Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Impact Events

     There are many things that survivalists and preppers get ready for. Disaster scenarios that range from every day possibilities like car accidents, to seasonal disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires, and then there are the really big ones. The disasters when s*** really has just hit the fan. Worldwide disasters that effect everyone.

     One of these SHTF scenarios is an impact event. It may be an asteroid or a comet, but no matter what it is, the big question is not if it will happen but when. It has happened before, and it will happen again. If it happens in our lifetime will you be prepared?

     In the history of the Earth there are at least four mass extinction events that are closely linked with large impact events on earth. The most famous of these is the Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction or the K/T extinction, which most will know as the extinction of the dinosaurs. Other mass extinction events that were likely caused by an impact event were the Late Devonian mass extinction, the Triassic-Jurassic mass extinction, and the most severe mass extinction in the Earth's history, the Permian mass extinction.

     Occuring two hundred and fifty two million years ago, the Permian mass extinction has been nicknamed the Great Dying, and was almost the end of life on earth. Ninty six percent of all the species on Earth died out during this period. This gives us an idea of the level of disaster that can be brought on the Earth by an impact event. If we aren't prepared for such a possibility, then the next time there is an impact event on Earth, humans might be one of those species that dies out.

     Now many of you may know that NASA does monitor the orbits of near-earth-objects that may have a potential to strike the Earth. This is likely our best chance to detect a potential impact before it happens. The hazard associated with NEOs are categorized using the Torino Scale. This scale is on a range of zero to ten, with ten being the highest rating, and the most potential for danger.

Torino Scale:

0 - The likelihood of collizio is zero. Small objects that burn up in the atmosphere are also included in this range.

1 - Collision is extremely unlikely, and there is no cause for public attention or concern. The object will pass near the Earth but is predicted to pose no unusual levels of danger.

2 - Collision is unlikely. An object is making a somewhat close but not highly unusual pass near Earth.

3 - A close encounter. A one percent or greater chance of collision capable of localized destruction. Attention by the public and officials is merited if an encounter is less than a decade away.

4 - A close encounter. A one percent or greater chance of collision capable of regional devestation. Attention by the public and officials is merited if an encounter is less than a decade away.

5 - A close encounter. Posing serious but still uncertain threat of regional devestation. Critical attention by astronomers needed to determine if collision will occur. If the encounter is less than a decade away, governmental contingency planning may be warrented.

6 - A close encounter. Posing serious but still uncertain threat of a global catastrophe. Critical attention by astronomers needed to determine if collision will occur. If the encounter is less than three decades away, governmental contingency planning may be warrented.

7 - A very close encounter. If occuring this century poses an unprecedented but still uncertain threat of global catastrophe. For such a threat in this century international contingency planning is warranted, especially to determine whether a collision will occur.

8 - A collision is certain. Capable of causing localized destruction for an impact over land or possibly a tsunami if close offshore. These events occur on average once between fifty years and several thousand years.

9 - A collision is certain. Capable of causing unprecendented regional devestation for a land impact or threat of a major tsunami for ocean impact. Such events occur on average once between 10,000 to 100,000 years.

10 - A collision is certain, capable of causing global climatic catastrophe that may threaten teh future of civilization as we know it, whether impacting land or ocean. Such events occur on average once every 100,000 years or more.



     So are there any 8's, 9's or 10's out there? Yes. Are they going to hit in our lifetime? As of right now, no. There arn't even any that we know of yet. In fact since the Torino scale has been created there hasn't been an object on the near-earth objects list that has been rated above a four, and currently the high scaled objects on the list are only a level one.

     This at least is comforting, but could we have missed some of these NEOs? It's possible but there are tons of satallites and telescopes observing the night sky. However a NEO does have to be close enough to the Earth for us to detect it. This means we are not entirely safe. There could be a planet killer asteroid out there but it may just be too far away to detect yet.

     Now for actually trying to be prepared for an impact event we have three different levels to prepare for. An impact on a local level, a regional level, and a global level. When preparing for an impact event of any level, it is best prepare for the worst case scenario. That the impact comes with little to no warning.

     In a regional impact or global impact, you can be pretty sure that if you are at the epicenter of the impact, it is not very likely that you will live past the impact. However with all of three levels of impact you need to be prepared for the conditions you will find close to the impact, if not those right in the center of the impact.

     Now the best way to be prepared for this kind of event is to be prepared before hand. Therefore regular prepping and stocking will likely be your best bet, unless you find yourself right in the path of the asteriod. From there just keep an eye on news sources. If there is going to be an impact it is unlikely that there will be absolutely no warning before an impact. If a warning of imminent impact does come, this is definatly the time to start seriously stocking up. Items will dissapear off shelves quickly though and may not be restocked so having your own stock already prepared will be beneficial for you.

     After impact though there will be a number of different things that will have to be dealt with on both short and long term scales. In the short term you will need to make sure basic needs such as food, water and shelter are met. Injuries will have to be taken care of immedietaly. There is also a good possibility that there will be no utilities to work with, so that means no electricity and no running water, and that should be planned for in advance as well if possible.

     If you survive the short term consequences of an impact event, then you have to start getting prepared for the long term consequences. In a localized impact event the long term consequences will likely be similar to any other more regular disaster event such as a major tornado or hurricane. Destroyed buildings will have to be cleared and rebuilt, services and utilities will have to repaired and brought back up and running.

     In a larger regional impact event the long term effects will be more significant. Thousands if not hundereds of thousands of people will likely be dead. Whole towns and cities will have been destroyed. At this level there will also be global effects from debris being thrown up into the atmosphere. Lung related health problems may be prevelent among surviovrs in the area. There could also be a global cooling effect as well. Likely the economy of the world will also be hit by an event of this magnitude.

     The largest long term effects however will come from a global impact event. In an event like this hundred of thousands to millions of people will be dead. There will likely be tsunamis on many coastlines washing away many of the cities and towns along coasts. Governments could collapse, and even whole countries could cease to exist.

     In a global impact event there won't be other coutries to help your country out, because everyone will be in trouble. As the dust from the impact event spreads through the atmosphere it will cause global cooling which could even result in an new ice age. This level of dust in the atmosphere may even make growing food next to impossible. So for the survivors the greatest concerns will simply be the basics, because there will not be much more than that left. An impact event on this level would completely change the way the world works, and how human's live their lives.

     So is an impact event likely in our lifetime? No. Large impact events are rare, but when they do happen the effects on the earth and species on earth is obvious and often deadly. The best bet to surviving some kind of event like this is to pay attention to news sources for any sort of warning of something coming, and preparing for it before hand. These events may be rare, but if your prepared before hand you have the best chance of surviving.

     Are you preparing for an impact event? If you are what kinds of preps are you preparing for this kind of disaster scenario? Leave us some comments in the comments section!


To see an actual impact event that took place on Jupiter take a look at this video of the impact of Shoemaker-Levy 9 that happened in 1994:


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