Everything Is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead - Robert Brockway (2010)

NATURAL DISASTERS

Chapter 8. HYPERCANE

GLOBAL WARMING and climate change can cause any number of problems—from food shortages to drought to inclement weather—but they do not always work in such subtle, gradual ways. Changes in the environment don’t always function like a cancer, killing you slowly over a long period of time. Sometimes the environment just loses its damn mind, and that’s when an event called a hypercane can occur. If the normal consequences of a shifting climate are akin to a metaphorical disease infecting the world, a hypercane’s consequences are a metaphorical Bruce Willis: That is to say, if global warming might kill humanity slowly over a period of generations, a hypercane is going to tie a fire hose around the world’s neck and then throw it off an exploding skyscraper.

A hypercane is a hurricane on a global scale. With winds up to supersonic speeds, a hypercane doesn’t just dismantle and destroy what it touches—it utterly disintegrates it. They can be the size of a continent, the conditions that spawn them could also render them self-sustaining, and their long-term effects are beyond disastrous. In short, it’s like a hurricane on death Viagra: In every way it is bigger, stronger, and longer lasting than the worst hurricane you’ve ever seen.

Though it’s a long shot that a hypercane will ever naturally occur again (many theorize that hypercanes have been present for, if not responsible for, some major past extinctions), if it ever does happen, it will be what scientists refer to as a “planet killer”—which, incidentally, is one of the reasons scientists don’t get invited to many parties. I’m not saying that these scientists are exaggerating the threat; it’s just that there are more sensitive ways to deliver terrible news. Doctors dealing with terminal patients don’t break the traumatic news that a patient has cancer by telling them it’s “like the atom bomb of diseases;” they don’t tell AIDS patients that they have the disease equivalent of “a gun shooting you from the inside out;” and they don’t explain leukemia to terminal children by telling them that it’s “like the bogeyman lives inside your bones.” So scientists are a little tactless, sure, but unfortunately that doesn’t make their predictions any less true. While a compassionate soul would tell you that, in the event of a hypercane, we’d all go out peacefully in our sleep, dreaming of past loves and warm summer days, my mother taught me that honesty is the best policy. And in keeping with that philosophy, I should tell you it’s far more likely that not only would your skin be sheared off by a supersonic wind, but also it would afterward become a deadly storm-borne projectile that would probably continue on to impale your entire family.

More Horrible Ways to Explain Diseases:

Parkinson’s: Like poppin’ and lockin’ in hell.

Alzheimer’s: Like having tiny zombies feeding on your brain.

Herpes: Sex pimples.

It’s not like we didn’t have any warning, though, as 2008 was one of the most devastating hurricane seasons on record. Massively destructive individual hurricanes like Katrina and Rita in 2005 don’t even rank among the ten most powerful storms of all time. But you certainly can’t just dismiss this disturbing trend of increasingly stronger storms on the basis that they haven’t yet produced the strongest ones ever recorded—that’s like telling yourself that the ravenous pack of wolves following you for the past fifteen minutes are nothing to worry about because you saw a much bigger lion on Animal Planet that one time. It’s the strength of the overall weather systems that matters; since that is increasing, that can mean some very, very bad things down the line.

Helpful Advice

If you don’t like the idea of your own skin being used to dismember your loved ones, try some of the following: tips, in the event of a hypercane.

1.    Don’t have a family.

2.    Don’t have skin.

3.    Those are your only options.

A hypercane can form when a significant expanse of water reaches a temperature of about 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about 25 degrees higher than the highest ocean temperature ever recorded. But just because we haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Some theories hold that a hypercane was partially responsible for the extinction period that wiped out the dinosaurs. The meteor impact at Chicxulub in what is now the Gulf of Mexico would’ve started it all, but the resulting superheated ocean could have spawned a long-lasting hypercane that would have ravaged the Earth for weeks on end. The really scary part about the formation of hypercanes is that, much like the world’s scariest bag of Lay’s Potato Chips, you can’t have just one: Any stretch of ocean superheated enough to spawn one hypercane would stay at that temperature long enough to spawn several more—so even though one is quite enough to kill the world just fine, it’s brought all of its friends along … just in case.

Other Bad Things Down the Line

·        Increased tidal activity

·        More rogue waves

·        Super-cell storm systems

·        Twisters

·        Complete disbanding of yacht clubs

A hypercane could vary anywhere from a measly ten miles in diameter to the size of an entire continent, but in the patronizing words of your ex-wife, “size doesn’t matter, honey, it’s how you use it,” because even the smallest hypercane would have the same planet-killing effects as a continent-sized storm. A hypercane has winds of over five hundred miles an hour—more than enough to rip the skin from your body, not just to dismantle a house but to completely disintegrate it, and to send entire cities hurtling through the air like a normal hurricane would send trees. For a better idea of how devastating this event would be, think of it like this: A hypercane moves the very air around you at about the speed of a typical airliner. So the odds of surviving a hypercane would be about the same as surviving on a planet where the entire atmosphere—the very air itself—consisted solely of jumbo jets traveling at top speed. Clearly, your basement ain’t gonna help much when you’re trying to breathe in airplanes.

As an added bonus, a hypercane would also have a plume rising twenty miles right up into space. So if you ever dreamed of being an astronaut—now’s your chance! You’ll most likely be some form of jelly when you achieve that dream, but hey, we all make sacrifices for our goals, right? That plume is the truly worrying part: It would raise water, dirt, debris, and of course the obligatory trailer parks twenty miles straight up into the stratosphere. For those of you coming from public schools, that’s like the bottom of space! This sudden influx of matter in the upper atmosphere would punch a hole right through the ozone layer and scatter everything formerly safe on the ground into orbit. On the plus side, suborbital trailer parks sound marginally more livable than normal trailer parks, but on the downside, the debris would then act as a superpollutant, blocking out the sun, poisoning the air, and triggering even further planetary devastation. The water and dust molecules introduced to this fragile area would also block the atmosphere’s ability to absorb harmful ultraviolet light. So hey, if you do manage to survive the actual hypercane with the power of clean living and intense prayer, you still get terminal space cancer if you ever see the sun again. Jesus, it’s like it not only wants to kill you, but also plans to take away everything good about your life if it can’t. The hypercane sounds so epically awful that it would have been equally at home in either science fiction or as a Care Bears villain—just out to steal joy away from the world.

Tips to Survive a Hurricane

·        Stay away from glass.

·        Seek shelter in a basement or small room.

·        Have an emergency kit prepared.

Tips to Survive a Hypercane

·        Don’t.

And just when you thought it was over—well, it’s quite possibly never going to be over. Because the extremely low barometric pressure inside a hypercane also gives it a nearly indefinite lifespan. For example, look skyward: See that giant spot on Jupiter, commonly called The Eye? The one that’s been there for thousands of years? Technically, that’s a hypercane. And if the conditions are exactly right, a self-sustaining infinite hypercane is also theoretically possible right here on Earth.

But hey, it’s not so bad. After all, the hypercane takes a lot to be triggered: It needs a large expanse of water rapidly heated to well over 100 degrees to form. Anything capable of achieving something like that is pretty unlikely to occur. It would take another form of serious disaster, like a worldwide rise in temperature (a “Global Warming,” if you will) or an asteroid impact like Apophis (see chapter 12) or an underwater supervolcano (see chapter 6) like on La Palma (see chapter 7) … to … shit.

Put on your screamin’ shoes, looks like we’re going hypercane shopping.