The world map might look differently had the Greek volcano Thera not erupted 3,500 years ago (1645 BC) in what geologists believe was the single-most powerful explosive event ever witnessed. Thera dwarfed the atomic bomb. Thera didn’t just blow a massive hole into the island of Santorini – it set the entire ancient Mediterranean onto a different course in history. The legend of Atlantis and the story of the Biblical plagues and subsequent exodus from Egypt also have been connected to the epic catastrophe.
Minoan culture, the dominant civilization in the Mediterranean at the time, crumbled as a result of the eruption, changing the political landscape of the ancient world indefinitely. Environmental effects were felt across the globe, as far away as China and perhaps even North America and Antarctica.
There are no first-person accounts of what happened that day, but scientists can compare it to the detailed records available from the famous eruption of Krakatoa, Indonesia, in 1883. Krakatoa killed upwards of 40,000 people in just a few hours, produced colossal tsunamis 40 feet tall, spewed volcanic ash across Asia, and caused a drop in global temperatures and created strangely colored sunsets for three years. The blast was heard 3,000 miles away.
Thera’s eruption was four or five times more powerful than Krakatoa, exploding with the energy of several hundred atomic bombs in a fraction of a second.
An absence of human remains and valuables like metal suggest that the Minoan residents of Santorini predicted the eruption and the island had been evacuated, but the culture as a whole did not fare as well. The powerful Minoan civilization declined suddenly soon after Thera blew its top. Tsunamis spawned by the eruption would have swamped its naval fleet and coastal villages. A drop in temperatures caused by the massive amounts of Sulphur dioxide spouted into the atmosphere led to several years of cold, wet summers in the region, ruining harvests. The lethal combination overran every mighty Minoan stronghold in less than 50 years.
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The Black Death, also known as the Great Plague, the Black Plague, or the Plague, was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 200 million people in Eurasia and peaking in Europe from 1347 to 1351. The bacterium Yersinia pestis, which results in several forms of plague, is believed to have been the cause. The plague created a series of religious, social and economic upheavals, which had profound effects on the course of European history.
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The Earth’s climate has changed throughout history. Just in the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end of the last ice age about 7,000 years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate era — and of human civilization. Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small variations in Earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives. A change in orbit is expected relatively soon.
The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions released into the atmosphere. Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with the five warmest years on record taking place since 2010. Not only was 2016 the warmest year on record, but eight of the 12 months that make up the year — from January through September, with the exception of June — were the warmest on record for those respective months.
The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass. Data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment show Greenland lost an average of 281 billion tons of ice each year between 1993 and 2016, while Antarctica lost about 119 billion tons during the same time period. The rate of Antarctica ice mass loss has tripled in the last decade.
Is our twenty-first century civilization facing another REAL change?
Mariner will not speculate on the changes to civilization overall, which will be dramatic, but some effects already have been determined by scientists:
By 2100 worldwide shortages in potable water will be severe.
By 2100 every major coastal city in the world will be flooded.
By 2100 every major agricultural belt will be severely diminished. For example, the average temperature across the US wheat belt will average 104° with no let up during winter.
Take note that these changes are worldwide. How will civilization change? How will concepts like nations and economy and civil liberty change?