Three Impending Disasters

Early in 2019 I started to write Hope Island, it was completed that year and published in January 2020. It is set one hundred years in the future but it is not a dystopian fantasy. The premise was how three recognised impending disasters might shape our future. The first we are now experiencing, although so far not quite as severe as I imagined.

scan of brain illness

A pandemic virus After a lot of research I thought something like a flea-born viral encephalitis was likely. A new form could be difficult to treat and have a high case morbidity rate. Since then there have been cases reported, but thankfully not a pandemic (for the moment we’re coping with a corona virus that is causing havoc at a much lower CMR than I feared). In an extreme situation the world population could be reduced by 80% in a period of five to ten years.

image of glacier

Western Antarctic Ice Sheet Large parts of the WAIS sit on a land bed which is below sea level and sloping downwards, inland. The ice sheet is extremely vulnerable and potentially unstable. Once the sea breaches underneath the ice sheet it’s melting will speed up exponentially. A small retreat in Thwaites Glacier could destabilise the entire WAIS. In some places the ice is over one mile thick. Collapse of the WAIS would cause an estimated worldwide rise in sea level of 3.3 metres (11 feet). Most capital cities of the world would be devastated.

image of solar eruption

The Carrington Event In 1859 a huge geomagnetic storm hit the earth, caused by a solar coronal mass ejection (a solar storm). In the mid 19th century telegraph operators in the US suffered serious electric shocks. This event is estimated to happen about every 150 years – you can do the maths. If repeated now it would destroy satellites, mobile phone networks and destroy electronic banking transactions. It would also damage computer networks and hardware across many industries and services. We do have safeguards, but not for a sustained worldwide electromagnetic storm of magnitude.

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