Wherever you look, the books and tales of history are littered with the consequences of people’s collective errors, mistakes or just their misunderstandings. Very few things on this earth impact the global society more than a lack of foresight and below are some of the most gravest things to have shaken up the the people living in those times.
In the early hours of the morning in June 1886, New Zealand was awoken harshly with the most destructive volcanic eruption ever seen on the continent. Triggered by a series of increasingly volatile earthquakes, the active volcano Mt Tarawera suddenly exploded, spewing up molten rock and ash as high up as 6.2 miles into the sky. With the death toll reported to be somewhere between 120 and 150 mostly native Maori and unimaginable terror and destruction on the local populace, the severity of the eruption is only heightened when you take into account there were so many warnings of the impending volcanic activity weeks prior to the explosion.
Arguably the most iconic and harrowing natural disaster to have ever occurred, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the subsequent destruction on now infamous locations such as Pompeii have found themselves as staple parts of our history, even two thousand years into the future. Similarly to Tarawara, such destruction is only made to seem worse when stacked next to all of the frankly obvious signs that something was building up. Examples such as the fact that the sea in the Bay of Naples began to boil prior to the eruption, the increasing amount of tremouring in the area and the reality that most animals fled the city days before Vesuvius erupted indicates that the signs were there to warn the Romans of the coming disaster.
The sinking of the Lusitania has come to represent the barbarism of the First World War and is seen by many as one of the tragedies of American history that dragged the country into a war against Germany. However, the reality is a little more complex than that. The Germans had been warning Americans of their unrestricted submarine warfare in publications such as the New York Times for weeks right up until the coastliner left for England, and the British Government even warned the captain of the ship that they were too close to the coast and should zig zag through as to avoid the German U-boats. Avoiding all of this information, the ship would eventually be sunk, leading to the deaths of over a thousand people.
More than 230,000 people were killed, 500,000 were injured, and 1.7 million were left homeless on December 26, 2004, after 9.2-magnitude earthquake caused a tsunami that affected 14 countries in Asia and eastern and southern Africa. Easily one of the most devastating natural disasters to have ever impacted the modern world, such a disaster is made even more harrowing when the reality is presented that there were plenty of warnings for the impending disaster. Seven years worth of warnings were ignored by countries who feared that such a reality would hit things such as tourism too hard.
Again seen as a surprise attack that would throw the United States into the Second World War, the bombing of Pearl Harbour bore plenty of warnings that, if listened to, could have prevented so much damage and loss of life. President Franklin D Roosevelt had been warned by many of his generals that the Japanese would target a surprise attack on Hawaii or Alaska without declaring war, and days before the actual attack Japanese planes were widely spotted doing scouting operations on specific US ports. Three days before Pearl Harbour was attacked, Roosevelt was even handed a telegram that told him that the Japanese were planning an attack on US soil.
The 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact made the sudden German invasion of Russia in 1941 look like a devious and surprising act of violence against a neutral country. The reality is that the Soviet leader at the time, Josef Stalin, had received no fewer than a hundred warnings telling him that the Nazis were planning an invasion of Russia. Putting those warnings to the side for the moment, Germany and Russia had one of the frostiest relationships in history, had been at war twenty years or so before 1941 and were completely ideological and social enemies in how their countries were set up.
On August 2nd 1990, Saddam Hussein of Iraq launched what was supposed to be one of the most surprising attacks in history against the oil-rich country of Kuwait. That is until the revelation that the USA Government had received warnings from the CIA that the invasion was planned prior to the invasion actually being carried out. The invasion by Iraq had been planned for at least five years by Hussein and, instead of listening to CIA intelligence, the $1.2 billion loan given to the dictator just days prior to August 2nd by the US arguably did more to encourage the invasion than anything else.
Televised in front of millions of people in January 1986, the Challenger explosion was responsible for taking the lives of seven brave astronauts. However, it was a tragedy that could have very easily been avoided. The explosion was caused by the formation of ice around the space shuttle’s O-rings, which were used to separate the rocket boosters from the shuttle but one of the booster's engineers, Bob Ebeling, had warned the executives of the launch that the unfavourable weather conditions would potentially lead to disaster. The deadline needs of the executives however proved to be the more important factor to them and the resulting disaster unfolded.
Gripping the world for its sheer brutal nature, the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 was a well planned out ethnic cleansing that had been in the works for at least two years by the volatile Hutu tribesmen. The warnings were first brought to the world's attention when the Belgian ambassador to Rwanda warned that the Hutus were preparing for an ethnic cleansing. Another Belgian, Professor Filip Reyntjens, also appeared before the Belgian senate and warned that the Hutus were operating death squads. He even mentioned one of their leaders as Rwandan Army Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, who would later command the genocide.
When the First World War was formally ended by the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 it was hoped that the world had endured the 'war to end all wars'. The reality of this was that the Treaty of Versailles was one of the very worst pieces of diplomacy ever conducted, laying on some of the harshest means onto a Germany that would only build up such resentment towards it that would allow a horror like Adolf Hitler to eventually seize power. Even in the immediate shadow of the signing were respectable individuals such as Ferdinand Foch who claimed that the treaty was merely an 'armistice for twenty years.'
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