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The Daily Volcano Quote: prophecies of volcanic doom 27 September 2010

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It is September 12, 2001. The sky is a menacing iron grey, and has been so since the explosion several months ago. Snow lies two feet deep in Oxford Street, and on the frozen Thames heavily clad crowds jostle at stalls to barter for unidentifiable meat morsels to supplement their government rations. Ice has stopped production of North Sea oil, and few vehicles attempt to negotiate the snow-bound avenues. Across the planet tens of millions of people have already frozen to death, while billions starve as the harvests fail. A combination of the freezing conditions and civil strife has triggered the breakdown of society in many countries, and the global village has fragmented into a million isolated hamlets. This isn’t the aftermath of a nuclear war, nor the start of a new ice age, but the possible consequences of a long-overdue cataclysmic volcanic eruption on a scale never experienced by modern humans.

Bill McGuire, ‘The fire next time’, The Guardian, 12 September 1996, p. B2. As if the use of the phrase ‘long-overdue’ was not enough, this article actually ends with the words ‘living on borrowed time’.

The Daily Volcano Quote: from Monday to Friday, a new eruption of volcanic verbiage each day.

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Comments

1. Callan Bentley - 27 September 2010

Interesting choice of date…

2. Beano - 27 September 2010

Rent-a-Bill.

Need an earth scientist to promote your latest alarmist video, documentary or news article call Bill.

This would be the same Bill that had hordes of Sumatrans terrified with his prediction of a major quake along the Great Sumatran Fault to follow soon after the 2004 Aceh and 2005 Nias events.

3. admin - 27 September 2010

Callan: I thought that too.

Beano: yep, that’s Bill alright.

4. azcIII - 5 October 2010

While I think reporting on science topics should be extremely accurate and convey facts (in layman’s terms) rather than sensationalized speculation, he actually IS right. We are living on borrowed time. It could be tomorrow (not likely) or 10 thousand years, or more. Eventually, a “supervolcano” will blow. That is an inescapable fact. Or, a solar storm will hit, or a magnetic reversal will wreak havoc, or cosmic bombardment will kill us all…etc.

But it’s hard to sell papers reporting boring old facts. One must “sex it up” a bit to hold the ignorant public’s attention. /s

5. No fan of Bill - 5 October 2010

Well exactly. But then it’s not really ‘borrowed time’, is it? It’s just ‘the (unknown) time we have left’. The phrase ‘borrowed time’ suggests that we’ve used up the time we’re entitled to and are now, as it were, overdrawn; whereas in fact we have always been facing these risks, which are no worse now than they have ever been before in the short history of human civilization. We’ll exist as long as the conditions are right, which could change in an instant.

McGuire put the phrase in to sex things up, as you say. And because he’s incapable of resisting a tired old cliche, and has no conscience about creating a misleading impression in pursuit of the tiresome ‘we’re all doomed’ trip which drives his thriving pseudo-scientific career.

6. azcIII - 6 October 2010

No fan, true enough. I read such phrases as unnecessary rhetoric and ignore them. I find that most reporters have the odd impulse to believe humanity is a parasite killing the planet, so everything they write is skewed that way. Other humans, of course, not them. Thinking humans can “destroy” the planet is quite arrogant, IMO. Destroy the habitat that enables us to survive here, maybe, but the planet will go on without us.

I figure humanity is just like any life form that has even lived on this planet; our time will eventually be up. You put it exactly: as long as conditions are right (or we are able to adapt to changes) we will persist. We’re more likely to kill ourselves than we are to die at the hands of a natural disaster. Current science reporting is contributing to that by making people so frightened they do stupid things or feel justified in atrocities (seen the “No Pressure” video from 10-10 project yet? What message does that send?).

Hyping 2012, for example. I’ve seen nothing that indicates anything is going to happen but millions believe it will thanks to reporters like Mr. McGuire.

But I’m not going to waste a lot of time worrying about humanity’s eventual destruction; I’ll probably be long dead and so will my great-grandchildren (if I have any). There isn’t much I can do against the power of the planet. Just hope I get a good seat for the big show if it happens in my lifetime. :-)

Mr. McGuire, like the vast majority of “reporters” these days, has no integrity; he has an agenda. Most mislead the public in some fashion, using questionable, unverified science to further a political/economic agenda (my peeve). There are a number of dishonest scientists doing that as well, and they are harming the integrity of science itself. Cui Bono?

Cheers and good health to you!


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