We all believe that at some point in the future that the world is, in fact, going to end; because of that many of us don’t worry about the end as we know full well that we can’t control such things. After all, this isn’t the movie Armageddon where the fate of the world lies in the hands of Bruce Willis or Ben Affleck. Some of us choose not to worry about things that are out of our hands and instead focus on the days we do have left. But throughout history, there have been many people who believe they know how the world is going to end and have predicted the way in which we will all go out. These people don’t really have an eye into the future, but that doesn’t stop them from shouting these predictions from the rooftop.
Time and time again predictions have been made about future disasters that have been terrifying, leaving us wondering whether our time on earth has finally come to an end. Nostradamus made a career out of making predictions, and he’s not the only one. Many politicians such as Winston Churchill and economists like Irving Fisher also had some predictions of their own. There have been many crazy predictions over the years that many people were sure were going to happen. None came true and yet it doesn’t stop people from coming up with predictions that can chill us to the bone. Check out some of these incredible predictions that turned out to be hogwash.
15. Environmental Disasters
In the 1970s we first recognized Earth Day and since then have been celebrating it. It’s the belief that if we all come together that we can not only eradicate global warming but set the Earth back to the way it was. There is much fear about the fact that the world could end because of environmental disasters because of all the damage humans have done to the environment. In the 70s, a Washington University biologist named Barry Commoner wrote of his belief that we would not survive much longer on Earth due to the state of it. “We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation.” Almost 50 years later and here we still are in a world that is hardly on the brink of crisis.
14. The Stock Market Crash of 1929
Irving Fisher was known to be a great economist with an even greater mind. Milton Friedman considered him to be, “the greatest economist the United States has ever produced.” The reason why he was thought to be a great mind was that he contributed many things to the world such as the Fisher separation theorem. Despite his great mind, Fisher destroyed people’s opinion of him when he stated that “stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” He made that statement just three days before the biggest stock market crash in U.S history in 1929. People branded him as a source that was no longer credible when the crash hit, and it took years for him to get his reputation back despite the fact that he tried to put a positive spin on things. In wasn’t until after his death in the 50s that people looked into his work again and saved his reputation.
13. Food Shortages
In 1969, Paul Ehrlich wrote an essay that stated that we wouldn’t make it passed the 80s because we’d be running out of food. It stated quite sternly that if something wasn’t done our over-populated Earth would eat ourselves into oblivion. The essay stated, “Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born.” That’s a shocking statement considering many of us would have been included in that theory. He believed that our food supply would run out and that we wouldn’t even get through the 80s. “By… some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.” We’ve lived beyond the 80s, and a food shortage doesn’t appear to be a worry any longer.
Remember Y2K? How freaked out people were when the world was supposed to take a digital collapse when 1999 turned into the year 2000? Many people believed that the 2000’s would be the end of us. This was one of the greatest predictions that failed to go anywhere. The reason for this weird prediction was because most software that was invented at the time was written with the last two digits being ’98 instead of using four digits. Many people believed that the digital world would react as if we were returning to the 1900s instead of moving into 2000. If that happened, then who knows what could follow. This was more of a financial issue, but it caused a paranoia that spread all over the world; books were even written about how to survive Y2K. Edmund X DeJesus stated that “Y2K is a crisis without precedent in human history.”
This one has some connection to the food shortage crisis. Peter Gunter, a professor at North Texas State University, wrote about a possible famine in the 70s. He was sure that there would be a widespread famine that could potentially wipe us all out. “Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: “by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions…By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.” Not the best prediction made by Peter considering there has never been a famine in North America and we are now almost seventeen years beyond his prediction with no sign of such a thing occurring.
10. The Collapse of the United States
Yes, that would be quite the downfall, and yet it was certainly a prediction for the year 2010. Igor Panarin thought just that in 1998 when he wrote about it. He believed that the United States was about to fight a civil war and he believed that if that happened that the wealthier states would start withholding taxes from the unions. This would cause a domino effect that would cause the whole United States to collapse by the time 2010 came around. The States would be split up six different ways and run by countries such as Hawaii and China. Igor wrote about his theory often, “There’s a 55 to 45 percent chance right now that disintegration will occur.” Could you imagine the States being split up six ways and then run by other countries? It seems absurd. That was quite a prediction that virtually went nowhere seven years ago.
9. Air Pollution
The 70s were big for theories around how the world was going to end. Life Magazine was well ahead of the theories however when they reported an alarming theory that scientists were making at the time. In January of 1970, an issue came out that stated air pollution would be the demise of all of us. “Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….” Considering the way the world is now, it’s shocking how scientists could have believed that we wouldn’t even be able to see the sun by the early 90s. A prediction like that during that time must have been horrifying, to say the least. It’s a good thing that it turned out to be nothing.
8. The Smog Epidemic
There’s no doubt about it, cities such as New York and Los Angeles definitely have some cause for concern when it comes to smog advisories. When it comes to any big city you’re bound to have some issues with smog. But would it ever start wiping out the population? That’s something else entirely. During the 70s, Paul Ehrlich believed that smog was going to be the death of thousands of people. His scenario detailed that by the time 1973 rolled around, the smog in Los Angeles and New York will have killed 200,000 people. “Air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.” He was wrong of course, though I’m sure the smog has certainly caused a lot of health problems; I don’t think we are in any kind of epidemic crisis when it comes to air pollution.
7. Online Shopping
Although this isn’t a prediction that would affect whether or not the world would end, it’s certainly an interesting one. In 1966, it was considered to be laughable that there would ever come a time when online shopping was popular. Based off of how women did their shopping in the 60s, it was seen as inconceivable that a woman would sit in her PJs with a glass of wine and shop till she dropped. Time magazine did an article about the oncoming trend and stated, “Remote shopping, while entirely feasible, will flop—because women like to get out of the house, like to handle merchandise, like to be able to change their minds.” Online shopping hasn’t taken over; many people will still go to the mall to do their shopping, but we can’t ignore how huge online shopping has become. During a 2010 survey, it was determined that over $170 billion a year is spent online in the U.S alone.
6. Life Expectancy
Paul Ehrlich had many theories in the 70s, and it appeared that most of them didn’t have a leg to stand on. He was at it again during an interview with Audubon magazine in May of 1970. At that time, he was discussing his theories on life expectancy. He believed that our life expectancy was decreasing significantly as time went on. His theory was based on the idea that chlorinated hydrocarbons would be the reason for our decrease in life expectancy. He stated that life expectancy “may have substantially reduced the life expectancy of people born since 1945.” Anyone born after that time shouldn’t expect to live longer than 49, and if we happened to make it to the year 1980, then the life expectancy would have dropped to 42. It’s a relief to know that Paul was certainly wrong about that theory.
5. Television Watching is Just a Trend
Can you even imagine a world in which TV does not exist? People almost lose their minds waiting for The Walking Dead to return and yet there was a time when people believed that TV watching was just another trend that would eventually go away. One studio executive was baffled by the idea that watching TV would ever become important. Darryl F. Zanuck told people that, “Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” Well, the joke is certainly on him, and if he could see things now, he would probably be rolling around in his grave. Zanuck wasn’t the only person with that opinion either. The New York Times held the same opinion in 1939 when they ran an article saying, “The problem of TV was that people had to glue their eyes to a screen and that the average American wouldn’t have time for it.”
4. No Available Oil
Before the 2000s hit, many people worried that there would come a time when we would run out of crude oil. Where would we be if we didn’t have access to such things? Would we have to go back to the horse and buggy days? It would probably be a big plus for the environment if we did, but our way of living would come to a grinding halt. In the 70s there was an ecologist by the name of Kenneth Watt who stated that by the year 2000 we would no longer have any crude oil to use up. “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, ‘Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, ‘I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’”
3. The End of the World
It wouldn’t be the first time that a prophet or a mystic predicted the end of the world, but one, in particular, was from the 1500s. A 16th century clairvoyant by the name of Ursula Southeil, otherwise known as Mother Shipton, predicted the end of the world. She had many prophecies, and they were later published in a book 80 years after her death in 1561. The book stated one of her prophecies as, “The end of the world will surely come, in eighteen hundred and eighty-one.” Obviously, that never happened, and oddly enough the fact that her prophecies were wrong weren’t enough to discredit this mystic. Not only do other mystics credit her for some of the prophecies she did get right but many put her statue up in front of their place of business to remember her by. Her hometown of Knaresborough even has a full-size statue of her in their town.
2. Atomic Bombs
We are all aware of the power of an atomic bomb; it’s something we all fear during time of war. Atomic bombs are so powerful in fact that six years after their invention they were solely responsible for the unconditional surrender of Japan during the war. Many bombs had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing thousands of people and destroying the entire area. Not everyone believed in atomic energy however and one of our greatest war leaders, Winston Churchill was one of them. Whether or not he had much knowledge about atomic energy, he didn’t have a problem with sharing his opinion on it. During 1939, atomic energy was being tested for use as a weapon and Churchill didn’t hesitate to let people know how unimpressed he was with it. “Atomic energy might be as good as our present-day explosives,” he said, “but it is unlikely to produce anything very much more dangerous.”
1. The Titanic
How could we possibly forget one of the biggest blunders in history, one that cost thousands of lives as well as inspired many books and movies? Nearly 100 years after the Titanic sunk, it’s still considered to be a modern day example of how not to depend on human arrogance. There were so many people that had such high hopes for the ship, and its huge reputation was eventually it’s undoing. Edward J. Smith is the iconic ship captain who ended up going down with the ship that fateful night and even he talked the ship up. “I cannot conceive of any vital disaster happening to this vessel. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that.” Not that he could be held solely responsible for the sinking. Even the ship’s builder, Philip Franklin, thought the ship would be indestructible. “There is no danger that Titanic will sink. The boat is unsinkable, and nothing but inconvenience will be suffered by the passengers.” All the experts looked pretty foolish however when the Titanic ended up at the bottom of the ocean.