The end of the world is not normally at the forefront of people’s minds, although those with anxiety may feel differently. We of course would not want to see the beautiful world come to an end. However, looking back at history, we have had many close encounters of several events that could have almost ended the world. Whether it was due to a global pandemic, natural disaster, extraterrestrial objects, or by our own doing, the earth is sacred and in danger if not taken care of the way it needs to survive. Here, we look at 10 of those incidents where the world almost ended.
They may just shock you. Read on and click Next to learn more.
The Laki Volcano Eruption
First on our list is the Laki Volcano eruption, also known as the Skaftar Fires on Island. The eruption began on 8th June 1783 in the southern district of Siao, and such an explosion was never seen before. The eruption released more than 14 km of lava and approximately 130 million tons of toxic gas was released in the earth’s atmosphere. As the toxic gas dispersed in the atmosphere, people and animals began to drop dead. Not just limited to that, the acid in the air made temperatures fall below 1.3 degrees below for a couple of years. It damaged crops across Europe and droughts in parts of Asia, leading to deep famine, and the eventual death count was estimated to be six million.
The Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating global pandemics that the world has ever seen. The outbreak was believed to have been started in central Asia in the 14th century, and then was spread to Europe through the merchant ships. After reaching Europe, it took absolutely no time for the disease to kill almost 30 to 60 percent of Europe’s population. It was so brutal and deadly that if a person was infected by it in the morning, he could be dead by the end of the day.
Another great pandemic that threatened mankind was the Spanish Flu. It has also been recorded as one of the single deadliest disasters in human history. The flu struck in the early twentieth century and struck very hard. Aided by the First World War, it quickly spread across Europe. The flu was not just limited to Europe; it traveled around the world infecting 500 million people globally. By the end of the pandemic, the death toll had risen to 100 million – about a third of the world population at the time.
NORAD Computer Chip Malfunction
Did you know our world could have ended just due to the malfunctioning of a 46 cent computer chip at the Pentagon? On 9th November 1979 and on 3rd June 1980, the malfunctioning of the NORAD computer chip caused multiple false alarms that indicated a large US-bound nuclear strike. Entire country’s defenses were on red alert; nuclear weapons were loaded in American bombers and were en route to launch their missiles. Luckily, soon after, it was realized that everything was a false alarm due to a computer chip malfunction. And, the counter-attack was quickly called off.
Soviet Union Nuclear False Alarm
Another similar incident that could have ended the world occurred on 26th September 1983. There was a glitch in the Soviet warning system that indicated the launch of 5 American IBM missiles. Stanislav Petrov was in charge of the satellite-based missile launch detection system. Petrov had 30 minutes to decide if he should launch retaliation nukes or not. Petrov decided not to follow the protocol and called off the retaliatory nukes, saving the world from a nuclear war that could have killed millions of innocent people.
5. Klebsiella Planticola: Genetically Altered Bacteria
Klebsiella Planticola was supposedly a microbe that would convert the dead plant to ethanol, which could be used to make alcohol or even used as a fuel. Fortunately, independent testing discovered that the bacteria also could kill the live plants. Meaning, if field-tested, it could potentially cause mass plant extinction that could wipe out farms and forests around the world. Ultimately, all the productions were halted and the world was saved from a global plant super plague.
The Carrington Event
In September 1859, the world experienced its wildest geomagnetic storm in history. These storms were caused due to a huge solar flare that spewed electrified gas and subatomic particles towards Earth. The communication system around the world was wiped out and caused numerous electrical failures and accidents. Fortunately, Earth bounced back after a couple of days of some weird weather and without telegraphs. If such a geomagnetic storm took place now, our electrically connected society would suffer severely and possibly see apocalyptic aftermath.
The Windscale Fire
Windscale was a plutonium plant based in the Cumbria region of England. A possible fire there in 1957 nearly could have been the worst nuclear accident in Western Europe. The fuel channels in one of the chimneys got overheated and caught fire. A young physicist noticed the elevated levels of the radioactivity in the chimney and helped avert the disaster. Workers struggled to control the fire until makeshift hoses were used to extinguish the blaze.
Cuban Missile Crisis
The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis was a nearly two-week-long period during which a single wrong step could have started a nuclear war in the world. It all began when the US found Soviet-sanctioned missiles in Cuba. The action had violated previous agreements between the two nuclear superpower countries. The next couples of days were very critical for the entire world – the US was planning to either send air raid or perhaps an invasion of Cuba to destroy the missiles. Both could have surely ignited a nuclear war. Fortunately, both the countries were able to strike a last-minute deal and everything got back to normal.
2012 Solar Storm
On 23rd July 2012, a huge solar storm occurred on the surface of the sun, which ejected a large number of coronal masses. The coronal mass ejection was as powerful as that of the Carrington Effect and was speeding towards Earth. Luckily, the Earth missed the ejection by a mere nine days. Had it struck our world, every electronic device would have been toast. Scientists estimate that the damage would have cost more than 2 trillion dollars, and it would have taken decades to recover from the damage.