Lots of natural disasters and world disasters are waiting to happen. Coming up are some events we should be prepared for. Suggest a topic here to be turned …
– [Narrator] Sometimes it feels
like doomsday is just around the corner,
and the terrifying truth is
that a number of global catastrophes
could occur at any moment.
From earthquakes capable of
laying waste to entire cities
to explosive stockpiles
that are three times larger
than the one that caused
the blast in Beirut,
here are some disasters that
are just waiting to happen.
(upbeat music)
(lasers zapping)
Yellowstone Super-volcano.
Yellowstone National Park is famous
for its breath-taking hot
springs, natural wonders
and of course several species
of protected wildlife.
One thing it's less esteemed for
is what's known as a "super-volcano",
which is just as bone-chilling
as the name suggests.
What's so "super" about a super-volcano
is that it can belch out
nearly 250 cubic miles
of lethal ash, dust and
gas into the atmosphere,
which, for some perspective,
is about 1,000 times more
powerful than the volume produced
by the historic Mount St.
Helens' eruption in 1980.
The Yellowstone super-volcano
has erupted three times
in history so far.
The first was 2.1 million years ago,
the second 1.3 million years ago
and the most recent was 640,000 years ago.
The latter was so powerful
that it carved out a 34-by-50-mile
cauldron-like depression
in the earth which is known as a "caldera"
and is now the potential
site of the next eruption.
You see, the caldera sits
on a large 5-mile-deep magma chamber
which is fed by a plume of molten rock
stretching down 465 miles into Montana.
Magma is steadily rising through the plume
into the magma chamber at a
rate of two inches a year,
and it has the potential to liquefy
causing a devastating eruption
unlike anything mankind
is currently prepared for.
An eruption this enormous
would cause economic
and climactic devastation
on a global scale
as many of the dangerous
aerosols emitted by the volcano
would linger in the atmosphere,
dimming the sky and lowering
global average temperatures
by just enough to plunge
us into a mini-ice-age.
In 2014, a scientific paper
explored the hypothetical fallout
of another super-volcano eruption
and found that entire states
like Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Colorado
would also be buried in three
feet of lethal volcanic ash.
This chart, which simulates
the ash's gradual spread,
shows that some coastal cities
thousands of kilometers away
would even be covered in a dusting
of at least a few millimeters.
The good news is that the
United States Geological Survey
currently estimates that the
odds of Yellowstone erupting
in any given year are 0.00014%.
The truth is that no one can be sure
if or when the super-volcano
will erupt again though
as it doesn't follow a regular cycle.
What's even more
frightening is that a study
from the University of
Illinois in 2015 found that,
unlike regular volcanoes, an
earthquake powerful enough
to cause cracks in the roof
of the molten rock chamber
could trigger another eruption,
and we might just be due a
'quake of such epic proportions,
but more on that later.
Lake Michigan Oil Spill.
Oil spills are never good news,
after all, they can
permanently damage coastlines
and decimate entire ecosystems,
not to mention the insane
clean-up costs involved.
Worryingly, few people are aware
that Lake Michigan could
currently be on the brink
of the biggest oil spill in history,
which would potentially spoil
hundreds of miles of shoreline
and cost as much as $2
billion in recovery.
A grand total of 2.5 million
miles of steel oil pipelines
sit at the bottom of America's
lakes, rivers and wetlands
like a secret spiderweb, and
beneath Michigan's Great Lake's
lays a ticking time bomb
known as "Enbridge Line 5".
Enbridge, a Canadian pipeline
company, is responsible
for overseeing this monumental
20-inch twin pipeline,
which travels from Wisconsin
through the five mile-wide strait
between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron
at depths of some 200 feet.
On July 26th, 2010,
Enbridge's line 6B ruptured,
spilling over 800,000 gallons of oil
from the Alberta Tar Sands deposit
into the Kalamazoo River
outside of Marshall, Michigan.
Attention has now turned
to the aging pipeline 5
under the straits of Mackinac,
which would spew out oil at an
even greater speed and volume
due to the oscillating flow
between Lake Michigan
and Lake Huron, resulting
in a devastating estimated
2.4 million-gallon spill.
Those who worked on the pipeline in 1953
were told it would last some 50 years,
but as it was built over 60 years ago now
it could be at serious risk
of dangerous corrosion.
Despite Enbridge claiming
that the pipeline
is still in good condition,
National Wildlife Federation divers
surveyed the pipe themselves in 2015
and found entire sections
of unsupported pipeline,
broken structural braces
and dangerous debris.
Although some anchoring
braces have been added since,
Enbridge still refuses
to replace the pipeline,
so this impending environmental threat
to one of the world's
largest freshwater supplies
remains unfixed.
Global Disease Epidemic.
At a TED Talk in March 2015,
Microsoft co-founder Bill
Gates made what seemed,
at the time, to be a rather bold claim:
"If anything kills over 10 million people
"in the next few decades,
"it's most likely to be
a highly infectious virus
"rather than a war."
Gates cited the response to
the Ebola outbreak in Africa
and warned that failure to
prepare properly in future
could result in an epidemic
as lethal as the Spanish Flu of 1918,
which killed an estimated
50 million people.
2020 delivered on that
promise with COVID-19.
The virus may not have
wiped out 50 million
or even 10 million people so far,
but the world economy is already buckling
under the weight of this pandemic,
and it may have been entirely predictable.
In 2011, screenwriter Steven
Soderbergh and W. Ian Lipkin,
a professor of epidemiology,
neurology, and pathology,
created a movie in response
to the 2002-2004 SARS outbreak
that would warn us of the
risks of a future pandemic:
It may not have been
an instant blockbuster,
but "Contagion" experienced
a resurgence back in March
and even peaked at number two
on Apple iTunes rental chart
as people turned to the movie
for clues about what'll come next.
Details like a respiratory
pathogen originating in China
and traveling West ring eerily true today,
but Lipkin laments one Hollywood fiction:
they have the vaccine in months,
something that is unlikely
to happen with COVID-19.
Back in September 2019,
a damning annual report
from the Global Preparedness
Monitoring Board
even described the threat of
a pandemic as a "real one",
and deemed efforts by governments
to prepare for such a possibility
"grossly insufficient."
Although we're still a long
way off from squashing it,
entirely necessary efforts
to contain the virus
are underway, but COVID-19
isn't the only virus
with pandemic potential.
For example, Nigeria has
already been battling
a deadly hemorrhagic fever
known as "Lassa Fever"
during the current pandemic.
The disease was already
endemic to the country,
but in May 2020, cases
surpassed the 1,000 mark,
making it the largest
outbreak ever recorded.
Lassa Fever would be
much harder to control
if it spread worldwide, but thankfully,
confirmed cases in Nigeria
have fallen dramatically
over the past few months.
There is no cause for
celebration quite yet though,
because a new contender has already arisen
to the challenge: G4.
No, I'm not talking about all
those stupid 5G conspiracies.
Full name "G4 EA H1N1" is
a new strain of influenza,
better known to you and I as the flu,
that emerged in China
toward the end of June 2020
with some killer potential.
This new strain was
first identified in pigs
and can jump to humans through contact
with an infected animal or
by eating infected meat.
Thankfully, there have
not yet been any cases
of human-to-human transmission just yet,
but the phrase "watch this
space" springs to mind.
You might already be familiar
with so-called "swine-flu"
after a pandemic involving the
H1N1 strain broke out in 2009
causing 284,000 deaths and infecting
an estimated one in four people worldwide,
but a G4 outbreak could
be much, much worse.
You see, the G4 variant
shares most of its genes
with Avian Influenza, to
which humans have no immunity,
with bits of mammalian strains mixed in.
If G4 was to see a worldwide outbreak,
we'd be facing two
full-blown pandemics at once,
and resources are stretched
enough already with COVID-19.
But why do all these deadly viruses
seem to originate in China?
The answer seems to lie in
China's livestock practices
like so-called "wet markets"
that sell live, exotic animals
in cramped, unsanitary conditions
that are breeding grounds for viruses.
Although temporary bans
were placed on wet markets
when COVID-19 broke out,
these laws are usually
repealed when the dust settles.
Without permanent changes,
the potential for more
deadly viruses to emerge
will likely remain.
It might seem like
vaccines are our only hope,
in fact, health experts
like Dr. Mark Schleiss
have explained that a vaccine
will most likely protect people against
"the vast majority of
circulating COVID-19 strains
"for foreseeable mutations."
But vaccine development
takes around a year
and the testing process is even longer.
Although united efforts
mean we could have a
COVID-19 vaccine by mid-2021,
the very existence of G4
should be enough to prove
that we could end up dealing
with co-existing viruses.
If anything, we should
consider the current pandemic
as a "wake-up call" which
makes us turn our attention
to how we can prepare
for future outbreaks,
and, more importantly,
how we might prevent
them in the first place.
The Big One.
Remember that monumental
earthquake I alluded to earlier?
It might be coming sooner than you think,
and it's oh-so-delicately
known as "The Big One".
California experienced over
17,700 earthquakes in 2019 alone
because it sits right on the boundary
of the North American tectonic
plate and the Pacific Plate,
but none come close to
this potential catastrophe.
The point where the two plates meet
and grind against one another
is called the San Andreas fault line,
and this is precisely
where a seismic event
of such historic proportions
is predicted to strike.
"The Big One" refers to
a magnitude-8 earthquake
which will shake the city's foundations,
causing a predicted 2,000 immediate deaths
as well as some 270,000 people
displaced from their homes,
not to mention over
$200 billion in damages.
Experts have been anticipating
this disaster since 1906,
when an earthquake approaching
the same level of destruction
peaked at magnitude 7.9
and lay waste to much of San Francisco,
killing over 3,000 people and
injuring some 225,000 more.
The 1906 "big one",
as well as another
magnitude-7.9 quake in 1857,
both occurred on northern
parts of the fault line,
but the southern portion
hasn't experienced any
activity in 250 years,
which probably means it's
well overdue some action.
In fact, theoretical
physicist Dr. Michio Kaku
has pointed out that the last
"big one" in the L.A. area
was way back in 1680,
and as the average cycle
for San Andreas fault line earthquakes
is around every 135 years,
that would make the
next one 204 years late.
According to the United
States Geological Survey,
there is no concrete way to forecast
when or even if such an
earthquake will strike,
but it certainly seems dangerously likely.
Some geologists have estimated
that there's a 37% chance it'll
happen in the next 50 years,
while Kerry Sieh,
who pioneered the field
of paleoseismology,
even said that: "I'd be very
surprised if it didn't happen
"within the lifetime of children
in primary school today."
Pretty damning stuff, right?
Golden Gate Collapse.
The Golden Gate bridge is one
of the most iconic landmarks
in the world, and throughout movie history
it's been ripped apart, melted
and bitten by giant sharks,
but what would it really take
to bring down this monumental structure?
In 2014, a scientist and professor
of structural bridge
engineering at UC Berkeley
named Hassan Astaneh answered
hypothetical questions
about this exact scenario.
Apparently it would take
roughly 900,000 people alone
to bring down the bridge,
but fitting that many people on it at once
seems out of the question.
A tsunami also wouldn't stand a chance,
because a 300 foot-tall wall of water
forming off of San Francisco's coastline
is virtually impossible.
The only disaster potentially capable
of tearing down the bridge is,
you guessed it, an earthquake
of epic proportions.
That's right, "The Big
One" could potentially
also wipe out the world's
most beloved bridge
with its immense seismic power.
Astaneh explains that
the biggest earthquake
the San Andreas fault could
generate, a magnitude 8.3,
could spell trouble
because it might uplift the
incredibly heavy bridge towers.
As these 87-year-old "legs"
weren't bolted down properly
during construction,
they could rise slightly
and come crashing down, crushing
the foundations beneath.
Thankfully, a "seismic retrofit"
has been underway on the bridge since 1998
after the the magnitude-6.9
Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989
caused some minor damage.
So far, strengthening work
on the northern and southern approach
and the north anchorage house,
which holds all the
cables coming off the span
that tie down the bridge,
has been completed.
Structural engineers are still racing
to reinforce the center suspension section
which can only currently
withstand a magnitude 7.0,
and this is pegged to cost somewhere
between $450 to 500 million.
The Golden Gate isn't the
only bridge at risk either,
as the world has witnessed
several high-profile bridge
disasters in recent years,
such as the 2018 Genoa bridge collapse
which killed 42 people.
A worrying report published in 2018
also found that over 54,000
bridges across America
are deemed "structurally deficient",
that's almost 9% of all
bridges in the country.
It would take an estimated 37 years
to repair these crumbling structures,
so maybe it's time to start thinking
about alternative routes home.
East Coast Submission.
We're all familiar with the fictional idea
that humans might live underwater
sometime in the future,
the UK boy band "Busted" even
wrote an entire song about it,
but what if I told you that reality
might be coming even
sooner than the year 3000?
Unfortunately, I'm not talking
about Atlantis-style
advanced civilizations here,
but today's totally
unprepared urban cities
suddenly submerged in
ever-rising seawater,
sounds pretty terrifying, right?
A damning new climate report
published in June 2019
claims that future sea level
rise poses a serious threat
to many coastal communities
and might even mean
that New York City is partly
underwater as early as 2050.
With the planet's temperature
dangerously on the rise,
huge glaciers melting
would permanently alter global sea levels.
If the entire West Atlantic Ice Sheet
covering West Antarctica
were to go down, for example,
the world's oceans would
rise by a staggering 16 feet,
causing a colossal loss of coastal land.
In the recent report, a
global rise of 6.6 feet
by the year 2100 is predicted
as a "worst-case scenario"
if temperatures warm by
nine degrees Fahrenheit.
The East Coast is especially
susceptible to this threat,
as a 2012 study by Professor John Boon
from the Virginia
Institute of Marine Science
has highlighted an alarmingly
fast rate of sea level rise
in New York, Boston,
Norfolk and Baltimore.
The results, which show
that sea levels there
are increasing 0.3 mm per year,
supports another US Geological Survey
that claims the East Coast
is experiencing this rise
three or four times faster than
anywhere else in the world.
By 2050, 25% of New York
City would be at risk
of turning into a total floodplain
following a predicted 31-inch
increase in sea level.
Around 800,000 people currently live
in the target flooding zone,
and by 2050, 97% of New
York City's power plants
will be there too,
so you can imagine why
it's a pretty big deal.
In 2013, ex-New York
Mayor Michael Bloomberg
called for a $20 billion
system of flood barriers
to protect the city from
this worst-case scenario,
but his plan was not put into
action before he left office.
Aggressive steps to reduce
our current emissions
and a fool proof response
plan are desperately needed
to prevent New York and
other coastal cities
from swimming with the fishes, literally.
Deadly Explosions.
On Tuesday the 4th of July,
2020, a deadly explosion
ripped through Beirut,
Lebanon's capital city,
claiming the lives of at least 137 people
and injuring some 5,000 more,
leaving countless others homeless.
The explosion was so powerful
that it was heard and felt
as far away as Cyprus, and
the cost of material damages
is already expected to
be around $15 billion.
Footage caused conspiracies
about what may have caused
the explosion to run rampant,
with many initially claiming it happened
at a fireworks factory.
The blast actually took place
at a disused storage facility
which housed 2,750 tons
of ammonium nitrate,
a highly explosive chemical
that is used in agricultural fertilizers.
That's more than 1,300 times
the amount of ammonium nitrate
used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing,
which killed 168 people.
It's still unclear exactly
how the fire started,
although initial investigations
suggest it may have
been ignited by a spark
from nearby welding work.
Shocking aerial and drone photographs
showed a deep 140-meter-wide-crater
of blasted land
where warehouse 12, which
stored the ammonium nitrate,
once stood.
With Lebanon's capital still smoldering,
worrying evidence soon emerged to suggest
that this disaster could've been avoided.
As recently as six months ago,
officials inspecting
the consignment warned
that if the mammoth stash of
ammonium nitrate wasn't moved,
it would "blow up all of
Beirut", pretty damning words.
On the evening of
Wednesday the 5th of July,
the government said that it was putting
an unspecified number
of Beirut port officials
on house arrest pending an investigation
into how the highly explosive materials
came to be stored less than 100 meters
from residential neighborhoods.
As outrage over possible
government negligence spread,
the National Cabinet also declared
a two-week state of emergency,
effectively giving the
military full powers
over the capital.
The Russian-owned cargo ship
that bought the ammonium
nitrate to the port,
named "the Rhosus", was detained
and prevented from leaving
for failing to pay port fees back in 2014
before it could reach its
destination of Mozambique.
The ship's owner, reported
as Igor Grechushkin,
abandoned it along with the crew.
At the time, its former
captain, Boris Prokoshev,
recognized the dangers and
described its 2,750-ton freight
as a "floating bomb."
The mostly Ukrainian crew
were held onboard the ship
for nearly a year before
they were released,
while the ammonium nitrate was confiscated
and held at the port in a warehouse.
In the years that followed, Badri Daher,
the director-general of Lebanese customs,
confirmed that his
agency sent six documents
to the judiciary from 2014 to 2017
requesting that the
materials be re-exported,
but these pleas were all ignored.
I don't know about you, but
it seems like the writing
was on the wall when it comes
to the Beirut explosion.
It may be too late to turn back time
and take the correct steps
to prevent this tragic event
from unfolding, but it can
certainly teach us a thing or two
when it comes to another possible disaster
waiting to happen.
In Australia, between 6,000 to 12,000 tons
of ammonium nitrate is being
stored at the Orica Plant
in Kooragang, just 800 meters
from suburban homes in North Stockton.
If this store were to blow up,
it would have the potential
to be almost four times
as large as the Beirut explosion!
At least 300 residents
in the Stockton Community Action Group
have already been
long-calling on the government
to relocate the plant
or reduce the stockpiles
of the deadly chemical.
But the Beirut explosion has
sparked even greater fears
that an accident at the
plant could be fatal
for nearby residents.
However, a spokesperson for
the company said the plant
is subject to stringent
protocols and annual drills
and was quick to reassure people
that there had not been a single incident
involving the storage of ammonium nitrate
in the Kooragang Island
site's 51-year-history.
In fact, the potentially deadly material
is stored in areas of the
complex which are fire resistant
and built from non-flammable materials
to minimize such threats.
What's more, the site
is regularly inspected
by the NSW Environment
Protection Authority
to ensure compliance with the conditions
of the plant's Major
Hazard Facility license,
and no concerns have ever been raised.
On the other hand, the ammonium
nitrate store in Beirut
had been stored at the port for six years
without correct safety
measures, and the explosion
was the result of countless
government oversights.
Although those living nearby
to the Orica Plant are right
to be shaken after the news
of the Beirut explosion,
it also seems that the two
aren't as comparable as they may seem.
What do you guys make
of the growing concerns
over ammonium nitrate storage?
Which of the other potential
disasters in this video
do you think is most likely to happen,
and how prepared do you
think we are for it?
Let me know in the comments
below, and thanks for watching!
(upbeat music)

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