Maybe it’s retaliation for what a crap job we’re doing looking after the place or maybe mother nature is just a total badass, but there are plenty of places on earth where it feels like the planet is actively trying to kill us.
If you find yourself in any of these places, you’ll need to tread carefully – and watch what you say about Greenpeace.
Indonesia – Land of The Burning Mountains
Volcanic eruptions have got to be somewhere near the top in nature’s arsenal of special effects.
Molten rock bubbling out of the ground in burning waves of fiery death, toxic ash clouds and lumps of stone hurtling out of the sky let you know that the earth means business.
Next time you’re complaining about the heating being up too high spare a thought for the people of Indonesia.
Java and Sumatra are part of the globe’s most volcanic area the ring of fire which stretches for 25,000 miles around the Pacific Ocean and the islands themselves are almost completely formed as a result of volcanic eruptions.
There have been almost 18,000 deaths in the region caused by volcanoes over the last century making this a truly dangerous place to be. Daily life for the people of Indonesia is constantly overshadowed by biblically sized pillars of smoke reminding them that death is potentially just an earth burp away.
Kivu – The Lake of Death
It’s childish we know but a little fart between friends nearly always raises a laugh, yet in large enough quantities methane gas can be deadly.
The odourless colourless gas can displace oxygen from your lungs, stealthily suffocating you.
And the people of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo live right next to 65 cubic kilometres of the stuff along with 256 cubic kilometres of carbon dioxide, lying just below the surface of Lake Kivu.
Kivu is one of Africa’s ‘killer lakes’, a group of deadly bodies of water, that include Lake Nyos in Cameroon which in 1986 released 80 cubic meters of carbon dioxide killing 1700 people and thousands of farm animals.
The methane and CO2 stores up beneath the water thanks to volcanic activity and can escape without warning.
The UN has identified Kyvo as an area of ‘serious concern’ meaning that with 2 million people living around Kivu this is one methane release that is no laughing matter.
Oklahoma City – Home of the Tornado
Forget Chicago’s nickname, the real windy city is 800 miles South West in Oklahoma where America’s Tornado Alley, a corridor of land that creates perfect tornadoes, runs smack through the middle of Oklahoma City.
The city has fought through 150 tornadoes since 1890, including powerful F5 level winds in 1999 and 2013 that topped out weather recording scales, shredding buildings like they were made of matchsticks.
Almost 180 people have lost their lives in the fierce winds over the last century or so but Oklahoma residents are a tough bunch who are always ready to rebuild.
Japan – Earthquake Central
Japan and earthquakes go together like fish and chips. The nation has the highest natural disaster rate of any developed country and that’s largely thanks to the Median Tectonic Line which runs from East to West straight through the middle of the country.
At this gnarly landmass crossroads huge tectonic plates are constantly rubbing each other the wrong way, resulting in regular quakes and tsunamis for the country’s people and making it statistically the worst place ever to play Jenga.
Over the past century 45 force 7 earthquakes have hit Japan killing thousands of people, with perhaps one of the worst disasters being the 9.0-magnitude 2011 Tōhoku earthquake which destroyed the Fukushima Nuclear reactor.
Australia – The Country Where Everything is Trying To Kill You
Australians are generally seen as a relaxed and friendly bunch, quick with a joke and a beer, which is quite surprising when you consider that they come from a country where nearly anything that moves can take you out.
There are literally thousands of deadly creatures in Oz from your classics like the great white shark, the inland taipan (the world’s most toxic snake), the funnel-web spider and the box jellyfish to more surprising foes such as dive bombing magpies.
Yep in the land down under if it crawls, slithers, swims or flies it can probably kill you, so try to keep that in mind and put on your brave face the next time you’re flapping around shrieking death threats at a lonely bumble bee.
Kiribati – The Nation That’s Going Under
Rising just 2 meters above sea level at its highest point, the island nation of Kiribati looks set to disappear into the sea.
Climate change brainiacs are predicting that in less than 50 years the country will be below the waves as tide levels rise due to global warming. The country has no natural defence against the water and has resorted to building large sandbag walls which in some cases have made things much worse causing erosion which endangered people’s fresh water supply.
It’s at times like this that you start hoping David Bellamy was right.
Derweze – The Firey Pit
Derweze in Turmenistan is an area rich in natural gas, which might seem like the perfect place to turn a quick buck, and in 1971 soviet geologists started drilling there.
Unfortunately for the team they dug into an underground cavern which promptly swallowed their drill rig. To make matters worse the 70 meter wide hole was potentially filled with dangerous gas and it was decided that igniting the fumes should burn them off in a couple of days before they could do any harm.
44 years later that fire is still going strong, fuelled by a vast underground gas field, which leaves the 350 or so local inhabitants basically clustered round a gigantic, slowly burning gas cannister. Anyone bring the marshmallows?