Wired reported recently that a group of researchers assembled by NASA issued a “chilling” report expressing great concern about the potential for solar flares in 2012 to coincide with “the presence of an unusually large hole in Earth’s geomagnetic shield”, possibly leading to the collapse of national power grids. Complicating the matter is the lack of current plans to replace the sole early warning satellite on which power grid operators rely, and the poor state of readiness in general. Full recovery from such a catastrophe might take four to ten years, and cost trillions of dollars.
The report was largely ignored at first because of the unfortunate overlap with an ancient Mayan prediction of a major “turning point” in the year 2012 (by the Western calendar).
(This post originally was left at Slashdot, but I thought to post it here as well. This version has been slightly edited for clarity, and expanded with a few additional links).
(26 April 2009 9:08pm EDT update): I missed an earlier thread. Also, there are other potentially civilisation-ending events.
Tags: space · economic
Mentioned here is a rather interesting report from the United Nations’ International Labour Organization on the productivity of American and other workers.
“American workers stay longer in the office, at the factory or on the farm than their counterparts in Europe and most other rich nations, and they produce more per person over the year.” [...] “They also get more done per hour than everyone but the Norwegians, according to a U.N. report released Monday, which said the United States ‘leads the world in labor productivity.’”
“The average U.S. worker produces $63,885 of wealth per year, more than their counterparts in all other countries, the International Labor Organization said in its report. Ireland comes in second at $55,986, followed by Luxembourg at $55,641, Belgium at $55,235 and France at $54,609.” [...] “The productivity figure is found by dividing the country’s gross domestic product by the number of people employed. The U.N. report is based on 2006 figures for many countries, or the most recent available.”
“Only part of the U.S. productivity growth, which has outpaced that of many other developed economies, can be explained by the longer hours Americans are putting in, the ILO said.” [...] “The U.S., according to the report, also beats all 27 nations in the European Union, Japan and Switzerland in the amount of wealth created per hour of work — a second key measure of productivity.”
I suspect that the raving loonies on the left
who bleed from the eyes at the mere mention of Mr. George W. Bush
will suffer fits over this, but manage nonetheless to blame the man personally for poverty in other
countries not fortunate enough to be heavily industrialised and fairly well organised with efficient computer technologies.
There’s a long report from embedded blogger Wesley Morgan, an Army ROTC member at Princeton. (Link from Instapundit).
[...] “One strange but comforting thing about Black Hawks is that when they’re blacked out and flying at night, you can hear the roar of their rotors, obviously, but you genuinely cannot see them from the ground; they appear suddenly out of complete blackness, making night flights basically safe from insurgent fire.” [...]
“After a couple hours of much-needed sleep, I got up at 0530 to link up with the patrol I was accompanying. On Haifa Street with 1-14, I’d mostly focused on the battalion/squadron and company/troop echelons, so for this embed, which was shorter, I decided it would be better to latch onto a platoon – after all, if things go as planned, a platoon is what I’ll be leading as a lieutenant a bit more than three years from now.” [...]
[...] “The wire was everywhere, crossed and buried and leading from some place at the far side of the field toward the piled dirt under the road causeway – a perfect and incredibly easy place to bury an IED, and with absolutely no way of telling which wires, if any, led to actual bombs and which were decoys meant to slow us down and keep us stationary.” [...]
[...] “But as the squad stood waiting for the Strykers to arrive, the soldier next to me suddenly looked alert and told me to step away from where I was standing. He began to prod the thick, dry vegetation between us on the side of the road with the muzzle of his carbine, and summoned the lieutenant over – and just as Lowe asked “What have you got?” he flipped a layer of brush off and uncovered a gigantic propane tank, rigged with wires.” [...]
The hot spots of Iraq aren’t places in which you can typically traipse about gaily, picking flowers.
“Pwease be vewy, vewy quiet. I’m hunting a cwazy wabbit!” Blam-blam-blam! “Say, where’d he go now?”