Ten of the Most Terrible Years to Be Alive

There have been many years throughout human history that could be considered the “worst.”

Whether it’s because of conflict, disease, or famine, there have been many terrible years. In this blog post, we will take a look at ten of the worst years to be alive in human history. Keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive list – just a snapshot of some of the worst years on record!

So without further ado, here are the top ten worst years to be alive in human history.

1346 – The Bubonic Plage

Or basically any year between 1347 and 1351.

The number one year on our list is 1346 – the year that the bubonic plague began its rampage across Europe.

This devastating disease, known as the bubonic plague, ended the lives of 75-200 million people, or 30-50% of Europe’s population. It was a horrific year and easily earned the top spot on our list.

The Dance of Death by the Black Death

Some of the symptoms included the likes of fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, and of course, the telltale buboes – or swellings in the lymph nodes. Overall, the mortality rate was around the 50% mark, coupled with the other symptoms, for example, being so sick you can’t eat, making way for other conditions to infect you.

It was an excruciating way to go, and people were often buried alive because they were too sick to move.

Needless to say, it was a pretty terrible year to be alive.

1918 – War and Spanish Flu

The year 1918 was a terrible one for several reasons. First off, it was the last year of World War I – a war that took the lives of an estimated 16 million people. But if that wasn’t enough, 1918 also saw the outbreak of the Spanish Flu pandemic.

This deadly flu strain ended50-100 million people’s lives, totaling around 500 million cases, making it one of the worst pandemics in human history.

If you were to live this year, you would have seen the world around you being plunged into darkness and despair. Many people you would have known and loved would have perished, and the world as you knew it would have been forever changed.

It was truly a horrific time to be alive.

1945 – End of the War

1945 was another tough year, as it saw the end of World War II. This global conflict took the lives of 60-80 million people, which is more than any other war in human history. But that’s not all – 1945 also saw the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which wiped out210,000 people in total.

Of course, the effects wouldn’t have lasted the year for the people in these countries, but the long-term health effects and social issues continued for years. For example, many people suffered from radiation poisoning in Hiroshima, while in Nagasaki, many people were left to suffer from severe burns.

Even if you weren’t living in Japan during the time or affected by the war on your doorstep, you would have still lived in a time of fear and uncertainty.

1945 was also a year of famine worldwide as food production and distribution had been severely disrupted by the war. This led to millions of people succumbing to starvation and disease and the displacement of millions more.

So, all in all, it was a pretty tough year to be alive.

536 – Massive Eruptions

led to widespread famine, as crops failed and people were left starving.

The effects of this event lasted for years, and it’s estimated that around a quarter of the Northern Hemisphere’s population lost their lives as a result.

But that wasn’t all – a series of devastating barbarian invasions also hit the Roman Empire. The story goes that the Roman Emperor Justinian was so distraught by all that was happening that he had a nervous breakdown and passed away not long after.

When you combine all these events, it’s no wonder that this was considered to be one of the worst years to be alive in human history.

1816 – The Year Without a Summer

1816, also known as “The Year Without a Summer,” was a tough one for many parts of the world. A volcanic eruption in Indonesia led to widespread climate disruptions, resulting in failed harvests and widespread famine. An estimated 200,000 people lost their lives as a result of the conditions in 1816.

This was basically an ice age in the sense that the entire world was covered in snow. Scientifically, this was because of the amount of ash and dust that was thrown into the atmosphere, which reflected sunlight and caused global temperatures to plummet.

In Europe, the winter of 1816 was so bad that snow fell in August, and people were reported to freeze. In America, New England was hit particularly hard, with many crops failing.

1630-31 – A Bad Year for Rome

The years 1630-31 were particularly bad for the city of Rome. A severe drought led to widespread famine, taking the lives of an estimated 100,000 people. But that wasn’t all – the city was also hit by a major outbreak of the bubonic plague, which took the lives of an additional 20,000 people.

On top of all that, the city was also hit by a series of devastating earthquakes, which caused even more destruction.

So basically, it was just a really tough time to be alive in Rome.

And since the Bubonic plague was sweeping the world at the same time, it probably wasn’t going to be a good time wherever you were living.

1929 – The Great Depression

The year 1929 was a tough one for many people around the world. While a lot of the years we’ve covered so far have focused on events like famine, war, and natural disasters, this hasn’t always been the case when it comes to the worst years ever, and some events are certainly from human origins.

In this case, we’re talking about the Great Depression.

It all started when the stock market crashed. This happened because people were speculating on the stock market, and when it crashed, they lost a lot of money. This led to widespread panic, and people started withdrawing their money from banks.

This caused a domino effect, leading to bank failures and even more economic hardship. Millions of people lost their jobs, and many more were left homeless. The Great Depression lasted for years, and it was a tough time for everyone involved.

In fact, things got so bad that this global economic crisis led to widespread poverty, hunger, and unemployment. Because of what was happening, more people took their own lives, and because people weren’t eating or drinking or looking after themselves properly, many developed health conditions like scurvy.

It took many years to recover from this economic disaster, and the world is still feeling the effects of it today.

1520 – Carrying Diseases

The years after Columbus arrived in North America were devastating. However, the years 1520-1521 were particularly tough for the continent. A severe drought led to widespread famine, taking the lives of seven million people.

On top of that, the diseases that the Europeans brought with them weren’t native to The Americas, and so the natives didn’t have any kind of genetic immunity to them. So, when diseases like smallpox and measles started to spread, it was deadly.

Even today, there are tribes and communities of people who live in remote places that modern humans are not allowed to go and visit for this same reason. But, of course, we’re aware that this is the case and can do something about it. Back then, nobody knew what was going on, so it was just a really tough time to be alive.

73,000 BC – The Toba Catastrophe

We’ve spoken a lot about modern history here, so let’s do a fun little throwback, although it’s not particularly fun, nor particularly little. Seventy-five thousand years ago, there was an event that came to be known as the Toba Catastrophe.

This was basically a supervolcanic eruption that created a massive cloud of ash that covered the entire planet. This led to widespread famine and disease, reducing the human population by 60 – 90%.

Yes, you read that right. Up to 90%.

Scientists have actually estimated that the event meant that only as little as 3,000 to 10,000 human beings were actually left, and when you consider that animal populations have to drop to 2,500 to be considered endangered, there was a time when our species got very close to that mark.

You may be wondering how scientists were even able to figure out how this was possible? Well, they looked at the Toba ash deposits that were found all over the world, and they also looked at the genetic diversity of people living today.

They compared this to what would be expected if there was no bottleneck in human history, and they found that there is a significant difference between the two. This means that it’s very likely that we came very close to extinction at one point in time, which means that it was definitely one of the worst years to be alive.

1783 – The Laki Eruption

In 1783 the Laki Volcano erupted. Sure, volcanoes worldwide erupt all the time, some big, some small, but the Laki Volcano was different.

Laki can be found in Iceland, and when it erupted, it released a huge amount of poisonous gas into the atmosphere.

This was a particularly big eruption, and it released around 120 million tons of sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere. This had a profound effect on the global climate, cooling the Earth by an estimated 0.52 degrees Celsius.

The eruption caused widespread crop failure, leading to famine. It’s thought that this event was actually one of the contributing factors to the French Revolution.

This was because, at the time, France was going through a period of drought, and so when the Laki Volcano erupted and caused global cooling, it made the drought even worse. This led to widespread poverty and hunger, which in turn led to unrest and eventually revolution.

This is quite astounding to think that one event could have such a profound effect on human history.

So, there you have it. These are the ten worst years to be alive in human history. From nuclear devastation to the economic crisis, from volcanic eruptions to devastating plagues, it’s safe to say that these were some tough times for our species.

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