Some Of The Biggest Screw-Ups In History

They say “accidents happen” but sometimes those accidents are just too enormous to recuperate from. Sometimes an accident can spitball and turn into a global catastrophe and can never be lived down. Ever.

#1 The Great Plague
During the Great Plague of London, people began killing cats because it was believed that’s what was spreading the virus. It turned out that rats were carrying the plague, and with no cats to kill them, the rat population exploded, causing the plague to get even worse.

#2 California Cedar Fire
One of the worst fires ever was in 2003, in Southern California, when over 800,000 acres worth of land was destroyed from wildfires known as the Cedar Fire, the largest wildfire in the history of the state. An investigation discovered that a lone hunter, lost in the woods, had shot off a signal flare to alert rescuers that he needed help and the blaze quickly grew with the Sana Ana winds.

#3 Late Fee
In 1997, Mark Randolph somehow acquired a $40 late fee from Blockbuster on a single movie rental. He refused to pay, but Blockbuster decided to sue him for the small amount and take him to court. Randolph, angry at the company, decided to go into the business for himself and co-founded Netflix. Netflix is now worth $40 billion. Two years later, Blockbuster had a chance to buy Netflix and refused, and Netflix ran their competition into the ground.

#4 World’s Oldest Tree
In 1964, Donald Rusk Currey was studying what is known as the Little Ice Age in the White Mountains of California. He was convinced the tree were very old, so he began taking core samples. One of the trees he cut down was over 5000 years old, making it the world’s oldest tree. He destroyed it. Thankfully, a new tree was discovered in 2012.

#5 Baker Burns Down London
The entire city of London, England was practically burned to the ground on September 2, 1666, when a small fire broke out at Thomas Farriner’s bakery in the downtown area. The small spark set a pile of fuel on fire, which spread quickly. For three days London burned and homes, businesses, and lives were lost because of one baker.

#6 Deepwater Horizon Disaster
On April 20, 2010, a BP oil rig in the gulf coast just miles from the Louisiana beaches, burst, pushing nearly five million plus barrels of oil from the fiery well. This oil spill is the largest in history, surpassing the 3.3 million barrels that spilled into the Bay of Campeche in Mexico in 1979. The cost of cleanup and repairs has set BP back over $41 billion so far and there are still open cases pending in the disaster.

#7 Lake Peigneur
Another disaster in Louisiana, Lake Peigneur in New Iberia, LA was once just a 1- foot deep freshwater lake enjoyed by many area residents. However, in November of 1980, a Texaco oil rig drilled into a mine underneath the lake, puncturing the roof and causing the lake to flood the entirety of the caverns with oil.

#8 Oldest Company Goes Under
Kongō Gumi was once known for being the world’s oldest independent, family-run company. They were founded in the year 578 but were forced to sell in 2006 after almost 50 generations worth of family ownership. Bad management and hardship led to the disastrous family fortune loss.

#9 Yahoo Passed On Google
When Google was still just a very small company but growing, the search engine popularized by it’s famous ‘Yahooooo!!’ TV commercials had the chance to purchase the upstart for a mere $1 million bucks, but turned it down, believing they had different ideas. Today Yahoo! is struggling to keep afloat while Google is worth $225 billion and growing in fields beyond web searches.

#10 Austria Attacked Itself
While in the middle of a war with the Ottoman Empire, Austria unknowingly attacked themselves at the Battle of Karansebes. The Ottoman army arrived and found 10,000 dead Austrian soldiers.

#11 Chinese Bird Famine
China suffered through the Great Chinese Famine between 1959 and 1961. 45 million people died because the government and citizens decided to eradicate sparrows, believing that the birds were causing the crops to die as they ate from them. The dwindling sparrow numbers caused crop-eating insects to blossom resulting in the death by hunger of millions of Chinese after just 2 years.

#12 Selling 10% of Apple for 800 Dollars
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak are the co-founders of Apple Inc., but Ronald Wayne was the third, lesser known, founder. He only owned 10%, but hard up for cash, he sold his stake in the giant technology company for just $800. Today, it would be worth $35 billion plus.

#13 Hubble Space Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope, constructed by NASA and launched back in 1990, was just three weeks into its initial launch when one of the lenses, which had been incorrectly assembled, came out of position, causing all images to appear distorted.

#14 AOL Buys Time Warner
In 2000, America Online, known as AOL, the leader in online social media at the time, bought Time Warner for $182 billion at the peak of the Dot Com Bubble. Nine years later, Time Warner bought itself back with a market cap of $36 billion, a $178 billion loss. The newly separated AOL was valued at only $2.5 billion, while New Line Cinema alone, part of the Time Warner franchise, has since doubled its value to over $86 billion.