Worst Man-Made Disasters In History

Illustration for article titled Worst Man-Made Disasters In History

Man-made disasters, ones in which human activity (or inaction) causes or indirectly leads to environmental destruction and health issues, can have devastating long-term effects. The Onion looks back at the worst man-made disasters in modern history.


Castle Bravo (1954):

This American thermonuclear hydrogen test at the Marshall Islands caused significant radiological contamination, which is why it was so smart to test it someplace that wasn’t the U.S.

Ecocide In Vietnam (1950s-1970s):

The U.S. justified its mass destruction of farmland during the Vietnam War by insisting it was vital to defeat the growing dangers posed by rice.

Shrinking Of The Aral Sea (1960s-Present):

Boo-hoo, some water disappeared, get over it already.

Thomas Jefferson Middle School (1972-Present):

Asbestos, lead paint, black mold—the whole nine yards.

Bhopal Disaster (1984):

You really don’t even want to know about this.

Chernobyl Nuclear Explosion (1986):

This catastrophic nuclear explosion was a large-scale tragedy contaminating many people, but you should totally Google it if you wanna see some real gnarly tumors.


Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (1989):

This devastating incident caused the deaths of at least 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbor seals, and a bunch of other, less photogenic animals.


Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (2010):

The moment when oil companies discovered there is truly no limit to human indifference.


Battleship (2012):

Hasbro tried to cash in on one of its most tried-and-true board games, but even Liam Neeson and Rihanna couldn’t bring light to this disaster of a film.


Old Poland Spring Bottle Spill (2096):

Some idiot forgets to screw the cap all the way back on the bottle containing Earth’s last remaining fresh water.