If I have to choose between a president trump or a president DeSantis and a killer fungus that has caused the worst wildlife disease in history, a 5,000-mile wide blob of seaweed that is headed for Florida and an asteroid the size of an Olympic swimming pool striking the earth, I will easily choose a killer fungus that has caused the worst wildlife disease in history, a 5,000-mile wide blob of seaweed that is headed for Florida and an asteroid the size of an Olympic swimming pool striking the earth.
I don’t believe I could stand four years of the kind of dark, dismal, apocalyptic, authoritarian, Nostradamus-like world envisioned by trump or DeSantis. At least we can recover from the fungus, blob of seaweed or a flaming asteroid.
Scientists said that a killer fungus called chytridiomycosis has already caused the worst wildlife disease in history, wiping out or driving to the brink of extinction hundreds of amphibian species on the African continent. Scientists say the fungus has become more widespread than previously believed in Africa and that additional outbreaks have probably been overlooked.
The fungus was first described in the late 1990s, as it swept through the African continent in little more than two decades. A new study in the journal “Frontiers in Conservation Science” reports that the fungus, which was once believed to be benign, is more common and possibly more virulent than previously thought.
Most pathogens sicken or kill a limited number of species, but chytridiomycosis cuts across all amphibians and is considered a significant reason that 41 percent of amphibians around the world are in danger of extinction, according to the study’s co-author, Vance T. Vredenburg, associate chair of biology at San Francisco State University. Fortunately, at this point, the chytridiomycosis does not affect mammals, like us.
The devastation to amphibian species is wreaking havoc on ecosystems because frogs and salamanders are vital as they feed on disease-causing mosquitoes and other insects, keeping their populations in check. They also provide food for larger frogs, snakes and some bird species.
Africa is home to more than 1,200 of the world’s 8,592 recognized species of amphibians, a class of animals that lives both on land and in the water, and includes frogs, salamanders and wormlike animals called caecilians.
The fungus causes an amphibian’s skin to grow up to 40 times its normal thickness, making it hard for the animals to breathe and causing them to become dehydrated and die, the study noted.
The study concluded that the fungus coincided with the region’s postwar land boom and the construction of new roads, which offered a path for the pathogen to reach frog populations in the mountains.
Next, there’s that pesky asteroid. Scientists said the asteroid they discovered on Feb. 27 measures 50 meters or 165 feet wide, and will have a 1 in 560 chance of colliding with the U.S. in 2046, just 23 years from now, the time it takes for six presidential administrations to wreak havoc.
Not to worry because the status of the asteroid, named 2023 DW, along with other near-Earth objects or NEOs, are being monitored by NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office, an office relatively unknown to most of us. The office follows NEO asteroids and comets that orbit the Sun like the planets, but whose orbits can bring them within a relatively close, 30 million miles of Earth’s orbit.
In an effort to allay any, “War of the Worlds”-like panic, NASA noted that there is plenty of time for the asteroid to change course.
“Often when new objects are first discovered, it takes several weeks of data to reduce the uncertainties and adequately predict their orbits years into the future,” NASA tweeted. “Orbit analysts will continue to monitor asteroid 2023 DW and update predictions as more data comes in.”
In my unscientific, yet paranoid mind, the NASA announcement means that 2023 DW could change course and collide with us even sooner. But that’s just me.
A bit of perspective may help. The relatively Lilliputian-sized asteroid is nowhere near the 7.5 mile wide asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
However, keep in mind that on Feb. 15, 2013, a projectile roughly half the size of 2023 DW exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, injuring 1,500 people and damaging more than 7,000 buildings.
The Tunguska event on June 30, 1908, is the largest impact incident on Earth in recorded history. The impact caused a 12-megaton explosion in a sparsely populated area of eastern Siberia in Russia. The explosion of the stony asteroid of about 160 to 200 feet in size, flattened an estimated 80 million trees over an area of 830 square miles. An explosion of this magnitude could destroy a large metropolitan area.
The risk of collisions of objects with Earth is assessed with something called the Torino scale, created by Professor Richard P. Binzel in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Why it isn’t the Binzel scale is a mystery.
The Torino scale includes a zero to 10 ranking of the likelihood of impact, with zero representing no danger or, a risk “so low as to be effectively zero.” Five on the scale indicates “A close encounter posing a serious, but still uncertain risk, of regional devastation.” Ten indicates that “a collision is certain, capable of causing global climatic catastrophe that may threaten the future of civilization as we know it,” NASA reported
For now, NASA ranks 2023 DW at a one, indicating “a routine discovery in which a pass near the Earth is predicted that poses no unusual level of danger.” NASA reported that the meteor’s pass near the Earth will be no closer than 4.65 million miles, or 18 times farther than the moon is from Earth.
But, as the scientists, said, the path of the meteor could change for the good or the bad.
Even if the asteroid looks to take aim at earth, NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), should be able to deflect 2023 DW safely away from us. DART was tested successfully in September when a small spacecraft was crashed into the asteroid moonlet Dimorphos to find if it could change the speed of the moonlet’s orbit around its parent asteroid Didymos. The mission, NASA said, was a success and the moonlet’s orbit was quickly changed.
A sobering fact is that the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization operates sensors that monitors Earth listening for the infrasound signature of nuclear detonations. In 2014 it stated that the sensors had recorded 26 atom-bomb-scale asteroid impacts to Earth’s atmosphere since 2000.
And for those concerned with the blob, scientists said a 5,000-mile wide mass of sargassum seaweed stretches from the western coast of Africa to the Gulf of Mexico, and is poised to hit Florida beaches in July. While it isn’t especially hazardous to people, five to six foot deep piles of seaweed will not entice tourists.
Sargassum seaweed masses are not unusual, but this year’s blob formed earlier than usual and was larger than any time since 2011 when sargassum growth was first tracked. In Barbados, dump trucks have been used daily to rid the beaches of the seaweed. The sargassum migrates westward and is expected to hit Florida beaches the hardest in July. The Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico will likely see the seaweed mass earlier.
The Florida Department of Health said the seaweed is relatively harmless but that tiny sea creatures and organisms that live in the seaweed, can cause rashes, blisters and irritation. As the seaweed rots, it releases hydrogen sulfide, which produces an odor of rotten eggs and can irritate the eyes, nose and throat, symptoms that may be worse for people with asthma or other respiratory illnesses.
Officials recommended not touching or swimming near the seaweed.
While I’m on the topic of natural disasters, I would be remiss not to mention that authorities in Turkey are preparing for the possibility of another earthquake of unimaginable proportions. That could come while Turkey continues to suffer with the aftermath of a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake in the country’s south-east five weeks ago. The quake killed 48,000 people and caused $34 billion in damages.
A professor at Istanbul Technical University told CNN that another major earthquake is likely sometime in the next two decades because the area’s two key fault lines comprise one of the most seismically active regions in the world.
The fault has led to several disastrous earthquakes, including a 7.6 magnitude quake that struck the nearby city of Izmit in 1999, killing more than 17,000 people, and displacing an estimated 500,000 others.
And this brings us to the latest practitioners of the dark arts, trump and DeSantis, who see a hopeless, dystopian, apocalyptic future that will end in utter destruction if neither trump or DeSantis are elected.
In a new campaign video, trump raged at anyone who disagrees with him. The dictator in waiting focused on Americans who are a greater “threat” than Russia.
He said the “greatest threat to Western Civilization today is not Russia. It’s probably, more than anything else, ourselves and some of the horrible, U.S.A. hating people that represent us.”
Running down a litany of his pet targets, trump referred to the “abolition of our national borders,” the “failure to police our own cities,” the “destruction of the rule of law from within.”
“It’s the collapse of the nuclear family and fertility rates, like nobody can believe is happening. It’s the Marxists who would have us become a Godless nation worshiping at the altar of race, and gender, and environment. And it’s the globalist class that has made us totally dependent on China and other foreign countries that basically hate us,” the unsavory ranter ranted.
“Evicting the sick and corrupt establishment is the monumental task for the next president,” trump bloviated. “And I’m the only one who can do it. I’m the only one that can get the job done. I know exactly what has to be done.”
The unhinged one-term president has warned of “World War III, if something doesn’t happen fast” and said that before he came to power, “We had a Republican Party that was ruled by freaks, neocons, globalists, open border zealots and fools.”
DeSantis, who is no trump in terms of the art of delivering verbal carnage, said that his state of Florida offered a refuge from a Democratic-led “dystopia, where people’s rights were curtailed and their livelihoods were destroyed.”
Trump, DeSantis and the rest of the field of potential GOP candidates for president have warned that President Biden is a “radical,” and that a “woke mob” of liberals are determined to “destroy” and “ruin” the nation.
Other Republicans, while not running for office, yet, include Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who served as the most untrustworthy, White House press secretary under trump. She has said that “the radical left’s America” is tripping into the worst of despair as the federal government “lights your hard-earned money on fire” and “children are taught to hate one another on account of their race.”
“The dividing line in America is no longer between right or left; the choice is between normal or crazy,” Sanders said, warning that “the Biden administration is doubling down on crazy.”
I will take the natural disasters, thank you.