ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

10 Reasonable Ways The World Might End

Updated on April 27, 2015

Everyone wonders how the world, as we know it, is going to ultimately end. After all, every other great biological dynasty has met its demise, and we shouldn't be so arrogant when contemplating our final destiny. My guess is that the actual Earth will be relatively unscathed, and probably bettered, by whatever event results in the eradication or massive depletion of the human species. It may take a while for the scars of humanity to heal, but the Earth isn't concerned with mere millennium, it's playing the long game. We're talking billions of years, eons.

Though we must wonder, how will we get to this destructive end? What will be our ultimate downfall? Will it be a pandemic? Infrastructure collapse via CME? Dwindling natural resources? Unpreparedness for a large asteroid? Supervolcano? Global sea level rise due to climate change? Artificial superintelligence? Oh yea, nukes? Let's explore some possibilities for the end times.

#1: Nuclear Annihilation

We could never blow up the Earth with nukes. The truth is, we wouldn't even leave a dent if we tried. That being said, the amount of nuclear warheads that we, as a species, currently possess is enough to fully eradicate ourselves, more than ten times. There wouldn't even be anyone to light the fuse for the second round. Plus, that's just the nukes that we acknowledge, over 17,000. Nobody really knows how many there really are, or what entities have been able to obtain these doomsday devices. As nukes continue to fall into the hands of increasingly volatile factions, so increases our chances of mutually assured destruction.

Source

#2: Artificial Intelligence

What we should actually be concerned with is artificial superintelligence, which is the point when a computer or robot actually becomes smarter than the humans that created it. This implies the ability to learn from previous events and reason in a manner typically associated only with human intelligence. Another factor is the performance of an AI on a turing test, where it attempts to convince a human that it is also human. Though it will be a while before we achieve AI superintelligence, our future interaction with computers will be much more integrated than it currently is, and we already trust computers in almost every aspect of our lives. If these entities end up gaining access to the resources necessary to expand on their own intelligence, defend themselves, self-replicate, and power autonomously, we may become helpless in any effort to stop them from executing their sentient will. Let's hope they develop good intentions.

Source

#3: Coronal Mass Ejection

Have you ever seen the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis? Yeah, I agree, it's pretty sweet. What isn't sweet is the same phenomenon responsible for this astonishing light display could also wipe us from the face of the Earth. The lights are actually excited particles in our atmosphere that have been bombarded by electromagnetic radiation from the Sun. These radiation events, called Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), happen on a daily basis, and could potentially knock out the majority of electronics on our planet. Normally, our magnetosphere shields us from this phenomenon, but if the Sun lets loose a sufficiently large CME, and aims it ever so accurately toward us, the result would be a return to the dark ages. Just think about how quickly society would crumble if nothing went beep. Oh, and a CME isn't the only potential source of electronic assassination. A sufficiently disgruntled individual could detonoate a similar type of surge, an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), right from the comfort of anywhere on Earth. Good thing everyone's pretty chill right now.

#4: A deadly Virus or Bacteria

We have done everything in our power to ensure this to be a possibility. From overusing and subsequently weakening the effects of antibiotics, to the proliferation of worldwide travel, to the anti-vaccination movement. As a result of these factors, all it's going to take is one sufficiently resistant bug to destabilize society and bring humanity to its knees. We are already seeing a decline in the effectiveness of the influenza shot, and this is mostly because researching new strains is prohibitively unprofitable for the major pharmaceutical companies. If we keep on treating the health of our world population as an economic asset, it probably won't be long until something new and weird pops up and we're caught here padding our wallets whilst twiddling thumbs.

Source

#5: A large Meteor/Asteroid

This one is pretty straightforward: big rock hit Earth, Earth go boom. We have paleontological evidence that proves this has happened numerous times in the past, causing catastrophic dying events. At the present, we have numerous theories as to how we could potentially nullify the probability of this happening to us. We have theorized anchoring rockets to the surface of an asteroid and nudging the trajectory away from Earth, we have proposed using gravitational forces to pull the rock away, we have even thought about blowing them up, though the latter proposal would likely produce more harm than good. The problem is, these are only theories. We currently have no proven method of preventing a disastrous meteor strike. If one hits before we have means to displace it, we will not get a second chance.

Source

#6: Global Warming

We already know this is happening. Even though humans are incessantly concerned with whether or not this phenomenon is man made, which it is, the real problem is that it exists no matter what we ultimately decide to blame. We are terrifyingly close to reaching a CO2 saturation point that is beyond reconciliation. Once this happens, runaway climate change will persist no matter what we do. We will continue to see the ice caps melt, global sea level rise, and epic droughts that threaten the most basic components to our long term survival. We will not only be uncomfortably warm, we will be destined for an exhaustive societal collapse. The Earth will still remain, but it will not be a place that entertains human life.

Source

#7: A Supervolcano

The most distressing fact about supervolacnoes is that we already know of one that is due for an exceptionally aggressive event. The Yellowstone Caldera spans nearly 1,500 square miles of Wyoming terrain and has experienced at least three supereruptions in the past. Each time this happens, a staggeringly vast amount of magma becomes displaced onto the Earth's surface. The eruption results in a significantly large amount of volcanic ash being thrust into our atmosphere to cause widespread disruption in our global ecosystem. The sky literally goes dark. Without sufficient radiation from sunlight to grow our food and power life, our chances of survival are overwhelmingly grim. The real bummer is that we don't think there's anything we can do to stop it.

#8: Ecosystem Collapse

If we keep making colossal alterations to our ecosystems, we cannot predictably rely on them to sustain us as a species. Like it or not, we are dependent on much of the other life that exists with us on this pale blue dot. If the oceans keep getting warmer, we will kill off the phytoplankton that currently produce about half of the breathable oxygen on our planet. As you may well know, we need oxygen to survive. If we keep overfishing our oceans, we will lose access to an invaluable food resource. If we keep demolishing niche organisms that exist in rain forests and other systems, we will lose our ability to reap the benefits of their varied biological traits. The fact is, we do not understand how current biodiversity contributes to our sustainability. If we keep hacking away at branches in our evolutionary family tree, there is no way of insuring our long term survival.

Source

#9: Pissed off Aliens

Given the sheer enormity of our Universe, I personally believe it to be ludicrous to believe that we are completely alone. According to the most recent approximations of the Drake Equation, which uses pertinent coefficients to estimate the number of advanced civilizations, there are at least 1,000 examples in our galaxy alone. Given that even our Observable Universe consists of at least 225 billion galaxies, I'd say our certainty of at least one other intelligent species is rather conservative. The question is whether or not these entities can actually get to us. This would probably involve the development of a warp drive, or other FTL mode of travel. As unlikely as that sounds, it would be rather ignorant of us to assert that no one has figured it out yet. If a civilization is going to go through all the effort necessary to get here, they probably have an ulterior motive. I find it rather unlikely that they would just want to say hi and be on their way. Also, if they are smart/powerful enough to master FTL travel, our current line of defense would probably consist of a mundane annoyance to them. Even so, we will probably destroy ourselves before anyone else gets here to do whatever they're going to do. So we got that going for us.

#10: Zombie Outbreak!

Though this is an admittedly comical inclusion, there are actually parasites that control the minds and bodies of their host. This phenomenon is well documented in the zombification of ants, spiders, grasshoppers, crabs, rats, fish, snails, caterpillars, and many types of larvae. Though we normally consider ourselves above these subhuman organisms, there isn't really a reliable biological reason for us to be immune to this type of takeover. Though we wouldn't be dead, as in the classical zombie case, many of the other distinguishing traits would be present. The most important of which would be loss of control of our bodily processes and the transmission of the parasite to other human hosts. All that would need to happen is a genetic modification of an existing zombifying parasite that would allow it to infect and interface with human control mechanisms. Sounds like the stuff of horror movies, but the science is actually there.

You've read what I have to say, now let me know your thoughts:

How do you think it will happen?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Luke M Simmons profile imageAUTHOR

      Luke M. Simmons 

      3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @SYTL & AS: yep, those guidestones would prevent most of these things from happening. We should probably be paying more attention to them now... or paying attention to VICE... or, you know, any other rational people.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 

      3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      SYTL - Then we head for Georgia and pay closer attention to those guide stones!

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 

      3 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      What if all these things happen, and we survive, and have to live with the aftereffects?????

    • Luke M Simmons profile imageAUTHOR

      Luke M. Simmons 

      3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @Catherine & Pstraudie: The last two are definitely there for a bit of comic relief, but not beyond the realm of possibility in my opinion. Thank you both for your support and distribution.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      3 years ago from sunny Florida

      Well, now, if I were preparing to retire for the night, I am not certain this would be the hub I would choose to read and consider.

      Who knows how the end will come? Certainly these are possible...at least some of them anyway.

      Well written and interesting

      Angels are on the way to you this evening ps

      Voted up and shared

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 

      3 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Except for the aliens and the zombies, they are all serious possibilities. The AI wouldn't even have to be super intelligent. It could actually be quite dumb. What if there was some runaway doomsday effect and no one could turn it off? Good hub. Very well done. Loved it. H+, voting up, and more.

    • Luke M Simmons profile imageAUTHOR

      Luke M. Simmons 

      3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @SP: yeah man, gotta know your laws of robotics!

      @Rodric: Yes, hopefully this is what happens.

    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Anthony Johnson 

      3 years ago from Peoria, Arizona

      I think if would be more like this Luke:

      "Protect humans from selves, remove their agency to pullute the environment!"

    • Sharp Points profile image

      Sharp Points 

      3 years ago from Big Bear Lake, California

      Haha yes! That's the one. Glad you know what's up.

    • Luke M Simmons profile imageAUTHOR

      Luke M. Simmons 

      3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @AS: There is a very good chance AI will save us in the future, but my worry is outlined in the following logic of a sentient AI:

      1) First directive, must protect humans.

      2) Learned that humans need environment to survive.

      3) Learned that humans are ruining the environment.

      4) Resolution: must protect humans from humans.

      5) Illogical, illogical... [sparks]... Kill All Humans.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 

      3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I did this topic for a hub a few years ago. Yours is funnier, LOL. But mine didn't include artificial intelligence. Personally, I feel that AI will actually save us in the future. Or it will cause us to become too complacent to save ourselves.

    • Luke M Simmons profile imageAUTHOR

      Luke M. Simmons 

      3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @Rodrica: I always try to inject some humor into my writing... thanks for picking up on that. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      @SP: Super good point about indigenous tribes being immune to most of this; something I hadn't thought about when writing this.

      Is this the quote you are thinking of?

      "The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles … hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worldwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages … And we think some plastic bags and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference? The planet isn’t going anywhere. WE are!" - GC

    • Sharp Points profile image

      Sharp Points 

      3 years ago from Big Bear Lake, California

      Great article! I don't believe we could completely destroy ourselves with nuclear energy, although it sure would put a huge dent in humanity. I feel like there are enough humans that are not part of this 'system' that we are part of, off the grid, or even tribes unknown to the rest of us would keep us merely endangered. The real threats I see would be humans destroying the ecosystem through global warming or through straight up trashing the Earth, or a blast/burst/beam from some corner of the universe (which includes pissed off aliens.)

      Like you said, "The World" itself will not end for a long time. What may and likely will end before too long is "OUR World."

      This reminds me of something George Carlin said about plastic, I wish I could remember it.

      Anyway, great article! Got my brain juices flowing! Voted up!

    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Anthony Johnson 

      3 years ago from Peoria, Arizona

      This was a great diversion if nothing else and I enjoyed reading it. I do not agree with human produced global warming, but I find this funny. Voted up.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)