Forget about the 2012 Mayan calendar, comet Elenin or the Rapture. The real threat to human civilization is far more mundane, and it’s right in front of our noses. If Fukushima has taught us anything, it’s that just one runaway meltdown of fissionable nuclear material can have wide-ranging and potentially devastating consequences for life on Earth. To date, Fukushima has already released 168 times the total radiation released from the Hiroshima nuclear bomb detonated in 1945, and the Fukushima catastrophe is now undeniably the worst nuclear disaster in the history of human civilization.
But what if human civilization faced a far greater threat than a single tsunami destroying a nuclear power facility? What if a global tidal wave could destroy the power generating capacities of all the world’s power plants, all at once?
Such a scenario is not merely possible, but factually inevitable. And the global tidal wave threatening all the nuclear power plants of the world isn’t made of water but solar emissions.
The sun, you see, is acting up again. NASA recently warned that solar activity is surging, with a peak expected to happen in 2013 that could generate enormous radiation levels that sweep across planet Earth. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has even issued an urgent warning about solar flares due to strike in 2012 and 2013. IBtimes wrote, “With solar activity expected to peak around 2013, the Sun is entering a particularly active time and big flares like the recent one will likely be common during the next few years. …A major flare in the mid-19th century blocked the nascent telegraph system, and some scientists believe that another such event is now overdue.” (http://www.IBTimes.com/articles/194…)
The story goes on to explain:
“Several federal government studies suggest that this extreme solar activity and emissions may result in complete blackouts for years in some areas of the nation. Moreover, there may also be disruption of power supply for years, or even decades, as geomagnetic currents attracted by the storm could debilitate the transformers.”
U.S. nuclear power plants are nowhere near being prepared to handle sustained power grid failures. As IBtimes reports:
“Last month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said U.S. plants affected by a blackout should be able to cope without electricity for at least eight hours and should have procedures to keep the reactor and spent-fuel pool cool for 72 hours. Nuclear plants depend on standby batteries and backup diesel generators. Most standby power systems would continue to function after a severe solar storm, but supplying the standby power systems with adequate fuel, when the main power grids are offline for years, could become a very critical problem. If the spent fuel rod pools at the country’s 104 nuclear power plants lose their connection to the power grid, the current regulations aren’t sufficient to guarantee those pools won’t boil over — exposing the hot, zirconium-clad rods and sparking fires that would release deadly radiation.” (http://www.IBTimes.com/articles/194…)
There are 440 nuclear power plants operating across 30 countries around the world today. There are an additional 250 so-called “research reactors” in existence, making a total of roughly 700 nuclear reactors to be dealt with (http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/i…).
Now imagine the scenario: You’ve got a massive solar flare that knocks out the world power grid and destroys the majority of the power grid transformers, thrusting the world into darkness. Cities collapse into chaos and rioting, martial law is quickly declared (but it hardly matters), and every nation in the world is on full emergency. But that doesn’t solve the really big problem, which is that you’ve got 700 nuclear reactors that can’t feed power into the grid (because all the transformers are blown up) and yet simultaneously have to be fed a steady stream of emergency fuels to run the generators the keep the coolant pumps functioning.
How long does the coolant need to circulate in these facilities to cool the nuclear fuel? Months. This is also the lesson of Fukushima: You can’t cool nuclear fuel in mere hours or days. It takes months to bring these nuclear facilities to a state of cold shutdown. And that means in order to avoid a multitude of Fukushima-style meltdowns from occurring around the world, you need to truck diesel fuel, generator parts and nuclear plant workers to every nuclear facility on the planet, ON TIME, every time, without fail, for months on end.
What is funny is people get worried, like they can actually do something about this. Once Earth is gone, you won’t be here, you won’t know what happened. It will happen quicker than you could even fathom. Sure it is scary to know that this could happen, but we don’t have a choice. We just have to live everyday like it is our last, hoping that if this does happen, we lived enough of our life to be happy, to be content with dying.
Photography By Benjamin Lowy.
Documenting the war in Iraq, the opium trade in Afghanistan, and the earthquake in Haiti, Benjamin has traveled the world photographing devastation, decay, and a bit of every day life. Thanks Life Lounge.
Hardcore love for this gas mask bicyclist.
The CREATIVE man is alive from within and is inner directed. He does not require external stimuli to feel alive, and so his relationship to the world is healthy, deep and real. He has the best of both worlds. He has a strong sense of selfhood, and is autonomous and independent in the true sense. He is a rebel. He does not cling to things or to other people for fulfillment because he is not inherently empty. His relationships are not based on power dynamics. He is present within every moment, and is open to change and the future. He sees problems as challenges and has strong boundaries. He does not manipulate or deceive. He envies no one and takes charge of his own destiny. He knows that consciousness changes reality. His happiness and suffering are sacred to him. He does not censor himself of care what others do, say or think. Evil is, for him, the absence of autonomy and selfhood. He leads and does not follow. He is in contact with the true source of life which exists and flows from within his being. His life force is his own. He is mutable and is ever growing.
The DESTRUCTIVE man requires external stimuli to feel alive. He is emotionally dead and without the world of objects and other people his life is nothing. He is deeply addicted to stimuli which fills his psychic abyss. He cannot be still or alone. He is a shell addicted to fashion, conforming to be accepted. In his world image and appearance is everything. His experiences are banal and casual. He performs and mimics, but abuses trust, sexuality and beauty. What he cannot own or control he fears. He seeks a cause and master to avoid responsibility. If his desires are thwarted, he becomes agitated, depressed and aggressive. He is competitive and pathologically reliant on approval. He is expert at manipulation and is hypocritical and immoral. Other people, especially those with inherent power and creativity, are his prey. He feels a sense of greatness from their loss and failures. He is the enemy of true creativity, independence and selfhood. Nothing is sacred to him except his image, external success, possessions and his catalog of dominance.
— M. Tsarion (via heartmindspirit)