A Note on Yellowstone Park and Apocalyptic Fearmongering

Alarming news from WND:

NASA plan to stop supervolcano sparks doomsday fears

Amid a summertime swarm of hundreds of earthquakes underneath Yellowstone National Park, NASA is developing a plan to tame a “supervolcano” that some experts believe is well overdue for a catastrophic eruption.

The scientists’ plan: cool down the volcano.

Volcanoes erupt when a certain heat threshold is built up within the magma, meaning that if enough heat can be let out of the volcano, it will never erupt. NASA’s idea is to pump water into the volcano after opening up a path via drilling. In theory, the plan would extract heat from the volcano and could even provide a new geothermal power plant.

There’s only one problem: The process might trigger an eruption.

The supervolcano under Yellowstone Park is frequently cited as evidence of apocalyptic destruction just around the corner – and in religious terms as evidence of the last days. In 2014 WND ran a piece on claims that animals were in the process of fleeing an imminent eruption; and any variation in the common seismic activity at the site (which has been monitored for the last 30 years) is regularly treated as an ominous sign.

The UK Daily Express tabloid warned that the volcano was “on the brink” in February, and again in June; and just a week ago, the paper reported on warnings that Nibiru will bring about the cataclysm (although the text adds that “There is NO scientific evidence to back up the outlandish claims, and NASA has branded it a hoax”). One recent Christian book I found on Google Books claims that areas of the park are being mysteriously closed off, and seismic data held back for a time before being released to the public.

However, as even the sources linked by WND confirm, the likelihood of an eruption happening within the next few centuries is very low. Thus the attraction of a human causative agent to shorten the odds, and thus the fearmongering around NASA’s idea. To return to WND:

Brian Wilcox of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology told the BBC an attempt to drill from the top of the magma chamber could accidentally cause the very thing the drilling was designed to prevent. To avoid that risk, he suggested drilling from outside the borders of Yellowstone and coming into the supervolcano from the lower side.

In other words, the proposal specially takes into consideration what “might trigger an eruption”, and how to avoid it – the direct opposite of the headline’s implication. In any case, the plan is speculative: it would take decades to implement, and decades after that to see any measurable effect. But for WND, here following up on an Infowars article from last month, the image of scientists dooming the world with an ill-considered intervention is too attractive a trope to pass over.

The WND article continues with some general advice from a number of “end-times” prognosticators, such as Mark Biltz (“Blood Moons“), Joel Richardson (“Islamic Anti-Christ“) and the Sandy Hook truther Carl Gallups. The list consists mostly of evangelical figures, but a rabbi is mentioned first:

Jerusalem Rabbi Rami Levy said science has limits and told Breaking Israel News natural disasters and earthquakes will be an inevitable feature of the end times.

He said the natural disasters are “explicitly described in the Bible,” and the response should be “repentance.”

The Breaking Israel News story adds that Levy is a “kabbalist”, and the source has a more extensive quote:

Rabbi Levy stated that in many cases, science has portrayed itself as the savior while attempting to solve problems it had actually created. In the case of Yellowstone, the rabbi advised the scientists to delve into the prophetic writings of the Bible.

“This earthquake and volcanic eruption were explicitly described in the Bible,” Rabbi Levy said. “Now that scientists are finally realizing that it will happen, wouldn’t it be wise to look into the Bible for the solution?”

The answer, he said, is simple but unscientific: “Tshuva (repentance). According to Jewish tradition, it was created before the world so it can supercede nature.”

One way to reconcile religion and science is to suggest that they offer different but complementary ways of understanding the world; but placed alongside Wilcox’s scientific explanation, Levy’s commentary comes across as intellectually complacent and obscurantist.

Breaking Israel News (previously discussed here) is also mentioned by the Daily Express, which quotes a different end-times rabbi in its June article:

Rabbi Yosef Berger, the rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, told Breaking Israel News: “Tsunamis, earthquakes, and forest fires are more catastrophic than ever, despite technology giving us the ability to cope with them better.

“And now scientists tell us of threats we absolutely cannot protect us against, like a volcano that threatens the world.”

He added that “This is a special attribute of the end of days.”

Berger was also on hand in August, when he purported to have special insight into the North Korea situation based on his understanding of an esoteric Jewish text in relation to eclipses.

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