Steve's Blog of the Bizarre

Monday, March 14, 2005

The end of the world is nigh!

I've been watching "Supervolcano", a big-budget docu-drama thing from the BBC. This presents the scenario of the Yellowstone caldera becoming active with multiple eruptions as the crust weakens, spewing out huge amounts of ash, pyroclastic flows and other fun causes of death. The ash would, in this worst case scenario, cover most of the United States in a layer thick enough to collapse roofs, and a thin layer would even reach Europe. The effects would be further reaching - the dust and sulphuric acid reaching the stratosphere would spread around the world causing global cooling and a 'little ice age' with temperatures in Europe reduced by around 12° C. "This is a true story... It just hasn't happened yet" is the tag-line. Oh yes, they tell us, such a supervolcanic eruption is due, if not overdue.

Such apocalytic docudramas with 'what if' scenarios seem to be increasingly common. They are set in the near future with documentary-style talking heads after the event explaining what happened in the past, with 'news' footage with real newsreaders. This is interesting in terms of presentation - especially after September the 11th, these 'what if' scenarios are not presented in 'real time' as it were. The 1938 Orson Welles radio production of The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells caused mass panic as people believed that it was really happening. It seems that this scenario is carefully avoided in these docu-dramas as we now seem to half expect acts of terrorism or even natural disasters after the Asian Tsunami and so the talking heads carefully talk about what they did or could have done differently. So no mass panic. Interesting.


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