3 Natural Disasters (That Almost Ended The World)

History could’ve unfolded very differently…

Matt Lillywhite
Lessons from History
3 min readMar 21



Several natural disasters almost caused humanity to go extinct.

Take the Toba Supervolcano as an example. Located in Indonesia, it’s infamous for one of the most violent eruptions in Earth’s history. It also contributed to a 1,000-year cooling episode due to ash clogging up the atmosphere. Quoting Dr. Drew Shindell, a climatologist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies:

“We have a lot of evidence that genetic bottlenecks, when large fractions of the species alive on Earth at the time were wiped out, are correlated with volcanism. If another super-eruption were to occur, it would definitely have the potential to wipe out vast numbers of species living on the Earth.”

Here are some other examples of natural disasters that almost ended the world:

Humanity Almost Froze To Death During A Terrifying Ice Age

Approximately 195,000 years ago, the Earth entered a cooling period that rendered much of Africa uninhabitable.

“Genetic studies of modern human DNA tell us that at some point during this period, human populations plummeted from more than 10,000 breeding individuals to as few as 600,” per CBC. “Homo sapiens became a highly endangered species and we almost went extinct.”

What does all of that mean? Every human can trace their ancestry back to that small group of survivors. However, it also means humans have less genetic diversity than many other species, including our closest evolutionary relative, the chimp.

Artists depiction of humans during the ice age via IStockPhoto

Hundreds of Comet Fragments Almost Collided With Earth In 1883

Our planet narrowly avoided an extinction-level event several hundred years ago.

The comet fragments were first spotted in Mexico. Astronomer Jose Bonilla saw hundreds of objects, each surrounded by mist, passing across the face of the Sun. The scientific community of 1883 initially dismissed Bonilla’s…



Matt Lillywhite
Lessons from History

I'm trying to visit 100+ countries. You can find my work in Publishous, Mind Cafe, and other publications on Medium.