Dangerous Places to Live – WIF Travel

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Dangerous Places to Live


10. The Anomalous Lake Maracaibo In Venezuela


While there are other lightning activity hotspots in the world, they tend to be more spread out, or only during certain seasons. By far the highest concentration of lightning in one place in the world, goes to the bizarre lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. In this spot, on most nights, you can essentially see lightning flashing over and over again. In the area around the lake, there are roughly 250 lightning flashes per square kilometer a year. During the right time of year, when a storm is really going, you can see up to 28 lightning flashes per minute.

When the lightning flashes are going they can be seen as far as 250 miles away, and some say sailors from long ago used it as a navigational beacon. Interestingly, experts are unsure as to why this particular area is a hotspot for lightning. Some suggested uranium in the bedrock, others suggested wind patterns or other similar ideas. Right now, there isno solid theory to explain what is happening that anyone is willing to stake their reputation on.

9. The Coldest Inhabited Village In The World


The village of Oymyakon, in Russia, is the coldest known inhabited city in the world, and is easily one of the most extreme environments you can choose to live. The temperature averages -58F during the winter, something most of us cannot even imagine dealing with. When asked how they deal with the cold, the locals responded with typical Russian humor, and credited vodka to their ability to deal with the cold.

Walking outside for a few minutes, even when properly equipped, can cause glasses to become stuck to your face, and cars that are turned off in the cold will not turn back on. Being outside for just a few minutes without the proper gear could quickly lead to frostbite or death, depending on how little gear you have. Indoor plumbing is pretty much nonexistent due to the frozen ground, so people use outhouses. Locals mainly consume raw meat and fish, washed down with liberal amounts of vodka of course.

8. The Colombian Village Where Children Zipline Across A Canyon To Get To School

Some young people will complain about taking the bus to school, and how annoying it can be to sit with the other children. Some parents will half-joke about walking uphill both ways to get to school when they were a small child. However, in some places in the world, getting to school is actually quite a real chore. In some poorer countries, kids walk miles every morning so they can learn, but one small village in Colombia has them all beat.

As seen in the video above, these children are actually ziplining across a canyon every morning so they can get to their school quickly from their village. While it may look kind of fun, the average child or adult would be absolutely terrified, especially at how little safety equipment they are using. It just goes to show that if you truly want something, you will brave almost anything to get it.

7. Honduras, The Murder Capital Of The World


When most people hear about immigrants coming to the United States to seek shelter, whether they do so illegally, or attempt to seek asylum officially at our borders, they think of people coming from Mexico. However, there are many other South American countries from which people are fleeing to the United States. One of the chief of these is Honduras, often called the murder capital of the world.

Honduras is plagued by the worst kind of gang activity. Those who do have money live in extremely tightly secured houses, with private security, that may as well be fortresses. Most people live in fear, and many people have to join the gangs in some way or simply be killed. Many young people end up killed by gang violence regardless of what choices they make. Hundreds of young people die in the gang wars every year, and less than ten percent of the cases are even investigated at all — the resources simply aren’t there. This allows the murders to continue unabated.

6. Flint, Michigan — Known For Lead Contaminated Water And Sky High Murder Rates


Flint, Michigan has been in the news recently because of the lead contaminated water. The governor appointed emergency city managers, and the one in Flint forced through a water change to a cheaper source that hadn’t been properly vetted. Even though the governor and the manager were warned by the EPA and others, they did not listen and went ahead. The water was not only contaminated and poor quality, but the change caused corrosion damage to the already old infrastructure, worsening the contamination.

However, this was only the most recent of Flint’s problems. Even before the water crisis, Flint was starting to fall apart in terms of wealth, infrastructure and pretty much everything else. They were once a bustling manufacturing town, but once the industry left, the jobs were gone and most who were stuck there fell into extreme poverty. In recent years Flint has either been the murder capital of the USA, or been in the top three to five. With gang activity ramping up, jobs continuing to disappear and the water problem not going anywhere, Flint may be the most dangerous city in America.

5. Life In A Submarine Is Definitely Not Fun


Many movies have romanticized submarines, especially classics like The Hunt For Red October. However, in truth submarines are an absolutely wretched place to live in, and those who work in them often do essentially live in them long term. If severely damaged during wartime, submarines may have some survivors, but in many cases it would be the end.

More to the point though, even in times of relative peace, living in a submarine is a terrible prospect. They are incredibly cramped spaces with no view, no fresh air, and no variation in meals. There is nothing to talk about, no up to date television or news and nothing from the surface apart from occasional command updates. Many people start to go insane due to the extreme feeling of isolation and loss of personal space, as everyone has to sleep in tiny communal areas, and no one has their own personal bed except the command staff. While it is unlikely in peacetime for you to die on a submarine, having a bout of temporary insanity is not at all uncommon.

4. Astronauts Always Come Back From Space With Numerous Health Problems


Being an astronaut and going up into space sounds like an incredibly cool job to have. Some people spend their entire lives aspiring to it and never get there. To even be considered, you have to have a masters degree or higher in a relevant field, have several years of experience, be of near perfect physical fitness, have the right height and weight range, and preferably have military experience, especially if you want to be considered for a command position. If you are interested in being a pilot, you also require a lot of experience flying. Even then, they will only select a handful of people to consider when they are looking for more, and only a few of those people will be trained.

However, the truth is that all of this stringent selection is done because being in space is incredibly taxing on the human body. Just being up for a few months will eat away at the structure of your bones. The general rule of thumb is that for every month in space you are going to need two months to recover your bone density. It can also give returning astronauts serious low blood pressure for some time, and can cause permanent damage to vision due to the strange way low gravity effects pressure on the eyes, among other effects.

3. Working And Living On An Oil Rig Is Incredibly Dangerous


When people hear about a disaster like Deepwater Horizon, they think of the horrible environmental impact. As the oil continued to flow into the ocean unabated, and it took what felt like way too long to stop it, the loss of life was mostly forgotten in the media. The loss of marine life was talked about, but not much went into the fact that eleven oil rig workers went missing that day and were presumed dead — they were never found.

Working on an oil rig is an incredibly dangerous job, and when safety precautions are ignored — and they have been many times in the past — it is the workers who suffer first. Life isn’t much safer for oil field workers either, and especially in North Dakota’s oil fields, things are not in good shape. The federal authorities are investigating safety standards, after reports that there is roughly one accidental death every six weeks.

2. Any Of The Alleged Cancer Villages That Are Spread All Over The Country Of China


If you ask the Chinese government, there is no such thing as a cancer village. For the longest time, they even denied the pollution clouds surrounding their major cities, until the international visits during the Olympics made it impossible to deny to the entire world any longer. Anything that may make them look bad, or pressure them to tamp down on industry, is swept under the rug. Unfortunately, this is causing great harm to many Chinese citizens.

All over China, the country is dotted with what some call “cancer villages”. They are so dubbed because within these villages, generally everyone knows a minimum of one person who has serious cancer. These villages are always way too close to industrial plants, and often have strange particles very visible in the air. Even living there for years, the citizens never get used to it. One journalist who risked going to these villages to talk to people found himself coughing up strange brown sediment after being there only a short time — and people were angry about it. Despite the Chinese government’s policy of crackdown against dissent, these people were upset enough that they were willing to speak out about it to outsiders.

1. The Island That Is So Overrun By Snakes Hardly Anyone Dares Set Foot


The island known as Ilha da Queimada Grande, is owned by Brazil and within close enough distance that it would normally be put to more use. However, the issue is that the island is overrun by golden lancehead vipers, an insanely venomous variety of lancehead only found on this particular island. They evolved with too many other snakes, and too little of their regular prey, forcing them to evolve incredibly strong venom to take out more difficult foes.

This venom can kill a human in under an hour, and that is from just one good bite. Some reports estimate that this island has as many as one snake per square meter. This essentially means that in any given part of the island, you could look in any direction, and see at least one snake a few feet away. Legends say the lighthouse was once manned by a small family, who died when the snakes slipped through the cracks and murdered them. While that particular story is hard to verify, there is an old lighthouse on the island, that is now automated and is maintained once a year by the Brazilian Navy — hopefully they bring flamethrowers when they visit.

Dangerous Places to Live

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– WIF Travel

Natural Disaster Digest – WIF Geography

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Biggest Natural Disasters

in Earth’s History

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The Butterfly Effect principle simply states that, given enough time, whatever event, no matter how small, can and will have tremendous reverberations into the future. And when talking about past disasters, natural or otherwise, we always have to keep in mind that, even though devastating, they are part of what brought us here in the first place. Without them the world and everything in it would have taken a totally different turn, ending up completely different than it is today. The further back in time any particular event takes place, the more indirect influence it has on the present and future, altering them beyond recognition.

 We may try to speculate on how things would have turned out if any particular disaster from our past didn’t happen, but the variables are so small and infinitely numerous, that we may never know the right answer. Similar to weather prediction (which is looking into the future, by the way), we can only make our best guess with the limited information we have. With this being said, let’s take a look at 10 natural disasters from our past, and maybe later imagine how the world would have looked like without them.

10. Outburst of Lake Agassiz, North America


Roughly 14,500 years ago the planet was beginning to emerge from its last Great Ice Age. And as temperatures began to rise, the Arctic Ice Sheet that gripped much of the Northern Hemisphere began to melt away. Fast forward 1,600 years, and what is now the middle of the northern part of North America (parts of North Dakota, Minnesota, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario) was under a huge proglacial lake, formed by melting water being trapped by a wall of ice or another natural dam. With an estimated area of 170,000 sq. miles, Lake Agassiz was larger than any currently existing lake in the world, and roughly the size of the Black Sea.

Then, for whatever reason, the dam broke and all the fresh water trapped there escaped into the Arctic Ocean via the Mackenzie River Valley. And even if the deluge itself was bad enough, what followed next may be what killed off the megafauna in North America, as well as the Clovis culture. As the insane amounts of fresh water flooded the Arctic Ocean, it severely weakened the Atlantic “conveyor belt” by 30% or even more. This belt cycles warm water up to the Arctic, where it cools, sinks to the bottom and travels back south along the ocean floor. With the new influx of fresh water from Lake Agassiz, the cycle slowed down and the Northern Hemisphere returned to near-glacial temperatures and conditions for about 1,200 years, in a period known as The Younger Dryas. The end of this period, roughly 11,500 years ago, was even more abrupt than when it first started, with temperatures in Greenland rising by 18 degrees Fahrenheit in a just a mere decade.

9. The Siberian Traps Eruption, Central Russia


Some 252 million years ago, planet Earth looked a lot different than it does today. Life was as alien as life can get and the continents were all pushed together, forming a single, super-continent known as Pangaea. Evolution was following its normal path, with life flourishing on both land and sea. Then, as if out of nowhere, all of it would change in a geological instant. In the far north of Pangaea, in what is now Siberia, a super volcano of Biblical proportions began to erupt. The eruption was so massive and so devastating, it covered an area of almost 1.7 million sq. miles (roughly the size of the continental US) in a one mile deep sea of lava. Only about 500,000 sq. miles of it are still visible today, in a region now called “The Siberian Traps.

This eruption itself and subsequent lava flows, while devastating in their own right, were only a catalyst for an unstoppable chain of events that would kill off 75 percent of life on land and over 95 percent of all marine creatures. This apocalyptic event marked the transition between the Permian and Triassic periods, and is sometimes known as The Great Dying. The immediate effects of the super volcano completely devastated the Northern Hemisphere, turning the air into literal acid and plunging the entire food chain into complete disarray. With the several century-long volcanic winter that followed, 10% of the world’s species had perished. After the dust settled, the planet was immediately thrusted into a massive global warming, raising the global temperatures by 5 degrees Celsius and killing another 35% of all land creatures.

The oceans were next, with much of the CO2 in the atmosphere being absorbed by the water and turning it into carbonic acid. With the increasing temperatures, the oxygen-depleted waters from the ocean floor began to expand and rise from the depths, trapping all marine life “between a rock and a hard place.” The massive amounts of methane hydrate, found even today on the ocean floor, began bubbling to the surface due to the warming waters, and raising the planet’s temperatures by another 5 degrees Celsius. At this point in time, almost all of marine species had died off and only the sturdiest of land creatures managed to survive. This event is the single largest case of a mass extinction to have ever happened on Earth. But at this point we are able to generate four times as much CO2 into the atmosphere as that super volcano all those million years ago, with most of the above mentioned effects already beginning to happen.

8. The Storegga Slide, Norwegian Sea

Some 8,000 years ago, 60 miles off the Norwegian coast to the north, a huge chunk of land roughly the size of Iceland broke off of the European continental shelf and plunged into the depths of the Norwegian Sea. Most likely caused by an earthquake that destabilized the methane hydrates found trapped there, the 840 cubic miles of sediment spread itself over 1,000 miles into the abyssal plain below, covering an area of about 36,700 sq. miles. The ensuing tsunami following the landslide wreaked havoc on all surrounding landmasses at that time.

As the planet was emerging from a previous Ice Age, sea levels were 46 feet lower than they are today. But even so, sediment deposits originating from the Storegga Slide have been discovered 50 miles inland in some places, and 20 feet above current tide levels. With waves exceeding 80 feet and travelling in all directions, Scotland, England, Norway, Iceland, Faroe, Orkney and Shetland Islands, Greenland, Ireland, and the Netherlands were all severely affected by this natural disaster. The last remnant of land that once connected the British Isles to mainland Europe, known as Doggerland, was completely swept over by the deluge, thus creating the North Sea we know today.

This was not the first or the last time this happened, with several other smaller landslides off the Norwegian coast taking place between 50,000 and 6,000 years ago. Companies involved in petroleum and gas exploration take special precautions so as not to trigger another such event by accident.

7. Laki Eruption, Iceland


Iceland sits directly on top of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where two large tectonic plates are pulling away from each other. This makes the island nation one of the most volcanically-active regions in the world. In 1783, an 18 mile-long crack on the island’s surface, known as the Laki Fissure, ripped open. Along its length, 130 craters formed, spewing 3.4 cubic miles of basaltic lava over a period of 8 months. Incomparable in size and devastation with what happened in Siberia 252 million years ago, the Laki event featured very similar characteristics, and was the largest volcano eruption of the past 500 years. Thanks to a network of underground tunnels known as lava tubes, the molten rock was able to spread hundreds of miles away from the fissure and raze a total of 20 villages to the ground.

The most devastating effect of Laki however was not the lava itself, but the toxic gases it spewed into the atmosphere. An estimated 8 million tons of hydrogen fluoride and 120 million tons of sulfur dioxide were released, poisoning the air and forming acid rains. Three quarters of Iceland’s sheep and over half of all its livestock died as a result. Due to starvation and disease, over 20 percent of Iceland’s population was killed over the following months. Furthermore, the sulfur dioxide was spread over much of the Northern Hemisphere, blocking the sun’s rays and plunging the planet into a mini volcanic winter. Europe was most affected by it, causing crop failures and starvation, leading to the infamous French Revolution.

The rest of the world is affected as well. North America experiences the longest and harshest winter on record, one sixth of Egypt’s population dies of starvation, and the monsoon seasons are thrown into disarray, affecting regions as far away as India and Southeast Asia.

6. The 2011 Tornado Super Outbreak, Central United States


Tornadoes in general leave few remnants of their existence over long periods of time. Their effects can be devastating, but from an archaeological point of view, not much evidence can be unearthed. However, the biggest and most destructive tornado event in recorded history took place in 2011 over an area colloquially known as “tornado alley” in both the US and Canada. From April 25-28 a total of 362 tornadoes were reported and confirmed across 15 states by the National Weather Service. Violent tornadoes occurred each day, with April 27 being the most active, with a record of 218 tornadoes touching down. Four of these were classified as EF5, the highest ranking possible on the Enhanced Fujita scale. On average around the world, one such EF5 tornado is reported once a year or less.

 In total, 348 people were killed as a result of this outbreak, 324 of which were direct tornado-related deaths. The other 24 casualties were caused either by flash floods, fist-sized hail, or lightning strikes. Another 2,200 people were injured. The most affected state was Alabama, with 252 fatalities. The hardest-hit area was the city of Tuscaloosa in Alabama, where one EF4 tornado, with a diameter measuring nearly 1 mile and wind speeds exceeding 200 mph, ravaged through residential areas of the city. Total material damages have been calculated to be around $11 billion, making the 2011 Super Outbreak one of the most expensive natural disasters to grip the US.

5. The Spanish Flu, All Over the Globe


As the world was gripped by the horrors of WWI, an even deadlier killer was beginning to make its presence felt throughout the planet. The Spanish Flu, or Influenza, was the deadliest pandemic in modern history, with 500 million people infected worldwide – about a third of the population – and an estimated 20 to 50 million people killed in less than six months. Around a quarter of all US citizens became infected and 675,000 of them died because of it, lowering the average life expectancy by 10 years. As the First World War was slowly drawing to a close in 1918, the Influenza virus was given little attention at first, especially on the battlefield, which quickly became a perfect hotbed for the airborne disease.

For years, scientists believed the origins of the flu began in the trenches of France, and neutral Spain was conducting heavy research on it, earning it the name “Spanish Flu.” The harsh conditions of the battlefield were perfect for such a disease to be created, with large numbers of people being packed together in squalor and often times in close proximity with animals such as pigs. Moreover, the many deadly chemicals used throughout WWI gave ample chance for the virus to mutate.

A decade after the war, however, Kansas was being seriously considered as another possible breeding ground for the N1H1 influenza virus, when it was discovered that 48 infantry men died in a military camp there. More recent evidence indicates to a group of 96,000 Chinese laborers who were sent to work behind the British and French lines. Reports of a respiratory illness that struck northern China in November 1917 was identified a year later by Chinese health officials as identical to the Spanish flu. However, no direct link had been made between the Chinese illness and the worldwide outbreak. The effects of the pandemic can be felt even to this day, 100 years later, with several other related strains of the virus hitting in 1957, 1968 and again in 2009 and 2010 during the “swine flu” crisis. None of these instances have been as deadly as the one at the end of WWI however, when only the isolated Marajó Island in Brazil’s Amazon River Delta had not reported an outbreak.

4. Last Outburst of Lake Agassiz and the Black Sea Deluge, Eastern Europe


Once again Lake Agassiz makes it on this list, this time with its final drainage which occurred around 8,200 years ago. After the lake’s last major drainage mentioned above, the ice sheet replenished itself due to the cooling caused by the lake’s fresh waters gushing into the Arctic Ocean. But as the planet began to warm up again 1,200 years later, the lake reappeared. But this time Agassiz seems to have merged with another equally large Lake Ojibway. The joining was short lived, however, with their complete drainage taking place, this time into Hudson Bay. Like before, the planet was plunged into another cold spell, called the 8.2 kiloyear event. However, this event was far shorter than the Younger Dryas, lasting for only about 150 years. Nevertheless, this sudden supply of water into the world ocean, raised sea levels by a staggering 13 feet.

Major flooding took place in all corners of the world, from the Americas, Europe, Africa, Arabia, South Asia, and the Pacific Islands. Many submerged settlements have been found all over the world, which seem to date from this period. This time in history may also be when all the Flood Myths around the world came into being. But the biggest case of flooding came about in Eastern Europe’s Black Sea, which at that time was no more than a fresh water lake. With the fast sea level rise, the Bosporus Strait partially gave in and water from the Mediterranean poured into the lake to form the Black Sea. The speed at which water poured in is still debated to this day, as is the quantity. Some believe that over 10 cubic miles of water entered the strait with 200 times the flow of Niagara Falls. This lasted for three centuries and flooded 60,000 sq. miles of land, with waters rising by six inches per day. Others believe the flooding was more gradual and covered just 770 sq. miles.

3. The Zanclean Flood and the Mediterranean Sea


Just like the Black Sea above, the Mediterranean was also a lake once. As the African and Eurasian tectonic plates moved closer and closer together over a course of many millions of years, they eventually collided. Their initial point of contact was between the Iberian Peninsula and the northern coast of West Africa some 5.6 million years ago. Isolated from the Atlantic Ocean, the now Mediterranean lake began to evaporatedue to the arid conditions over the course of several hundred thousand years. In most places the sea floor was covered by a mile-high layer of salt. This salt was then blown by the winds, wreaking havoc on the surrounding landscape.

Luckily, 300,000 later the Mediterranean was full once again. The likely cause is believed to have been the continuing shift of the crustal plates, which in turn caused the ground around the Gibraltar Strait to subside. Over the course of several thousand years, an instant in geological terms, the Atlantic dug its way through the 124-mile-long channel. The flow of water reaching the Mediterranean basin was slow at first, but still three times the rate of discharge of the Amazon River today. However, it is believed that once the channel was wide enough, the surge of water was tremendous, filling the remaining 90% of the Mediterranean basin in a course of several months to two years. The water level rise may have been as high as 33 feet per day. This event is known asthe Zanclean Flood. And even today, more than 5 million years later, the Mediterranean is much saltier than the Ocean, due to the narrow strait that connects them.

2. North China Drought, 1876-79


Between 1876 and 1879 a serious and large-scale drought occurred in China, leaving some 13 million people dead out of the total of 108 million. As the world was emerging from its last period of cooling known as “The Little Ice Age,” a drought in the Yellow River basin area began in earnest in 1876, worsening the following year with the almost total failure of rain. This was by far the worst drought to hit the region in the past 300 years, and definitely caused the largest number of casualties. Shanxi province was the most affected by the famine, with an estimated 5.5 million dead out of a total population of 15 million.

This was not the first time China was faced with a severe drought, and up until the 18thcentury the nation was heavily invested in the storing and distribution of grains in cases of dire situations such as this. In fact, the state on several occasions was effective in preventing serious droughts from resulting in mass starvation. This time however, the Qing state was considerably weakened by the mid-century rebellions and strong British imperialism, and was totally unprepared for a crisis on this scale. Foreign and local relief efforts had been made, but much of rural China had been depopulated by starvation, disease and migration.

1. The Collision Between Earth and Theia

Though this list was not written in any particular order, we’ve decided to end it with a huge, cataclysmic event of literal astronomic proportions, which made our planet what it is today. And even if scientists are not 100 percent certain it happened, there are strong indications that it did. Some 100 million years after our planet had been formed by the gradual collection of asteroids and other space debris, the young Earth was headed on a direct collision course with Theia, a hypothesized planet in our young Solar System. This other planetary-mass object is believed to have been roughly the size of Mars, or somewhat smaller, and which 4.31 billion years ago was flung towards Earth and smashed head-on into it.

 The force of the impact merged the two planets together, forming the Earth we know and love today. The pieces that were blown out from the collision were captured by the planet’s gravitational pull and slowly formed the Moon. The large size of our natural satellite relative to Earth backs up the collision hypothesis. Moreover, scientists analyzing moon rocks from three Apollo missions have compared them to volcanic rocks found in Hawaii and Arizona and discovered no difference in their oxygen isotopes. Another indication of the collision is the unusually large core and mantle of our planet compared to the other rocky worlds in our Solar System, as Theia’s core and mantle mixed with Earth’s.

Natural Disaster Digest


– WIF Geography

“The Big One” and the West Coast – WIF Speculation

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What Will Happen if

“The Big One”

Hits the West Coast

 When most people think of the “Big One,” they often think about an earthquake caused by the San Andreas Fault. However, there’s actually a more dangerous fault called theCascadia Subduction Zone. The Cascadia Subduction Zone, also known as the Cascadia Fault, is almost 700 miles long and stretches the west coast of North America from Vancouver Island to Northern California. For some perspective, an earthquake caused by the San Andreas Fault could reach 8.3 on the Richter scale, but a Cascadia earthquake will be more like a 9.2. That means that the quake could shake for up to four and a half minutes.

The odds of a mega earthquake happening in the next 50 years are about one-in-three. If it were to hit tomorrow, these are just 10 of the things that could happen.

10. Aftershocks


Further complicating rescue missions and evacuations are aftershocks, which will continue for days afterwards. This will cause much more destruction and notably, it will be hard to pull survivors from unstable buildings because an aftershock could happen at any moment. This leads to more destruction, and more people buried under rubble.

 As a result, the death toll will again rise, either from people attempting rescues, or simply because people can’t get to them. Aftershocks are also known for causing landslides, especially in areas with lots of hills. Hills, you probably realize, are found all over the west coast.

9. It Will Cause a Devastating Tsunami For North America’s West Coast

The earthquake will, of course, cause a ton of damage. Then, people along the west coast of northern California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia will have about 10 to 15 minutes to get to higher ground because a tsunami will be heading their way. Depending on where the wave makes landfall, it could be 20 to over 100 feet tall, carrying debris like boats and cars. Inland, the giant wave will be travelling at 12.5 miles per hour. That may not seem very fast, but a grown man is knocked over by ankle-deep water traveling at half that speed. Unfortunately, many people are going to have a hard time getting to high enough ground because a lot of the roadways in the earthquake zone area will be destroyed.

The good news is that only about 71,000 people live year round along the west coast where the tsunami will hit. However, some areas of the coast are popular tourist attractions. So while many people don’t live there year round, thousands of people work in the area, and even more visit during the summer months. This will make evacuations much more difficult. For example, when people live in an area where there’s some type of an inherent danger, they’re generally more prepared. However, it’s very doubtful tourists will be prepared. They may not even know how to drive out of town without their GPS, and this will only add more chaos to the already nightmarish scenario.

8. Japan, Indonesia, The South Pacific, and Hawaii Won’t Be Safe Either


 Not only will the rupture cause problems in North America, but a giant tsunami will also be headed in the direction of Hawaii, Indonesia, the South Pacific, and Japan. Luckily, these places will get a warning because it will take the wave about 10 hours to travel there. However, the wave will still be over 10 feet tall, and millions will be displaced.

It’s believed that these countries will be affected because they already experienced it just over 300 years ago. In 2005, researchers found evidence that seven 12-foot waves hit the village of Miho, Japan, in 1700. Those waves were caused by a Cascadia earthquake.

7. Seattle Will Collapse


Seattle has a population of just over 686,000, and a lot of those people will be displaced if the Cascadia Fault ruptures.

When the earthquake starts, Seattle will be devastated by landslides; somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000 of them. Another problem that Seattle will face is a phenomenon called soil liquefaction. The process happens when loosely packed and waterlogged sediments that are at, or near, the surface lose strength. It’s similar to standing in ankle deep water on a sandy beach. If you wiggle your toes while standing in the water in the sand, your foot will sink. Well, in Seattle, this will happen with soil that has buildings on top of it. That’s obviously not a good thing. In Seattle, about 15 percentof the structures are built on liquefiable soil. This includes 17 daycares and the homes of around 34,500 people.

 6. Oregon Would Be Destroyed


One of the states that will be the hardest hit by a Cascadia earthquake is Oregon. The problem is that the Cascadia Fault wasn’t discovered until 1970. Oregon didn’t have any earthquake measures in place until 1974. As a result, the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries estimates that 75 percent of all the structures in Oregon would fail to withstand a Cascadia earthquake. This includes 3,000 schools, half the police departments, and two-thirds of the state’s hospitals.

Another problem with Oregon is that many of the cities are fairly isolated. There are also only a few roads in the entire state that lead east, away from the destruction. However,38 percent of the state’s bridges will be out of commission, along with the railroads, and airport runways. Another problem is that all liquid gas is shipped in, so fuel shortages are very likely. This will all leave people stranded, making it incredibly difficult for search and rescue workers to reach them.

This could be even worse during the summer months when 50,000 people visit the beaches on Oregon’s coast. If the earthquake were to happen on a beautiful summer day, when the beaches are packed, it would be utter havoc. Another problem, which faces every state and city on this list, is if the earthquake happened at night. Then, all of these problems would have to be dealt with in the dark.

5. Canada’s Worst Natural Disaster


Canada will also be hit hard by a Cascadia earthquake. According to studies, it has the potential to be the worst natural disaster in Canadian history. Vancouver Island, which has a population of nearly 750,000, will have a lot of the problems that the other areas we’ve mentioned will face. Just like Seattle, buildings will collapse because of soil liquefaction. Like Oregon, the cities on the coast where the tsunami will hit are popular tourist areas. Also, one of Canada’s most beautiful cities, Victoria, which is the most populated city on the island with a population of 350,000, is in the extreme zone for the earthquake.

A problem with Vancouver Island is that it’s, well…an island. The airport is right in the extreme danger zone for the earthquake. And unfortunately, there’s no highway to thisdanger zone. (Sorry, we had to.) The most common way on or off the island are ferry systems, and those would have a two week disruption. This is going to make it incredibly difficult to get hundreds of thousands of people basic supplies like food, water, and medicine.

People in British Columbia are also unprepared. When last surveyed, about 70 percent of them didn’t have an emergency kit.

4. The San Andreas Fault May Rupture Around the Same Time


If the earthquake and the tsunami from the Cascadia rupture weren’t bad enough, there appears to be a link between the Cascadia Fault and the San Andreas Fault. The San Andreas Fault runs 800 miles through California. You may remember that it was the star of its own summer blockbuster. Or maybe you don’t, because the movie was so forgettable.

Researchers believe that there is a connection. It turns out, 13 out of the last 15 earthquakes caused by the San Andreas Fault were preceded by a Cascadia earthquake. While a San Andreas earthquake often happens years later, it’s also possible that it could happen within hours. For this reason, even if it didn’t happen immediately, Los Angeles,the second most populous metropolitan area and the city with the second highest gross domestic product in the US, would need to be evacuated because it isn’t exactly the most earthquake ready city in the country.

Notably, all of the electricity, gas, and water lines cross the San Andreas Fault. If an earthquake reaching an 8 on the Richter scale happened, Los Angeles wouldn’t have any gas, water, or hydro for months. Many of the modern buildings would survive, but older ones would be condemned as structurally unusable. It would take years, and billions of dollars, to restore Los Angeles to resemble a shadow of its former self.

3. Disease Epidemic


This type of disaster will be of unprecedented levels in North America. For example, 400,000 people were displaced by Katrina, but more than six times that amount will be displaced in the wake of a Cascadia earthquake and tsunami. The problem is, with this displacement and the inevitable disruption to essential services, there are often disease outbreaks and epidemics.

 This happens because it’s hard to get access to clean water, overcrowding in shelters, and limited access to healthcare and medication. If the Cascadia earthquake happens before proper safety precautions are taken, there will probably be outbreaks of diseaseslike Salmonella, dysentery, and typhoid fever in the disaster areas.

2. The West Coast of North America Would Burn

forest fire

When describing what the west coast would be like after a Cascadia earthquake, the director of FEMA in that area said that everything west of Interstate 5 will be “toast.” And yes, that is literally the term he used.

It may be toast because a major problem with earthquakes is that fires break out. In areas like Seattle and the state of Oregon, fire departments will also be in ruins. If they aren’t, many roads will be destroyed, making it difficult to travel to fires to put them out.If they get to the scene, if they have an earthquake resistant fire system, like Vancouver, and if it isn’t damaged, then they may be able to put out a few fires.

But it will still be very difficult to contain cities full of small fires. These small fires will turn into big fires, and the next thing you know whole blocks are gone. God forbid the fires spread to the forests and the brush that cover the west coast. Which, by the way, are already predisposed to forest fires. Things would be even more dire if an earthquake happens while forest fires were already raging, because resources would be depleted.

Things would only get worse if the San Andreas earthquake happened around the same time. In Los Angeles, hundreds of fires would start. But they wouldn’t have access to water to extinguish it, since the waterlines cross the San Andreas.

 1. Death and Destruction


As you probably gathered, a Cascadia earthquake would be absolutely devastating to the west coast of North America. FEMA’s projections are rather alarming. In the United States alone, they estimate that 10,000 people will die, 30,000 will be injured, and 2.5 million people will be displaced. They’ll need water, food, medicine, healthcare, and shelter. Of course, if the San Andreas Fault was to rupture around the same time, thousands more will be injured and killed. Millions more will be displaced. Even if the San Andreas earthquake doesn’t happen, that area may have to be displaced until the cities are more earthquake proof. Following a Cascade earthquake, one is likely to happen soon thereafter. Hopefully, a San Andreas earthquake doesn’t happen until many years later.

As for damages, according to FEMA estimates, the earthquake and ensuing tsunami will cause $309 billion in damage. Every city within 100 miles of the coast will suffer blackouts. Inland, power will be restored within days. But it will take months to get hydro and natural gas back to areas near the coast. As for water systems, it’s estimated that it will take at least three weeks for restoration. It could take seven months, or even up to a year, to repair them. That’s a long time to live in an area without running water, gas, or electricity. Especially if you’re trying to rebuild a city.

“The Big One” and the West Coast


– WIF Speculation

Mass Extinction Handbook – WIF Science

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Facts about the Earth’s

Greatest Mass Extinction

Their causes are somewhat varied, but we’ll be focusing on the greatest mass extinction that has ever taken place here on Earth. It happened some 252 million years ago, during the Permian period, and paved the way for the Triassic one. Also known as The Great Dying, the planet witnessed a huge cataclysmic event, so devastating that 75% of all land creatures and over 95% of all marine life went extinct. What caused it, what exactly happened and what can we learn from it, we’ll be discussing in this article down below.

10. The Permian Period


In order to properly understand what happened back then, we first need to look at the Permian period itself. It lasted for about 47 million years, from 299, up until 252 million years ago and was part of the larger, Paleozoic Era. By the beginning of this period, all current continents were pushed together and formed a single large super continent, known as Pangaea. Life in the interior of this huge continent was harsh, as it had a much cooler, drier climate than around its coast. Fern-like plants and forests, which dominated the previous Carboniferous period, began to give way to the first seed-bearing plants, the gymnosperms, which in turn evolved to present-day conifers, cycads and gingkoes.

Two types of land animals began to evolve during this time, the Synapsids and Sauropsids. The first, which seemed to be the dominant of the two, or at least at the beginning, were the ancestors of all present-day mammals. In the later part of the Permian period, these evolved into the Therapsids, with some of them exhibiting evidence of whiskers and a possible indication of fur.Sauropsids on the other hand, went on to become the reptiles, birds and dinosaurs that would follow the Permian. Insects began to diversify, with cicadas and beetles making their appearance at this time.

Marine life is a bit harder to identify as there is little exposed fossil evidence available. Nevertheless, the shallower coastal waters around Pangaea indicate that reefs were large and diverse ecosystems with numerous sponge and coral species. Bony fish began to make their presence felt, while sharks and rays continued to multiply as they’ve done for millennia. Life in all its prehistoric shapes and sizes seemed to be stable, with evolution following its normal path. But then something happened; something that would shake the entire course of evolution from its very core.

9. A Massive, Earth-shaking Eruption


Many have speculated that the trigger for all these species to simply die off was a meteorite slamming into the Earth, similar to the one that may have wiped off the dinosaurs millions of years later. According to the evidence however, this seems to not have been the case. Since fossil records don’t indicate a sudden and all round extinction (like the one you would see with an asteroid impact), paleontologists have come to the conclusion that something else was the cause. And that cause can still be seen today in modern-day Siberia.

Hidden beneath the Arctic tundra, lies one of the world’s largest expanse of lava flows, forming a bleak landscape known as the Siberian Traps. What happened back then can only be described as a huge supervolcanic eruption, the likes of which have not been seen on Earth for over 500 million years. During the Permian period, Siberia was located at the northern part of Pangaea and when the volcano erupted, it engulfed an area roughly the size of the US (almost 1.7 million sq. miles) in a one mile deep sea of molten rock. Today only about 500,000 sq. miles of it are still visible. The type of lava found here indicates that there wasn’t a big explosion (but given its size, it was huge compared to ordinary volcanoes), but rather a prolonged flow of basaltic lava which spread for millions of sq. miles, in a process which maybe lasted for 500,000 years or more.

And now, even if these immense lava flows may have killed anything in their path over a large area of land, it still doesn’t account for the greatest mass extinction in Earth’s history. What came after it however, managed to do the job.

8. First Came Acid Rain


Besides the tremendous amounts of ash and dust that came from an eruption such as this, there was also a huge quantity of sulfur dioxide; a gas that has a huge negative impact on the environment. This gas rose high up into the atmosphere where it condensed into tiny droplets. If mixed with water however, you get sulfuric acid. It is estimated that the air in the northern hemisphere of this ancient Earth had a pH level so low, it was comparable to undiluted lemon juice in its acidity. Research shows that within the first year after the eruption, the volcano was able to produce about 1.46 billion tons of sulfur dioxide, enough to completely devastate the northern half of the world. Around 4,000 billion tons of sulfur dioxide may have escaped Siberia in total.

Back in 1783, Iceland witnessed one such similar volcano and subsequent lava flows (but incomparable in size), around Mount Laki. After the eruption people reported their eyes burning, impossibility of breathing, livestock suffocating and suffering lesions and burning of their skin, with plant life getting the worst of it. The same thing happened 252 million years ago, but at a much, much larger scale. The whole food chain began to collapse as acid rain was burning plants and animals alike. These toxic gases also created some chemical reactions that destroyed the overall protective ozone layer to levels lower than those observed in the Antarctic ozone hole in the 1990’s.

7. Then Came a Volcanic Winter


After a while these acid rains began to stop, but not all sulfur dioxide managed to be washed off from the air. Some of it remained high in the atmosphere, way above rain-forming clouds, and as minute sulfuric acid droplets. These reflected sunlight away from the planet, cooling its surface. Together with the insane amounts of ash and dust which quickly encircled the globe by high stratospheric winds, the planet began to witness an abrupt drop in all-round temperatures. The same thing happened in Iceland in 1783. Here the cooling was catastrophic as it killed more people than the acid rain and volcano combined. For a period of two or three years, much of Northern Europe reported crop failures, death and unrest as a result. The infamous French Revolution started because of it.

In a virtual simulation made on the last eruption at Yellowstone, some 640,000 years ago, ash and dust completely covered the northern hemisphere in just one month’s time and dropped temperatures in 18 months by 10 degrees Celsius. This blanket brought on a quick rise in Arctic ice, reflecting even more of the sun back into space. Rain stopped falling altogether with the oceans and land retaining more CO2. This made food supplies last for only weeks in some areas. It took the planet about 20 years to come back to its pre-eruption temperature. But our eruption from 252 million years ago was 1,600 times larger than this one and lasted for over half a million years. The winter itself certainly didn’t last as long, but it most certainly sent global temperatures plummeting for decades if not centuries. With the food chain in disarray, 10% of the world’s species had perished by this point.

6. Quickly Followed by a Massive Global Warming


All the while the dust settled, our supervolcano continued on pumping lava over the landscape, as well as tons upon tons of CO2 into the air. Fossil records from the time following the eruption indicate a sudden rise of carbon in the atmosphere. Scientists calculate that CO2 levels during the eruption were 20 times higher than they are today, and more than enough to seriously affect the planet. It was a sort of global warming on steroids. In 10,000 years the volcano released 24,000 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere and temperatures spiked by more than 5 degrees Celsius. However much 24,000 gigatons sound, if divided by the time it took to be released, it comes down to only 2.4 gigatons per year. We currently emit slightly over 4 times that (about 10 gigatons), with even more being foreseen to be pumped in the future.

While this 5 degree increase doesn’t seem that much to us, it has some seriously devastating effects on the climate. In equatorial regions it simply stopped raining and lush forests quickly became scorched deserts. If these regions were least affected by the previous volcanic winter, the massive global warming that followed severely changed that. This is the moment in time when the last of the Permian herbivores like the Dicynodon, as well as 35% of all land life, perish. And if things looked like they couldn’t get any worse, they did. This “rapid” global warming unleashed a deadly chain reaction, but this time in the oceans.

5. Leading to the Oceans Turning to Acid from Above


All the while extinction ruled over the land above the surface, nature was brewing an even more atrocious fate for the oceans. Life here remained mostly unscathed by the previous apocalyptic events, but things were about to take a turn for the worse; much, much worse. All throughout this time, the oceans were absorbing about half of the CO2 from the air (similar to what it’s doing today). Scientists have deduced that, over the course of the previously mentioned 10,000 years during the eruption, the pH levels in the oceans dropped by 0.6 to 0.7 units. In comparison, modern ocean pH levels have fallen by 0.1 pH units since the Industrial Revolution, a 30 percent increase in acidity. Depending on the future trend of carbon dioxide emissions, this value could fall by another 0.3 to 0.4 units by the end of this century, which will bring us extremely close to what happened 252 million years ago.

And what happened was disastrous for all marine life. As CO2 combines with water, it turns into carbonic acid. In seawater, this acid can have some really negative effects on the formation of carbonate minerals; the ones that mussels, corals, sea urchins and plankton use to make their shells. As acidity grew, these marine species died off and with them the whole marine food chain system collapsed. Scorpion-like predators called Eurypterids, to various types of Trilobites as well as all shell-forming beings died off because of this event. Some other less resistant marine species were also extinguished. Matthew Clarkson, a geochemist at the University of Otago in New Zealand said that it took life another 5 million years to diversify once more.

4. And Oxygen-depleted from Below


As marine life was being killed by the growing water acidity, an equally devastating killer was rising from the depths. With temperatures surging worldwide, so did the water. This in turn led to the oxygen-depleted watersfrom the ocean floor to expand and rise to the surface. Not being allowed to sink to larger depths due to suffocation, fish and invertebrates were stuck between a “rock and a hard place”, dying en masse as a result. Evidence of thiswas found in Greenland, by paleontologist Paul Wignall from the University of Leeds, where the ancient seabed, now raised, show signs of a large amount of fool’s gold (pyrite). This element can only be created if there is no oxygen around.

Evidence of this rising, oxygen-depleted, water can be seen today. As the oceans warm up, less oxygen is carried in the water, thus leaving the ocean sequestered in layers. Already naturally low in oxygen, these deep regions keep growing, spreading horizontally and vertically. Vast portions of the eastern Pacific, almost all of the Bay of Bengal, parts near Central America, and an area of the Atlantic off West Africa as broad as the United States are such “dead zones”. Since 1965, these low-oxygen areas have expanded by more than 1.7 million square miles. Further studies have indicated that during the Permian extinction, this low oxygen in the water has halted recovery in the oceans by at least one million years.

3. With Water Turning Pink and Poisonous as a Result


Besides no oxygen, fool’s gold also needs hydrogen sulfide (H2S) to be produced. And according to the large amounts of it found all over the world, and dating from that period, it is evident that the oceans were full of the stuff. In order to get that much H2S into the water however, something drastic must have happened. As temperatures rose, ocean currents stopped and water became low in oxygen. Once this occurred, organisms which hate oxygen began to thrive. The purple sulfur bacteria is one such organism. Often found in stagnant water, these bacteria have a waste product (H2S) which is poisonous to all air-breathing life. With the rise of oxygen-depleted waters, so did the environment for this organism grew, resulting in poisoning of the entire Permian ocean.

There was so much H2S in the water, that, if seen from space, the ocean would have looked pink in areas where it now looks green, due to the large number of bacteria present. But besides its aesthetics, some scientists believe that there was so much toxic gas produced, it could no longer be contained in seawater solution. As a result, large oily bubbles of hydrogen sulfide came out of the pink-stained sea and entered the atmosphere with some truly devastating results. Besides poisoning the few remaining plants and animals at the surface, H2S also significantly added to the shrinking of the ozone layer, left behind by the sulfur dioxide from the eruption.

2. And Then Came the Final Blow


At this point in time, almost all marine life was gone. It was the closest our planet ever came to achieving an aquatic extinction such as this. Land life on the other hand was only halfway there. What caused the other 25% to die was another subsequent heat wave. This time however, it didn’t come from the volcano itself, but rather from the depths of the ocean. And CO2 wasn’t to blame this time either, but rather methane.

Methane is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2, and there is currently an estimated of 30 trillion tons of methane hydrate locked on the ocean floor. If for any reason, water temperatures rise, this methane is released, as it is ultrasensitive to heat, and flows to the surface in the form of bubbles. This in turn will heat up the planet even further, leading to even more methane escaping, in a sort of a positive feedback cycle. This is exactly what happened 252 million years ago, killing off the remainder of land animals and plants, “fortunate” enough to escape the previous cataclysms. Earth’s temperature rose by another 5 degrees Celsius as a result.

Even if it took the Siberian Traps more than 10,000 years to reach this point, we today have begun to experience this phenomenon. As of 2014, researchers have found more than 500 bubbling methane vents being activated off the US east coast alone. There are an estimated 30,000 other such hidden methane vents worldwide. While this methane doesn’t reach the surface yet, it is however dissolved into the ocean at depths of hundreds of meters and being oxidized to CO2, which leads to further acidification of the water.

1. The Aftermath


Huge catastrophes such as this one can reset the evolutionary clock, meaning that the whole course of evolution will change. As the dominant species disappear, less significant ones take their place. As Gorgonopsians died off due to the scorching heat and hunger, the smaller Cynodonts took their place. Since these creatures burrowed underground, it offered them protection from both their dying predators as well as the harsh climate outside. After the mass extinction was over, and over the course of millions upon millions of years, these Cynodonts went on to become one of the dominant species of the new world. Without them we, as well as all other mammals, wouldn’t be here today.

Thoroughly understanding what happened during the end of the Permian, can help us tremendously in dealing with our current Anthropogenic Extinction. As we have observed up to this point, we are presently experiencing many of the effects felt millions of years ago, but which take place at a much faster pace than they did back then. For the first time in Earth’s history, the dominant species on the planet is upsetting the delicate balance of its ecosystem. Our massive production of CO2 has a catastrophic impact on Earth’s systems and we are able to shorten the time from tens of thousands of years, to mere centuries… some of which have already passed.

Many will say that this is just a way for the planet to “reboot” itself in terms of life. It happened before so it can happen again, right? Well, not necessarily. While it is true that we are the result of this Permian extinction, as well as the others that followed, this doesn’t automatically mean that life will happen again if Earth goes through another massive die-off. Venus is one such example. Even if it never had life, at one point in its evolution, these two planets were quite similar. But since Venus is closer to the Sun, it was a bit warmer. Because of this, our sister planet went through a process known as a runaway global warming, which made it into the hellish place it is today. Its closer proximity to the Sun was just the catalyst needed to ignite this global warming which, after 4 billion years, is still going on. Are we really that proud as to put all life we currently know exists into such a dangerous and risky predicament?

Mass Extinction Handbook

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Explore with me

– WIF Science

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #107

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #107

…John Ferrell is most relieved, having thought he would be on his own in his search for the newlyweds, alone in a strange city renowned for its crime and disease…


“The animals knew what was comin’,” suggests Willy Campbell, with affirming nods throughout the swaying railroad car he was seated (the 1st-not the last). They too had noticed the strange lack of wildlife as far back as the Ferrell wedding, one week ago. Not to mention domestic creature behavior in the final days.

          “Perhaps that is the answer, yes I declare it is; local weather observers, reporting directly to the Weather Bureau on a daily basis. From Maine to Montana, the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico; temperatures, cloud cover, rainfall… by God even “Bossie’s” milk production or the sudden disappearance of songbirds.


Image result for right hand “Willy Campbell, this is the very reason that you are my right-hand man. You inspire some great ideas.” Love then goes over to Alfrey Campbell, picks him up from his seat next to Doc Ziggy, telling him, “Your daddy is quite a guy, isn’t he?”

The pre-teen merely nods his head. Love can see that the boy’s interest is not in the affairs of his father. It is the elderly doctor who has captured his imagination. Ziggy plugs the gap in respect by stating, “Let’s hear it for, Willy Campbell, za finest a man can be!”

Applause accompanies the exhortation, embarrassing the former neo-slave. John Ferrell rescues him by asking of Love, “What will be our route?” eager for a stop near the Mississippi Delta.

     Herb Love had anticipated the needs of the Florida group, suggesting, “I think it would be a good idea for your entire contingent to get off at New Orleans. The rest of the train is stocked with aid for Galveston: doctors, food, tents and the like. So if it is all right, I would like to drop you off at New Orleans Union Station and pick you up on the way back through.

“New Orleans is my town, Herb,” states Jacques Fransoise, as a point of information.

“You have been in Quincy so long; I forgot you hail from Louisiana. Well that is perfect, you all have an experienced guide and with a bag full of medicine thrown in.”

  John Ferrell is most relieved. He had thought he would be on his own in his search for James and Abbey, alone in a strange city renowned for its crime and disease.

At least he will not be alone.


Alpha Omega M.D.

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Episode #107

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Complete Listing of Episodes

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Contents Alpha Omega 12-15 #78

MacGyver Moments – WIF Gadgets

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Real Life

MacGyver Moments

That Saved Lives

Fictional secret agent Angus MacGyver, featured on an American TV series that ran from 1985-1992, had unparalleled ingenuity. MacGyver used everyday objects to create complex solutions to overcome obstacles and prevail in life-or-death situations, saving his life (and sometimes the world) with his quick engineering hacks. MacGyver’s ability to perform extraordinary feats with ordinary objects may seem far-fetched. However, ingenious improvised solutions to life-threatening problems are not merely the province of TV. Below are 10 real-life examples of people who had a “MacGyver moment,” thinking quickly and devising surprising solutions to save lives. Disappointingly, with fewer rubber bands and paper clips than we’d hoped.

10. Creating a Makeshift Radiator


James Glanton and Christina McIntee faced a nightmare scenario when, while driving through the rural back roads of northern Nevada on a wintry December day in 2013 on the way to play in the snow up in the mountains, their Jeep swerved off an embankment and overturned. The couple was traveling with their two children, ages three and four, and a niece and nephew, ages 10 and three. As temperatures in the area plunged to 21 degrees below zero, the family’s prospects appeared bleak. The couple had winter coats for the family, but no cell service and no prospect of being able to reach help on foot.

What Glanton and McIntee did have, however, was ingenuity. Glanton used the Jeep’s spare tire as a container for a fire he built using brush and wood found near the Jeep. The couple heated rocks in the fire and ferried them to the overturned vehicle, using the residual heat to keep the family warm as they waited for rescue (they knew relatives would have reported them missing and could hear helicopters overhead so they believed a search was underway). When the family was found after two days in the wilderness, none of them had suffered from frostbite or sustained any permanent injury from the day trip gone awry.

9. Signaling for Help While Pinned after a Car Accident


When Kristin Hopkins’ Chevy Mailbu skidded off US Highway 285 in Colorado and down a steep, wooded mountain pass, it was only the beginning of her five day fight for survival. Pinned in her overturned car, which was wedged between trees, Hopkins lacked food, water, and the ability to reach a phone to call for help. Somehow, even in these desperate straits, Hopkins maintained a hopeful outlook. When interviewed about her ordeal, Hopkins, a single mother of four, said she concentrated on thoughts of her children. “I never had the death thought in my head,” she said. “It was more or less like all right, well, when will someone find me?”

Hopkins used the only items she could reach, a striped umbrella and a Sharpie marker, to signal for help. She detailed her situation on the white sections of the umbrella and poked it through one of the car’s broken windows, hoping to attract attention. A passing motorist spotted the vehicle and called authorities, who were surprised to find Hopkins severely dehydrated and injured (her feet ultimately had to be amputated), but alive, having used the only tools at her disposal to try to expedite her rescue.

8. Using an MP3 Player to Navigate and a Snowboard to Survive


Former hockey Olympian Eric LeMarque didn’t initially realize his predicament when he snowboarded off-course, accidentally leaving the relative safety of the back side of California’s Mammoth Mountain for the backcountry of the Sierra Nevada. LeMarque had only meager provisions—some gum, an MP3 player, his condo keys, and a cellphone with a dead battery—and he hadn’t told anyone where he was going.

However, with some ingenuity, LeMarque managed to survive a week in the frigid wilderness before rescuers located him. He used his snowboard to remove tree bark, which he ate and used for shelter. He used his MP3 player as a makeshift compass, using the strength of the signal from a local radio station to orient himself and to trek back up the mountain to increase his odds of being found. While LeMarque lost both feet to frostbite, his improvised survival strategies kept him alive in the wilderness five days longer than anyone had previously survived in the conditions he faced.

7. Saving a Life with Soda


Sugary drinks have taken the blame for shortening lives by contributing to obesity. However, for one car crash victim, a bottle of Coca-Cola in the hands of an astute rescuer proved to be a lifesaver. After hitting black ice on New Hampshire’s Route 140, Susan Robbins’ Camry hit a tree stump, overturned and smashed into a truck, leaving her unconscious in her badly damaged car.

Mark Hickey, a NH National Guard training officer happened by the wreck shortly after it occurred. Another motorist had already stopped and was on the phone with 911 dispatchers, so Hickey looked around to see how else he could help. It was then that he noticed a fire in the car’s engine compartment. Hickey initially tried to staunch the flames with hunting clothes he had in his truck, but when he couldn’t reach the fire, he created a novel fire extinguisher from another item in his vehicle—a 2-liter bottle of Coke. Hickey shook the bottle and used its contents to put out the flames. He held Robbins’ hand until rescuers arrived. When Robbins’ husband passed the crash scene on the way to the hospital, where his wife was being treated for her (relatively minor) injuries, he was surprised to notice a Coke bottle in her car, as Susan drinks only Pepsi. However, when the story of Hickey’s heroic actions came to light, a grateful Susan Robbins offered to buy her rescuer a Coke.

Amazingly, this is not the first time Coke-as-fire-extinguisher has saved a life; a British teenager also saved his father after his body went up in flames after a garden fire.

6. Reviving a Sick Passenger with a Hair Tie and Booze


Many passengers have urgently demanded a drink on a cross-country flight. However, when Dr. Patricia Quinlan asked for whiskey on her November, 2015 flight from Philadelphia to San Francisco, she had an exceptionally good reason. After noticing a man across the aisle fall out of his seat, Dr. Quinlan assessed him, determining his blood pressure was dangerously low and his heartbeat was irregular. Using the plane’s automated defibrillator to determine the sick passenger did not have a heart blockage, Dr. Quinlan thensought to stabilize the man, with help from an EMT and a nurse amongst her fellow passengers

As the three medical professionals maneuvered in the narrow aisle, other passengers used smartphones to provide light as the team treated the unconscious man, who was likely suffering from dehydration. While a medical kit was onboard, no alcohol could be found to disinfect the IV needle, so Dr. Quinlan requested a flight attendant grab some whiskey from the bar cart to do so. Further improvising, Dr. Quinlan used her hair elastic as a tourniquet for the IV and, when the IV sprung a leak, patched it with tape another passenger had in her purse. By the time the plane landed, the sick man was conscious and able to walk off the flight. Dr. Quinlan emerged from the flight with a new nickname from the appreciative crew: “Doctor Angel.”

5. Chopping Down Power Poles as an Emergency Beacon


In late May of 2010, temperatures in the Wollaston Lake region were unusually cold, even for northern Saskatchewan. In these icy conditions, an unidentified outdoorsman became stranded after going out in a boat on a river and being unable to find an ice-free path out of Wollaston Lake, which the river feeds. Stuck in the bush, surrounded by bears on one side and an icy lake on the other, with no way to communicate his predicament or ask for help, the stricken woodsman waited for rescue. After almost a week alone in the wilderness, he used the only tool at his disposal, an axe, to try to send a signal.

The desperate man chopped down four power poles, knocking out power to more than 1,000 residents of surrounding communities, and forcing SaskPower, the regional utility, to send a crew to investigate the cause of the outage. When the SaskPower crew arrived, they discovered the stranded man huddled under his boat for shelter, “in a very distressed state.” Though town residents were displeased to spend more than 30 hours without power in temperatures that dipped below freezing, they could take some consolation in knowing that the power pole-chopping that caused the outage also saved a life.

4. Performing an Emergency Tracheotomy with a Pocketknife and a Pen


If you had to choose a time and a place to face a health emergency, you couldn’t do much better than the Bakersfield, California restaurant where community college trustee Pauline Larwood started choking in September of 2013. Larwood was attending a symposium on Valley fever and the nearby restaurant was packed with top doctors from around the country. When Larwood started choking and the Heimlich maneuver did not help, several of the doctors present jumped into action to improvise to perform an emergency tracheotomy to save Larwood’s life.

Dr. Royce Johnson, a UCLA medical professor and chief of infectious diseases at Kern Medical Center, used a friend’s pocketknife to make an incision. Dr. Thomas Friedan, Director of the CDC, monitored Larwood’s pulse. Whensomeone called for a pen, Dr. Paul Krogstad, a UCLA medical professor, broke it in half, placing the hollow tube in the incision Dr. Johnson had made. Larwood was rushed to the hospital, and released the next day, expected to make a complete recovery thanks to the ingenuity and quick reflexes of her fellow diners.

3. Creating a Spacecraft Air Filter Adaptor Using a Sock and Duct Tape


“Houston, we’ve had a problem.” These immortal (and often-misquoted) words entered the national consciousness during the Apollo 13 lunar missionin April of 1970. The spacecraft became crippled, with two out of three fuel cells inoperable, after an oxygen tank burst. The three-man astronaut crew hurriedly moved into the smaller lunar module to reduce their electrical usage to preserve enough power to get back to Earth. However, the team quickly faced a new threat: the buildup of exhaled carbon dioxide in the lunar module would kill the astronauts if they and the NASA team on the ground couldn’t devise a way to filter it out.

The spacecraft was equipped with some backup canisters of lithium hydroxide to remove carbon dioxide, but the square canisters didn’t fit the lunar module’s round openings. NASA engineers, led by Ed Smylie, worked diligently to find a solution. The jerry-rigged adaptor they created, which was reproduced by the astronauts using the material onboard their spacecraft, included plastic from a garment bag, cardboard from an instruction manual, a tube sock, and duct tape. This makeshift air scrubber enabled the astronauts to keep breathing until their safe splashdown on Earth days later.

2. Using a Paddle and Ladder to Stay Fed and Hydrated After a Shipwreck


In 1971, Dougal and Lyn Robertson, along with their three children, set forth on the voyage of a lifetime. Lyn and Dougal, a retired mariner, had sold their farm, ploughed the proceeds into a 43-foot schooner, and planned to sail around the world to show their children the “university of life.” However, 17 months into their journey, the family, plus a student hitchhiker, got more life experience than they could have bargained for. The boat was boat was struck by a pod of whales and quickly sunk, leaving its six passengers on an inflatable raft and, after that deflated, a small dinghy.

The group had limited food and water and had to be resourceful to survive. They made a spear out of a paddle and used it to kill turtles and a shark, which they used for food and hydration, supplemented by rainwater they caught in containers. Because the rainwater that collected in the boat was polluted by turtle blood, Lyn, who had been a nurse, administered enemas using tubes from the rung of a ladder, to keep the group hydrated. These improvised solutions kept the family alive during the 38 days they were adrift before a passing fishing vessel spotted their flare and rescued them.

1. Jerry-Rigging a Pediatric Nebulizer at 30,000 Feet


In September of 2015, the parents of an asthmatic 2-year old made a mistake that could have cost their son his life, accidentally placing his medication in checked luggage for a transatlantic flight from Spain to the US. Luckily for the parents and the toddler, who had an asthma attack during the flight, Dr. Khurshid Guru, director of robotic surgery at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, was on board. After determining that the child’s oxygen levels were at dangerously diminished levels, Dr. Guru took action.

The onboard medical kit had only an adult inhaler, which the child was too young to be able to use effectively, but Dr. Guru was undeterred. Using the inhaler, a water bottle, a plastic cup, some tape, and an oxygen mask, he fashioned a makeshift nebulizer to deliver the medication to the child without requiring the young patient to do anything other than breathe through the device. The child’s oxygen levels improved, and by landing, the toddler was playing with his grateful parents.

MacGyver Moments

– WIF Ingenuity

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