As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Er, Uh-Oh

Because of my work on several highly-distinguished digital-tier cable channels, I have certain pieces of knowledge that I probably shouldn't have. Because of the show I edited about the super-volcano under Yellowstone National Park, I know enough to get very freaked out by stories like this:

Yellowstone National Park was jostled by a host of small earthquakes for a third straight day Monday, and scientists watched closely to see whether the more than 250 tremors were a sign of something bigger to come. Swarms of small earthquakes happen frequently in Yellowstone, but it's very unusual for so many earthquakes to happen over several days, said Robert Smith, a professor of geophysics at the University of Utah.

"They're certainly not normal," Smith said. "We haven't had earthquakes in this energy or extent in many years."

What Smith is not saying is that the consequences of a big volcanic eruption, which goes hand in hand with the seismic activity. We haven't seen in our lifetime an eruption of the magnitude that Yellowstone would produce; the closest would be Krakatoa in Indonesia in the 19th century, which lowered global temperatures by a couple degrees (the good news) and destroyed crop cycles worldwide (the bad news). Not only would nearby cities like Cody, Wyoming and Bozeman, Montana be obliterated, but especially with an eruption so close to the Midwest, still the bread basket of the world in many respects, the amount of ash dumped on the region would be enough to make it infertile for years, and maybe uninhabitable as the particulate matter gets into the air. The last time Yellowstone erupted, fossil records in Nebraska show that multiple species not known to have lived in North America were wiped out.

Here's a little write-up of the show; you can find some video of it here. Stories like this get my Spidey Sense tingling.

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