We live in a relatively safe world in America. For the most part, our greatest fears would be dying of some form of cancer, in a car wreck or some other accident. We rarely consider major catastrophes, however, they loom all around us at an ever increasing rate. Consider the very real dangers that could change our world in a moment and for a very long time.
CME or Coronal Mass Ejection are huge explosions of a magnetic field and plasma from the Sun's corona. During a CME, enormous bubbles of super heated gas, called plasma are ejected from the sun. Over the course of several hours, one billion tons of material are lifted off the sun’s surface and accelerated to speeds of one million miles per hour.
As an example of how precarious our situation is, in 2012 the Earth missed being hit by the largest CME ever detected. Had it occurred just 1 week earlier, the Earth would have been blasted and a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions would have taken place.
CME's can happen several times a day when the sun is most active. During its quieter periods, CME's occur only once every five days. Smaller CME's can disrupt satellites, communications, GPS systems and even air traffic control systems
The last super CME occured in 1859 and is known as the Carrington Event. It was so strong that it caused telegraph wires to melt. Today if a CME of this magnitude were to be directed at the Earth, it would destroy our electric grid and most if not all electronic devices, cars, phones, computers, water delivery, everything would be taken down. Some of the large transformers require more than a year to build with all manufacturing plants up and running. It is impossible to estimate how long it would take to recover from this but it would be from several years to decades.
After the first 3 weeks 60% of the population would be dead from thirst, starvation and lack of services. After the first year 90% of the US population would be dead. I should add, we are over due for an event of this magnitude.
The Earth's magnetic field helps to protect us from the effects of Solar Wind and CME's. Due to what appears to be a polar shift, the Earth's magnetic field has weakended by about 15% since the Carrington Event. The latest data shows that it is weakening at an accelerated rate. It is currently weakening by about 5% per decade. Obviously as this continues, the effects of a CME are increasing, so the next event similar to the Carrington Event would be even worse.
The unfortunate news is that we have known about this vulnerability for decades however lawmakers have been very slow to pay attention. It is estimated it would cost about $5 billion dollars to harden or ground our grid thus providing more protection against such events, however, no action has been taken.
EMP Attack would effect electronic equipment and our electric grids and an EMP attack could be accomplished by a rogue country detonating a nuclear weapon not much larger than the bomb used on Hiroshima about 250 miles over the US. This could be done either from a satellite launched weapon or even a modified cargo ship just off our coast. The short travel time for a weapon would not permit our shooting the weapon down in time. It is known nations like Iran have been working on developing such a system. In today's world, this most likely would be the first strike just before a major nuclear war, this would knock out communications and render the population to utter chaos.
Network computer hacking can easily take down electric grids, factories, water plants, hospitals and other critical systems. It is believed there are currently systems already breached and would require a simple key stroke to implement. Again, limited attention has been given to these threats, yet our very survival as a nation hinges on preventing and removing these threats. This method was used to destroy operating uranium enriching centrifuges in Iran in 2010. We suspect rogue nations are already responsible for taking down numerous computer networks in the US, some military, many financial and other business systems
Yellowstone National Park Supervolcano in Idaho is not your run of the mill volcanic system. It is one of 6-10 world wide that exist. The last time it erupted some 640,000 years ago, it released 8000 times the ash and lava that Mount St. Helens. Recently, it is appearing to be more active which may indicate the movement of magma migrating to the surface. Earlier this year (2016), increased activity was documented which could mean new venting and more menacing activity. The reason this is alarming is that it is a bit overdue for an eruption.
If Yellowstone were to erupt, it is estimated it would spew ash 4 inches thick over a radius of 250 miles. The most devastating effect would be climate cooling across the globe due to the shading effects of the ash being blown into the upper atmosphere. This could last up to 10 years with huge regions of crop production destroyed thus causing world wide food shortages.
Major Earthquakes are well overdue in the California Cascadia Subduction Zone which is a 1,000 Km long dipping fault that stretches from Northern Vancouver Island to Cape Mendocino California. Subduction Zone earthquakes are the largest earthquakes in the world, and are the only source zones that can produce earthquakes greater than a magnitude 8.5. This particular one has produced a magnitude 9.0 or greater earthquake in the past, and undoubtedly will in the future. A 9.0 magnitude quake would cause a major disaster cutting off relief services, electricity and water for long stretches of time. It is expected a major tsunami would be created, causing extensive damage as well.
The New Madrid fault near New Madrid, Missouri is another overdue area. The last major quake occurred in 1812 and was felt over two million square miles and caused the Mississippi to flow backwards. It was responsible for creating the 20 square mile Reelfoot Lake when the Mississippi was forced backward during the 1812 event. Again, this region is overdue for an event.
Zombie Apocalypse Highly unlikely!