A truly terrifying list: 19 Horrifying Times the World Almost Ended For Humankind! Sometimes us humans don’t quite realize just how fragile our lives are. In fact, it’s quite shocking how often we come close to wiping ourselves out.
Even today we struggle to deal with potentially catastrophic situations, such as the rapidly warming global temperatures caused by climate change, or the possibility of a second cold war between the United States and North Korea.
Despite this, humanity has prevailed time and time again, despite many setbacks. We’ve lived through wars, plagues, and natural disasters. For the most part, we’ve come out the other side mostly unscathed.
That doesn’t mean we haven’t had our fair share of extremely close calls. History shows us there were plenty of times the end of days has come knocking on our door. So far we’ve been pretty lucky. However, here are 19 times the world almost ended, and probably would have if the situations were slightly different.
NORAD Computer Chip Malfunction
The Cold War lasted from 1945 to 1990 and was a period of time during which it seemed the whole world was on a hair trigger. Of course, nothing exemplifies this more than the numerous nuclear scares that took place when tensions reached its peak.
One of these such nuclear scares took place on June 3rd, 1980. At 3 AM, the president’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brezezinski, received an emergency phone call warning him that a large US-bound nuclear strike was imminent.
Luckily the attack was quickly discovered to be a false alarm and the counterattack was called off before any serious damage was done. It was only a short while later that a culprit was discovered; a single malfunctioning 46 cent computer chip at the pentagon.
The Eruption of Thera
The eruption was estimated to have had the destructive force of 40 atomic bombs exploding in unison. Interesting, the eruption was 100 times more powerful than the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that devastated Pompeii in 79 CE.
Needless to say, it became one of the defining catalysts in the demise of the early Bronze Age civilization of the Minoans.
The eruption of Thera obliterated the city of Akrotiri, present-day Santorini, and caused earthquakes and tsunamis that nearly destroyed the surrounding islands, including the widely populated island of Crete.
It also created a massive cloud of volcanic ash that settled across Europe and altered global weather patterns in the years that followed.
The Rise of CFCs
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Advancements in technology was outpacing the understanding of its impact on the earth.
One of the “environmental alarms” that went off came in 1985 when scientists confirmed their fears that a certain type of chemicals widely used in many modern products was ripping a hole in the atmospheric ozone layer. Of course, the Ozone layer is responsible for shielding earth’s surface from the most harmful of the sun’s rays.
These horrifying chemicals were none other than chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which were found in everything from aerosols to air conditioners.
Luckily, the scientists and governments of the world acted fast and new regulations were put into place that limited or banned the use of CFC. If left unchecked for even a couple more years, it could have permanently altered life on earth for the worse.
Asteroid 2018 GE3
The thought of a giant asteroid crashing into our little planet and sending us the way of the dinosaurs is terrifying. What is even more terrifying is that it nearly became a reality on April 14, 2018.
First noticed by the Catalina Sky Survey, Asteroid 2018 GE3 shot past Earth only a few hours after its detection. At its the closest point, the asteroid was only 192,317 kilometers from Earth, less than half the distance between Earth and the Moon.
With an estimated diameter of 48–110 meters, this asteroid is currently believed to be the largest known object to have past so close to us. There is no doubt that had it made contact with the earth, the devastation would have been astronomical.
The Carrington Event
In the 1800s, many telegraph operators were familiar with telegraph lines going down due to thunderstorms and other electromagnetic disturbances. However, one killer storm took them completely by surprise!
Between August 28th to September 2nd, the earth experienced its wildest geomagnetic storms in recorded history. Communication around the world was wiped out causing numerous electrical failures and accidents.
These storms were discovered to be the cause of a huge solar flare known as a Coronal Mass Ejection or CME. Fortunately, the world bounced back after a couple of days without telegraphs and some weird weather.
Interestingly, if the same geomagnetic storm took place now, our electrically dependent and interconnected society would suffer severe and possibly apocalyptic repercussions.