COVID-19 hit the world and slowly turned the world upside down, and we thought 2020 was the worst year ever.
Then 2021 showed up with natural disasters and mutations of the virus, and we thought 2021 was the worst year ever.
Then 2022 barged in like a rabid dog with more variations of the deadly virus, even more catastrophic natural disasters and an outbreak of war in Europe, and we decided that 2022 is the ACTUAL worst year that's EVER happened.
It turns out we are still wrong. The past few years have been a cluster of natural and manmade disasters, and we have witnessed some of the most devastating and fatal times in our lifetimes. What a time to be alive!
However, one expert suggests these pale in comparison to the actual worst year that has ever been: 536.
geDr Miles Pattenden, a Senior Research Fellow in Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the Australian Catholic University, told ABC's RN's Counterpoint that in the dreaded 536, "up to three big volcanic eruptions, somewhere, either around the equator or in Iceland." He explained that these eruptions blocked the sun and impacted Europe and China's temperature, causing minimal natural light and "snow in the summer". It sounds like Melbourne, to be honest..
Dr Pattenden says the volcanic activity then "set off a whole chain of events", including crop failure, famine, conflict, disease and countless fatalities.
Sounds grim, no? Well, it gets worse. Surely the people were thinking similarly to us in 2020, that surely it would get much better in the following years. Like us, they were wrong. 536 was the start of many catastrophes that lasted decades to come.
The bubonic plague arrived in 541, killing millions of people and making a real mess of economic and political situations. Sound familiar? Dr Pattenden stated that "if you were a carefree 18-year-old in the summer of 535, you'd probably have to live between 80 and 100 years to get back to conditions that were similar to what you'd remember from being a child."
There aren't many of us who would willingly go back in time and relive the past few years, but I can bet my volcano collection that no one ever would time travel to 536: The Worst Year that has ever been.