Sunday, March 20, 2011

NatGeo: Collapse: Based on the Book by Jared Diamond": getting ready for life after most people

There’s “another” movie named “Collapse” (see my Movies blog March 11, 2011 for the film based on Michael Ruppert), this one from National Geographic, “Based on the Book by Jared Diamond” , which is in fact titled “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed”. Netflix has it available for instant play but not DVD and titles it "National Geographic: Collapse". 

Diamond appears a lot, in a 96-minute documentary where in 2210, fictitious researchers with laptops and laser vision and other small relics from our advanced civilization, investigate the ruins of our whole planet. Diamond starts out with a review of the Anasazi, who would depopulate the southwest because of successive droughts, with the Pueblo culture left.  He often makes comparisons also to the Maya, who overgrazed and cut down forests and gradually ran out of resources.  He also offers comparisons with the fall of the Roman Empire, and they are more subtle than you think.'

That’s our problem.  Diamond keys in on four major risks: water depletion (with Phoenix and the California central valley as the first casualties), fuel (peal oil), food, and climate change.  Our global interconnectedness can work both ways: people are better informed, but a resource-driven collapse could spread much more quickly, and even tear civilization apart in a few months.  But human beings tend to survive by simplifying and staying closer to home, becoming perhaps more tribal again.

Nuclear power is mentioned, somewhat favorably compared to renewable which he says takes much more in the way of resources (especially land) that we think; but the film predates the current crisis in Japan.

NatGeo’s website is here

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

CBS short film examines safety of California nuclear reactors in quake zones; also "Chernobyl: The Abandoned City"

CBS News has a 3 minute film “Are America’s Nuclear Plants Safe”, on youtube, here embedding disabled. California has two coastal nuclear plants: Diablo Canyon and San Onofre, but the plants were designed to hold to only a 7.0, not a 9.0.   They also don’t use GE’s design, which may have smaller containment vessels.

It’s not all that reassuring.

Here’s a chilling 8-minute look at Chernobly and Pripyat. It’s called “Chernobyl: The Abandoned City”. It mentions the sacrifice of workers to tried to control the effects of the blast. In Japan, older or retired men may be asked to “volunteer” to work on the reactor because they do not have as long to live even without radiation.

These videos may work best in Internet Explorer (to get the right aspect ratios). 

There was also an Oscar-nominated short film about Chernobyl named "The Door", reviewed on my movies blog, March 2, 2010. 

Wikipedia attribution link of tsunami damage picture 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

"Battle LA": not as effective as "Skyline" but similar premise

As “Battle LA” (aka “Battle: Los Angeles”) opens, Columbia Pictures shows its Statute of Liberty lady, not to its grand trademarked music, but to sound bites from media coverage of alien invasions of numerous coastal cities. It besmirches the studio.

Fortunately, the script takes us back 24 hours (pub), to the media coverage of simultaneous media showers at selected coastal cities all over the world. It doesn’t take long for people, including the marine Corps unit at Camp Pendleton, commanded by an aging Aaron Eckhart (who seemingly hasn’t been able to keep the hair on his legs – thank you for smoking) to figure out what they won’t say, we aren’t alone.

The aliens are a bit like those of District 19, but have weaponry surgically implanted (that would mean shaving). The weapons gear, modular and capable of self-assembly and spawning, looks like it was made from parts in a junkyard of landfill (or at least the used car lot).

The premise resembles that of a smaller film. “Skyline”, reviewed here November 14. That film’s beginning was much more chilling, and treated us to seeing what happens to the abductees. But “Battle LA” tries to reproduce the intensity of “Hurt Locker” and becomes trite and tiresome.  As for organized invasion, the premise of  NBC’s “Event” is much more interesting.

True, the aliens want our water. Maybe the ocean levels need to be taken down to counteract global warming. But the film is wrong; there are probably dozens of planets within 30 light years with surface water and oceans.  

The trailers for the film (like “The Event”) mention the 1940’s UFO sightings, especially on the West Coast, that allegedly affected the defense effort in 1942, but the film doesn’t go into it.  

If aliens really wanted to colonize us, take our resources or take us out, they’d probably detonate high altitude nu clear weapons for global EMP effect  (electromagnetic pulse wiping out most electronics and power grids).  And there is nothing we could do to stop it (maybe learn how to harden everything with Faraday cages).  How’s that for a movie premise.  (Maybe “The Road”?)  Ask “The Washington Times.”

The film is directed by Jonathan Liebesman.   Here’s the official site

Wikipedia attribution link for drawing of Gliese 581 c  

Bonus: identify the extraterrestrial(s) and angel(s) in this disco picture:   Not at LA's Studio 1. But they're better looking than movie aliens or grays.
Update: 6/30/2011: see Movies blog on this date for review of similar "Transformers: Dark of the Moon". 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thai TV has aerial video of tsunami in Japan Friday; remember the Canary Island

One of the most graphic videos of the tsunami in NorthEast Japan, over 30 feet, after the earthquake Friday comes from ThaiTVNews, on YouTube, 10 minutes, here.

The tsunami was much lower (about 7 feet) in Hawaii and on the US West Coast.  But a landslide following an eruption and collapse at the Cumbre Vieja volcano in the Canary Islands reportedly could cause a 100-foot-plus tsunami on the US East Coast, inundating the Coastal Plain up to the Fall Line (including most of Florida) and much of New York City. America is not ready for this.

Wikipedia attribution link for Sendai Earthquake Map 

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Spacerip's "Venus: Death of a Planet", and a word of warning

Spacerip: “Venus: Death of a Planet”  with Thomas Lucas (writer) and Dick Rodstein narrator, takes us through the mythology of early horror movies about invasions from Venus, including one rather like “The Event”, starting with earthlings find a computer disk (e.g. DVD) from Venus and go.

The film (22 min) explores the theory that Venus may have at one time had water and been capable of supporting life. Part of this evidence comes from deuterium in the high atmosphere. But Venus, if so, did not have enough ocean to dissolve carbon dioxide the way Earth does.  And it did not keep a magnetic field to protect it from “coronal mass ejections”.  It wound up with a runaway greenhouse effect that would indeed make for an “Inconvenient Truth”. 

Could Venus have retained Earth-like temperatures had it been somewhat smaller?  It still would have had trouble having a magnetic field. On the other hand, were Mars about twice the volume of Earth instead of smaller than Earth, it might be much warmer (because of a thicker atmosphere) and be more likely to have kept a magnetic field. Such a Mars could have been capable of sustaining life similar to ours.  There are other theories that say that both Mars and Venus could have lost magnetic fields due to large asteroid strikes.
All of this provides fair warning to what could happen to Earth. Listen to professor Al Gore.

Here’s a short Spacerip video with a simulated flyover of canyons on Titan.

Wikipedia attribution link for size comparisons of terrestrial planets 

(Spelling of his post URL changed from what is displayed because of typo)