10 Ways the World Could End that May Actually Happen
We’re not talking about natural disasters here. Yes, hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes can be devastating, but their effects are localized. We’re talking about massive events. Events that will literally change the world as we know it. Events that will impact everyone and take years if not decades to recover from.
Preparing for an apocalypse event is no longer just for hard-core survivalists. Scientists at Oxford recently studied the probability of various ways the world could end. National Geographic has a doomsday series. The following eleven events are real possibilities, and everyone is starting to take notice. Are you ready?
#1. Massive Solar Flare
Here’s how it goes: a giant solar flare occurs, sort of like a tsunami on the sun. The resulting radiation explosion blasts earth, knocking out the power grid. The huge input of energetic electrons into the atmosphere would fuse conductive wires, wipe out many satellites and destroy electronic devices.
These flares do happen. A massive one erupted in 2012. Luckily it happened on the side of the sun facing away from the Earth. Smaller flares have already hit us, like the one that caused a blackout in Quebec in 2012.
#2. Financial and Economic Collapse
Everyone in America and Europe can feel how close we are to this apocalyptic event. Financial markets are shaky, unemployment is at record highs, the wealth gap is staggering, national debt is at a total that is frankly unimaginable and social security and Medicare money is rapidly running out.
On top of all that, our actual money has nothing to back it up. What happens when everyone realizes it is only paper, printed by a group of really rich men who loan it out to the rest of us without bothering to print the money to pay the interest? We can only sink deeper in debt. In the aftermath of a financial collapse are the possibilities of anarchy, martial law and social chaos.
#3. Pandemic Disease
There have been some near misses on this one already. In 1918 the Spanish Flu wiped out nearly 5% of the world’s population. More recently there was the scare of Bird Flu and the spooky Ebola outbreak that is still lingering in Africa.
While medical technology is at a high point and vaccines can usually be produced quickly, there is an even more daunting threat from drug-resistant bacteria. They are rapidly becoming a concern in hospitals across the country because we simply don’t have any drugs with which to treat them.
#4. Honey Bee Decline, AKA Colony Collapse Syndrome
All over the world entire hives of honeybees are mysteriously dying. Bee-keepers are mystified. What is the cause? Climate change? GMO crops? Pesticides? No one knows, but it is happening.
Are you wondering why this is on our list? It doesn’t sound so scary. But imagine a world without bees. These tiny insects pollinate 1/3 of the world’s crops; without them most common fruits and vegetables would rapidly become unavailable. There are no almonds. No apples. There is no more cotton. Oil crops suffer, to the degree that half of the world’s fat calories disappear. Cows starve without alfalfa. There is no more milk. We could easily be reduced to surviving on pork, grains and starchy roots. Before we are able to adapt millions could starve. Losing the bees would literally be the end of the world as we know it.
#5. Nuclear War
No Doomsday scenario list would be complete without a mention of nuclear war. If one bomb goes off, many will follow. As of 2014, nine nations were known to have nuclear weapons: the United States, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, the United Kingdom, Russia and North Korea. All together the estimated grand total is 16,300 nuclear weapons.
With hot spots of war across the world, and fierce competition for resources like oil, a nuclear attack is not so far-fetched. In addition to an intentional attack, nuclear war could be set off by a mechanical failure or plain old human error.
#6. Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack
The effects of an EMP attack would be very similar to the damage done by a solar flare. It could be achieved by detonating a nuclear weapon high up in the atmosphere. The resulting blast of radiation would fry electronic devices, wipe out power infrastructure and be devastating to satellites. It would effectively bring the nation to a standstill.
#7. Climate Change
Whether you believe climate change is caused by humans, is part of a natural cycle of planetary warming or is the result of hyperactive volcanoes in the Pacific Rim, there is no denying the fact that temperatures on Earth are rising. No matter the cause, if this trend continues we can expect to see more super storms, droughts, blistering summers and nasty winters.
Not only will massive storms devastate localized areas, but changes in weather patterns will affect crop growth. This should be a serious cause for concern when you consider that we are trying to feed 7.38 billion hungry mouths and counting.
#8. Asteroid Impact
It is may be a common topic of science fiction movies, but scientists say that a catastrophic asteroid event is a real possibility. The danger here is the amount of ash and debris that would be thrown into the air, creating a cloud that could potentially cover the entire globe, wiping out all plant life, and subsequently all animal life, on the planet.
#9. Artificial Intelligence
A group of scientists from Oxford University recently published a report titled “12 Risks that Threaten Human Civilization”. Along with listing the probability of asteroid impacts, pandemics, catastrophic climate change and erupting super volcanos, they cite artificial intelligence as a potential threat to humanity.
Yet the report goes on to say that the type of intelligence which could bring about the end of our species would be just the tool that could protect us from the other risks cited in the study. So it’s really a toss-up: machines may be our salvation or our doom, but we already knew that, didn’t we?
#10. Engineered Diseases
We’re talking about pathogens built in a laboratory specifically designed to kill humans. Sound far-fetched? Consider that it has already been done. In 2011 researchers created a mutant of the bird flu virus that was transmitted through the air.
Consider the models in nature that we have to work from: diseases that are incurable like Ebola, fatal like tetanus or rabies, and those that easily transmitted like the common flu. Imagine the consequences of mixing those characteristics up in a lab experiment.