Apocolypse Junk: What “Waterworld” and “2012” Failed To Show…


As the Japanese tsunami trash is moving en masse toward America it points out some interesting facts about the day after whatever disaster manages to make the oceans of the world rise (or the land to sink).  Depicted in movies like Waterworld and 2012, the changes of weather and/or geophysical eruptions as a result of shifting tectonic plates or flipping of the Earth’s poles, will leave the oceans seemingly looking like tranquil blue-green seas.  At least in Waterworld there was a passage of time for the few humans left to somehow adapt (even Kevin Costner‘s character was a human evolved with gills for breathing) and might suggest that floating debris ultimately “went away”.  Well, the truth of the matter is.. if you managed to survive the initial tumultuous upheavals and the skies have cleared, the land has settled down (literally), and you are trudging along a desolate “new” coastal area that a couple days before might have been a mountain forest, thinking you’ll survive living with the sea… well… maybe think again.

Once the seas have claimed the land areas inhabitited by man what will end up in the water will be every imaginable pollutant known to mankind.. and then some.  Enough to mess up the eco-system of the entire planet.. for who knows how long.  Consider this… we’ll make a simple observation here… all the oil drilling will be awash and likely destroyed.  Remember the Gulf oil spill a couple years back?  Imagine every oil rig, oil well in the world, spewing crude freely into the new oceans for years to come.  Think of all the land-based areas that are storage for chemicals, various construction and building materials, garbage dumps, radiactive areas… nuclear weapons and generating stations.

Add to this graphic mess all the stuff that will float.. trash (plastic galore), building materials, paper… funiture that floats… boats… metal drums.  The list is endless.  And all this doesn’t even count the normal organic debris on land that isn’t human; animals, trees, foliage, crops.  While it’s true that likely most organic debris might rapidly (by comparison) decay… much human generated debris will not.  In fact, the evidence of human existance eminating from destroyed wells, mines, factories, buildings, etc. will likely be released over the years as containers and storage facilities deteriorate in the salt water at different periods of time.   Cars and other vehicles will fit in this category… as they end up rusting at different rates at the bottom of the new oceans as gas tanks are penetrated and oil spewing about.

Now imagine how all the ocean life.. the eco-system.. will be affected with all this debris.  One has to presume that many areas of the Earth’s oceans may in fact end up being so polluted that aquatic life is not possible to exist.  Even if you fast forward a millenia or two or three the evolution of life might prove very significant and new species of “whatever” might show up on the scene.  As you toss in your fishing line from that newly formed beach you will likely catch something to eat for even a few years before your catch might have caught something toxic.  But who knows.

So the next time you are watching something like the movie 2012 and you see the nice cruise ship and those escape vessels floating peacefully on the calm blue oceans and thinking how it might be neat to start a whole new life in some part of exposed what-once-was the African continent.. you might want to think again.  Man will once again need the seas to survive… and it just might not be safe to stick your toe into the water for a million years or so.  Man might meet his demise not from the event itself that blew him back to the stone age but rather from the pollution of his past as a result of the event, spread out over the years to come.

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.

The Earth (Africa) seen from Apollo 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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