10 MOST EVIL Things Created by Man
Okay, so humans aren't perfect. Actually, sometimes we're on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Though we've worked to redeem ourselves through notable beneficial creations, any good we've done seems to be balanced out by things like these top 10 most evil things created by man.
Keeping with the theme of incredibly fatal military-grade gasses, Sarin is among the worst. Classified as a weapon of mass destruction, this nerve agent was outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, though the use of the weapon has been seen as recent as 2013 during the Ghouta attack during the Syrian civil war. When compared to the hydrogen cyanide component of Zyklon B, sarin is 81 times more lethal. When exposed, the patient's nervous system is targeted, leading to acetylcholine degradation and, in most cases, asphyxiation due to loss of breathing muscle control. Even non-lethal doses can prove incredibly damaging and leave a person with permanent neurological damage.
Modern pesticides mostly get a bad rap for contaminating our food. During the 1940's, a cyanide-based pesticide known as Zyklon B had a bad rap for a far more sinister reason. During the 1920's, German scientists created the deadly mix of hydrogen cyanide, diatomaceous earth, and additional adsorbents, but its most notable use was during World War II and Nazi Germany's genocide of the Jewish community. To exterminate large groups of Jews at once, the Germans created gas chambers which dispersed Zyklon B. Those herded into the crematoria were dead within 20 minutes of being exposed to the gas. The deceased were often found with foam at the mouth or blood coming from their ears.
Of course, we know that nicotine and tobacco are natural products, but who do you think thought to wrap one within the other to make a neat little cylinder of death? A form of cigarette was used as early as the 9th century, but they didn't get their official name until 1830 in France. It wasn't until the 1930's, after centuries of use, that the ill effects of cigarettes were finally realized. Despite known health risks such as increased risks of lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart attack, stroke, and hypertension, tobacco companies still spend upwards of $8 billion a year marketing the tiny man-made addictive smokes. Cigarettes are believed to kill approximately 1 in 10 adults across the globe annually.
It may seem like such an innocent material, but under the right conditions, plastic has proven to be an incredible strain on the environment. Yearly, over 15 million tons of plastic is discarded between the United States and the United Kingdom and, of that, only about a quarter of it is recycled. The excess plastic simply degrades extremely slowly in landfills adding to waste that adversely affects habitats across the globe. For example, the ocean is polluted by approximately 160 million tons of plastic. A variety of plastics, such as chlorinated plastic and older plastics made with bisphenol A, have contributed to water contamination, increase in greenhouse gasses, and physical deformities in animals.
During war efforts, one may be able to argue the "benefits" of landmines - but the problem comes in when the wars are long over and the mines are left for innocent bystanders to, unfortunately, happen upon. It's estimated that the concealed, ground explosives are responsible for over 4,000 deaths per year and pose a risk decades after being placed. Typically made from metal or plastic, when land mines detonate, they trigger an explosion capable of killing or maiming either from the force of the blast or shrapnel. Used as early as the 3rd-century in the Battle of Hulugu, land mines are still utilized today, often to create barriers and deny enemy forces access to certain regions.
Another naturally-occurring-turned-evil thanks to the involvement of mankind, asbestos is a combination of 6 silicate minerals that was widely used as insulation for homes and buildings in the late-19th to mid-20th centuries. Up until 1977, the mineral was commonly added to plaster, window caulking, vinyl tiles, linoleum, and some paints. The presence of asbestos is not necessarily a danger, but once disturbed, asbestos fibers can be released, leading to potentially fatal illnesses including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma. Popular through the 1900's, asbestos products also date back to over 4,000 years ago, where it was used to strengthen cooking utensils and pots.
When you see World War I photographs of soldiers in gas masks, chances are the use of mustard gas was not too far away. Known as sulfur mustard, the chemical compound was developed with one intention - incapacitate the enemy. Though believed to have been developed as early as 1822 by chemist Cesar-Mansuete Despretz, mustard gas wasn't really put to use until 1917, when Germans used it against Allied forces. Military strategists will back the use of mustard gas, stating it reduced enemy response and, thus, saved lives in the bigger picture, but those that fell victim to it are likely to cry foul. Contact with the dangerous gas could cause dangerous chemical burns, temporary blindness, an increased risk of developing cancer, damage and blistering to the respiratory system, and pulmonary edema, among other unpleasant surprises.
Lead paint. Leaded petroleum. Vintage children’s toys. Water pipes. All of these things have one thing in common: they were extremely dangerous and detrimental to the environment. While lead is a naturally occurring chemical, man had been using it to create a variety of products. That is, of course, until it was determined that these lead-based products had connections to lead poisoning. Though it takes contact with extremely high levels of lead for it to be fatal, lead poisoning can lead to hallucinations, hearing loss, insomnia, kidney damage, tremors, seizures, partial blindness, and depression. For its corrosion resistance and ability to make paint moisture resistant and faster drying, lead was added to common household objects. Despite discontinued use by the late-1970's, leaded petroleum has proved especially deleterious as there is believed to be a correlation between the usage rate and violent crime.
Wars are fought with many things - words, guns, explosives - but would you expect to see herbicides and defoliants on that list of useful weapons? It's a dirty tactic, but the use of herbicides in war is intended to essentially starve the opposing force into submission. One of the worst implementations of this ploy was Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. Comprised of two different herbicides - 2,4,5-Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid and 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid - Agent Orange was meant to remove vital resources for the Vietcong's guerrilla forces. While plant life was definitely affected, Agent Orange had a side effect that researchers initially boasted it would not. Prolonged exposure to the chemical was having an extreme adverse physical effect on humans. Since being released, Agent Orange has been linked to cancer, a myriad of birth defects in children, and, allegedly over 400,000 deaths.
Since 2003, H5N1, or the avian flu, claimed the lives of over 300 people at a mortality rate of near 60%. With those figures, one could say with confidence that H5N1 is a potentially dangerous strain of flu that doesn't really need an amped-up version. Regardless of how much of a bad idea creating a superflu that could devastate humanity is, a team of United States' scientists was behind the creation of an airborne virus that is said to put anthrax to shame. Though the original strain of H5N1 fell short of a pandemic, this man-made rendition is said to transmit faster, a claim backed up by ferrets used to test the virus. Why ferrets, you ask? Well, they seem to have a very similar response to the flu as humans.