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.
The Spanish Flu is widely considered to be one of, if not the worst, global epidemics to strike the human race. Starting around January of 1918, the disease quickly swept across the world, infecting over a third of the world’s population in just over a year. In a matter of months, the virus had caused the average life expectancy of Americans to drop by 12 years.
Aided by the first World War, the flu spread quickly across Europe. Fueled by close contact and unsanitary conditions, entire troops were taken down by it.
The flu was not limited to Europe and spread with vicious intent. When the pandemic had subsided, cases of the Spanish flu had been found even on isolated islands in the Arctic and South Pacific.
Mount Tambora Eruption
The sediment released into the atmosphere by the volcano clouded most of the earth, causing months of colder temperatures from North America to Europe. The ensuing famine caused over 80,000 people to die, and it earned 1816 the title of “the year without a summer.”
Norwegian Rocket Incident
When Russian radar systems detected a missile heading over their northern border in 1995, their first thought was that the United States had sent a preemptive nuclear attack. With no time to lose, they quickly sounded the high alert and prepared for war. Russian commanders waited with bated breath for the launch commands.
Luckily, before the order could be given, Russian observers watched the presumed missile drop harmlessly into the Arctic Ocean.To date, the incident has been the only time that the Russians had brought out the so-called “nuclear briefcase.”
The device that in the hands of the Russian president can send the command to send thousands of nuclear missiles towards their enemy. An hour later, Russia learned the rocket was launched by a team of American and Norwegian scientists as part of an experiment studying the Northern Lights.
President Boris Yeltsin later commented that this was the closest Russia had ever been to staging an attack the United States.
Marine Isotope Stage 6
Around 195,000 to 123,000 years ago, the earth was nearly wiped by a catastrophic natural phenomenon. Known as the Marine Isotope Stage 6, the global climate experienced extreme temperature fluctuations including severe cold and unbearable heat. Areas with a growing population including Africa were hit with deadly climate changes.