When it comes to world-changing disasters, some scenarios are certainly more likely than others. With that said, it’s still a good idea to at least be aware of every possible disaster in order to avoid being caught off guard should the improbable become a reality.
Below, we’ll cover 11 disasters that are highly unlikely but still worth preparing for. To be honest, some of them are so extreme that there really isn’t much you can do to prepare but try your best.
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Now without further ado, here’s my list of unlikely disasters (in alphabetical order):
1. Alien Invasion
Our universe is massive, and the chances that we are the only intelligent species living in it are quite small. In fact, there’s quite a bit of evidence to support the idea that we have already been visited by an alien species, as documents detailing military encounters with unidentified flying objects continue to be declassified.
Should we ever encounter the full force of alien race that is hostile towards us, the outcome could be disastrous. After all, if they are the ones who find us first, there’s no questioning who is more advanced, and humanity could find itself in a war with a species that is thousands of years ahead of us in terms of military technology.
As Stephen Hawking once said, “Meeting an advanced civilization could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus. That didn’t turn out so well.”
The likelihood of an alien invasion is incredibly small given that there is still no solid proof that alien life even exists. However, the mathematical probability that there is more than one advanced civilization in our universe makes an alien invasion something that is possible.
2. Asteroid Impact
Another threat from space that is arguably more likely than an alien invasion is an impact with a large asteroid. It has happened several times in our planet’s history, and the last time it happened, the result was the extinction of most life on earth.
A major asteroid impact would dramatically alter the weather across the planet, making it largely uninhabitable for a long period of time. The good news is that NASA is very vigilant about monitoring large objects that come close to the earth’s orbit, and they are working on a number of technologies that could be used to divert the path of a large asteroid that is headed toward earth.
The odds of being struck by lightning at any point in your lifetime are about 1 in 3000. While low, this is still a little too high for comfort given how dangerous lightning strikes can be.
Of course, there are precautions you can take in order to reduce your chances of being struck by lightning such as remaining indoors during thunderstorms, avoiding tall objects such as trees when the threat of lightning is present, and avoiding taking a bath/shower or talking on a landline telephone during a lightning storm.
4. Magnetic Pole Reversal
It’s a difficult concept to understand, but every few hundred thousand years, the magnetic poles on earth swap places. This means that at some point in history, if you live in the United States, your compass is going to tell you that Mexico is to the north and that Canada is to the south.
The danger posed by these magnetic pole reversals is the fact that the earth’s magnetic field is weakened during the reversal process. This means that while the poles are flipping places – a process that can take thousands of years – life on earth is more exposed to harmful radiation from outer space. Whether a magnetic pole reversal would weaken the magnetic field enough to kill off life on earth is largely unknown.
5. Nuclear Winter
Contrary to popular belief, a few nuclear explosions is not enough to alter the weather on our planet. After all, there was a time when countries were testing nuclear bombs with a pretty high frequency.
With that said, an all-out nuclear war between two superpowers with major nuclear arsenals such as the United States and Russia could cause enough damage to throw us into a nuclear winter.
A nuclear winter occurs when nuclear explosions have thrown so much dust and debris up into the atmosphere that the sun’s rays are blocked out, causing plant life on the planet to die off.
While there are certainly enough nuclear weapons on earth to cause a nuclear winter if all of them were detonated within a short period of time, world leaders are well aware of this risk and are determined to avoid such an all-out nuclear war at all costs, making the risk of a nuclear winter rather slim…for now.
6. Plane Crash
According to The Economist, the likelihood of plane crashing at any given time is about one in 5.4 million. Taking a car out on the interstate is far more dangerous than flying on a plane, largely due to the fact that there is very little traffic in the air compared to the road.
However, planes do crash sometimes, and it’s a good idea to learn how to survive a plane crash, especially if you are a frequent flier.
7. Robot Uprising
Having artificial intelligence turn against us may sound like something out of a science fiction movie, but the reality is that it is a real threat. The day where we are able to create an AI that is more intelligent and more capable than we are is fast approaching, and there’s no guarantee that we’re going to be able to control it when we do.
In fact, a robot uprising is enough of a concern that technology giants such as Elon Musk and several others are actively working to ensure that we don’t create an AI that is capable of destroying us.
The sky is the limit when it comes to what a super-intelligent AI could do if it went rogue. Hacking into the nuclear launch facilities of every superpower on Earth and simultaneously launching every nuclear warhead in existence is just one possible way that an AI could end life on earth if it wanted to.
With that said, plenty of precautions should be enough to ensure that the AIs we create are not capable of turning against us. Here’s an interesting article about the possibility of a robot apocalypse.
8. Solar Flare
A solar flare occurs when the sun releases a violent burst of magnetic energy that is shot out into space. While solar flares are typically not strong enough to cause any noticeable effect on our planet, an especially strong solar flare could decimate power grids across the world, knocking the entire planet into darkness.
Without electricity, the majority of mankind would not survive for very long. Here’s an article about what would happen if a massive solar storm hit the Earth.
9. Super Volcano Eruption
Volcano eruptions are not uncommon and can cause serious issues for anyone living in the surrounding area. However, there are a few massive volcanos on the planet that are lying dormant. They are known as super volcanos. Should one of these super volcanos ever erupt, the consequences could be world-ending.
A supervolcano eruption would throw so much ash up into the atmosphere that the sun would be blocked out, causing plant life on earth to die off. Without plants, the rest of life on earth would soon follow. There are about twenty supervolcanoes around the world, including one in Yellowstone national park.
Tsunamis are fairly common disasters that can be devastating to coastal cities, but most tsunamis are only large enough to affect a relatively small portion of the coast. There is the possibility of a tsunami that is large enough to flood the entire east or west coast of the United States, crippling the entire country in the process and turning some of our most populated areas into flooded wastelands.
It’s a small risk given that there has never been a tsunami this large in recorded history. However, there have been many tsunamis large enough to wipe out entire cities. For example, in 2004, a tsunami in the Indian ocean killed 230,000 people in a matter of hours.
11. Zombie Apocalypse
A major plague that kills off a large portion of mankind is actually one of the more likely disasters that we might face. A major plague that turns its victims into mindless, flesh-eating monsters, however, is quite unlikely.
Nevertheless, a zombie apocalypse is not something that is entirely within the realm of fiction, as there are already viruses that can cause zombie-like symptoms in the infected. With the right mutations, a virus causing people to turn into zombies – or at least some zombie-like form – is possible.
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