Today week we take on a doomsday future! We haven’t done one of those this season. So, what would happen if all the active volcanoes in the world erupted at the same time? The short answer is: bad things. The long answer is, well, you’ll have to listen to the episode!
First we talk to Jessica Ball, a volcanologist, who walks us through the different types of eruptions, what make something an active volcano, and just how bad ash is. Spoiler: it’s really bad. It gums up engines, cuts up your lungs, and is so heavy that it can collapse buildings.
But the destruction of a massive volcanic eruption doesn’t stop there. Oh no. Then Ball tells us about the ways in which volcanoes can actually impact the climate. In fact, in 1815, a single volcanic eruption at Mount Tambora caused the entire Northern Hemisphere to experience “A Year Without a Summer,” resulting in famine, death, and Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. (You’ll have to listen to the podcast to get that particular story.)
So how does one live through this kind of apocalyptic event? To find out, I called up two people who, unlike me, would probably survive: Megan Hine and Pat Henry. Megan and Pat are both sort survival experts, but they go about it in really different ways.
Megan is an adventurer and wilderness expedition leader. She takes people out into the middle of nowhere, and trains them no how to survive. People like Bear Grills, the man of the Discovery Channel show Man vs. Wild. Bear has called Megan “the most incredible bushcraft, climbing and mountain guide you’ll ever meet.”
Pat is a little bit different. Pat is a prepper, someone who is actively preparing today for a disaster that might come tomorrow. Pat is the founder and editor of a website called The Prepper Journal, which has pretty much everything you need to know about prepping, should you be worried about, say, all the volcanoes in the world going off at once.
Oh and Pat isn’t his real name. He uses a pseudonym, so that nobody knows that he has two years worth of food stored up. So when something terrible does happen, he doesn’t have to turn his unprepared friends and neighbors away.
Both Megan and Pat said that the first way to survive is by being lucky. Don’t live or be near a volcano. But after that, surviving 1,500 volcanic eruptions is like surviving any other terrible thing. You’ll need food, water, shelter, medicine. You’ll have to fight off other humans. And you’ll probably be surprised by what you can do, when push comes to shove.
And we end the episode with a note about who you want in your little gang of survivalists. You’ll be surprised who’s actually a good addition to that team. Stay tuned to the end for that.
Also! Right now I'm running a little survey for listeners. Tell me a bit about yourself, please. Thanks!
Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth, and is part of the Boing Boing podcast family. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Broke for Free. The voices for this week’s future scene were provided by Suzanne Fischer, Eddie Guimont, Guillermo Herrera, Wendy Hari, John Olier, Caroline Sinders and Kevin Wojtaszek whose name I think I might have finally pronounced correctly this time. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky.
If you want to suggest a future we should take on, send us a note on Twitter, Facebook or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love hearing your ideas! And if you think you’ve spotted one of the little references I’ve hidden in the episode, email us there too. If you’re right, I’ll send you something cool.
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