#3. Rats Are Eating Your Food
Now we questioned including rats here, not because they're insignificant, but because you probably already think of them as the species that spread the Plague around Europe back in the day, killing, well, almost everyone.
But you can't really blame the rats for that one. The plague was carried by fleas on the rats, and of course ultimately was a bacteria inside the flea. No, rats' effect on the world is much more direct than that.
A lot of you have lost food in your cabinets to a mouse or a rat, grabbing a pack of Ramen only to find the little bastard has gnawed off the corner.
Great. There goes 12 cents you'll never get back.
So, how much of the world's food would you say rats eat? Seriously, guess.
It turns out rats destroy or contaminate up to 40 percent of our food, at least in poor and rural areas where the little bastards eat 20 percent of the crops, then eat another 20 percent of the grain after it's in storage.
Worldwide, rats are thought to eat or otherwise ruin up to 10 percent of everything humans produce.
Ten Percent. It's like a cosmic tax taken out of humanity's paycheck. One dollar out of every 10 gets fed to a rat.
See, rats have been kind of riding on humans' coattails. The planet's rat population exploded right along with humans, as our tendency to grow huge amounts of food and just leave it laying around--and to build sprawling sewers for them to live in--made us the perfect match. Rats are born survivors, and are very much like cockroaches with developed hands, dog-like intelligence and a spine, which should terrify the shit out of you.
So if you got in your time machine and went forward 1,000 years, would you find rats had become the dominant species on the planet, having eaten all of our food and starved us to death? Almost certainly not. After all, they need to keep us around. To grow their food for them.
#2. Your Lamp is Making Everything Sick
With all the focus put on carbon footprints, acid rain and mercury-poisoned water, "light pollution" sounds like one of those bullshit kinds of pollution, like littering. The term is referring to the ambient light from all those street lamps and skyscrapers and porch lights and light spilling out of your windows.
Still... everybody can just close a damned curtain, right?
Some people should be required to close theirs.
Check out a view of the U.S. from space, courtesy of NASA:
That's a lot of fucking light. This is why we build observatories high on mountains, so that their lenses don't get cluttered by street lamps, thoughtless neighbor's halogen security lights that stay on all night and the constant neon glow of red light districts.
Do you know what happened for a long-ass time before we started lighting thousands of square miles of earth every night? Predation, migration and sleeping. It seems that after several billion years of spinning and producing a night and day cycle, life on earth got used to it. Then, in the last 100 years, we started fucking things up by lighting everything night and day.
It turns out that our worldwide leaving of our collective lights on has fucked up migration patterns, screwed up predator's hunting grounds and schedules, and created a host of problems for those of us that put them there in the first place. It also causes algae to spread in lakes (which is good for the algae but bad for anyone who wants to use the water) because, for some reason, artificial light deters the creatures that normally eat the algae.
Us humans don't exactly get off easy, either. Not only does all that light screw up our ability to sleep properly, but also increases headaches, worker fatigue, sexual dysfunctions and the lowered melatonin levels caused by all of this have been linked to an increase in breast cancer.
OK, is this enough evidence to at least get them to stop putting those irritating blue LED's on all of our electronics? Our houses are starting to look like spaceships at night. Is there a petition we can sign?
#1. Jellyfish Change the Currents of the Ocean
The ocean is a big place; approximately 71 percent of our planet is covered with it, it's deep and big shit like whales, giant squid and Cthulhu hide in it with no issue. We all know that the tides and waves are created by the moon and winds and other factors. But there's another, more ridiculous cause...
It turns out that a while ago, scientists were having some problems studying the ocean similar to those of scientists studying the cosmos; they had a bunch of really big, brainy equations describing how things worked, then compared them to reality and found a huge damned hole in the equation.
Specifically, in accounting for why the currents move the way they do. The X-factor turned out to be jellyfish, and regular fish and all the little creatures swimming in the ocean.
There is something in fluid dynamics called "fluid drift," and it has to do with the way water sticks to the bodies of swimming creatures. Apparently every living thing in the ocean combines to move enough water to stir things up as much as the moon and wind. That's right: every tuna, shark, whale and evil, terrifying deep sea monster is as responsible for waves and riptides as the freaking moon.
Even the ones that may not be real.
If you want a visual, imagine this:
Multiplied by this:
Yeah, that's one of those things you study from afar.
Do you have something funny to say about a random topic? You could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow. Go here and find out how to create a Topic Page.
And stop by our Top Picks (Updated 2.2.2010) to see how Cracked influences the Internet.