Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bring on the Geopocalypse: Accretionary Wedge #53

Bizarro, via Julia Segal's Tumblr

We did get a few intentional submissions, but apparently many were sort of put off by expectation of humor. So I'm going to roll in a bunch of humor from other places, as well as some serious pieces debunking this whole doomsday nonsense- which apparently is de rigueur every few months in our modern society. "Chicken Little" used to be just a silly children's fable- now it appears to be taken seriously by more than a few people. And two or three times a year, my heart breaks, and my credulity strained, as I read about family wealth destroyed, lives ruined- and even ended- because some gullible nitwit believed the wrong hucksters, and paid heed to irresponsible news sources.
Historic LOLs

So let's see. Anne posted a kind of ice-nine scenario of Hell freezing over. "So that got me thinking about what would happen if hell really did freeze over when winter starts. We would be in a winter state all year long because there wouldn't be any ground heat to melt the snow away."

"That is not the action of a fully intact pot"

And Jazinator treats us to a catastrophic tossed salad. "The intense heat from the combination of the impacts and nuclear explosions is expected to cause a fissure along the center of the Earth forcing the Earth to fracture, much like a head of lettuce slammed into a table"
(Image from The Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait)

And mine involves something about broken Higgs Bosons and the earth turning itself inside out. "Now, on the downside, our calculations suggest we will be inundated with something approaching a 340-kilometer deep ocean of molten steel- that's about 210 miles, in English- extinguishing every trace of earth as we know it, not to mention all life on the planet. On the plus side, though, the initial migration of the molten core toward the surface will be even more effective at freeing up 'tight' shale oil and gas than current 'frakking' technology."
 (Image from The Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait)

Finally, and a bit belatedly, Hollis chimes in with a scenario that any card-carrying hippie would find groovy and really far-out, man: "After just a few days, Yellowstone will emit a gargantuan burp of euphoria-inducing gas.  We will all happily swoon and then be peacefully frozen stiff with the onset of a prolonged very cold and very dark volcanic winter.  In other words, I’m an optimistic person."
 (in reference to this)
Now, Phil Plait (linked three times above, to two different posts) and Erik Klemetti, source of the two tweets above, have been doing superb, if exasperated, work in debunking this nonsense. The bits from those two that I would consider their centerpieces are, from Phil, here, and from Eric, here. If you need convincing that this nonsense is, in fact, nonsense, these are very highly recommended.
Narcolepsy Inc.

In a related vein, Dana Hunter has an excellent bit that gets at a central problem in a tangential sort of way, though she starts off pounding the nail squarely on the head:
Please sit down. I have some news to break. It may be very difficult to hear, and it may shake your innocence and trust. But I need you to know the truth.
Are you ready? Have you braced yourself? Okay, let’s have it: sometimes, the media is really terrible at science reporting.
I’m so sorry. But it gets worse: sometimes, they tell you things that really aren’t true at all.
Some people will die because of these rumours, and we are trying our best to stop them.

A particularly depressing- though outstandingly important- site is here. Yes, I rely on humor to combat sadness, and I know for a fact some people think I (at least on occasion) go too far, too soon. I understand, and I'm sympathetic, but believe me when I say you'd like my potential other behaviors less. However, I've spent a lot of time with and around youngsters, and their well-being is always on my mind. I'm much more conservative in language and behavior around them. Scaring a 2nd grader into life-threatening depression is not okay. Got that?
Bits and Pieces

The fact is, there are too many unscrupulous people who wouldn't hesitate to take advantage of fear- however unwarranted- to make an easy buck. And that's especially true in the US, where, apparently, we value money and its acquisition over all else... and I do mean all.
As Callan at Mountain Beltway commented, "Why does our civilization keep believing in these stupid ideas? There are plenty of real things that could disrupt or end a civilization." Well put. There are indeed plenty of things rational minds should fear. Doomsday apocalypse scenarios, whether based on Mayan Calenders, astrology, Biblical "revelations," or any other source, are not among them. On Circulation also recently posted a run-down of potential catastrophes, with a discussion of why none of them constitute the "end of the world."
It's Funny to Me

Which is why articles like this, and the people whose work is to confront such things firmly and decisively, are so important.
La Figa

The fact is, for the foreseeable future, every living entity on earth is going to die eventually. I personally have little fear or problem with accepting that. The fact of my death means there will be resources for someone else, perhaps- I hope- someone better than me. That's why many choose to have children. That's why we struggle to make things better for those around us, despite knowing that, in the end, it's meaningless to us personally. Endings are sad things, yes. But as a wise man once said, "hope springs eternal."

And as moms have said, since, I guess, about forever, "Stop it. You're scaring the children."



Anonymous said...

Thank you for hosting. It would have been nice to have had more enteries, but I guess with the world ending they are getting all the living in that they can.

Thanks also for pointing out ice nine. I probably read about it 30 years ago, but have forgotten all about it. Now-a-days there is so much I've used to know but have now forgotten. Getting old is not for the faint hearted.


Hollis said...

Hi Lockwood -- I spaced the AW deadline, not realizing I needed to get it done before the World ended. oh well, here 'tis anyway:

cheers, Hollis