Monday, December 26, 2011

2011: Year of the Disaster, The Revolution, & The Big Change

According to the Chinese calendar,  2011 was the Year of the Rabbit. The statistics, however, paint a portrait far more sinister and disturbing than any cute and innocent-looking rabbit with a crinkly, wet nose and fluffy bunny tail.

The year will go down in the record books as the Year of the Unprecedented Disaster, with seemingly one horrific natural disaster happening at least once a week...or more often. There was record-breaking snowfalls and massive flooding. Several horrifying tornado outbreaks hit across the South in the Spring of this year that possessed never-before seen power and strength. In fact, twelve separate disasters during the year caused over $1 billion in damages, a highly disturbing record that appears as if it might be broken by the coming year....2012...

A beyond-horrifying earthquake and tsunami devastated a large portion of Japan, killing tens of thousands and leaving trillions of dollars in damages, making it the costliest disaster in history, for the time being. The tsunami waves washed over the Fukushima nuclear power plant, causing the world's first ever "China Syndrome" melt-down event, with very little mention in the news of the devastating consequences to Japan and the rest of the world. It is now all but forgotten, except for the people suffering in its radioactive wake in Japan.

Floods inundated North Dakota, decimating entire cities such as Minot. Two nuclear power plants in Nebraska were completely submerged beneath the deluge, for the first time in US history. The mighty Mississippi River experienced a "One in a Thousand Years" mega-flood that overcame dams and levees and caused billions of dollars in damages. A bizarre 5.8 earthquake rattled the entire Eastern Seaboard of the United States, felt from Virginia to Maine, causing over $100 million in damages and frazzling the nerves of over a hundred million people. A mere few days later, the same part of the country was dealing with powerful and potentially deadly Hurricane Irene, which dumped incredible amounts of water in a very short period of time.

The Southwest of the United States withered under an unprecedented drought and heat wave, that killed billions of dollars in essential crops and cattle. Wildfires fanned by the drought scorched hundreds of millions of acres of land and threatened the famed Los Alamos Nuclear plant and storage facility.

Two separate tornado outbreaks devastated a wide swathe of the US. A record breaking number of tornadoes tore across the South, obliterating entire towns. Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was devastated by a once extremely rare F5 tornado. Joplin, Missouri, was completely leveled by another F5. The St. Louis airport was hit by a menacing tornado straight out of  Roland Emmerich's films The Day After Tomorrow and 2012, causing tens of millions of dollars in damages.

Australia was hit by the most powerful cyclone of all time, Cyclone Yasi. A post-Category 5 storm, it unleashed a never-before-seen fury on the Australian coast, an area already devastated by the worst flooding in history, as complete cities were washed away by the swift flood waters, causing billions of dollars in damages. Certain areas of the country saw years worth of rain in a matter of days.

Elsewhere, volcanoes caused fear and devastation, from Chile to Indonesia, from Ecuador and Guatemala, from the Spanish Canary Islands to the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia and Iceland, earthquake swarms and volcanic eruptions seemed to be taking place somewhere on the planet every single day. Ash clouds from a volcano erupting in Chile halted airplane travel to Australia and New Zealand for several weeks, creating travel chaos and millions of dollars in loses. Volcanoes that have not erupted for hundreds of thousands of years erupted in places such as Eritrea.

The city of Christchurch, New Zealand,  was left in ruins after a 6.3 quake shook the city in February that killed almost two hundred people. This was only a few months after another earthquake rocked the town and terrorized the populace. Since February, hundreds of earthquakes have struck the once peaceful and tranquil town, traumatizing the local population and creating a mass Exodus of tens of thousands of citizens, who have chosen to leave the beautiful area of the country to start a new life elsewhere for fear their lives in Christchurch will never be normal again. Only this past week, the city was rocked by two more strong earthquakes, putting the population further on edge.

A extremely rare earthquake destroyed the beautiful city of Lorca, Spain, and another deadly quake hit Turkey, killing thousands of people. Thailand was inundated by never-before-seen flooding, with millions of acres of land remaining under water, months after the floods began. Tornadoes hit areas where they have never been witnessed before or are very rare, including central Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal and Peru. Europe was tossed into the deep freeze last winter, with bone jarring temperatures and record breaking snowfalls. Satellite images from space showed the entirety of the UK and Ireland blanketed by snow for the first time in recorded history.

A powerful tropical typhoon hit the Philippines only days before Christmas, unleashing a torrent of flood waters that have swept away entire villages and towns. The disaster has claimed over 1200 lives so far, with thousands more still missing, as the country mourns its dead and tries desperately to repair the damages to important infrastructure. 

Where there weren't disasters, there was revolution, war, famine, pestilence, civil unrest and violence. A revolution began in earnest in Egypt, with tens of millions of Egyptians taking to the streets, demanding that President Hosni Mubarak be removed from the office. The Arab Spring revolution quickly spread throughout the entire region, from Libya, Bahrain, Syria and beyond. Protests have become common-place throughout the world, as people gather strength and determination in numbers to force change. London and the rest of the United Kingdom witnessed a week's worth of shocking rioting and street violence that rivaled any in the nation's history. The Horn of Africa saw the worst famine in decades, with hundreds of thousands dying from malnutrition and starvation, with millions more in dire peril.

The Occupy Wall Street movement began in earnest as well in October, with thousands of people deciding to take a stand against the nightmarish greed and deadly avarice that has gripped the entire planet, creating the harsh injustices and incredible violence sweeping the world. The economic crisis hit its dizzying nadir in 2011, as Europe withered on the vine in a tangled credit crunch, as countries such as Italy, Greece and Spain saw their credit ratings downgraded and nearly defaulting on their national debts. The future of the Euro continues to hang in the balance, a massive threat to the US and the world's economies.

Elsewhere, people's behavior has rocketed off the charts, with bizarre attacks, psychotic episodes, rants, hideous abuse, killings, rapes and shocking violence parading across our television and computer screens, begging the question, Has the entire world gone completely mad? 

As the clock counts down to the end of 2011, thoughts go out to the upcoming new year, the most talked-about and discussed year of all time...2012. Spend any amount of time watching the History Channel and you will have without a doubt heard those drumbeats counting down the hours, as the unbelievable yet wholly undeniable changes we are currently witnessing are but a small preview of what is to come...

"The drumbeats...they are quickening..."

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