With a population of about 500,000 people, Goma, a major city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is about the size of Kansas City. However, there are a few key differences -- unlike Goma, Kansas City does not currently sit right next to an active volcano.
In response, Goma is proud to point out that at least they have no giant shuttlecocks littering their city.
To be fair, the volcano is 18 kilometers away, but since the lava can only flow in one of two directions, it has a 50-50 chance of striking the city, which reduces the fate of the African population to a coin flip every time the volcano starts huffing smoke. The last time it happened, in 2002, Goma lost the coin toss, and a fifth of the city was drenched in liquid rock.
But even if the residents do evolve lava-resistant skin, they still live in the Great Rift Valley, which means there is another disaster lurking that can team up with the volcano to wipe out the city, like a coalition of supervillains.
Dr. Explosiony and his pal, Suffocatiozoid.
Limnic eruptions are freak events in which lakes containing an abundance of carbon dioxide suddenly vomit out a cloud of the stuff so huge that it suffocates everything nearby. The combination of volcanic and seismic activity needed to make this happen is pretty rare, but one lake with just the right ratio of horrible ingredients is Lake Kivu. And what city lies on the shores of Lake Kivu? Why, it's "We live right next to a constantly exploding volcano" Goma, of course.
Come for the lava flows and stay because falling ash has asphyxiated you.
Kivu is one of only three known "exploding lakes" in the world, and it's an uneasy sign that the other two both exploded recently.
Holy Shit! What Can We Do?
Efforts are underway to remove the gas from Kivu, but that's not going to do anything about the fucking volcano. So maybe rather than addressing either, it'd be easier just to, you know, move the town down the road a few miles.
Or, you know, do tours there. That works, too.
Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is the ninth largest city in the world, and the single most densely populated. It also has basically been under slow demolition for more than 100 years.
Also known as God's batting cage, Dhaka has to deal with annual monsoons (which bring devastating floods), and they see a cyclone (a smaller kind of hurricane) basically every year. If you're frustrated by living in a city that ruins one picnic a year, you really need to visit Dhaka to get some perspective.
As long as that perspective is crushed against someone's armpit.
But the hits just keep coming. In 1989, a tornado devastated the city. That's no surprise because Bangladesh is the most tornado-prone place in the world behind North America. And did somebody say earthquakes? They have those, too. Living in Dhaka is basically living in a Roland Emmerich movie every single day. Seriously, we're waiting to hear reports of comet bombardment or flat-out alien invasion.
You know it's bad when the picture description has the words "minor flooding."
Oh wait, did we forget to mention the tsunami threat? Really, the most important thing we have to learn from Dhaka is how the hell it still exists.
The city has two seasons: cyclones and flooding.
Holy Shit! What Can We Do?
Despite living in the most flat-out horrifying and disaster-ridden area of the globe, the people of Dhaka just haven't prepared for the quakes. Perhaps it slipped their mind while they were dodging tornadoes. Scientists say that a magnitude 6 quake, which really isn't that big, has the capacity to damn near obliterate the city. Their buildings are so poorly equipped for a quake that 80 to 90 percent of the concrete structures in the city would just collapse.
Remember when, way back at the beginning, we said San Francisco didn't have the cash to quake-proof all of its buildings? Now imagine a massive city that's known as the rickshaw capital of the world and where the average person makes $1,350 a year and 34 percent live in poverty.
So they, like the rest of mankind to one degree or another, are hoping nature will hold off until we get our shit together.
For more doomsday-like disasters we should be ready for, check out 6 Man-Made Natural Disasters Just Waiting to Happen, Or see the ones that have already happened in 6 Natural Disasters That Were Caused by Human Stupidity.
And stop by LinkSTORM to see which site eats it first when the Internet apocalypse arrives.
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