Incredible Things That Happened Because Of Disasters

10 Disasters That Had Unexpected Consequences 10 Chernobyl Sunflowers The Chernobyl disaster of 1986 is probably the world’s worst environmental disaster, but have you ever heard about Chernobyl Sunflowers? – I know, combining Nature with Chernobyl doesn’t look right

right? Well, you may be surprised First, let’s have a look back to 1986’s event The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station, located in north-western Ukraine, was carrying on some tests when a management failure and operator error led to a massive explosion A huge amount of radioactive material burst into the atmosphere and floated across the northern hemisphere for eight days The consequences were enormous and affected millions of people, with a total of 6 million deaths Now, 34 years later the area around the nuclear power station is covered in sunflowers

A sight for sore eyes, yes, but not only that In fact, in the mid-1990’s, soil scientists devised the idea that sunflowers soak up toxins from the ground, which could have helped to increase the quality of air and speed up the depuration process around the area The 1990’s project paid off because, as it turned out, sunflowers can truly pull radioactive contaminants out of the soil 9 Pompeii A volcanic eruption that in just 24 hours covered a whole town in ashes and rocks

Sounds like the perfect plot of a movie They should do it! Oh, waitthey’ve already done that and it wasn’t such a great idea after all… The actual story of Pompeii is way more fascinating than its movie adaptation

First of all, because it’s real, and second, because the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD turned out to be more than just a natural disaster As a matter of fact, the ancient town is currently a UNESCO World Heritage Site Why? Amazingly, Pompeii is almost fully preserved thanks to the volcanic ashes and pumice which, combined with other rocks and gasses, buried the city and its residents under 4 to 6 meters for seventeen centuries Until 1748, when the first group of explorers reached the site, Pompeii remained mostly untouched

Now, centuries later, the archaeological excavations continue bringing to light precious information about the Roman city, frozen at the moment it was buried Pompeii also offers an extraordinarily detailed insight into the everyday life of its inhabitants, marking historical insights that would not have been possible had the mountain never erupted 8 The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill In April 2010, while drilling a deep exploratory well in the Gulf of Mexico, the rig known as Deepwater Horizon exploded Usually, there’s a device – the blowout preventer – that should automatically seal the well when this happens

However, on that occasion, the device didn’t work Luckily, of the 126 crew members, only 12 died, and 17 got injured But the real catastrophe came later Over 87 days, the rig released between 134 million and 206 million gallons of oil into the gulf Predictably, the ones who suffered the most were the animals

Over 800,000 birds, 65,000 turtles, and 12% of the area's brown pelican population died Further research also suggests that the Oil Spill had an impact on PEOPLE’s health too For example, some of the people who worked in the Gulf lost their jobs, causing untold mental health pressure Others, such as clean up workers were directly exposed to the oil and SAW the impact it caused Many residents reported feeling depressed and anxious, probably suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder

7 The Year Of The Locust If you’re not fond of insects you’re gonna hate this story Yes, it is as bad as it sounds Firstly, you have to know that, during the late 19th century, crop-destroying insects were pretty common in America People worldwide have always struggled to prevent insects from eating their products since the very beginning of agriculture But, no matter how accustomed with bugs the American population was, nothing could prepare them for the Great Plains of summer 1874 Spring that year had been particularly dry and arid throughout the American heartland, from Montana across to Minnesota and down to Texas It was the perfect environment for Rocky Mountain locusts to lay their eggs in large numbers throughout the States

When the eggs hatched, it was a PANDEMONIUM Trillions of locusts laid siege particularly to Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska Accounts of the time reported the bugs travelled in roaring clouds so thick they could, somewhat unexpectedly block out sunlight for several hours As if that wasn’t already enough, they attacked entire fields of crops, devouring local vegetation and even clothes off of people’s back Ugh! 6

The Great Smog Of 1952 It is well-known that London is a polluted city Air pollution was already an issue during the 13th century, as the city kept expanding the situation only got worse In December 1952, London air pollution reached its highest when a mass of sooty smog formed and covered the entire city for five days Usually, pollution is an invisible threat, but this had the unexpected effect of reducing visibility in some places to almost zero Many Londoners began to suffer respiratory illness after breathing in it

Hospitals overcrowded and many children and elderly people died from lung inflammation Experts estimated the Great Smog killed more than 12,000 people and hospitalized 150,000 The deadly miasma was the result of unnaturally stagnant conditions Rather than dispersing into the atmosphere, as usual, billowing clouds of smoke and pollution gathered over the city and refused to budge London’s physical geography and weather didn’t help either

The city is located on a large river valley that limits air circulation In addition, a mass of cold air had blanketed the whole region, trapping the warmer polluted air in the city 5 Mount Tambora Eruption Here we are, once again reporting a volcanic eruption But, if Pompeii kinda “survived” the Vesuvius’ explosion in terms of preservation, Indonesia's island of Sumbawa was completely destroyed when Mount Tambora exploded, in 1815

Mount Tambora, at the top of the island, exploded in the largest most-powerful volcanic eruption in recorded history The blast killed at least 10,000 islanders and destroyed the homes of 35,000 It hurled a gigantic ash cloud that migrated across the globe, so large it blocked the sun’s rays Without the right amount of sunlight temperatures drastically decreased by roughly three degrees, causing weather distortions on an epic scale the following year In India, droughts and floods changed the ecology of the Bay of Bengal, which helped the diffusion of a new strain of cholera that killed millions

Europe was subjected to horrific rainfall and persistent cold that brought on famine The United States faced heavy snow in June, killing crops and triggering an economic downturn It’s no surprise that 1816 became later known as the “Year Without a Summer” 4 The Carrington Event Seeing the Northern Lights it’s the chance of a lifetime to many

It’s not easy and, definitely, not cheap However, in 1859, the majority of the world had the chance to witness something very similar, for free, in the comfort of their homes In late August and early September of 1859, it happened that the planet was bombarded by the largest solar storm on record, which caused the so-called “Carrington Event” The phenomenon was named after British astronomer Richard Carrington, who discovered and studied it The phenomenon was caused by solar flares, that usually occur when pent-up magnetic energy in the sun’s surface is unleashed in blasts of radiation and charged particles

The resulting explosions are equivalent to the force of millions of hydrogen bombs, and the solar winds they create can wreak havoc on Earth’s atmosphere The skies glowed with shimmering, multi-coloured auroras as far south as Hawaii In Colorado, the lights were so bright that witnesses reported they could easily read common print at night Cool, right? There were side effects though For example, telegraph stations and machines meltdown

3 The Tunguska Event Let’s stay focused on weird bright lights in the sky… On June 30th 1908, around 7 am, a blinding light streaked across the skies of Siberia and exploded over the Podkamennaya Tunguska River The shock wave that followed carried a force hundreds of times more powerful than the later Hiroshima atomic bomb It obliterated nearly 500,000 acres of forests but, amazingly, no one was killed

Even more surprising? Experts suspected the explosion was caused by a meteor strike but, in 1927, when a Russian expedition finally reached the remote blast site, there was no sign of an impact crater Nonetheless, the scientific community remains confident that the “Tunguska Event” resulted from a meteorite It might have been an icy comet that evaporated upon impact, or, more likely, a meteor around 20 to 30 meters in diameter that exploded in the upper atmosphere and broke into tiny pieces Whatever the cause was, the effects of the explosion were felt across the globe But the most unexpected part of this was that considering this happened in Russia, atmospheric and seismic devices were tripped and malfunctioned as far away as England

2 Lake Nyos Disaster Oh, a lake? That’s new! – Yes… and no The fact is that the “Lake Nyos Disaster” involved a lake, of course, but, it was mainly caused by a volcano – A volcano? AGAIN? Yeah, I knowbut hear me out because it’s a bit more complicated than that On August 21st 1986, the volcanic lake in Cameroon belched a cloud of carbon dioxide that asphyxiated more than 1,700 PEOPLE

The CO2 was likely generated by volcanic activity BUT, usually, the turn of the seasons alters the density of the surface water so that it periodically mixes with the waters below In that case, the mixing did not occur because of the constant tropics temperatures of the water Therefore, the CO2 gas built up in the water, hovering close to the lake’s floor Then, something – maybe a sudden landslide of rock or an increase of volcanic activity – triggered the bubbles of CO2, which reached the surface

There, the gas formed a suffocating cloud, whose volume could have been as large as 12 cubic kilometres The deadly cloud killed people, livestock, and other animals within a 24-kilometre radius 1 The Red Toxic Flood You know when they say it’s never too late to change? Well, this disaster proved it is true, indeed

Otherwise, how could you explain the drastic changes in the town of Devecser, Hungary? I mean, in 2010, the toxic activity surrounding the town was so high that, when a retaining wall gave way at the Ajkai Timföldgyar aluminium plant, the town was completely flooded by the stream of red toxic sludge At least 10 people were killed, with more than 120 others injured after they made contact with the sludge, which burned the skin and caused eye irritation Finally, the mud stream – made up of waste products, such as lead from bauxite refining – made it into local rivers and streams, killing many plants and animals along the way The event was a huge disaster, nothing like that had happened before But there was another unexpected outcome

Devecser’s citizens must have taken the flood as some sort of sign because, four years later, the town had turned into a hub for sustainable energy – solar vegetable dehydration plant, geothermal energy, and more to come

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