It’s easy to forget how reliant we are on our technologies … until we are unexpectedly deprived of the means to use them, that is.
Deprived by … oooh, let’s say, an electricity grid fault that leads to an automatic shutdown at a nuclear power station and leaves a big chunk of Florida completely blacked out for an evening? [image by dogfrog]
[As a side note, I never knew that nuclear reactors could just be switched off. Disconnected from the grid, sure, but switched off?]
And that’s just one little hardware failure, hence quickly fixed. But imagine for a moment another highly electricity-dependent country, like the UK for example, being hit by some sort of environmental disaster to which it isn’t accustomed, which causes a large number of grid hardware problems which are hard to trace and fix in the absence of the electricity they provide …
… I think we have a potential cookie-cutter techno-thriller movie plot, folks! Now, who shall we cast as the plucky Prime Minister?
I mean, really. Everyone from Phillip K. Dick to the ‘Fallout’ videogame series used nuclear war as a backdrop for stories set in the American West. Now, Mother Nature gives us new possibilities, only minus deadly radiation. Seems Yellowstone National Park is a giant caldera, essentially an old volcano cone that’s collapsed upon itself. And it’s been rising rather dramatic amounts (geologically-speaking, which is three inches per year). The largest volcano system in the world doesn’t show any signs of erupting anytime soon, as a geologist studying the caldera pleaded on Science Friday last week from NPR. For those of you looking for more exciting volcanos, Ana Krakatau, the volcano created after the largest recorded explosion in history, is at it again (pictured). Beyond the obvious immediate dangers, these volcanoes potentially have effects on the climate, both good and bad.