5 Times Humanity Has Faced Extinction

If you think you’re safe, think again. The apocalypse could be here even if you haven’t noticed. Like these other times in history.

Go out and watch people on the streets. We’re really busy with our lives, aren’t we? We go about as if every little thing that happens to us was the most important thing in the universe. But, when you look at it, our presence on this planet is a fluke, a really big and long fluke and, therefore, every little thing that happens to us could not be happening, or could not happen in the near future.

In this blog you can read about 4 zombie apocalypses that have actually happened. Though these were real and certainly scary, mankind as a whole did not face extinction then. For example, the Black Plague, terrible as it was, destroyed about half of the population and there were entire continents unaffected. Here we’re talking about events that threatened to destroy mankind completely, to wipe us out for good.

Ready to get scared? Here we go

Toba Catastrophe Theory

1. Catastrophe in Toba

The first near-extinction event happened about 70.000 years ago and is known as the Toba Catastrophe Theory. It took place at the site of lake Toba (Sumatra) and consisted in a super-eruption that brought forth a global cooling. The result: the human population was reduced to 2.000 individuals. Do you know how small is such a population? Only in the U.S. there are 17.000 towns and villages with a bigger population. With this size, you could put 55 humanities in the Cowboys Stadium.

Peasant blouse walker from The Walking Dead

2. The Doomsday Clock

Do you know what is the Doomsday Clock? It’s a clock face, maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, that represents how close scientists think we are to a global catastrophe. The closer the clock is to midnight, the closer we are to extinction. It was created in 1947 and it started 7 minutes to midnight. Its best moment was in 1991, with 17 minutes to midnight. It was the year that saw the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Good times. Its worst moment was 1953. Both the United States and the Soviet Union tested their thermonuclear devices. It was the first time in history mankind had the power to destroy itself completely.

The New York Times explains the U.S. blockade on Cuba

3. The night of the uncertain tomorrow

There was a night where the world went to bed without knowing if they would wake up the next morning. It’s been widely acknowledged as the closest we have been to a full nuclear war. During 13 days in October 1962 the world seemed utterly doomed: the Soviet Union deployed ballistic missiles on Cuba and the American government responded with a military blockade. The worst moment of a really bad couple of weeks was Black Saturday (Oct. 27), when an American U-2 spy plane was shot down on Cuba. Everybody on the planet crossed their fingers and hoped for the best. The best didn’t happen, but the worst didn’t either.

The Large Hadron Collider

4. Black Holes on the Loose

This one is a little controversial. Remember the CERN? It’s that place in Europe where they have a huge particle accelerator called the Large Hadron Collider. Did you know it’s the biggest machine ever built? It spans across 17 miles and two countries. It reaches an energy of 13 TeV, which is… well, for us macroscopic beings not much, but a humongous amount for a particle. In fact, it’s so much that some people thought its activation had the potential to end the world and tried to avoid it with a lawsuit. There were several concerns, being the most popular the possible creation of a micro black hole inside the Earth, which is something that doesn’t sound good. The LHC began its operations and the world didn’t end. Or did it? Maybe we are trapped in some wacky dimension -which would explain a lot. Or maybe there’s a reason why people are not allowed to visit the LHC: maybe it’s not there anymore…

Climate Change

5. But we’re safe, right? Right?

Lets go back to the Doomsday Clock. Remember: 1953, the first thermonuclear bombs, the United States and the Soviet Union were enemies and the clock was set closer to midnight than it has ever been: two minutes. Those were bad times, right? Now we feel much safer, right? Well, maybe you’d like to know that right now the clock is set three minutes away from midnight. We’ve only won one minute when compared with the worst moment in history! Why is that? Climate change and the passivity of humanity has much to do with it. Maybe you’ll find a political bias here, maybe you won’t, but it’s never too soon to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.


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