5 Overhyped Disaster Predictions from Recent History

This is a guest post by Gary Nicholson, on behalf of Policy Expert.

Successful prediction of disasters can help us save money, time and in some cases, even lives. However, throughout recent history, and for as long as the media has been around, such predictions have left us wanting to run for the hills only to amount to nothing. Almost as if the powers that be are playing a little Boy Who Cried Wolf scenario. Here are some of the best examples of overhyped predictions.

Y2K bug

Image credit: roberthunt1987

The year 2000 bug, also known as the Millennium Bug, referred to a digital computer problem which was predicted to occur from 1st January 2000. The problem was suspected to come from software which used the last two digits of the year rather than all four, creating a series of problems which was believed to have the potential to cause catastrophic damage across the digital world.

As the world celebrated the new year, we also held our breath in preparation for what the year 2000 would bring. However, it soon became clear that the preparation had been for nothing. A few minor glitches were reported, however the digital world mainly continued business as usual.

The Harold Camping problem

Image credit: Lord Jim

There have been numerous doomsday scenarios over the years, all of which have so far proved to be completely incorrect. For example, Harold Camping famously predicted that on Saturday 21st May, 2011, the Rapture would come and the universe would be completely destroyed within six months. He made a similar prediction in 1994, and both have been proved to be spectacularly wrong.

Solar Storm 2012

Image credit: NASA

In March 2012 scientists fearer that a solar storm within the Earth’s magnetic field could cause substantial damage to satellites and power grids. However, later reports showed that this prediction had been wildly overhyped, as there was no significant solar activity when the storm occurred.

The Malthusian Famine

Image credit: Wikipedia

Thomas Malthus’ population theories are still used as a key basis of our understanding of the world’s population growth and our relationship with food and other resources. However, despite the highly regarded key principles that Malthus’ theories were build upon, one less successful prediction was the idea that by the 1970s mass starvation would hit the world due to the imbalanced relationship between food and people. Of course, what Malthus did not predict is the world’s ability to innovate and adapt to the ever increasing population, and this prediction proved to be well and truly incorrect.

The Energy Crisis – Crude Oil

Image credit: AZRainman

The idea that the energy crisis is over hyped is a fairly controversial topic, as it is easy to argue that this prediction is at least partly correct. However, many scientists predicted that by 2010, all crude oil would have run out, and there simply would be no more left by now. This would drastically alter our modern day lifestyles, and force us to revert back to a stripped back, more ecological way of living.

Oil is by no means an ‘easy’ resource to obtain – it’s very existence causes wide political and economic issues – however, domestically, we are still able to fulfil our highly energy dependent lifestyles, and prove this theory wrong.

What do you think of our selection of overhyped disaster predictions? Are there any you disagree with? Any you would add to the list? As ever, feel free to let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment.

All images in this post are used under Creative Commons license.

Friday Fun: The Slow Mo Guys

No game this week… instead, this week’s Friday Fun is a video from the Slow Mo Guys. If you’ve ever wondered what a bursting water balloon looks like in slow motion, popcorn, or a flaming tennis ball (yes really!)  you need to check out their YouTube channel.

The one I want to show you today involves a watermelon and hundreds of rubber bands. I really want to try this out :)

Enjoy.

Friday Fun: Qwop

Computer generated athlete running on track

Sports fever has hit Britain! Actually, it’s been a pretty good sporting summer, with the usual Wimbledon tournament, Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France, and the London Olympics (where Mr Wiggins triumphed again).

So let’s go all sporty today. This week’s Friday Fun is Qwop – a fiendishly difficult athletics game. You control a runner using the Q and W keys to move his thighs, and O and P to move his calves. It takes coordination and timing, and you’ll end up doing more than a few backflips before landing on your head.

Speaking of which, I managed to get to 11 metres before keeling over… after plenty of practice! Why not post your best distance in the comments?

–> Click to Play <–

Ice Breaker [Friday Fun]

Ice breaker

Ice Breaker is another physics-based puzzle game that has you rescuing Vikings who’ve been frozen in ice. How do you do that? Cut the ice up and guide it towards the Viking ship where the captain will break it up and free his crew-mates. Eventually you’ll move on to tougher problems involving ropes and pivots but, in the end, it’s all a case of working out how that bit of ice you’ve just cut free will fall…

A great distraction!

–> Click to Play (requires Flash and has sound) <–

Friday Fun: Qbeez

Not much explanation needed here – it’ll be pretty obvious when you get into the game. But I’ll explain anyway :) Just click on groups of two or more “Qbeez” to clear the grid before the timer runs out.

Uses flash, and has sound – though you can put the sound off without losing much of the experience.

Enjoy!

Friday Fun: Command & Conquer Alliances

Command & Conquer game - view of a base

You know, I used to love playing Dune 2 on the PC. What do you mean you’ve never heard of it? It was a realtime strategy game based on the Dune books – and the forerunner of the entire top-down realtime strategy genre. Seriously, Dune 2 is where it all started before the developers, Westwood Studios, went on to make Command & Conquer.

You can still get your hands on plenty of Command & Conquer games, but if you’re after a bit of in-browser gaming there’s a version for that too: Command & Conquer Alliances.

You’ll play against other people, or form alliances with them and, while it lacks some of the flair of the realtime games, it’s still fun to play. You won’t be building an army of Mammoth Tanks and rushing a NOD base, but there’s plenty here to keep C&C fans happy.

One word of warning, this is not a quick game. There’s every chance you’ll keep coming back for a long time.

–> Click to Play <–

Friday Fun: Hey Hey 16k

OK, you need sound (and Flash) this week… today’s Friday Fun is a song all about the halcyon days of 16k computers.

I was talking to one of the parents at nursery the other day about how tech has changed since we were little… how we lived during the time of black & white tellys, before the World Wide Web, and when the remote on the video recorder was attached by a cable.

And, of course, the computers :) Ah, they were great… I learned to program on a C64. So turn up the sound, play the video below, and enjoy the nostalgia!


Hey Hey 16kFor more of the funniest videos, click here

Friday Fun: King’s Game

Firing a cannonball

When I was little, half the fun of building a castle out of cardboard boxes was the joy of knocking it all down again. This week’s Friday Fun lets you knock down castles to your heart’s content – just line up the cannon, set the power and POW!

Unless you miss, of course, in which case the opposing king will take a shot at you.

Think Angry Birds with cannonballs… and no pigs. Come to think of it, just forget about the Angry Birds and enjoy the game ;)

You’ll need Flash and there is sound.

–> Click to Play <–

Friday Fun: Magic Pen

Magic PenMagic Pen is a surprisingly fun flash-based game where you have to get a red circle to roll to a flag. You do this by drawing elements on the page… ramps, structures, hinges, and circles… to push, hit, and roll the ball to its destination.

This is great fun, and there’s something nice about drawing your course in fake crayon :) Of course, if you’re looking for a more serious angle, this is also a great way to learn about physics, but I’m guessing you’re here to play, not learn!

Have a look, and enjoy some Friday Fun. Requires Flash.

–> Click to play <–

Let’s go racing with GPRO

Graphic of Formula 1 cars on trackI’ve mentioned on this site previously that, on occasion, I’ve wondered what it would be like to manage a Formula 1 team (see my review of Grand Prix Story). I’m still feeding that desire to know, and have recently started to play a browser game called Grand Prix Racing Online (GPRO).

GPRO is a racing management game – let’s make that clear from the start. There are “live” races, but they amount to the browser refreshing every couple of minutes, at which point you get to see how your car is doing. Forza 4, it isn’t, but it’s not meant to be. No, the point here is to train your driver, train your staff, improve your car and facilities, and try to work out the best strategy for winning races. That’s where your skill comes in, not on the track itself.

There’s a heck of a lot to think about. You obviously want the best driver you can get, but at the start of the season the drivers market is crazy with managers looking for recruits. So do you put up with a mediocre driver and come back when it’s all died down, or do you carry on and end up paying a silly salary? Which parts of the car do you upgrade… which parts can you afford to upgrade? And when parts wear out are you going to replace them with new ones or go back to some of the old ones you took off the car earlier?

Various options for managing a Formula 1 teamRace day strategy itself is, I think, the hardest part to get right. You need to set the car up… wing angles, type compound, gear ratio, and so on (fortunately it’s all done on a scale from 0 to 999 rather than getting too technical). You need to decide how much fuel you will have on board, and how much you will put in at each pit stop (yes, there’s still refuelling in this game). And you have to hope your driver doesn’t make a mistake or you get a random failure on the car. All of this combines to make the races rather interesting – what they lack in fancy graphics they make up for in personal investment in seeing your team do well. Or, in my case, not do so well.

Grand Prix Racing Online will appeal to those who enjoy management games – and particularly those who enjoy Formula 1. It’s completely free to play, works in your web browser, and there’s no harm in having a look… unless you count getting addicted :)