It’s a been a rough year in America—we’re more divided than ever, and more of us than ever before are anxious about our future. Internationally, wars rage, far-right political parties gain power, and suffering seems to increase by the day.
But there’s some hopeful news today, and it comes from just beneath our very own soil.Turns out, there’s a long dormant supervolcano underneath Yellowstone National Park that could explode and end this miserable experience of being alive.
Per USA Today:
...the researchers, from Arizona State University, analyzed minerals in fossilized ash from the most recent mega-eruption and found changes in temperature and composition that had only taken a few decades. Until now, the magazine reported, geologists had thought it would take centuries for the supervolcano to make the transition.
The results could be destructive on a magnitude never experienced since the dawn of humanity, and finally usher in a swift, brutal to the failed experiment that is homo sapiens:
The researchers, The New York Times reported, have determined that the supervolcano has the ability to spew more than 1,000 cubic kilometers of rock and ash — 2,500 times more material than erupted from Mount St. Helens in 1980 — an event that could blanket most of the United States in ash and possibly plunge the Earth into a volcanic winter.
Unfotunately, there’s always a caveat to these stories, and the caveat here is that the odds are still very long. This means that human life, with all its attendant agonies, could persist for some time, if not indefinitely:
But almost everyone who studies Yellowstone’s slumbering supervolcano says that right now, we have no way of knowing when the next big blast will happen. For its part, the U.S. Geological Survey puts the rough yearly odds of another massive Yellowstone blast at 1 in 730,000—about the same chance as a catastrophic asteroid collision.
That said, even a slim chance of total destruction comes as a small ray of hope in the midst of these dark days. And sometimes, it seems like that hope—the hope that our species will be annihilated to spare us the future torment that now seems like a condition of merely existing—is all we have. Thanks, supervolcano.