Today let’s talk about a few disasters that befell our ancestors; ancestors with whom we would not trade places for all the goddamn gold in the world. Man, history, you’re terrifying sometimes.
5 Impact Event
And let’s round this out with the granddaddy of them all, last only because no humans were killed when a giant killer death asteroid collided with the Yucatan Peninsula about 65 million years ago. The impact quickly changed the Cretaceous Period into the Pretty Much Everything Dies Period thanks to the billions of tons of debris thrown into the atmosphere and the likely dark, frigid years that followed this proverbial celestial kick in the pants.
4 The Great San Francisco Quake
And now another “Great,” the Great San Francisco Quake of 1906. This was a hella big earthquake, to use the proper, pre-Richter scale lingo of the times. The violent shaking lasted more than a full minute – many times longer than a usual quake – and came bearing the gifts of frequent tremors and aftershocks. Oh, and then a huge fire broke out. Up to 3,000 people may have died, though the official count is lower (many of the city’s denizens were poor and lived largely in isolated immigrant communities) but one thing we can officially certify is that it totally sucked to be in Frisco on April 18, 1906.
3 Great Fire of London
And why stop the wagon train of terrible things happening in Europe there? In 1666, London was ravaged by the aptly (pejoratively) named Great Fire of London. Hundreds and hundreds of homes and shops were destroyed or badly damaged, one of course being the bakery of a Mr. Thomas Farriner, whose shop was where the fire started. Needless to say, his popularity dropped after the inferno. Only a handful of people died in the conflagration, though, which is just was well, really, because there had been yet another damn plague outbreak just the year before, and the Brits had had quite enough of dying en masse for the decade, thank you very much.
2 The Black Death
The Bubonic Plague. Yersinia Pestis. A deadly-as-hell rose by any other name, right? This one rolled out a bit more slowly than a volcanic eruption, and in fact it rolled out several times in a big way, and still exists in some pockets of earth. But the bad one? It peaked around 1350 and killed almost half of Europe’s population. Maybe as much as 65%. Think about that for a second, and there’s no way I’m gonna try to sew humor into this’n right now… HALF the population of a CONTINENT… dead. In about two or three years. VERY bad times.
1 Mt. Vesuvius
The year was AD 79. The place was Rome. The Roman Empire, that is, of course, not the capitol city of Rome. At the time, the Romans were only a few generations into their imperial period, were rapidly expanding their empire, were still largely unaware of this new “Christianity” that would soon be complicating things, and were generally all saying to one another “Hey, being Roman? Pretty great stuff, ain’t it?” Except that they were speaking Latin, and my Latin is a bit rusty so let’s leave it at the paraphrasing. All of the sudden, just when the Romans of Pompeii were feeling their most “Rome is lovely” of sentiments, slammo! Or rather boom. (To be fair, there had been some earthquakes and other indications that something not good was going to happen.) The volcano blew its top, spreading rock, ash, lava, and death for up to twenty miles, killing some 16,000 people. Which in today’s people is like taking out a million. Bad times indeed.