Top 10 times the world nearly ended

10. BMEWS Communication Failure On the 24th November 1961 the world came close to a nuclear end thanks to a broken comms system. The USA’s Strategic Air Command Headquarters (or SAC) was unable to make contact with 3 missile sites. Taking the lack of communication as a sign of an enemy attack, SAC began preparing bomber crews to take to their planes. All-out war with Russia seemed imminent until contact with an orbiting B-52 was made and the pilot confirmed no attack had taken place. Turns out a SAC relay station in Colorado had broken down after overheating. 09. Mount Tambora Erupts 88,000 people died when Indonesia's Mount Tambora erupted in 1815. It spewed out 175 cubic kilometers of dust and rock, setting off a domino effect of disasters from deadly whirlwinds to 4.6-meter high tsunamis. Traces of the ash were discovered 1300 kilometres away and the eruption chilled huge parts of the world, causing a famine in North America and epidemics across Europe. This dramatic cooling of the earth's temperature led 1816 to go down in history as The Year Without A Summer. 08. The Carrington Event In 1859 the biggest solar flare in recorded history emitted radiation with the energy of 10 billion atomic bombs and led to a geomagnetic storm which resulted in the widespread failure of electrical technology on Earth. Scientists estimate that if a similar event occurred today, it could prove catastrophic due to our dependence on technology. Electrical grids would go into meltdown and our methods of communication would be non-existent. NASA have reported that flares like this should happen every 150 years, making us overdue for the next one. And with an estimated time of just 20 hours between the moment of detection to moment of impact, humanity would have less than a day to prepare for catastrophe. 07. The Norwegian Rocket Incident When US scientists studying the Northern Lights launched a research rocket from Norway, Russian radars interpreted it as a nuclear attack. With Cold War response mechanisms still in place, President Yeltsin was given 8 minutes to decide whether to launch a counter attack or not. Luckily the Norwegian rocket harmlessly fell into the ocean before he made up his mind. To make matters worse, they had actually received a memo informing them of the rocket launch but it was lost before it reached radar crews. 06. The Black Death The 14th century plague that traveled on flea-ridden rats left 75 million people dead. Able to kill in just 3 days, victims became feverish and their lymph nodes painfully swelled until they burst. If a similar epidemic occurred today, events could be even more catastrophic thanks to the increase in global movement. With over 8 million people flying everyday, a virus would be difficult to contain. 05. Bonilla Comet In 1883 the astronomer José Bonilla recorded 450 objects passing in front of the sun. Largely ignored by scientific circles, the event was soon forgotten. However in 2011 a researcher investigating Bonilla's findings discovered the terrifying truth behind his observations. It turns out these objects were huge fragments left behind following the break up of a 1 billion metric ton comet that skimmed the earth, potentially by just 600km. With each of these pieces of debris measuring up to 800 metres wide, a collision from just one would have resulted in a disaster 1,000 times more powerful than an atomic bomb. Source: Wired/ AAAS 04. Spanish Flu 1918 saw the worst flu pandemic in history, with one third of the population infected and an estimated 50 million killed. Killing within hours of the first symptoms, the virus filled the lungs with liquid, suffocating the victims. In 2014 scientists controversially recreated the flu, infecting ferrets with a virus 97% identical to the 1918 strain. They found that with just a small mutation the virus was easily spread between the animals, confirming that if the virus struck humanity again, it would spread like wildfire once more. If a similar pandemic happened today up to 62 million could be killed. Source: Independent/ Washington Post 03. Klebsiella Planticola In the 1990s a biological monster that could have killed all terrestrial plant life came terrifyingly close to being released. Bioresearchers combined the bacteria Klebsiella Planticola with another bacteria which produced alcohol, in order to create a GMO that would destroy land waste, while producing a sellable product. Seeming too good to be true, it was swiftly approved for field testing. However critics noticed that the researchers had failed to test the GMO on unsterile soil and decided to run independent tests. They found that in the real world the alcohol created would obliterate host plants in just 1 week. If the field-testing hadn't been canceled due to these extra lab tests, the bacteria could have spread across the globe, destroying all of our crops, and plunging humanity into a mass famine. Source: Nation of Change/ Ecological Balance and Biological integrity by Elaine Ingham 02. The Cuban Missile Crisis When America launched a naval blockade to prevent the Soviet Union from building nuclear bases in Cuba, Soviet leader Khrushchev declared that the move was viewed as an act of war. For 13 days in 1962 all-out nuclear warfare seemed imminent, with both sides prepared for an enemy attack. US bombers carrying nukes were launched, preparations to invade Cuba were made, and it was even suggested that Kennedy flee to an underground bunker. The widespread panic eventually came to an end when Russia agreed to dismantle the Cuban bases, while the U.S. promised to remove the blockade and their own nuclear base in Turkey. Source: BBC 01. Nuclear False Alarm RUSSIA In 1983 while monitoring a Soviet early-warning system, Stanislav Petrov received computer warnings that five U.S. missiles had been launched. Expected to report incoming attacks to his seniors, if he had done so Russia would certainly have launched retaliatory weapons and plunged us into all-out nuclear warfare. Instead, with no evidence to back him up, he decided to report the readings as false. He was right to follow his gut instinct, as it turns out the alert had been triggered when Soviet satellites misinterpreted reflected sunlight for a ballistic missile.

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