Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Cassell Illustrated (2 Dec 1999)
Just as the biblical Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse symbolize the end of the world, so there are four real catastrophes lying in wait for the human race:
- A volcanic blast powerful enough to devastate a continent and change the Earth’s climate
- A giant wave capable of destroying entire cities along the coastline of the Pacific or Atlantic
- A cataclysmic earthquake that could destroy the world’s economy
- An asteroid impact that would kill a billion people and take our civilisation back to the Dark Ages
Modern society has developed during an unusually quiet geological period in the Earth’s history, with no major natural catastrophes to disrupt the growth and progress of the human race. But global devastation occurred many times before the emergence of civilisation and we would be foolhardy to ignore the omnipotence of nature.
This timely and authoritative book identifies in accurate and frightening detail the four catastrophes that await us. Such geophysical turmoil will be beyond any previous human experience, and will have major implications for the future of civilisation as we know it.
'McGuire, ‘The Disaster Man’, challenges all to be aware of the possibility of great natural calamities outside our previous experience. [He] expounds the technicalities associated with four types of natural disaster with a light, jargon-free touch. After a general introduction to these hazards, the latent power of super-eruptions, giant tsunami, mega-quakes and phenomenal extra-terrestrial impacts is envisaged by extrapolation from experience. The four main chapters each follow a similar theme: the individual subject is introduced with some elementary science, and each is illustrated by notorious case histories. Then, a conjectured cataclysmic incident is imagined, recounted in the form of media reports. The way in which the writer drives his story on to the climax of an extra-terrestrial impact in the English Channel, makes one wonder if McGuire the volcanologist isn’t revealed as McGuire the novelist manqué – with a deftness of literary touch rare in the scientist.'
'Bill McGuire writes wittily and with style. He brings a grim sense of humour together with a zest for geology and geophysics, which manages to translate what could be a dry recollection of past geological events into an exciting and fascinating dialogue.
McGuire explains the science behind these normal but infrequent geological events. He blends them with a judicious mixture of fictionalised glimpses of their impacts in human terms. Very effectively and scarily, he pictures the effects of a huge volcanic eruption in America's Yellowstone National Park, a major giant wave (tsunami) swamping Atlantic islands from the Bahamas to the Azores, a magnitude 8 earthquake hitting Tokyo and a 1km rocky fragment crashing into the English Channel.
A very well written narrative that explains the processes of nature in layman's terms.'
'The way in which the writer drives his story on to the climax of an extra-terrestrial impact in the English Channel, makes one wonder if McGuire the volcanologist isn't revealed as McGuire the novelist manqué - with a deftness of literary touch rare in the scientist!'
Willy Aspinall, Aspinall & Associates