How Humanity can Survive an Erupting Super-Volcano
If the super-volcano in Yellowstone National Park erupted, then the falling ash and debris would probably blanket most of North America. As a result, most of North America would first be on fire, and then covered in a thick layer of hot and toxic dust and ash. Breathing this hot ash would burn the lungs of all life, thus immediately suffocating most life in North America. Even after most of the dust and ash has cooled, they will still be toxic to all life. Eventually, the atmosphere of the entire planet will be filled with this toxic dust and ash, and the skies will darken for centuries. Ultimately, the planet would have entered a new ice age.
This leads me to question how mankind could survive such a catastrophic event. I have been thinking a lot about this, and here are my recommendations.
Since most or all of the surface of the planet will become scorched and toxic to most life and then frozen, the only viable solution is to create huge colonies underground. There are plenty of natural caves and artificial tunnels and buildings already underground for a few dozen colonies. As many as possible will need to be created in the available time that mankind has time to prepare.
Furthermore, these colonies must be completely and individually self sufficient. It is believed that a viable colony would need at least between 100 to 500 individuals for enough genetic diversity. Each colony will need to be huge to be able to support these people and all of their descendants and everything these people would need for centuries. This is just to give you a start of an idea of the size necessary each colony must be.
Underground colonies will have almost no light or heat from the Sun, so the power requirements will be huge. Fuels that burn would not be viable underground because of the smoke they create will have no where to go, so that leaves only hydro and nuclear power. Each colony will have to have at least one power plant, depending on size of the colony. I recommend having a backup power plant or two for emergencies.
There already exist small portable nuclear power plants that last decades, such as what nuclear submarines and warships uses. Several dozen of these power plants could be used and stored in each colony.
These underground colonies will need to have direct access to deep underground fresh water. A colony will need a large amount of water to drink and grow food. Furthermore, if the water source is flowing, such as an underground river, it can be used as a power source. Finally, more edible fish can be stocked in the water too.
Growing enough food will be biggest challenge for the people in the colony. A huge number of artificial lights would need to be created and placed on timers to grow food. The variety of the food would have to large enough to include all necessary vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, etc. Foods that grow quickly and in small areas would be preferred. Enough pre-packaged food, seeds, fertilizers, etcetera would also need to be stored in these colonies in case of prolonged emergencies, such as famine and loss of crops.
The plant life in the colonies would be required to produce enough oxygen for the people and livestock for the entire colony. This would be difficult to estimate how many plants would be necessary. I think mankind would need to become experts with indoor greenhouse technologies to grow the maximum amount of food and air in very limited areas.
In the beginning, almost all waste from these colonies must be recycled, especially biological waste for plant fertilizer.
A large variety of buildings will also be needed to be created ahead of time in these underground colonies. This is especially useful to continue a modern civilization for when the Earth becomes habitable again. For example, homes, schools, factories, storage warehouses, recycling centers, and hospitals will all be necessary.
The good news is that after several years after the initial disaster is over, people would be able to venture out of the colonies to gather more supplies. At first, these people will need completely self contained suits; but as time goes on, people should be able to breathe the outside atmosphere again. It may take centuries for the outside environment to be livable again, even thousands of years for the ice age to subside. Keep in mind, it is possible to survive an ice age using these instructions.
Whether the destruction of the planet is from a super-volcano eruption, asteroid impact, or nuclear war, I believe the human race could continue to still survive if enough time is available to be prepared. Furthermore, living in underground colonies might not be very comfortable, but it is possible for the survival of mankind.
by Phil for Humanity