What Will Happen If Everyone In The World Goes Blind For 10 Seconds?

Imagine that one day you’re minding your own
business and happily going about your day, then suddenly out of nowhere, you realize
you can’t see anything! You fumble about trying to get your bearings,
but it’s as if the light switch on the entire planet has suddenly been turned off! Seven billion people have been plunged into
darkness, and for the next ten seconds all of humanity is going to learn what life is
like for the millions of blind people who live amongst us. Every year here in the United States car crashes
cost us approximately $40.4 billion and 2 million drivers suffer permanent injuries,
out of six million car crashes each year. With every single driver in the world going
blind at the same time, we can expect these figures to skyrocket appropriately. With roughly 210 million drivers in the US
alone, the world would see millions upon millions of car crashes in just one day. With Americans spending an average of 100
minutes a day driving, we could do some very rough guesstimating and figure that there
could be about 14 million cars on the road at the time the whole world went blind. Extrapolating the results to the rest of the
world we could expect anywhere between 70 to 90 million vehicles to be driving when
the lights go out around the globe. The world would see the worst series of car
accidents in history, and when our vision was restored our streets and freeways would
be a mess of mangled steel. Emergency services would be completely overwhelmed,
and hospitals would be unable to cope with the sheer number of victims. Most of these victims would die from their
wounds, as there would simply be no way of getting medical attention to them in time. But what if you were flying instead of driving? Well luckily for you flying would be a rather
safe method of transportation as most planes spend the majority of their flight time in
autopilot. The only time that there would be serious
danger to a cruising airplane would be during takeoff and landing, although most modern
planes have emergency systems that automatically kick the computer into autopilot mode and
level a plane out if the pilot becomes incapacitated. Some planes can even land themselves, though
most which sense a loss of consciousness or non-response from their pilot would simply
pull away from the landing and rise back into the air automatically. Only older airplanes would be at risk of crashing
during the ten seconds of blindness, and of those only planes coming in for a landing. Given their extreme levels of training though,
pilots would be able to respond to audio cues alone from the many alarms that would signal
a dangerous approach and simply level off, seeking safety in the sky while they hopefully
restore their vision. If you’re traveling on a train when the world
goes dark, then you have even less to worry about. The vast majority of transport trains are
nearly fully automated, and you’d likely arrive at your destination safely none the wiser
that the driver was completely blind. The trains that would be at greatest risk
though would be heavy commercial cargo trains, which often still rely a lot on their drivers-
specially during tricky ascents or descents. We could expect that places such as the Cajon
Pass in southern california would be the site of deadly freight rail accidents- with a notoriously
strong crosswind and a dangerous descent angle, the pass has already been the site of a major
rail accident that destroyed several homes and spilled chemicals across a wide area. For the most part though you’d be safer in
a train than in basically any other method of transportation, aside from air travel. For anyone undergoing a medical procedure
having their medical team lose their sight all at once might seem like a rather terrifying
possibility. Yet doctors today are very well trained and
disciplined, and the momentary loss of sight would likely be nothing more than a brief
hiccup in an otherwise successful surgery. The medical staff would simply sit tight and
wait for the incident to pass, and the only time you may be in danger is during the initial
or closing phases of surgery where vital blood vessels need to be quickly clipped or sutured
in order to ensure you don’t bleed out. Casualties from medical accidents would likely
be extremely low, though we can’t say the same for anyone involved in other more cosmetic
medical procedures. Imagine for instance that your dentist is
coming in to start drilling when suddenly his sight goes, the thought of where that
drill might end up in your very sensitive mouth is enough to terrify even us. If you’re having a procedure like Lasik though
then you need not worry, as the procedure is largely automated- so no need to worry
about a runaway laser searing your retinas like tuna steaks. One thing that might surprise you would be
the economic impact that ten seconds of blindness would have on the world. While an exact, or even a rough figure is
largely impossible to estimate, we can gleam some insight from the sheer amount of economic
damage that 9/11 wreaked on the US economy. The impact from lost business due to the attacks
is estimated at between $120 and $130 billion dollars, and we know that in the aftermath
of the attack gold prices jumped from $215.50 an ounce to $287, as nervous investors dumped
riskier investments and took to gold. With the world not knowing what was coming
next after the terror attacks, investors clammed up and preferred to keep their money safe
rather than continue investing and doing business as usual. In the aftermath of a global event where everyone
went blind for 10 seconds, investors would immediately clam up again, though in the uncertainty
following the ten seconds of blindness, it’s impossible to guess when global economies
would relax again. If the event happened once, it could very
well happen again, and the effect on the economy could be dire. The lost revenue alone would likely be in
the billions of dollars- ten seconds may not seem like much time for you, but imagine ten
seconds spread out across seven billion people. That’s ten seconds of panic where billions
of people are not working to produce goods or services, and consumers are not buying
or paying for those services. Such a complete and total economic disruption
would be devastating to the global economy, and the repercussions are impossible to predict
as such an event has no comparison point in history. The best we can do is look at the economic
impact of previous disasters such as 9/11, but even these are so limited in scope- affecting
just a tiny percentage of the population- that they leave the impact of a global blindness
event completely in the imagination. What we can safely say is that the economic
impact to the world economy would be devastating. What about people though, how would they handle
the crisis? Well, given the response of individuals to
previous pandemics and emergencies, we can say that the prognosis is not good. We could expect massive panic that continues
for days past the initial event, and religious populations around the world would likely
react in rather extreme ways, viewing the event as theological in nature- and truth
be told, their reaction would be well-deserved, as such a global event could have no other
nature than being the act of a divine being or an alien intelligence of such an advanced
nature, that it might as well be a god. We would immediately see a rise in religious
fundamentalism from all sides and all groups, and sadly, the global blindness event would
almost certainly be the impetus for the start of massive global religious terror movements
and wars. The blindness would mean different things
to different religions, but without a doubt fundamentalists amongst all the major religions
in the world would all see this as a call to arms. A global blindness event would be like 9/11
times a hundred, and make the largest terror attack in history look like a minor scuffle. Even the non-religious segment of the population
though would almost certainly find itself in a state of increasing panic. Those seeking scientific answers to the dilemma
would find none, and eventually three equally terrifying conclusions would come to light:
the first would be that there exists a universal phenomenon of which we are completely unaware,
and if there exists a phenomenon that can turn the entire world blind for ten seconds,
then what other unknown phenomenon exist and what could they do to us? The realization of how ignorant we are would
prompt a new panic, and we might at last see just how truly tenuous our hold is on life
inside a thoroughly hostile universe. The second conclusion would be that the event
was artificial in nature, which would only mean one of two things: either the event was
an act of a terrestrial, or an extraterrestrial intelligence. Global militaries would be on full alert and
suspicion would immediately have countries eyeing each other warily. The very idea that a potentially hostile foreign
nation has the technology to cause blindness on a global scale would prompt panic amongst
the rank of military leadership and politicians- though the worst danger would be in the immediate
aftermath of the attack. Take for instance the United States and Russia,
whom today find themselves in an ever-worsening relationship. Without knowledge that the event had been
global in nature, either nation might perceive the blindness as an attack by the other nation,
or perhaps the misfiring or malfunction of a first-strike weapon. If the event occurred during a time of heightened
tensions, it would be disastrous and lead to war. Imagine for instance if such an event had
occurred during the Cuban missile crisis. The realization that the event could have
been extraterrestrial in nature though would also panic populations and militaries around
the world. People would suddenly feel extremely vulnerable
as they realize that an overwhelmingly powerful intelligence has the capability to nullify
one of the five senses on a whim. Those laughing at the response of religious
people’s fears of this being a theological event may want to consider the fear they would
feel believing that aliens could shut all of humanity down so easily. The final conclusion would be that the event
was in fact theological in nature, as there exists no known property of physics or astronomical
event in our universe which could explain a global blindness event. The sudden realization that God, or a pantheon
of Gods is real would prompt panic amongst the global agnostic or atheistic population,
and their response might in the end be worse than even that of religious fundamentalists. A deep existential crisis would likely befall
the human race, and worst of all would be the attempt to discover just what divine force
truly exists in our universe- could it be the benevolent Jesus and God of Christianity,
or the petty and vengeful pantheon of Greek mythology? The answer would matter greatly, and spell
a potentially terrifying future for humanity if suddenly we realized that our fates are
in the hands of the famously vindictive and petty Greek gods, rather than the hands of
the loving God of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

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