Lying beneath the tranquil settings of Yellowstone National Park in the US lies an enormous magma chamber. It’s responsible for the geysers and hot springs that define the area, but for scientists at Nasa, it’s also one of the greatest natural threats to human civilisation as we know it: a potential supervolcano.
“I was a member of the Nasa Advisory Council on Planetary Defense which studied ways for Nasa to defend the planet from asteroids and comets,” explains Brian Wilcox of Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology. “I came to the conclusion during that study that the supervolcano threat is substantially greater than the asteroid or comet threat.”
When Nasa scientists came to consider the problem, they found that the most logical solution could simply be to cool a supervolcano down. A volcano the size of Yellowstone is essentially a gigantic heat generator, equivalent to six industrial power plants. Yellowstone currently leaks about 60-70% of the heat coming up from below into the atmosphere, via water which seeps into the magma chamber through cracks. The remainder builds up inside the magma, enabling it to dissolve more and more volatile gases and surrounding rocks. Once this heat reaches a certain threshold, then an explosive eruption is inevitable…
…[Nasa scientists] believe the most viable solution could be to drill up to 10km down into the supervolcano, and pump down water at high pressure. The circulating water would return at a temperature of around 350C (662F), thus slowly day by day extracting heat from the volcano. And while such a project would come at an estimated cost of around $3.46bn (£2.69bn), it comes with an enticing catch which could convince politicians to make the investment.
“Yellowstone currently leaks around 6GW in heat,” Wilcox says. “Through drilling in this way, it could be used to create a geothermal plant, which generates electric power at extremely competitive prices of around $0.10/kWh. You would have to give the geothermal companies incentives to drill somewhat deeper and use hotter water than they usually would, but you would pay back your initial investment, and get electricity which can power the surrounding area for a period of potentially tens of thousands of years. And the long-term benefit is that you prevent a future supervolcano eruption which would devastate humanity.”
But drilling into a supervolcano does not come without certain risks. Namely triggering the eruption you’re intending to prevent.
“The most important thing with this is to do no harm,” Wilcox says. “If you drill into the top of the magma chamber and try and cool it from there, this would be very risky. This could make the cap over the magma chamber more brittle and prone to fracture. And you might trigger the release of harmful volatile gases in the magma at the top of the chamber which would otherwise not be released.”
However those who instigate such a project will never see it to completion, or even have an idea whether it might be successful within their lifetime. Cooling Yellowstone in this manner would happen at a rate of one metre a year, taking of the order of tens of thousands of years until just cold rock was left. Although Yellowstone’s magma chamber would not need to be frozen solid to reach the point where it no longer posed a threat, there would be no guarantee that the endeavour would ultimately be successful for at least hundreds and possibly thousands of years.
But to prevent a catastrophe, such long-term thinking and planning may be the only choice. “With a project like this, you’d start the process and the main ongoing benefit you’d see in everyday terms is this new supply of electrical power,” Wilcox says.
Such a plan could be potentially applied to every active supervolcano on the planet, and Nasa’s scientists are hoping that their blueprints will encourage more practical scientific discussion and debate for tackling the threat.
“When people first considered the idea of defending the Earth from an asteroid impact, they reacted in a similar way to the supervolcano threat,” Wilcox says. “People thought, ‘As puny as we are, how can humans possibly prevent an asteroid from hitting the Earth.’ Well, it turns out if you engineer something which pushes very slightly for a very long time, you can make the asteroid miss the Earth. So the problem turns out to be easier than people think. In both cases it requires the scientific community to invest brain power and you have to start early. But Yellowstone explodes roughly every 600,000 years, and it is about 600,000 years since it last exploded, which should cause us to sit up and take notice.”
Instead, the idea is to drill in from the supervolcano from the lower sides, starting outside the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park, and extracting the heat from the underside of the magma chamber. “This way you’re preventing the heat coming up from below from ever reaching the top of the chamber which is where the real threat arises,” Wilcox says.
By Milicent Cranor at WhoWhatWhy
On August 14, in Durham NC, something strange happened that does not make sense to me.
A demonstrator protester climbed up on the statue of a Confederate soldier, tied a rope around his neck, gave a signal, and her fellow protesters pulled until the statue came crashing down. Then several other protesters converged on the statue, viciously, exuberantly, kicking it again and again.
This was done under the watchful eyes of law enforcement — who were filming every moment of the incident.As Fox News reported, “At no time did officers with the Durham Police Department or deputies with the Durham County Sheriff’s Office intervene… according to multiple media reports.”
At first I thought, how nice. The police are allowing the crowd to let off steam. After what happened in Charlottesville, the participants needed a catharsis, and this one seemed harmless enough, especially since such statues will probably be brought down anyway. So the police seemed to be indulging them.
And yesterday morning, Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews seemed to confirm this impression. He said “Collectively, we decided that restraint and public safety would be our priority.”
Paul Craig Roberts
The liberal/progressive/left are enjoying their drunkfest of denunciation. I can’t say I have ever witnessed anything like it. These are the people who sat on their hands for 16 years while Washington destroyed in whole or part seven countries. Not being satisfied with this level of warmongering and crimes against humanity, Washington orchestrated a conflict situation with Russia. Americans elected a president who said he would defuse this dangerous conflict, and the liberal/progressive/left turned on him. In contrast, one person is killed after the hated Charlottesville protest event was over, and there is endless absurd outrage against the president of the US.
Three New York Times presstitutes yesterday blamed the crisis on Trump, declaring him “increasingly isolated in a racial crisis of his own making.” Apparently, Trump is responsible for the crisis because he blamed both protest groups for the violence.
But isn’t that what happened? Wasn’t there violence on both sides? That was the impression I got from the news reporting. I’m not surprised that Trump got the same impression. Indeed, many readers have sent emails that they received the same impression of mutual violence.
So Trump is being damned for stating the truth.
Let’s assume that the impression Trump and many others got from the news is wrong. That would make Trump guilty of arriving at a mistaken conclusion. Yet, he is accused of instigating and supporting Nazi violence. How is it possible to transform a mistake into evil intent? A mistaken impression gained from news reporting does not constitute a “defense of white nationalist protesters.” An assertion by the New York Times cannot turn the absence of intent into intent. What the Establishment is trying to do is to push Trump into the arms of white supremacists, which is where they want him.
Clearly, there is no basis for this charge. It is a lie, an orchestration that is being used to delegitimize President Trump and those who elected him.
The question is: who is behind this orchestration?
The orchestration is causing people to run away from Trump or is being used as an excuse by them to further the plot to remove him from office.
Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum headed by Stephen A. Schwarzman ran away, just as members of the Carter Center’s board deserted President Jimmy Carter when he criticized Israel for its apartheid policy toward the Palestinians. The New York Times says that the armed services chiefs are running away. And the entire Republican Party.
The hypocrisy is stunning. For 16 years the armed services chiefs, the New York Times and the rest of the presstitute media, both political parties and the liberal/progressive/left have participated actively or passively in massive crimes against humanity. There are millions of dead, maimed, and displaced people. Yet one death in Charlottesville has produced a greater outpouring of protest.
I don’t believe it is sincere. I don’t believe that people who are insensitive to the deaths of millions at the hands of their government can be so upset over the death of one person. Assume that Trump is responsible for the death of the woman. How much blood is it compared to the blood on the hands of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama? It seems clear enough that the outpouring of grief is an orchestration designed to deligitimize the president and the people who elected him…
… Members of the liberal/progressive/left are proclaiming that despicable people such as white nationalists should not be allowed to protest and should not be given a permit to protest. They forget that protest is a right.
The US Supreme Court settled the issue 40 years ago in 1977 by overturning an Illinois court order that blocked an extremist protest in Skokie, a Jewish suburb of Chicago. The Supreme Court ruled that protest is not limited by the fact that some people will be offended or by the chance that there will be violent reactions. Otherwise, whatever faction happens to be in charge can suppress dissent by everyone else.
For decades the liberal/progressive/left has invested heavily in driving people apart. Black studies, women’s studies, and Native American studies can easily cross into propaganda that generates hatred. As a man of peace said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Charlottesville has given us a debauchery of denunciation that proves that we are a divided nation. Does a nation so divided really want to be in conflict with Russia and China and Iran? If the US is the institutionalization of White Supremacy as the liberal/progressive/left says, how can it be that Americans are simultaneously the “exceptional, indispensable people” with the right to bomb other peoples into the stone age?
Obviously, there is a lot in this scenario that does not make sense.
In the wake of Charlottesville, both GoDaddy and Google have refused to manage the domain registration for the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website that, in the words of the Southern Poverty Law Center, is “dedicated to spreading anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism, and white nationalism.” Subsequently Cloudflare, whose service was used to protect the site from denial-of-service attacks, has also dropped them as a customer, with a telling quote from Cloudflare’s CEO: “Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn’t be allowed on the Internet. No one should have that power.”
We agree. Even for free speech advocates, this situation is deeply fraught with emotional, logistical, and legal twists and turns. All fair-minded people must stand against the hateful violence and aggression that seems to be growing across our country. But we must also recognize that on the Internet, any tactic used now to silence neo-Nazis will soon be used against others, including people whose opinions we agree with. Those on the left face calls to characterize the Black Lives Matter movement as a hate group. In the Civil Rights Era cases that formed the basis of today’s protections of freedom of speech, the NAACP’s voice was the one attacked.
Protecting free speech is not something we do because we agree with all of the speech that gets protected. We do it because we believe that no one—not the government and not private commercial enterprises—should decide who gets to speak and who doesn’t.
The American Civil Liberties Union took a new stance on firearms Thursday, announcing a change in policy that it would not represent hate groups who demonstrate with firearms.
ACLU executive director Anthony Romero told The Wall Street Journal that the group would have stricter screenings and take legal requests from white supremacist groups on a case-by-case basis.
“The events of Charlottesville require any judge, any police chief and any legal group to look at the facts of any white-supremacy protests with a much finer comb,” Romero told the Journal. “If a protest group insists, ‘No, we want to be able to carry loaded firearms,’ well, we don’t have to represent them. They can find someone else.”
The ACLU has come under fire after it filed a lawsuit in defense of the organizers who planned the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., after city officials denied them a permit to hold the rally around a statue of Robert E. Lee, which is set to be removed.
The group was ultimately granted the permit for the Saturday rally, which later turned violent and resulted in one death and more than a dozen injured.
“But let’s be clear: our lawsuit challenging the city to act constitutionally did not cause violence nor did it in any way address the question whether demonstrators could carry sticks or other weapons at the events,” Virginia ACLU executive director Claire Gastanaga said in a statement earlier this week.
Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 people were injured when a car, allegedly driven by a man with connections to white supremacists, was driven into a crowd of counterprotesters on Saturday, according to police.
The violence shook the nation and has left many debating how to address speech by white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups.
We may have hit peak media crazy here. A prominent online news publication says, “Let’s blow up Mt. Rushmore.” No, this is not al-Qaeda’s “Inspire” magazine or the Islamic State’s “Dabiq” propaganda publication – it’s Brooklyn based Vice News.
On the same day a barbaric terror attack takes place in Barcelona, resulting in 13 deaths and 100 people injured, the popular liberal news org known for its edgy investigative approach and stylistic “cooler than thou” appeal to millennials tweeted out an article which advocates for blowing up Mount Rushmore.
Vice initially titled the article, authored by Vice Senior Editor Wilbert L. Cooper, “Let’s Blow Up Mt Rushmore”.
After fierce online push back on a day there was a literal terror attack unfolding across the Atlantic, Vice hastily deleted the tweet and changed the article title to the toned down, Let’s Get Rid of Mt. Rushmore – this time with an editor’s note at the bottom of the page attempting to explain the change:
Editor’s note: The headline and URL of this story have been updated. We do not condone violence in any shape or form, and the use of “blow up” in the original headline as a rhetorical device was misguided and insensitive. We apologize for the error.
Rhetorical device? The content of the article still supports destroying America’s most celebrated and iconic historic monument dedicated to American presidents. The author literally states he is “onboard” should there ever be “a serious push to blow up Rushmore”:
With the president of the United States basically justifying neo-Nazism, it seems unthinkable that we will ever see a day when there is a serious push to blow up Rushmore and other monuments like it. But if that moment ever arrives, I suspect I’d be onboard.
Cooper further (not so) eloquently calls for leveling the whole place, and presumably all monuments devoted to past US “cults of personality” (as he calls them):
Demystifying the historical figures of the past, pulling them off the great mountain top back down to Earth where they shat, farted, spit, pissed, fucked, raped, murdered, died, and rotted seems like important business for this country. As long as we allow those men to be cults of personality who exist beyond reproach, we’re never going to be able to see them for all of their good and all of their evil.
Disturbingly, the call for leveling such monuments is contained in the conclusion of an article with repeat references equating President Trump with neo-Nazis:
Trump and his white supremacist cohorts believe the reverence some Americans have for these statues is simply respect for history, and that tearing them down is tantamount to ripping pages out of a textbook.
Ironically, the article does acknowledge the truthfulness of Trump’s recent words that we are headed towards a dangerously iconoclastic slippery slope set to end in the demolishing of American history. But the Vice article at the outset essentially says… yes! Let’s do just that:
Donald Trump says removing confederate statues is a slippery slope that could get out of control. Maybe he’s right—would that be such a bad thing?
And if a private citizen said “let’s blow up Mount Rushmore” and published an article which seriously explored destroying the site – an article which was clearly “pro” dynamiting the monument? It doesn’t take much imagination to know who would come knocking if this were anything but a $5.7 billion news organization.