Doom du jour: volcanic eschatology

Icelandic volcano with touristsNo points for knowing why it’s such a hot button topic*, but everybody’s talking about volcanoes these days. And it’s gloomy stuff, too; it’s been known for a while that the massive but (currently) dormant volcano under Yellowstone National park in the US could decide to pop off at any time (although apparently the meme about that eruption being “overdue” is unfounded), and now it transpires that Mount Fuji in Japan may well be shuffling its feet and clearing its throat in preparation to burst into song. [image by Hello, I am Bruce]

So, just in case the more immediate issues in the news aren’t depressing you enough, here’s Wired UK‘s survival expert Andy Hamilton explaining what would happen if Yellowstone was to go off:

Those within the vicinity will be incinerated as temperatures from the lava flow can reach up to 500 degrees, meaning all surrounding cities will be utterly destroyed. If you somehow managed to survive the fast flowing lava, the thick ash cloud that would rain down would choke you to death. All the states surrounding Wyoming would certainly perish very quickly. The UK and the rest of Earth would not escape. We would all be affected, wherever we were. Global temperatures would plummet by at least 21 degrees. This could last for many years, meaning that all plant life will slowly die off. We will have no vegetables; animals — our meat — will have no food, so humankind would likely starve.

Sheesh – how’s that for existential risk? I think I’m going to head to the local shop, max out my cards on tinned goods and strong alcohol (and maybe a crossbow), and then nail the door shut from inside before settling down to watch The Road on perpetual loop…

[ * I love the way that photoset is titled “Iceland’s Disruptive Volcano”, like it’s some recalcitrant child at the back of the classroom. Send it home with a stiff note to its parents, I say. ]