Thursday, January 19, 2006

Today's climate change updates, courtesy of Bruce Sterling's Viridian newsletter:

Danger Zones

America's Next Top Disasters
Ranking determined by likelihood and potential impact
1. Levee Failure in the Sacramento Delta
2. Flooding in the Upper Mississippi
3. Indian Point Meltdown
4. Earthquake in Missouri
5. Eruption at Yellowstone
6. Tornadoes in Dallas
7. Landslide at Mount Rainier
8. Tsunami on the Eastern Seaboard
9. Massive Power Failure in Boston
10. Rupture in the Alaska Oil Pipeline

Note that predicted "earthquake in Missouri." Curiously, I managed to sleep through a minor one while in college.

Cloudy With a Chance of Chaos

A disturbing consensus is emerging among the scientists who study global warming: Climate change may bring more violent swings than they ever thought, and it may set in sooner. Lately John Browne, the CEO of BP, has been jolting audiences with a list of proposed solutions that hint at the vastness of the challenge. It aims at stabilizing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at about double the pre-industrial level while continuing economic growth. To do that, carbon emissions would have to be reduced ultimately by seven gigatons a year. A gigaton, or a billion tons, is even bigger than it sounds. Eliminating just one, argues Browne, would mean building 700 nuclear stations to replace fossil-fuel-burning power plants, or increasing the use of solar power by a factor of 700, or stopping all deforestation and doubling present efforts at reforestation. Achieve all three of these, and pull off four more equally large-scale reallocations of capital and infrastructure, and the world would probably stabilize its carbon emissions.

There's just one catch: Even change on this vast scale might not stop global warming.

More tomorrow!


Psychbloke said...

Hey, if number five goes, don't we all go?

JS_VP said...

Forget the Indian Point thing,
It's total Urban Myth,
Not Gonna happen.

One disaster you missed
one that IS gonna happen
is The Bronx Canyon Tsunami


That's right...
The Bronx Canyon Tsunami !!

South of the Kensico dam,
there is no flat open plain
to absorb and disperse
any flood resulting from a dam failure.
Instead the dam sits
at the head of the narrow, focused canyon
of the Bronx River, stretching South from the dam,
and running through the most highly populated section
of the most highly populated region in America.
As residents know,
out of this canyon there is truly no escape.
All East to West roads in this area are small, twisting
stoplight-ridden vestiges of old colonial paths.
The only good roads run North to South - exactly the path of the water.

The water surface
in the Kensico reservoir stands 355 feet above sea level.
The dam stretches
between two 400 ft hills,
168 feet above the
ground surface
in the Kensico dam plaza.
Therefore the huge wall of water
leaving the dam
will be 100+ feet high.
(the asian tsunami
was 6 feet high)
Immediately South of the plaza,
two more 400 foot hills
contain this water,
hemming it in at a 250' elevation,
forcing it South to the North White Plains Train Yard,
where it will pick up Metro North Railcars-up to 200 of them,
and send them sailing like 80 ton surfboards.
These objects, and the 100'+ high wall of water will smash into the abutments
of the elevated Cross-Westchester Expressway, turning it over, killing hundreds,
and in addition closing a major arterial route from New England to the West.
Leaping over the fallen Expressway the mighty torrent will bear its
load of railcars, 18 wheel truck bodies, propane tank trucks & passenger cars
on again towards White Plains Proper. At The White Plains Train Station
the ground elevation is about 200' above sea level, so the water is dropping
fast, and accellerating.
At this point the Bronx River Canyon turns abruptly to the Southwest,
and the crest, with its load of giant floating debris will resist the turn,
and overtop the channel,destroying both the Westchester County Center Building,
and the White Plains Train Station.
South of the station, below the brow of Battle Hill is the famous hairpin turn
on the Bronx River Parkway. Below this elevated span,
the valley narrows and steepens. This will have the effect of
accellerating the stream into a monstrous White Water rapid
which will follow the old Bronx River Aqueduct South,
uprooting the Hartsdale Train Station, and Barrelling into Garth Woods,
turning its 150 year old trees into deadly missiles.
It will roar into Scarsdale Station,the Garth Woods Apartment Houses
and Our Lady of Fatima Church at about 300 miles per hour,easily sweeping them away.
At Crestwood, the historic Asbury church sits directly over
the abandoned Bronx River Aqueduct, and so after surviving 200+ years,
would finally disappear in the flood.
The land surface at this point is 120 feet above sea level,
so once again the water is barrelling downhill, and picking up speed.
At Tuckahoe, the channel narrows radically in the old
Burroughs Wellcome Factory Sluiceway, and at this point, unfortunately,
a condominium sits hard by the stream ,
as does the Headquarters of the Hudson Valley bank.
These buildings will be overtopped by the constrained fury of the
narrowly channeled deluge, and will disintegrate, and head South.
The Tuckahoe train station and town hall will be screened by the
old factory buildings, but will be inundated up to the 200 foot elevation,
drowning everyone in the town to a radius of 10 blocks.
Now comes a uniquely tragic episode.
The mighty deluge, roaring southward at 300 miles an hour will enter Bronxville,
and totally annihilate the Lawrence Hospital Complex, which sits in fact,
directly on the Bronx River. None will survive. Patients, doctors,
the elderly, the embattled nursing staff, xray machines , operating rooms,
and 100 years of medical records will be turned into sludge,
joining the rapidly solidifying debris field.
(a watery debris field does not disperse as it goes, like a smoke plume.
a watery debris field solidifies, and bears its contents downstream
like a battering ram.)
Racing through Fleetwood and MountVernon in the tightly channeled
Bronx River Parkway cut, between tall constraining concrete walls,
the flood will topple the 60 year old Cross County Parkway overpass,
which is some 80 feet high.It will fall spectacularly to the South,
its rotten,spalling concrete legs long in need of repair, but never getting it,
terrified motorists able to watch the sickening arc of its fall
in their last pitiful moments of life.
At Wakefield in the Bronx, the tsunami will careen mightily into
Misericordia Hospital on the East , and Woodlawn Cemetary on the West,
ironically joining the newly dying with the long dead, for their last
bit of camaraderie,on a 400 mile per hour slalom to the North River.
Misericordia's xray machines will join Lawrence's xray machines,
the Metro North railcars, the propane tankers, 18 wheelers & soccer moms
as pathetic bits of dredge, shredding against the uprooted trees
from Garth Woods,
turning into a roaring, bloody, muddy stinking sludge of death.
The death-sludge, now careening forward at an incredible 400 miles per hour,
roaring like a thousand freight trains will slam into Fordham University,
and the Bronx Zoo, in a fraction of a second wiping out a hundred years
of science and scholarship, and propelling scholars, wild beasts,
and the death-sludge hard against the Cross Bronx Expressway.
This is solidly built, and will not overturn.
Instead the water and all its contents will rise in a mighty wall of water,
overtopping the road,and spreading out in all directions
into the narrow streets of the South Bronx,killing tens of thousands in a few minutes.
Finally, in the Swampy Flats between Clason Point and Hunt's Point,
the torrent will lay out its creation for all to see- a railcar here,
an elderly victim there, an 18-wheeler almost hidden in 7 feet of undiggable,
irremedial life-sludge become death-sludge.
Gone will be two major hospitals, 3 major east-west arterials,
most water into New York City, all rail traffic on the harlem line,
which probably will be declared unrepairable and abandoned,
all use of the Bronx River Parkway,
whose pavement will have been torn out in half mile chunks
and buried under yards of Mount St Helens type mud,
all further use of the IRT subway,
whose tranformer yards and switch houses will now lie in the North River,
and up to 3 million dead.
But they won't matter.
Why won't they matter?
They won't matter because they dont live in Bedford
and they don't have Robert F Kennedy Jr pleading to save them,
and because Andrew Spano thinks they should "Just Float Away".
In point of fact,
Spano is hiding just why he refuses to consider such an event.
You see, the City of New York owns the dam, not Westchester County,
so Spano has no budget for this disaster.
So therefore it cannot happen.
When Spano answered Monique Rahaman at his "Regional Security Teach-in",
telling her that dam failure was, in his words, "Not too likely", he was
unaware that over 200 major dam failures had occurred in the twentieth
century, making the likelihood of a dam failure a 100% certainty,
once every six months on average, for a over a hundred years.
A major hurricane happens once every 30 years.
A world war happens twice in a century.
A space shuttle is lost once every 15 years,
but a dam fails once every six months, on average.
And that is without considering malicious intent.
Have many people been killed in dam collapses?
A: More than 1,350,000 people have been swept to their deaths by the roughly 200 dams outside China which have collapsed or been overtopped during the 20th century. Two large dams which burst when a massive typhoon hit the Chinese province of Henan in August 1975 left an estimated 80,000 to 230,000 dead. This disaster was kept secret by the Chinese government and was only revealed to the outside world in 1995. People have also died in earthquakes caused by the great weight of water in large reservoirs. A magnitude 6.3 earthquake caused by Koyna Dam in India in 1967 killed around 180 people.

The following sites catalog dam disasters

The Army Topo Engineering Center lists Kensico Dam _________
NID No NY00051, 168 ft high______________
as a Category 1 or "High Hazard" dam_____________

You may check this youself at:

Points of Contact:
Technical Assistance:
U.S. Army Topographic Engineering Center
CEERD-TR-A, ATTN: National Inventory of Dams
7701 Telegraph Rd.
Alexandria, VA 22315
General Dam Information:
Association of State Dam Safety Officials
450 Old Vine Street, 2nd Floor
Lexington, KY 40507

rp said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
rp said...

I must say that you are out of your mind. How could 3 million people die when the entire bronx has 1.5 million and westchester doesn't even have 1 million. The vast majority of both counties would never even get wet so how could more people than actually live in both counties die. The dam is currently being began on July 7th

There is no canyon, its a river valley and a dam break cannot cause a Tsunami...your langueage is so dramatic...I wonder, are you trying to sell the movie rights to your screenplay about Bronx flood? Is that why you use language like

"roaring, bloody, muddy stinking sludge of death"


"motorists able to watch the sickening arc of its fall
in their last pitiful moments of life"

What other explanation could there be.

There is no doubt that any major dam could break and kill people a cause billions in damage, but your story is far fetched at best. There is no need to make stupid people panic