Century of unprecedented natural disasters — on us …

May 17, 2011 — This will be the century of disasters.
In the same way that the 20th century was the century of world wars, genocide, and grinding ideological conflict, the 21st century will be natural disasters and technological crises and unholy combinations of the two.
This will be the century when the things that we expect to go right for any reason, do not go wrong.
At the end of the past month, as the Mississippi River rose in what is intended to be the worst flooding in decades, and the residents of Alabama and other states were digging in the ruins of the historic tornado outbreak, physicists at a meeting in Anaheim, California, was discussion of the risks created by the sun.
Solar flares, scientists believe, are a disaster waiting to happen.
Thus one of the sessions at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society was dedicated to the dangers of electromagnetic pulse (EMPs), caused by solar flares or terrorist attacks.
Such pulses could fry transformers and knock out the electrical grid over much of the country.
Last year, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory released a study saying the damage could take years to fix and cost trillions of dollars.
And yet, in the next century, they or other black swans will seem to occur with surprising frequency. There are several reasons for this. We wanted to design a planet. We have built an extensive network technology. We have created a system that, in general, work very well, but are still vulnerable to catastrophic failure.
This is harder and harder for anyone, institution or agency, to feel all related elements of the technological society.
Failures can cascade shower. The network is invisible weaknesses. In small failures can be wider implications. What is the most important: We have more people and more stuff, standing in the way of disaster. We suddenly no more earthquakes, but there are now seven billion of us, the majority living in cities. In 1800, only Beijing could count a million inhabitants, but finally had to calculate 381 city with at least 1 million people. Natural disasters will increasingly be accompanied by technological crises — and vice versa.slate

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