwhile, major Hurricanes are a hell of a lot more common . . ."

It makes it look as though you didn't read the article. Even in the short run, according to the author of the article, things were much worse 80 years ago.
Only if you don’t read the rest of the sentence, because you’re looking for a “Gotcha!” Wrong context. I meant Hurricanes are a hell of a lot more common than disastrous volcanic events. I've studied Hurricanes extensively, and I don't believe there is sufficient records to compare strength and frequency for more than a few decades... which really doesn't tell us anything about what strength and frequency cycles may exist. I suspect the entire lower eastern seaboard may find itself in harms way when a cycle gets bad... but really this too is pure speculation.

As for which disaster will come next, I submitted Cumbre Vieja merely as a guess. I buy lottery tickets too.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Nov, 2009 10:47 pm
It was not immediately clear, even in the context of the entire sentence. that you meant that hurricanes are more common than vulcanism, and anyway i'm not certain i'd agree with that. "Old Faithful" goes off on a regular basis, and that's the product of vulcanism. In fact, the entire Yellowstone area is a huge, ancient caldera. Most vulcanism goes unremarked, because it doesn't produce the immediately recognizable effects of a tropical depression.

As for the strength and frequency of hurricanes, that can actually be inferred--to a not very reliable extent, though--from what we can deduce about ancient climate patterns, at least in the case of tropical depressions in the mid- and north Atlantic region. Those depressions are caused by the dominant weather patterns in the upper Sahel region, and the evidence is very good that when the planet is warmer, the weather is less severe in what is now the Sahel. In the period from about 4000 to 2000 years ago, North Africa was much more fertile and well-watered--the province of Africa in the Roman Empire (roughly modern Tunisia and parts of Algeria and Libya) was, along with Egypt, the granary of the Roman Empire, and although the Sahara Desert of course existed, it was probably smaller in extent, and the Sahel may not have existed then at all.

Tropical depressions in the Pacific are a different matter altogether, given that, comparatively, the Atlantic is a narrow body of water, and especially in the mid-Atlantic, where South America and Africa are so relatively close to one another.

The reason i mentioned vulcanism is that any period of continuous significant vulcanism, such as the 1812-1817 period i've already mentioned, and any hugely significant events, such as Thera, Tambora or Krakatoa, can effect the people of the entire planet. I'm not engaged in any "gotcha" exercise. If i failed to take your meaning, it is likely because i wasn't paying that much attention. That's not intended as an insult, just a recognition that when i read and post here, i'm very likely also playing a video game, and probably reading and/or posting somewhere else online at the same time.

I don't deny that the author and i have referred to similar cause and effect, i'm just pointing out that i don't reach the same conclusion. I see nothing to change my original judgment that the piece is pathetically parochial in its outlook.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 23 Nov, 2009 11:07 pm
By the way, the explosion of Krakatoa in the early 1880s would be of interest because of the multiple effects. It produced many huge pyroclastic flows, such as what was seen when Mount St. Helen's erupted. Those, acting on the sea water around the island, produced multiple tsunamis, which reached as far as the coast of South Africa. The many explosions were, on the ultimate day of eruption, so loud that the eardrums of sailors on shipboard in the Sunda Strait were perforated (40 miles and more away), and the report was heard in Perth in Australia, and even on the island of Rodriguez, which is about 3000 miles away off the coast of Madagascar. The shock waves generated by the four massive explosive eruptions on the worst day were recorded across the entire planet, and later revealed that the shock waves had traveled right around the globe seven times. The sonic shock waves, too low to heard by the human ear as they attenuated further from the event, were recorded as far away as the Bay of Biscay and the English channel through the wave action they generated in the sea.

Krakatoa sent up a huge column of ash, but nothing to match Tambora in 1815. Much of the Krakatoa eruptions produced lateral pyroclastic flows, which caused the tsunamis, and probably killed 30,000 or 40,000 people outright. But the release of sulfur was sufficiently significant that the global temperature was reduced by one to one and half degrees centigrade, an effect from which the climate did not recover for five years. The skies glowed a lurid red, all around the planet, and those effects also took nearly five years to attenuate.

Krakatoa had an effect, in miniature, not dissimilar to the Siberian basaltic lava eruptions of about 250,000,000 years ago which might have caused the Permian extinction. As i said before, i only mentioned vulcanism because it is something which can effect people very far away from the event, and people very far away from the sea. But when it comes to disasters, you can't beat volcanic events for showing real "star power."
Ionus
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Nov, 2009 12:34 am
@Setanta,
When Rabaul erupted in 1937 the colonists escaped by ship and the newspapers reported "Not a Life was Lost" meaning no white lives, but there was considerable damage to plantations. Wikipedia now says 507 lives were lost, but having been there and spoken to the natives in pidgin, the loss of natives was in the thousands.

So you dont have to go back too far to find a very narrow view of a disaster.

At any one time there are probably 20 active volcanoes erupting around the world, far in excess the number of Hurricanes, Cyclones and Tai-fun. Although there are 60 eruptions a year on average, and 80 "Cyclic" storms a year, or at least that is the average for the last decade, the short life cycle of storms and the ability to predict them to some extent make them less dangerous than volcanoes in my opinion.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Nov, 2009 08:03 am
@Ionus,
All good points. And, of course, the most massive and tragic storm events don't even approach the damage which can be done by the most massive of volcanic events.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Nov, 2009 08:07 am
By the way, from east to west, Rabaul, Tambora, Krakatoa--you live in an unpleasant neighborhood.

I had never thought about Rabaul, but if you look at the map, the Bismarck Archipelago looks a hell of a lot like the caldera of one hell of a big volcano.
Ionus
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Nov, 2009 05:22 pm
@Setanta,
Yes, it certainly seems that way. The Pacific ring of fire is very active near Australia but not on it. I would feel more assured if Volcanology was more able to predict eruptions rather than have a guess just before they blew.
Quote:
but if you look at the map
Yes, The very large calderas that are dormant are found by looking at a map. Their sheer size makes them hidden even when standing in the middle of them. I often think of technology as a race to develop survival methods before the next large natural disaster tries to "extinct" us.
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