By Eric Oliver
Let’s face it. If the Yellowstone supervolcano ever erupts, Idaho would not be the best place to be. Odds are most of the state will experience a cataclysm. Fortunately, the world’s top geologists believe that will not happen in our lifetime.
Yet you wouldn’t know it by reading The Daily Express.
The Daily Express is “a daily…tabloid newspaper in the United Kingdom” that was founded in 1900, according to Wikipedia. It also has a bizarre obsession with the Yellowstone supervolcano.
A Google search of “Yellowstone volcano” reveals the publication’s infatuation. With headlines like “Yellowstone volcano: Why USGS scientists were ‘very NERVOUS’ after INCREASED activity,” and “Yellowstone volcano: How one scientist warned of ‘the most DANGEROUS volcano on Earth’,” it’s easy to spot the newspaper’s fixation.
But it’s not just the frenzied headlines that sets the Express apart from any other news source. The frequency of articles does as well. Few days go by without the Express publishing something about the Yellowstone supervolcano.
You’re probably guessing that some in-house Express reporter has an unhealthy fetish with the subject and he or she is responsible for the daily articles. Yet you’d be wrong. The stories are from at least three different reporters, meaning the Yellowstone obsession comes from further up the chain of command — from either an editor or publisher.
Considering the Express — circulation 315,142 — is 4,919 miles from the Yellowstone caldera, it’s hard to know what’s triggering the obsession. Granted, the most dire — and irresponsible — predictions claim 5 billion people would die in the largest possible eruption.
But the USGS says the odds of such an event are 0.00014 percent – lower than the chances of a civilization-destroying asteroid hitting earth. Coincidentally, this Express piece cites that statistic…but it does so at the bottom of the article!
A cynical person may say the cataclysm coverage is just about generating click bait. That person is probably right. But one thing is for sure, a lot of folks from across the pond spend a lot of time thinking about our nation’s first national park and the murderous caldera under it.
What’s the lesson here? I have no idea. Certainly most people know a Yellowstone eruption is not worth fretting about. But then again, we’re only six months from the holiday season where a family discussion about the end of humanity might be more rewarding than discussing politics.