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'Life After Man', 'BBC Focus', Feb 2017

PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 7:52 am
by Bruce Mardle
Hi, everyone.
I've just read an interesting article in the Feb 2017 issue of 'BBC Focus' magazine about what might destroy human civilisation and how The Planet might recover afterwards.
It reckons that 7 days after we all disappeared (assuming it was sudden), our 450 nuclear reactors would start to melt down due to the fuel running emergency cooling systems running out. I can't help wondering why those systems can't run on power from the reactors! But, then, designers of nuclear reactors seem to like to take risks!

Re: 'Life After Man', 'BBC Focus', Feb 2017

PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2017 3:55 pm
by Bruce Mardle
They mentioned the possibility of an artificial microbe causing The Apocalypse, or antibiotic resistance, but, curiously, they didn't mention natural viruses. I'm not sure we're in a better position to deal with a flu pandemic than in 1918, especially considering how many humans there are these days and how rapidly people move about The Globe.

Re: 'Life After Man', 'BBC Focus', Feb 2017

PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:37 am
by Dave Z
Hi Bruce,

RE LOCA (Loss Of Coolant Accidents) at untended nuclear plants:

As a 'Doomer' I've been worried about this for years. I consider it a big problem for the northern hemisphere (initially) in a cataclysmic situation where parts and personnel become unavailable, starting from causes as banal as economic collapse. Water= and windsheds are vulnerable to toxic emissions from damaged plants.

Here's an article I wrote on the topic: [url][/url]

After much searching around, here's the best short explanation I've found as to why cooling systems can't be (reliably) powered by the plant's own output:

Short answer is that they do power their own until shut-down, then rely on external or emergency power through the longish period that they require to fully cool after shut-down.

RE Natural vs Artifactual Disease Agents:

Climate change is increasing the spread of disease via vector ranges, drought, famine, war and even general physical stress. As you say, scary stuff even without weaponized agents or acquired immunities!

The Coming Plague by Laurie Garrett, written in the 1990s, discusses our increasing vulnerability to natural agents in terms that are proving prophetic.

Here's a return of scholarly articles on the connection:

Dave Z


PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:20 am
by Bruce Mardle
Interesting stuff, Dave.
I haven't read the disease link (or book!) yet but hope to do so soon (if I don't get distracting reading Explain Like I'm Five (ELI5) or thinking up T-shirt slogans ("TEOTWAWKI is a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there", "TEOTWAWKI: Like Milwaukee but less cheese", ...).

It sounds like the designers of nuclear power stations don't follow the old adage "hope for the best but plan for the worst". They're not the only ones. A lot of people only plan for the best or near-best; well, it's cheaper that way :( (but I'm probably as guilty of this as most people).

(Incidentally, my Firefox browser couldn't follow that link to ELI5 until I told it that, yes, there is a '/' after 'comments'.)

The diagram at the start of your blogspot article is interesting. I hope we don't reach TEOTWAWKI during my lifetime (I'm 51) but we do seem hell-bent on getting there :( Most people seem to believe (or act like) all the resources we're using will last forever. Yes, I know it's nice to have cheap oil-based products (for example) but sooner or later they're going to get a lot more expensive :(
(That's enough frownies for 1 message!)

"May you live in interesting times"

PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:27 am
by Bruce Mardle
I've liked that curse since I first heard it. Funnily enough, someone quoted it to me about 18 hours ago.

'The Coming Plague'

PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:55 pm
by Bruce Mardle
I've just bought a copy of The Coming Plague, but since it's 780 pages I may have been killed by the coming plague before I finish it!

Re: 'Life After Man', 'BBC Focus', Feb 2017

PostPosted: Tue Apr 04, 2017 10:09 pm
by Dave Z
Hi Bruce,

Okay, I fixed that link... thanks for the heads-up!

RE The Coming Plague - My partner's reading that right now, so I'm getting a vicarious 2nd read. Once into it, it's pretty gripping stuff. Provides a lot of subtext and background to today's headlines.

One of the darkly fascinating aspects is how each and every crisis we face has not only articulated in advance as a danger, but that solutions were to be had at the time they were largely ignored. By the time it's full blown, it's often too late. Far from crazies on the Doomer edge, those who responsibly call us to action have public voice and are easy to identify by the quality of their data and conclusions. Ignoring them individually, we face a perfect storm.

In terms of The Coming Plague, seeing deep CDC, FDA, HUD and EPA cuts in the US, and threatened withdrawal of support for WHO, especially after decades of reductions doesn't bode well for future responses. I can appreciate a desire to reduce red tape and increase efficiency, but...

RE the banner on my TEOTWAWKI blog - I started the blog several years ago, when those curves (business-as-usual model from Limits to Growth) were just beginning to deviate from the 'cornucopian' trajectory (unlimited growth). Now, several years down the road, we are seeing excellent correspondence for top-of-the-curve plateaus, even if reporting bodies are not doctoring the numbers. Should that high correspondence continue, it appears to me we are very near a tipping-point toward downward curves. The downside was very conservatively estimated (no social disorders, disease, war, etc., factored in), and those curves may well be considerably more abrupt.

If this is so, our personal assimilation and preservation of The Knowledge for the future is a project whose time is fleeting.

Time for my frowny face! :(

Dave Z