Everyone expects this weekend’s shut down of the 405 freeway to be a disaster. They’re even calling it “carmageddon”.
But we were wondering if things will be nearly as bad as everybody thinks, and it reminded us of a few other times when we thought the world was coming to an end. Tell us if you were concerned about any of these forewarned disasters that in the end had zero impact on our daily lives.
Y2K: We were all still partying like it was 1999 until computer programmers warned the country about the massive glitch in the software that could cause a major shutdown of their systems. All this time, digital software had been abbreviating four-digit dates into two, and their concern about the roll-over to ’00’ would cause all storage dates to become invalid and systems would break down.
The media pounded us with warnings over major computer crashes, failed security systems of our bank accounts and more, power shutting down with fear of causing riots and looting, and to stock up on necessities in case of an emergency…but once clocked ticked down to the new millennium and the lights were still shining, we realized it was all just hype.
After nothing happened, we were just left wondering what to do with all that extra toilet paper, water and canned corn we stocked up on.
SARS: Warnings of Severe acute respiratory syndrome swept the nation in 2002 after the disease infected some 8,000 humans, with 916 confirmed deaths.
Fear was sparked that the disease would cause a pandemic of infections around the world similar to smallpox, and worried individuals promptly wore medical masks everywhere they went in public to avoid contracting the fatal disease. A short while after the first outbreaks, the disease was contained with the last known human case seen in 2003.
Thankfully, SARS wasn’t an epidemic, but a new fashion trend did sweep the nation.
Judgement Day: Just recently, believers of the Harold Camping radio network were preparing for his prediction of the Apocalypse on May 21, 2011.
Word spread across the country about his foreboding predication of the Rapture, but the four horsemen didn’t ride through and the world didn’t end, disproving Camping’s warning.
Anthrax: The U.S. was target of a serious bioterrorism threat in 2001 when cases of the lethal spores of the disease were mailed to politicians and media outlets. There were 22 victims of the attack with five confirmed deaths from the disease, which sparked terror in the U.S. of major attack that could affect millions.
False cases of a white substance being sent through mail showed up at the postal service, major news outlets and politicians’ offices. We were afraid to open the mail, but in the end the bioterrorism threat eventually died down.
Bird/Swine Flu: Strains of Avian Influenza/H5N1/influenza A, whatever you called it, started spreading in Europe in 2005 with fears of a pandemic sweeping the world. The infection spread to thousands of birds, and was a cause for alarm for humans because there was no immunity to the disease.
A similar and more recent outbreak of Swine Flu/H1N1 caused a fear of a pandemic in 2009 when cases started showing up in humans. The nation sought out the limit supply of vaccines to prevent contracting the deadly disease before the pandemic threat ended in 2010.
Remember being warned about these “catastrophes”? Which one were you most concerned about creating a huge disaster but then just fizzled out?