If there is one thing that man’s history has revealed, it’s that the world doesn’t really like us. It’s constantly bombarding us with hurricanes and lightning bolts. It has spawned deadly viruses and allowed multiple “Real Housewives” shows to exist. But, as it turns out, the Earth is actually very creative in how it chooses to kill us. Sometimes it takes decidedly circuitous routes in planning our demise.
When an earthquake strikes, most people cower in doorways, or other strong points in their homes. Like an oyster facing a shucking knife, earthquakes are able to render our dwellings useless - and even turn them into deathtraps. Images of buildings toppling over and burying people are the cause of a great deal of earthquake related fatalities.
Still, more fantastic interpretations depict large fissures opening up and swallowing people and buildings whole. Because of the hundreds of major fault-lines across the globe and the constant movement of the earth’s tectonic plates, there will always be the danger of earthquakes. It’s a problem that won’t go away, like herpes or the Westboro Baptist Church. But some of the deadliest earthquakes are the ones that create fires.
Earthquakes rupture gas pipes and topple power lines- creating massive fires, like the one that demolished all of San Francisco in 1906. It is rumored that the fire was ignited by the damaged caused by the earthquake, but spread by the obscene amount of large, oiled, mustaches present in the city.
The 1906 earthquake killed over 3000 people, but estimates say the fire was responsible for 90% of the damage, not the actual quake. This combination is so terrible because the earthquake augments the destructive power of the fire by creating kindling, slowing firefighters, and trapping people in debris.
Common knowledge suggests that landslides demolish and bury buildings and people. At WeirdWorm we like to think that a landslide is just the Earth trying to hug us really aggressively - probably to thank us for treating it so well.
While landslides can swallow entire villages by themselves, there is a way for them to become even deadlier. How? When a large mass of dirt and rock falls into a body of water very quickly the water is displaced and starts racing away from the slide. One such volcano-induced landslide occurred thousands of years ago in the Greek islands, causing the Minoan civilization to be wiped from the map. It is even rumored that this event acted as the inspiration for Plato’s writings on Atlantis.
Even though it seems the only disasters Americans have to worry about are oil spills and hurricanes (and the deadly ‘flaming hurricane’ when the two meet), one of the Canary Islands, La Palma, is poised for a massive landslide which would send a large tidal wave right into the eastern seaboard. Let’s just hope whoever our current President has enough left in the tank to deal with such a catastrophe.
We know that tag-team disasters can be more destructive than Macho-man Randy Savage and Ray Mysterio with folding chairs. However, disasters can also use animals as a means to make themselves more destructive. This is particularly true in the case of the tsunami - a massive wave that can only be stopped by Kurt Russell.
When a tsunami hits, large waves topple smaller dwellings and flood inland areas. Because many of the hotspots for tsunamis are in impoverished nations, there is little infrastructure to recover from tsunamis or ample reliable cover for people fleeing the wave.
People drown, but often people perish long after the waves have stopped coming in. All the still water creates a perfect breeding ground for one of nature’s largest killers - the mosquito. The mosquito then spreads malaria, a disease that kills between one and two million people a year without any help from massive tidal action. After the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, some areas reported increased mosquito activity. This side effect can mean that even a year after a tsunami, people are still dying from the wave.