Searching for war

The number of World War 3 searches on Google has spiked sharply in recent months. However, this time, flimsy readings of the Bible, ancient Mayan calendars, and conspiracy theorists are not to blame.

It appears that the cause of the increase in search engine users worried about the beginnings of yet another conflagration that threatens not only human life, but also the entire planet, is none other than US president, Donald Trump.

As unlikely as it sounds, surfers on the worldwide web have growing concerns that an event that has often been the fodder of books and movies will now be connected to the brash political figure known for aggressive outbursts, monumental ignorance, and prejudiced points of view.

Searches Linked to Trump Decisions

It is not that people necessarily think Trump is the Antichrist. In fact, as far as many of his supporters are concerned, Trump is a model Christian who was not afraid to proclaim his faith while on the campaign trail.

Instead, the most recent increase in Google searches questioning whether we are on the brink of the Third World War happened just after the former property mogul and casino owner gave the go-ahead for US airstrikes in Syria on 6 April. The strike on the airfield was in retaliation to an attack involving chemical weapons, in which scores of civilians perished.

According to Google Trends, the most popular of the searches inspired, at least in part, by the US president included World War 3, Trump War, and Nuclear War. This is far removed from the massive number of people who usually search for fun things to do like playing online pokies or watching the latest series, and it shows how the tide has turned, and how people are paying attention to current events; and are concerned.

WW3 Rumblings Affect Markets

In the past, the markets were relatively unaffected by talk of third world wars, apocalypses, and shifting astrological eras. This time, it is different. This time, the fears of the beginning of WW3, evidenced by the trend on the search engine, have caused gold and oil prices to skyrocket.

Shortly after the airstrike was announced and the online searches began, gold prices increased by more than US$12 an ounce, while oil prices increased to $56. Given the history of war-related searches that have followed various actions by Trump, it looks like the world can expect market shake-ups almost every time that man opens his mouth.

The deployment of the US navy to North Korea also did not inspire confidence that the world was not poised to go to war with itself. The deployment followed claims of nuclear weapons testing in the secretive country. According to reports, the US government will use missile strikes, if need be.

Previous WW3 Search Spikes

The last time Google saw a sharp increase in searches about World War 3 was in November 2015. It was then that Turkey shot down a military jet from Russia; a move to which Russian president Vladimir Putin did not respond with kindness.

While he did not take any direct action against the offending country, Putin’s no-nonsense attitude was enough to inspire doubt, fear, and worry. It was not long before users took to Google to ask the search engine if they perhaps missed the bit where either country may have declared war. The increase in searches was also spurred on by the terror attacks in Paris, France, that same month.

Before that, Google had seen a spike in the number of searches about WW3 in September 2013 when multitudes of people paused their activities to ask the search engine whether the US was at war with Syria, and whether such conflict would lead to another massive war. The only 2 other countries thus far able to inspire such widespread fears are Russia and North Korea, whose heads of state are known for an aggressive approach to local and international politics.

No War Just Yet

Despite the Trump-inspired World War 3 panic online and in the markets, the majority of world governments would not want to go to war. That alone would prompt as many leaders as possible to seek peaceful resolution. For the time being, concerned citizens can stop the Google searches, and rest easy that while Trump may be causing a ruckus, he has yet to start a war.

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