What’s The Most Dangerous Place on Earth?


Hey, Vsauce. Michael here. 93% of all the
humans who have ever lived are dead. For every person alive right now, there are 15 people
who are no longer alive. The Earth is dangerous…but where is the most dangerous place on Earth?
Ignoring freak occurrances, where is the most persistently perilous place on the surface of our planet? Well, let’s being with temperature. Extreme
heat and extreme cold can kill within hours, if not minutes. In cold environments, without
clothing, the human body, by itself, doesn’t do a very good job of maintaining a high enough
temperature to live. It just takes too much work. Even when you feel comfortable and warm,
nearly half of your daily caloric intake is used merely to keep your body’s temperature
where it should be. If you took a human and stripped them naked
and put them in an environment at 0 degrees Celsius, they would die from having too cold
of an internal temperature within about 20 minutes. We need warmth. But one thing we
need more immediately than that is oxygen. And that brings us to the summit of Mount Everest.
This place on the surface of Earth has incredibly thin air. At the top of Mount Everest
there is only one third as much breathable oxygen as there is down at sea level. Climbers can endure the conditions for short
periods of time if they acclimate for months, but if you were to teleport from wherever
you are right now directly to the summit of Everest, you would most likely die within
only 2-3 minutes because there isn’t enough oxygen. Death would come even more quickly if you
were at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. There, you would be submerged under nearly
7 miles of water, about 11 km, causing the pressure around your body to exceed 15,000
pounds per square inch. At normal swimming depths you can always
hold your breath, but that far down, with that much pressure, your lungs would collapse
immediately, and without oxygen your brain would go unconscious in 15 seconds,
and you’d be dead in under 90. You would die pretty much just as quickly
as someone who walked into outer space without a suit on. But falling into a molten lake of lava is
probably the most spectacular way to go. Contrary to what you see in many movies, your body
wouldn’t just burn a little bit and slowly sink as if it were in quicksand.
Instead, there would be a lot of fireworks. Hot, molten lava is liquid rock, 4 times as hot as your
oven can ever get. And the human body is mainly made up of water, which, when exposed
to that kind of heat, turns into steam…explosively. There’s a fantastic video right here on YouTube
where a guy throws a bag of organic material containing a lot of moisture into hot lava.
It doesn’t just sink in, it causes a miniature eruption. I highly suggest you go watch it. But what if we want to measure danger not
by how quickly you would die, but by the actual total number of fatalities caused. Well, for
this, we’re going to need to get much, much smaller. Like, microscopic. In 1918, influenza killed nearly 100 million
people, which, at the time, was 3% of the world’s entire population. But places where
and when the plague has spread rapidly are even scarier. Between 1347 and 1353, a third
of everybody in Europe died because of the bubonic plague,
an infection caused by Yersinia Pestis. It’s easy to think of the plague as something
from way back in the past, but it is still here. Of course, now we have antibiotics, which
can help in most cases, but, believe it or not, in America alone, 5 to 15 people
still get the plague every year. In terms of total fatalities, however, the
plague and influenza are nothing compared to the danger caused by this guy: plasmodium. It’s a micro-organism that can get into our
blood because of mosquito bites, and causes Malaria. Across the totality of human history,
the number of deaths attributed to Malaria is unbelievable. Researchers like Nobel laureate
Baruch Blumberg have studied the history of the human genome and human migration, and
determined that of all the humans who have ever existed, it is likely that half died from malaria. So, in terms of total fatalities across all
of human history, a place where plasmodium could enter the blood stream because of a
mosquito bite, statistically speaking, could be called the most dangerous place on Earth. But let’s switch gears for a moment and talk
about places that are dangerous not because of Earth, or Earth’s creatures, well, actually,
just one specific creature: us. La Oroya is a mining town in Peru where the
murder rate is low but pollution is high. The town’s smelter emits pollution into the air
and temperature inversions in the atmosphere above the town trap gasses within,
causing the town to have 85 times more arsenic in its air than is deemed safe. But that’s nothing compared to Lake Karachay
in Russia. It was named the most polluted spot on Earth by the World Watch Institute
on Nuclear Waste. The lake contains so many radioactive pollutants
that you can receive a lethal dose of radiation merely by standing for one hour near certain
parts of the lake. The Global Peace Index ranks countries by
how safe they are. It takes into account a number of factors including crime and political
corruption. The safest country, according to the Index, is Iceland.
And the least safe is Somalia. But for the highest murder rate you’ll have
to go to Juarez, Mexico, where out of every 1 million inhabitants, each year 1,477
of them are murdered. I’ve always found it amazing just how many
serial killers Miami seems to have on the show “Dexter.” But Miami is a big city and
so despite all those serial killers, it’s murder rate in the show is not the highest
of any fictional town from a TV show. That honor goes to Cabot Cove, the town where “Murder
She Wrote” occurred. An analysis of “Murder She Wrote” episodes revealed 274 murders,
but a population in the town of only 3,500, making Cabot Cove’s murder rate
1,490 per million inhabitants. Until recently that number was unmatched by
reality, but last year, the city of San Pedro Sula in Honduras reported a murder rate of
1,588 murders per million inhabitants. Let’s conclude by revisiting pollution, specifically
the Chernobyl accident, and a certain oxymoronic danger. For 10 days in 1986, radioactive isotopes
spilled out of a blazing reactor core, forcing mass evacuations. It’s more than 25 years
later now and many parts of the exclusion zone remain incredibly lethal. But without
humans there, many parts of the exclusion zone have seen wildlife flourish, especially
endangered species which can go to the exclusion zone, live, reproduce, and be safe…from us.
We managed to ruin a place to the point at which it endangered our lives and we had
to leave and in doing so we left parts of it a little bit safer for other forms of life. You can read more about all of these topics
by following links down in the description below. Keep learning. And as always, thanks for watching.

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