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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Based on my review of  “Worst. Year. Ever.” by Liam Eisenberg 

“Okay so the year, the year that I think I want to make a case that this—this has to be the worst year in human history: 536 AD.”

Okay, so I love anything history-related. I love studying the past, having extremely random knowledge, and hearing others’ opinions. My favorite nerdy pastime is to watch Ted ED videos on YouTube just for fun. So one night I was scrolling through Ted ED and a video came up about the worst year in history. It was only a few minutes and yet so much happened in the video. I was so intrigued and I had to know more! So I set out on a search for more videos about the year 536 AD. I eventually stumbled across “Worst. Year. Ever.”, a podcast by Liam Eisenberg. So let me recap to you why this was in fact the worst year.

During this time period, (the 530’s) there was an estimated couple hundred million people being alive. This account is from the idea of Roman Civilization, Mayan Civilization, and the Chinese Empire (among many other smaller empires) were all active at this time, even if there was a start of breaking down. But they all existed during this period of time on Earth. There are many theories as to what all started the downfall and devastation of this year, but according to the podcast, the most widely accepted theory is a volcanic eruption. This (along with other possible causes) made what is known as a dust veil happen. A dust veil causes a significant impact on the earth’s physical geography, such as decreased temperatures, drought, and food shortages. At around 8:00 minutes, it states “In China, it gets so bad by the 540s that in one area north of the Yellow River, seven or eight out of every ten people died.” The dust veil suppressed sunlight, which is really awful because the people who are a little sick but alive do not have the immune systems they need to fight off illness. This becomes extremely terrifying because right around that time is when the Justinian Plague starts. This plague is thought to have killed tens of millions of people, and it was extremely disgusting and awful for those who had it. After I did some further research, I found out that one of the most common symptoms was pus-filled boils across the body that would explode. All in all, it is estimated that somewhere between 25-200 million people were killed between the effects of the dust veil and the Justinian Plague. This was anywhere between 30-60% of the estimated population of the whole earth at the time. Clearly, the title stands, and 536 AD was truly one of the worst years in all of human history.

Hi all! My name is Kirsten Corrigan (she/her), and I am so excited to be a part of Her Campus! I'm a freshman at The University of Texas at Austin. My hometown is Manhattan, NY. I'm a government/political science major and I plan on going to law school after undergrad. A few things about me; I'm an Aquarius, a huge movie buff, I play guitar, I enjoy painting (although I'm not great at it), and I have an addiction to coffee. I have a passion for writing and politics. I hope you enjoy reading my work!
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