Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nature-Caused Disasters In Life and In the Movies

Mother Nature (or God, if you believe Pat Robertson) can certainly wreak a lot of damage.  This morning Haiti got hit with a 6.1 magnitude aftershock (check out USGS) and here in California we're on the verge of flooding.

People react to disasters in many ways as Jon Stewart showed 1/14/2010.  But the devil is in the details, as can be seen in this science blog.

So what are the top grossing disaster films where Mother Nature is the villain (not human error as was the case in Titanic, the #1 disaster film of all-time) or aliens from outer space (as was the case in Independence Day, the #2 disaster film) and how do they compare with reality?

Top Five Nature-Caused Disaster Movies in All-Release Domestic Box Office
Equivalent 2008 $'s/(unadjusted $'s)  In Millions of $'s
    1. Twister, 1996 $392.6/($241.7)
    2. Earthquake, 1974 $306.4/($80.7)
    3. The Perfect Storm, 2000 $243.3/($182.6)  Check out NOAA on the real cyclone
    4. San Francisco, 1936 $220.4/($8.3)
    5. Deep Impact, 1998 $215.0/($140.5).  Check out NASA on asteroids
Top Five Worst Nature Deaths by Cause 
  1. Human Extinction would be the result of a two-mile wide asteroid  predicted every 10 million years. 
  2. 830,000 deaths from the most murderous earthquake in Shansi, China 1556.  That earthquake was a Magnitude 8.0 versus Haiti's 7.0 quake 1/12/2010 with deaths now estimated as high as 100,000 to 200,000.
  3. 300,000 to 500,000 deaths from the deadliest windstorm in the 20th century - a cyclone that hit Bangladesh, 1970.
  4. 227,000 deaths from the deadliest Tsunami in 2004 caused by an underwater earthquake off the coast of Indonesia
  5. 92,000 deaths from the deadliest volcano in Tambora, Indonesia 1815 primarily from the resulting famine.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that Brad Bird has a film coming up based on the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and gradual disasters (rather than sudden ones) have a place in Hollywood (The Grapes of Wrath).