Our day-to-day lives seem pretty routine sometimes. Going to work, going to school, watching TV and sleeping, day in and day out. Nothing out of the ordinary ever seems to happen. Well, if you’re looking for something to shake up your routine, check out these five real-life horror movie scenarios that could potentially end us all tomorrow. Or, well, today, for that matter.
A Supervolcano Eruption
Rescue workers seach for survivors in the ash after Japan’s 2014 Mount Ontake eruption
Volcanic eruptions are categorized on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) scale that goes from 0-8, with zero being non-explosive, to eight, which is a “mega-colossal” eruption. The last level eight supervolcano eruption was Toba in Sumatra, Indonesia, and according to geologists, happened about 75,000 years ago. This eruption caused a global volcanic winter for a decade, and coincided with the onset of the last glacial period, where the earth’s temperature fell to about 35 degrees F, and remained this way for the next 1,000 years.
Estimated ash cloud spread from a modern-day Yellowstone Caldera supervolcano eruption
There are six active supervolcanoes the world today, The most worrisome is the Yellowstone Caldera in Yellowstone National Park. So what would happen if the Yellowstone supervolcano erupted today? According to geologists, the magma shouldn’t flow much farther then the park boundaries, however it is the ash and debris propelled into the atmosphere that would be the problem. The ash and sulfur dioxide cloud would cover the United States and parts of Canada, and could take up to a decade to dissipate. This would cause a change in rainfall patters, cause severe frosts, and induce famines. This occurred in 1816, after Mount Tambora’s volcanic eruption, and was called “The Year Without A Summer.” Mount Tambora was rated as a 7 on the VEI scale, and the entire global climate was affected due to its eruption. The ash and sulfur in the atmosphere killed crops, thus induced famine, global dimming from the ash cloud caused frost and an extreme drop in temperature, which caused illness and the inability to farm. Thousands died due the severe changes.
Although a supervolcano would not wipe out the entire world, (reports and movies exaggerate this) it could devastate North America for years to come.
A Large Asteroid Impact
Asteroids hit the earth a few times a year. But what would happen if an extremely large, unavoidable moon-sized asteroid was coming? We have seen the devastation an event like this would cause demonstrated in many movies, such as Armageddon, and Deep Impact. Most likely, it would kill a lot of people and cause worldwide panic. In 2013 there was the meteor impact in Chelyabinsk, Russia, which was the most destructive asteroid impact in our in modern times. The 49 foot asteroid entered the atmosphere, broke into pieces and crashed down around Russia, leaving one 26 foot crater in the ice. Its impact in an urban area caused millions of dollars worth of property damage and resulted in more than 1,000 documented injuries. In 1908, The Tunguska event was an explosion over a sparsely populated Siberian forest, and it flattened over 770 square miles of trees. It is known as an impact event, however no crater was found. The meteor, estimated to have been somewhere between 200 and 600 feet wide, is thought to have disintegrated about 3-6 miles off the ground. It produced about 185 times more energy than the Hiroshima atomic bomb (with some estimates coming in even higher). Seismic rumbles were even observed as far away as the UK. This was this biggest impact event of all time, however, no one was injured.
Insurance Quotes put together this chart of what it would really look like if there was such an event in New York City:
Along the same vein, what would happen if an asteroid hit the moon? Meteors hit the moon often, creating new craters. It would take a moon-sized asteroid to destroy the moon or knock it out of orbit. If this happened, it could send chunks of the moon hurtling toward Earth, which would be a problem. It would also threaten life on earth with disruptions to the ocean tides. Fortunately, we haven’t seen an asteroid that large, yet.
A Gamma Ray Burst
Gamma Ray Bursts are brief, intense explosions of light that for a moment, give off as much energy as the sun has given off in its entire lifetime. Some scientists believe that gamma ray bursts may have been the cause of extinction of life on earth in the past. If a gamma-ray burst exploded inside our galaxy while pointing at earth, it could do extreme damage, even from thousands of light-years away. Although gamma rays would not penetrate Earth’s atmosphere well enough to burn us, the rays would damage the ozone layer, which protects us from dangerous ultraviolet rays. Without the ozone layer protecting us, we could easily be killed by the hazardous UV rays. It’s also possible that gamma-ray bursts may produce cosmic rays, which create an experience similar to a nuclear explosion, causing radiation sickness to those on earth exposed. There is no way to predict or prevent these bursts, so lets just hope they don’t happen.
Spontaneous Human Combustion
The remains of a woman after she mysteriously caught fire and died in her home
Spontaneous Human Combustion refers to the death of a person by a fire which has no origin, and is believed to begin within the individual. This phrase was recently coined, however people have been talking about this since even the 1800s, and it is popular in works of fiction and in movies. How and why spontaneous combustion happens is still a mystery. The burning often seems to begin in the chest or stomach, and often leaves the furniture, floors, and clothes of the victims mysteriously unburned. In the past, this was said to be an “Act of God,” as there was no reasonable explanation for it. Only about a dozen real-life cases of spontaneous combustion have been investigated, and it is still an unexplainable event.
A Huge Storm
In 1362, there was a storm so big, they called it ” Grote Mandrenke” which means, “The Great Drowning of Men” (much cooler than “Hurricane Cindy.”) The windstorm decimated the British Isles, the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark. The coinciding storm in the North Sea broke up islands, swept part of the mainland out to sea, and pushed water so far inland it forever changed the shape of the shoreline. Entire cities, like the port hub of Rungholt were wiped off the map forever. The storm is estimated to have killed anywhere between 25,000 and 100,000 people.
We can do nothing to prevent these storms. For example, check out the 1958 Lituya Bay Megatsunami. This was the highest wave ever recorded, with a wake at 98 feet. Its splash removed trees up to 1,720 feet and forever altered the landscape in the Gulf of Alaska. This was in an isolated part of Alaska, so there were only two fatalities. However, what if this megatsunami, had happened in the Gulf of Mexico instead, or New York Harbor? We are completely at the mercy of the universe.
A graph showing the estimated height of the Lituya Bay megatsunami compared to well-known skyscrapers.
Sometimes we get too caught up in the routine of life. Maybe knowing that there are things that we cannot control in life makes life worth living. What do you think? What are some things that you believe could end us all tomorrow