columnBy Okey Ikechukwu
In rounding up on the scientific and other evidence pointing to the possibility of very distressing times in the life we know on earth today, let us quickly look at how things can easily go wrong in every aspect of our life today. Last week, snowfall grounded over 700 flights to and from Heathrow Airport in the UK for days. The initial projections by the experts were that it would only last for a day or two. They were wrong; not once and not twice. The Iceland volcanic eruption of two years ago was also seen as a minor matter that would only disperse and allow traffic within three days. It did not clear for one month. The airline privileges to loyal customers collapsed in less than 48 hours, as multiples of flights were cancelled following that Iceland eruption. The insurance market simply passed out, because of the epidemic of claims and counter claims.
Picture a situation where several volcanic eruptions occur alongside earthquakes and typhoons\hurricanes all over the world. There will be no flights, no power supply, no comforts and millions of deaths. The debris in the atmosphere will block out the sun completely in some areas. There will be diffused transmission of light in other places. The net result will be lower temperatures worldwide - leading to crop failures, deaths of man, land and beast due to sudden changes in temperature, etc. The disasters will most likely damage several nuclear plants and spill radioactive material into the earth's largest bodies of water. In the 80s, debris from the Chernobyl accident in Russia travelled round the world in two days, creating havoc and interesting atmospheric conditions here and there. The nuclear disaster of Long Island, the Tokaimura calamity in Japan and the more recent ones arising from the tsunami in the area all left permanent scars.
And the waters are coming! Where are Larsen A and B, those massive sheets of ice at the Poles? The projected volume of ice expected to melt in 20 years disappeared in less than 25% in the 90s. The penguins are looking for ice and their life cycles are disrupted by the disruption of their habitat and ecosystem. Is it any surprise that the water level is rising all over the world? Why is Thailand yet to recover from the flood of three years ago? How much of Myanmar has returned to dry land after violent floods assaulted it? Here in Nigeria, have the Lokoja waters receded? Is the pathetic construction work going on in the area progressing and will the outcome survive the next rainy season? More water is expected next year and the new road is still very low. Why are we being repeatedly warned that the Bar Beach can only advance further, rather than retreat? Why should parts of Ogun, Rivers, Delta and several other states be on the lookout for waters that may yet put huge sections scores of feet under water? Why are international geologists and informed climate monitors laughing at the arguments of Lagos State in defence of its new land reclamations and projects?
In an earlier contribution on this theme, we mentioned Lake Nyos in the North-eastern part of the country, which has wiped out villages in the recent past by strange gas emissions. We touched on the Cameroun Mountains beside us, which is an active volcano that can erupt at any time. We have had several earth tremors in the South-west and the progressive depletion of our natural oil and gas reserves will only create bigger underground space that can only be filled by the realignment of surrounding geological forces. We refrain here from making any remarks about the greatest 'natural disaster' facing Nigeria: the negatively focused wing of the political elite of all camps!
The more we look the more we see that all the props holding our life together are tumbling cheerfully about our very ears. Recall the scientific evidence of a coming cascade of calamities, as well as the ancient prophesies about a chain of cosmic events that will 'end the world'. This destruction of the world, understood to mean the end of everything by some people, is actually destruction in its original etymological leanings as rebirth and reinvention.
As for the Galactic Alignment, it is not often that the equinox axis aligns with the galactic equator. What is clear is that the galactic alignments, in the Era 2012 (1980 - 2016) will introduce new radiations, or rays, that would alter one or two things. We do not see cosmic radiations, just as we do not see the air we breathe, or radio waves, which affect our daily lives. So the predicted disasters heralding the judgment will come from the changing radiations of the cosmos, whether we know it or not.
Scientists are speaking of an approaching Planet X, about which no one knows anything. Nibiru, the celestial stranger that enters our solar system roughly every 300 to 400 years, was initially fingered in this regard. But the incontrovertible conclusion today is that something else, way beyond the known capacities of Nibiru, with an unfathomably powerful magnetic pool is heading this way. A great comet is being expected, and its magnetic signature is not like anything man is familiar with.
Knowing that Solar storms can induce electric current into telegraph wires, land phone and any available conductors, like pipelines, it is always a source of worry; as it can lead to massive electrocution in many cases. Even your mobile phone becomes a life hazard at such times and this is not a matter of whether or not you put some serious insulation in place to prevent trouble. It does not matter if such wires are under the ocean, because the Atlantic cable between Scotland and Newfoundland, recorded 2,600-volt surges during the magnetic storm of March 1940. The damage it caused to life and property is a matter of record.
Again, in August 1972, a 230,000-volt transformer at the British Columbia Hydroelectric Authority blew up because shifting magnetic fields induced a current spike. On March 13, 1989, a storm plunged Quebec into a complete power blackout, affecting millions and causing billions of dollars' worth of damage. Failures of this type have consistently followed the sunspot cycle over the years; and Volker Bothmer, the German researcher who has been studying the sun for over 20 years, and who consults the European Space Agency (ESA) in all matters related to space weather, once noted the significant impact of the 2003 solar storm in Sweden. That storm collapsed the navigation systems of several airplanes, because it ruined the signals of the GPS satellites used by the navigation systems on board airplanes for an automated landing.
More than half of the $1.8 billion paid out in claims by satellite insurance companies in 1998 was for satellite failures in orbit. It was radiations that made the PanAmSat's Galaxy IV satellite, insured for $165 million, to mysteriously lose altitude control and halt service for 45 million pagers in North America in May 1999. New Motorola Iridium satellites suffered altitude control failures at about the same time. Remember the untimely 'death' of such satellites as the Solar Maximum Mission in 1990 and Skylab in 1979.
Ours is a generation that talks a lot and our satellite-enabled global talking epidemic is in the line of fire here. The demand for high-tech voice and data transmission services has increased substantially over the years. Thus grave catastrophes are bound to follow any failures occasioned by solar storms. A low orbit (LOE) satellite will receive about 1,000 rads (a unit of radiation dosage) a year and damage to sensitive electrical components is expected to occur at about 30,000 rads. This is no more than what a satellite will get in a typical 10- to 15-year lifetime. But what if the radiations projected for 10 years may come in one earth day, follow unusual solar, or other cosmic, activity?
In 2008, the National Academy of Sciences report warned that a solar storm could cause 20 times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately, the Academy report is not only correct but is also a frightening understatement. Solar storms can induce current flow in power lines and other conductors; and can do same to human flesh. This is because flesh is a partial electrical conductor and there is real threat to people from what high-energy radiation and particles can do to human DNA. Our nerves and muscles work because our flesh is a semiconductor that radiation particles can pass through. But particular radiations can break chemical bonds and cause errors to appear in genetic information when these protons and neutrons collide with the atoms that make up the DNA molecule.
There is therefore no mystery about the reported cases of skin cancer in some areas with seriously depleted Ozone and other layers. The earth's natural background environment of our daily life generates about .35 rem per year. But 100 to several thousand rems can be delivered in a few hours to an astronaut inside a spacesuit. That is what causes radiation sickness and, in extreme cases, death. There are repeated cases of space station construction workers who had to be grounded for years because they were caught off-guard during even minor flares.
Over 70% of the biggest earth tremors of the 20th century happened after 1950. Let us remember that the sharp increase in the number of super-quakes and volcanic eruptions after 1960 is a growing pattern and that the first half of the century had just a few 6.5 tremors. There were even fewer 7.5 strong and seldom any quakes that were above 8.5 on the Richter scale for that period; which did not record anything more than 9 mega-quakes. But there were 161 strong, 13 major and two great earthquakes in 1994 alone. The next year recorded 185 strong, 22 major and three great earthquakes. The figures for 2007 to 2009 alone are benumbing. But who is keeping count?
And sin is on the ascendant everywhere, with the concepts of good and bad disappearing with appalling speed. The sceptics are still cheerful, but no matter. Wars and rumours of wars are there. Natural disasters and false prophets are all over the place, just as distress of nations is thriving. That's not the tragedy. The fact that all this point only point to "the beginning of woes" among a deaf humanity is!