Five times the world was supposed to end (but didn’t)… from alien invasions to man-made black holes
Followed by millions around the world, these are some of the most radical doomsday predictions in recent memory that failed spectacularly
SINCE the beginning of recorded history, man has been trying to predict when the world will end.
With earth heating up and nuclear tensions a hot topic on everyone’s lips in 2017, Doomsday may be closer than ever before.
But is the complete destruction of mankind a realistic possibility in the foreseeable future? Probably not.
Just like all of those before, anyone that attempts to predict a rapture in the future will likely be forced to accept defeat – just like this next group of would-be prophets.
We have put together a list of five of the more recent doomsday predictions that – surprise, surprise – didn’t come true.
In 1992, radio broadcaster and evangelical Christian Harold Camping released a book entitled 1994?, which alleged the return of Christ would come in September 1994.
He had based his prediction off numbers and dates found in the Bible.
When this didn’t come to fruition, despite Camping claiming he was “99.9 per cent certain” he was correct, he changed his rapture date to October 2, then for a third time to March 31, 1995.
Camping made 12 different prophecies all together, the last of which was October 21, 2011.
He put his error down to bad maths.
Possibly the most famous doomsday prediction to date, those that believed in the Y2K theory thought that when it came time for the turn of the millennium, the world’s computer systems would crash.
A computer bug related to the storage of calendar data posed a problem, as up until that point, dates had been recorded using the last two digits of the year only.
This would, in theory, cause a worldwide crash when the clocks ticked over from 99 to 00.
Planes were supposed to drop out of the sky, power plants would shut down and society would cease to function.
In reality, just a handful of computer incidents were reported, most of which were to do with digital clocks displaying the year 1900 rather than 2000
Author Richard W. Noone claimed that the earth’s final day would be May 5, 2000 in his book 5/5/2000: Ice, The Ultimate Disaster.
The date would allegedly see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn become aligned with the earth for the first time in six thousand years.
The planetary alignment was due trigger a series of natural disasters, kicked off by the disruption of Earth’s polar caps.
Unfortunately for Richard, following his failed prediction, ‘no-one’ believed his prophecies again.
Many believed that man would manufacture the demise of Earth when they switched on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
By attempting to recreate a mini version of the Big Bang, a number of theorists thought it would create black holes which would engulf the earth.
Concerns reached boiling point when a pair of anxious citizens fired up a lawsuit against the operators of the collider – which required a safety report be submitted before the Collider could be operated.
So far, the LHC is yet to produce any black holes… that we know of.
One of the most followed predictions of the last few decades, the Mayan Apocalypse was due to come about a few days before Christmas in 2012, as the ancient Mayan calendar came to an end.
December 21st marked the end of the calendar’s first “Great Cycle”, after 5,125 years of continuously tracked time.
The prediction sparked wide-spread panic, and gave rise to a number of bizarre doomsday predictions including alien invasion, giant solar flares and monstrous tidal waves following planetary realignment.
One man in China was so convinced the world was coming to an end that he spent more than £100,000 to build his very own apocalypse-proof ‘Noah’s Ark’.
At the Edge of the World, Facing the End of the World
Writing about climate change is an exercise in managed insanity. The human mind isn’t equipped to parse a crisis—the greatest in the history of our species—of such complexity and urgency and darkness. With record-breaking superstorms ravaging coastlines at a regular clip, it’s hard to feel good about the impact that Homo sapiens has had on our leafy, temperate, Goldilocks planet.
You might even go so far as to suggest that the human species is a plague, given the untold destruction we’ve wrought on this planet. Once you subscribe to that argument, it becomes nearly impossible to think of a noble pursuit for a person. Doctors save lives—firefighters too. Teachers hope toinspire the next great genius, maybe someone like Norman Borlaug, whose agricultural breakthroughs allowed our population to balloon on a planet with only so much arable land. All noble pursuits in the name of spreading the human plague.
The thing about the human plague is that while it’s busy wrecking the planet, it’s also demolishing us. Climate change will destroy not just our bodies, but our psyches. Supercharged rivers will wash away cities. Even when we should know better, because we have more than abundant science to back it up, the Trump administration prepares to obliterate regulations controlling methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases. That plague theory is holding up.
But unlike a plague, we can think. We can plan. A plague tears through a population indiscriminately. It can’t pull back when it starts running out of victims and say, Whoa, what am I doing? If I keep this up, it’ll be the end of me! We can, and last week at the Global Climate Action Summit, many of the best minds the human species can muster gathered to right the course.
These people included but were not limited to: environmentalists, mayors from around the world, human rights activists, technologists, academics, business leaders, labor leaders, and former secretaries of state. The kinds of folks with noble pursuits. This was climate change activism without borders. If the Paris Agreement, drafted in 2015, was about governments coming together to fight, last week’s event showed that the most ambitious climate action isn’t happening on the national scale—it’s cities and states that are leading the way.
It’s easy to think that our presidents or prime ministers, our queens or our kings, are the undisputed arbiters of a country’s direction. Not so. For several thousand years, it’s been the cities that truly guide a nation. Cities are where citizens trade goods and ideas. Cities are where foreigners bring their own cultures and knowledge. And cities are were innovation flourishes. Cities have always competed with each other, but they have also shared ideas.
And so it goes with developing and deploying green technologies. Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti put it to me best: “When Shenzhen says, I’ve got 100 percent of our bus fleet electrified and all of our taxis, that’s good competition for LA to try to catch. And it’s collaborative in the sense that when people back in LA say there’s no way we can electrify our buses by 2030, I can point to the fact that Shenzhen in China just did it, and it took them two and a half, three years.”
While environmentalists or, really, anyone who cares about the future of Earth, have been getting bent out of shape about Trump, cities and states have been gaining tremendous ground in the battle against climate change. Last week, an organization called C40, essentially a climate-change-busting network of international metropolises, announced that 27 of its member cities had already peaked in their emissions and had come down at least 10 percent from that high.
On the other side of the country, as I write this, Hurricane Florence is tearing the Carolinas to pieces, just days after news broke that the Trump administration had transferred $10 million from FEMA to ICE. Bad enough in a world without climate change, but all the worse in a world where warmer waters are feeding stronger hurricanes. Scientists suspect Florence is no exception.
And so the climate chasm between American cities and the federal government widens. That’s instilled a sense of urgency in mayors, who were already leading the way on mitigation. The president has galvanized that movement, not crippled it. While Trump’s EPA does literally the opposite of protecting the environment (do keep in mind that a Republican, none other than Nixon, created the EPA, cities are scrambling to deploy solar panels and electric bus fleets and car charger networks. It’s what the planet demands, but also what citizens demand—constituents want clean air, no matter what the EPA does.
Al Gore got onstage Friday and said this, his voice crescendoing into a boom: “We are seeing businesses lead the way, we’re seeing investors lead the way, we’re seeing cities and counties and all kinds of civic organizations leading the way. We must we do it, we can do it. I’m convinced ever more because of the success of this summit here in San Francisco that we will do it. For anyone who doubts that we as human beings have the political will to meet our obligations that history is demanding of us, just remember that political will is itself a renewable resource.”
We’re not only the plague. We’re also the immune system, and we’re fighting back.
Risk of UK Tsunami Much Higher than Previously Thought
It was long believed that the last tsunami to devastate the UK was 10,000 years ago caused by a massive underwater landslide know as the Storegga Slide – a massive wave was sent hurtling towards the Shetland Islands as well as parts of mainland Scotland, Norway and Greenland.
New research has revealed that the last tsunami to hit the UK was a lot more recent than anyone had realized.
Given how long ago this happened, scientists had long dismissed the disaster as something extremely rare, but now new evidence has been found to suggest that this may not actually be the case.
“We found sands aged 5,000 and 1,500 years old at multiple locations in Shetland, up to 13 meters (43 ft) above sea level,” said Sue Dawson from the University of Dundee.
“These deposits have a similar sediment character as the Storegga event and can therefore be linked to tsunami inundation.”
The discovery indicates that tsunamis can and do hit the UK on a much more regular basis.
“They’re much higher frequency, and 1,500 years ago is very, very recent – it’s 500 [CE] if you want to think about it like that,” said Dave Tappin from the British Geological Survey.
“It means that the hazard – the risk – is far more serious than we thought previously.”
The US Is Woefully Underprepared For The Next Pandemic
One hundred years after the Great Influenza pandemic of 1918, global health leadership stands at a crossroads. The United States continues to expand its policy of isolationism at a time when international cooperation in health could not be more important.
The state of pandemic preparedness and the necessary steps for protecting the people throughout the world was the topic of The Scowcroft Institute for International Affairs’ 2nd Annual White Paper.
As pandemic policy scholars, with two of us spending the majority of our career in the federal government, we believe that it is essential to prepare the country and the world for the next pandemic. It is not a matter of if, but when, the next disease will sweep the world with deadly and costly consequences.
There are many topic areas that national leaders must address to create better preparedness and response capabilities, but we believe three are most urgent.
These include targeting the resistance to antimicrobial agents that has come about because of overuse and misuse of antibiotics; ensuring continuity of supply chains; and improving and strengthening leadership.
Overuse of a wonder drug
Prior to Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin, even the smallest scratch could be deadly. Its discovery, however, helped contribute to the perception that man had conquered disease, despite Fleming’s warning that “the thoughtless person playing with penicillin treatment is morally responsible for the death of a man who succumbs to infection with the penicillin resistant organism.”
Now, 70 years later, society is quickly reaching the precipice of that reality.
The problem of antibiotic overuse and misuses is extensive. In fact, in the United States, 80 percent of all antibiotic use occurs in the agricultural sector and the majority of this use is nontherapeutic, meaning it is not medically necessary.
Misuse of antibiotics also occurs frequently in the human health sector, however. The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance estimated that if changes are not made, the world could witness 10 million deaths annually due to antimicrobial resistant infections.
To help prevent this public health threat from reaching that level of crisis with potential catastrophic implications, we recommend four actions.
First, an increase of investment needs to be made by the federal government and the private sector into research, development and production of new antimicrobials.
Second, governments throughout the world need to create stronger internationally harmonized regulatory systems for agriculture production and veterinary use of antimicrobials.
For example, in the United States, antibiotics cannot be purchased without a prescription from either a medical doctor or a veterinarian (for the agricultural sector).
But many countries in the developing world have no oversight for animal or human use of antibiotics. In some places, particularly African countries, many antibiotics can be purchased over the counter.
You may already have experienced the third recommendation, if your doctor has sent you home from an appointment without an antibiotic prescription because your illness was viral.
Health care providers and consumers need to decrease misuse and overuse of antimicrobials in human health by only prescribing antibiotics in cases of bacterial infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines for this, including recommendations for patients.
Last, governments throughout the world need to understand that fighting antimicrobial resistance requires a collaboration between animal health, human health and environmental health.
This idea, known as One Health, works to bring together researchers and professionals from these three areas to address disease-related challenges.
While these actions require monetary and time investments, they are essential. Without taking these actions society may find itself in a post-antibiotic world.
This world, as former Director-General of the World Health Organization Margaret Chan explained in 2012, means “the end of modern medicine as we know it. Things as common as strep throat or a child’s scratched knee would once again kill.”
Will global supply chains collapse?
Modern society is able to function and flourish in large part because of the global supply chains transporting parts, equipment and supplies with speed, efficiency and just-in-time delivery, which allows business to keep carrying costs low because they can order what they need and have it shipped quickly, or “just in time.”
Global supply chains, which consist of production specialization through comparative advantage, has enabled great economic development, but their just-in-time structure also leaves them exceedingly vulnerable. Components of the critical medical infrastructure, such as components essential to running life support machines or insulin for diabetics, are always in transit.
This means that even a localized disease could deprive people of needed medical supplies. For example, if an epidemic hits a town in Asia where N95 masks, which are used to protect people from hazardous substances, are manufactured, there may no longer be any N95 masks to be shipped to the United States or elsewhere.
The United States experienced supply chain breakdown when Hurricane Maria caused a disruption in the supply of small bag IV saline. A manufacturer in Puerto Rico that produces nearly half of all the saline utilized in the U.S. had to halt production because of the hurricane.
This interconnectedness of the global economy and the expansiveness of medical supply chains means that a disruption anywhere along the line could spell disaster worldwide.
To help prevent such a disaster, the federal government needs to understand the United States’ critical supply chains. The federal government and private sector should be aware of likely points of breakdown.
Once there is understanding, the U.S. must implement new policies that enable private sector innovation to diversify production and transportation where possible.
Diversification of production and transportation means that there is not just one production source for critical supplies. Thus, a disruption in one geographical location would not cripple the entire supply chain.
Centralized, involved leadership
Diseases do not respect borders, and for this reason, pandemics are a global threat. Therefore, the U.S. must address the threat of pandemics in cooperation with all other nations and with multilateral institutions such as the World Health Organization, the U.N. Security Council, UNICEF and more.
We believe that investment in global health security, such as the establishment of a permanent fund for influenza preparedness and response, and remaining engaged with the international community to prevent an outbreak from becoming a pandemic is the best way to protect the American people.
Additionally, we believe that the U.S. should commit to pandemic preparedness by creating a position of authority within the White House that transcends administrations and elevates pandemics as existential threats to a national security priority. There is a need to have decision-making authority and oversight vested at the highest levels of government.
In the midst of a pandemic, decisions must be made quickly. Quick decision-making can often be hindered by the absence of high-level leadership. The need for high-level leadership, coordination and a new strategy are essential to mitigate the threat of pandemics, but these fundamental pandemic preparedness gaps persist.
The next great pandemic is coming. The true question is: Will we be ready when it does? Right now, that answer is no, because the country lacks the sufficient safeguards we have outlined.
But if the United States chooses to elevate the issue of pandemic preparedness and biosecurity as a national security priority, we could be. Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are not if we take action now.
Christine Crudo Blackburn, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs, Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University ; Andrew Natsios, Director of the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs and Executive Professor, Texas A&M University , and Gerald W. Parker, Associate Dean For Global One Health, College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences; and Director, Pandemic and Biosecurity Policy Program, Scowcroft Institute for International Affairs, Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University
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