We recently told you about some genuine life-altering (or life-killing) natural disasters that are not insane theories, nor are they that far away from actually happening. As it turns out, there are even more disasters than we have explored. Let’s take a look at some additional apocalypse possibilities.
The Italian Super-Volcano
Mount Vesuvius is probably the most notorious lava bottle. But an even a larger volcano, not too far from Vesuvius, appears ready to blow.
Campi Flegrei, near to Naples, is a “super-volcano” because regular volcanoes aren’t terrifying enough. It’s been showing signs that it’s getting ready to blow for the last 60 years or so. These signs include seismic activity, gas chemistry, and land deformation. Significant acceleration began in 2012. This is terrifying for the 360,000 of Naples’ one million residents that live right on the sides of the volcano. If Flegrei pops within the next 100 years, Naples and those one million people might go the way of Pompeii, being destroyed. Naples has also been one of the most critical hubs of European culture for the past thousand years.
It’s been worse in the past. Some scholars speculate the extinction of the Neanderthals was a result of a Campi Flegrei eruption about 40,000 years ago. But 200,000 years ago, that super-volcanoes eruption covered the entire planet, causing a worldwide volcanic winter. That almost destroyed all life on Earth. So we may be due for another explosive eruption.
The Next Huge Dust Bowl
Life was rough in the1930s. It produced the Great Depression, SPAM as a glorified sandwich, and the most severe drought in U.S. history. The era became known as the “Dust Bowl” for the dust storms that were regular occurrences. Some scientists think that Dust Bowl II is near, but the sequel would last much longer.
The California drought of 2017 might have been a warning. Professor Toby Ault of Cornell University notes that the Southwest United States typically experience a severe drought once or twice a century. A less-intense but still terrible drought occurred in the 1950s, fairly soon after the Dust Bowl. This means we are overdue for another one.
But the next one may last 35 years, thanks to global warming. Ault and his team believe that the chances of this multi-decade drought striking the American Southwest within 100 years are nearly 80 percent. Imagine days that “make the mega-droughts seem like quaint walks through the Garden of Eden.”
What exactly does a globally warmed Dust Bowl look like? University of Arizona professor Jonathan Overpeck offers a “warm megadrought” or a “searing megadrought” as possibilities within the next century. A searing megadrought produces “toxic dust storms that could rage across the region, making driving extremely dangerous. The vast majority of trees would die. It would be nearly impossible to farm.” Wildfires could devastate entire states. Large swaths of the US West would be engulfed in severe water shortages. Farmers would have to grow more drought-friendly crops like nuts and give up on crops such as wheat and corn. Those with gluten sensitivities might like that, but starvation thrills no one.
A warm megadrought could “probably be endured,” says Overpeck, but the U.S. government would have to actively start combatting global warming and put more stringent laws on industrial pollution. In other words, start making almond bread soon.
An Even Worse Global Pandemic
There’s a virus called COVID-19 going around. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It’s the latest in a series of diseases that have been making the rounds, following Zika, Ebola, SARS, among others. Of course, the deadliest bug out there is the plain old flu, which continues to evolve and get better at evading our treatments.
There has been a new influenza strain every decade since the Spanish Flu. It’s usually a swine or bird flu. Before 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considered H7N9 to be the most threatening flu strain for a global pandemic. H7N9 broke out in China a few years ago. The Spanish Flu, like several viruses, used birds as the vehicle to get to humans. The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 is what COVID-19 is compared to. It was the worst global disease outbreak since the Black Death 600 years earlier, easily one of the worst ever. Up to five percent of the world’s population was eliminated. It would be much more prominent in history class if it weren’t for that World War I thing that was happening at the same time.
It is estimated that 1,364 people have contracted H7N9, 40 percent of those being fatal. Respiratory and organ failure contribute to the patient dying. Like other diseases, it’s getting better at spreading among humans.
Remember, the world has a much higher population today than it did in the early 1900s. More of us are packed more closely together, making us a flu version of an all-you-can-eat buffet. Travel is also much easier, so diseases get around the world quickly. Even more apparent is how complacent we have been about the risks, bringing responses to a crawl. The next pandemic will be so severe that we will need a spectacular World War III to cover our incompetence when the history books are written.