Yellowstone Caldera attracting attention for catastrophic eruption potential, but maybe “it won’t be so bad”

There has been some hype in tabloid media (and on doomsday prepper Facebook accounts) in the past couple of weeks about the increase of small earthquakes in the Yellowstone National Park caldera area, interspersed with quiet periods.  Some sources say this could be a warning of a catastrophic eruption which could make two-thirds of the United States uninhabitable.  Other possible indications could be changes in water levels in various ponds and hot springs.

There are reports that that DHS has talked to at least four countries (one of them is apparently South Africa) on other continents about taking American “refugees”.  I could say, fat chance, given Trump’s attempts at travel bans!  There are predictions of at least a 10% probability of a major eruption by 2100.

The Pacific Northwest seems to have a massive eruption about every 650,000 years and we are near that time.  Each eruption occurs farther East than the previous one.   And scientists have found that the magma chambers under Yellowstone were even deeper and larger than previously thought.

But if you check more mainstream media, the sources indicate that earthquake swarms are common and not necessarily a sign of a major eruption. And more stable (and sometimes conservative) sites tend to suggest that the damage possible from a Yellowstone eruption is much smaller than the tabloids or Hollywood disaster movies predict.

Indeed, there would be massive destruction for at least 100 miles or so in every direction from the Caldera, more than was found with Mount St. Helens in 1980.

And there could be considerable ashfall over the upper Midwest, compromising farmland and gumming up streams and rivers.  Furthermore, the volcanic could would block sunlight and cool the Earth for several years, maybe substantially, reversing global warming temporarily and leading to shorter growing seasons.

I can recall that this risk came up on an Outwoods hike near Minneapolis back in the fall of 1998 when a University of Minnesota chemistry professor on the hike mentioned it, as a real hazard to civilization.

This site in the UK is rather sensational, as is Millennium Report, but these (Fox, Gizmodo, Livescience) make more temperate predictions.

I visited Yellowstone myself in May 1981 (also nearby Teton), and the Mt. St. Helens site in Washington State in July 1990.  I also flew over the St. Helens peak on a flight from Seattle to San Francisco in August 1980.

There have also been reports that Mount Rainier in Washington State could have a massive eruption.

Map of past eruptions.

Map of calderas.

Caldera photo.

Mt. St. Helens

(Posted: Friday, June 23, 2017 at 1:30 PM EDT)

Guest post on countries that can go to nearly 100% renewable energy

While Donald Trump, with “America First”, seems eager to give fossil fuels a longer lease on life, at least to help out coal miners in his voter base, it seems that some smaller countries are doing well in going to nearly 100% renewable energy.

Here follows a guest post on the topic:  It’s original title is “7 Countries that Said ‘Adios’ to Fossil Fuels & Run 100% on Clean Energy.” It is authored by “We Love Costa Rica”.  I’ll add that Costa Rica was a popular destination by the Dallas Sierra Club when I lived in Dallas in the 1980s.

“You might not have heard of countries like Bonaire or Tokelau before. They are really small and they only have a few inhabitants. Despite this, they were able to do something many other major countries have not done – remove fossil fuels and be totally dependent on renewable energy sources.

“In a lot of countries, there are still debates going on regarding global warming and the real reason why it exists. For these small countries, it is no longer up for debate. They have done something to change their energy source to make it cleaner.

“”They know that when disaster strikes, they will be the biggest victims. They understand the impact of global warming as they are the first people to reap the damages if floods and typhoons become more violent than before.

“Bigger countries don’t care for now as they can’t feel the immediate impact. If they will see the heavier impacts of global warming, they will surely change their tone. Just look at China. They have allowed big manufacturing companies to take over and do whatever they want.

“As a result, there is rising level of pollution in major cities. They have decided to do something about it when the problem has gone out of control. In short, these smaller countries are wiser to not wait for the damages to happen before doing something.

“Get to know these countries more through the infographic below. It lists the countries that have succeeded in eliminating fossil fuels from their system.”

7 Countries that Said 'Adios' to Fossil Fuels & Run 100% on Clean Energy

(Posted: Thursday, April 6, 2017 at 11 PM EDT)