The many ways end of the world can happen
It’s been 4.5 billion years since our planet came into existence. Well, it wasn’t fun or interesting for the most part because at least for some millennia it was too hot to embrace any life. And when it finally happened it was mostly unicellular organisms and not us. So we are kind of like newly arrived people in the neighborhood. We’ve just started and it would be so sad to see that ends so early. That’s why the world’s end or more specifically, the ending of the human race became so important to us. And that brought the many ways that could bring us the end of the world (or at least our world as we know it) to our attention.
Many different scenarios and predictions suggest a possible ending. Some of which include more accurate and real predictions including real and serious problems we’re facing today with no obvious progress to finally overcome the obstacle; World level issues that seem to question the future habitability of our home. Let’s see what kind of predictions and scenarios are there threatening our life and future.
Speaking of the end of the world immediately brings up thoughts about nuclear weapons. Maybe because it was the major problem and threat to all humankind about 40 years ago during the period called the cold war, when there was a serious conflict between the USSR and the US. At the time, men were sleeping with the fear of not seeing daylight again and starting a nuclear war. Many underground nuclear bunkers have remained from that time which indicates the depth of desperation for finding hope of any chance to survive the catastrophe.
Although the big conflict solved years ago, the possibility of a nuclear war has remained still. Today, many countries try to have a nuclear weapon of their own to ensure their security or have the upper hand when it comes to threatening other countries they conflict with. Since today’s nuke weapons are much more advanced, if a nuclear war breaks out the consequences will be more devastating.
The blast zone, which is almost 4 kilometers, will see 80 to 90 percent of all creature’s death and sever damages could reach a 25km radius. But such a thing happens; those who are in the zone can die happily, unlike the survivors who have to go through nuclear winter!
Nuclear happens when clouds of dust created by the blast, forms in the sky and blocks the sunlight. So, after the first hot days of nuclear bomb trading between countries, we’re going to see a freezing winter for about 5 years. Those who survive the winter and food shortage and other problems will probably find themselves fighting with different types of cancers and diseases. Generally, it’s hard to see mankind can survive such a crisis. Or at least it takes us many centuries of development.
It’s been years since the last time we were worried about too little sunlight on earth. Although this may also indicate global warming, this time its solar storms we’re talking about as a possible scenario of the end of the world.
It was 2012’s giant solar flare that we thought was going to end the world, which brought solar storms as a major threat to the human race. Solar storms, unlike earth storms, are actually huge disturbances in the sun electromagnetic field which results in huge, strong and fast particles accelerating toward earth. This storm can easily cut through the earth’s defending system and affect everything on it. This storm is also capable of moving out of the earth from its path, meaning the orbit, which means our planet moves out of the solar system.
It seems like a very rare and unimportant scenario but scientists take it seriously because they’ve found a big extinction about 12 thousand years ago that is said was because of the same thing.
End of the world by a gamma-ray burst
A gamma-ray burst is the burst of a very low-frequency electromagnetic radiation which is very harmful to almost any life form on earth. This kind of burst is mostly seen in big cosmic events that release tens of thousands of times more energy than our sun. it is estimated if gamma-ray burst happens somewhere near the solar system in the milky-way, lots of things can be damaged chemically, like the ozone layer that protects us from UV rays of the sun. Fortunately, most gamma-ray bursts last very little and so can only hurt the life on earth to some limit. But if one day, one of the massive ones happens, tremendous extinction on earth is unavoidable.
Anyone could guess that climate change would show up on the list as a big threat and a possible scenario of the end of the world. It’s already happening and we seem to fail to avoid it. Sea levels are still rising, polar ice caps are shrinking, more and more forest lands destroy due to fire and deforestation and many species have already seized from existence to date. Add to this the extreme weather events resulting in floods, storms, hurricanes, etc., it’s almost impossible not to think about the huge impact our lives will have on climate change. Maybe we are too stubborn to be defeated so easily, but what comes with it definitely won’t make living on earth enjoyable or easy!
In modern history, we have been a witness of notable pandemics managed to wipe out major populations and threaten the human race’s survival. During the fifth and 14th century, the plague swept across the world and took the lives of almost 15 percent of all earth’s population. Even today we see disease outbreaks in the world that with all the advances in the medical field, it’s still very hard to stop and so threatening to our survival. Like the Ebola Virus that took the life of tens of thousands of people in Africa. Unfortunately, with increasing the use of antibiotics, it seems the epidemic outbreaks aren’t going to stop for now. Our greatest defense against diseases is becoming less effective as bacteria go through mutation much faster than we create new drugs and antibiotics. That finally brings us back to the time when we didn’t have any weapon against bacterial infection and people could die from a simple wound! The antibiotic-resistance is a serious problem now and it’s estimated to be responsible for 700,000 deaths each year. Scientists say this number will rise to 10 million by 2050 if we don’t do anything. It seems like a possible end of the world.
End of the world by a black hole
Unlike what some science-fiction movies and cartoons show us, black holes aren’t something anyone wants to go near it. The possibility of our life gets destroyed in the hands of the gravitational field of a black hole isn’t as little as you might think. Actually, a black hole doesn’t need to swallow us to destroy our life! It happens much easier and way before that! There are many good candidate stars around us to become a black hole in their new life. Although they are light years away from us, they still can affect almost everything in our solar system, and so the life on earth.
Unfortunately, new studies show small black holes can lurk around even in our solar system without us knowing it. There are estimations based on calculations that there is a giant planet (9th planet) or a micro black hole beyond Pluto.
There are lots of asteroids around moving around, passing each other and us all the time. Many of them get close to the earth to be caught in its gravity and fall which creates beautiful meteor showers. However, asteroids come in different sizes and hopefully; we don’t meet the giant ones in the near future. But it seems unavoidable. An asteroid large enough to destroy all life forms on earth is predicted to meet the earth about every 120,000 years. Other than that, many unseen asteroids discovered every year that are threatening to earth. Most of these asteroids are orbiting the sun, just like us, they will probably come back to us in the future and some of them may even collide the earth.
Since we have developed equipment to discover approaching asteroids to earth, we are more aware of the big threat. Keeping an eye on the outside space is a good way to see an upcoming disaster, but it doesn’t mean we have figured the way to resolve the issue yet!
Can AI be the end of the world?
It’s been the main concern for many to see the artificial intelligence is developing so fast and almost uncontrollably. The idea of losing control of the AI and machine rising against its creator has been the main plot for lots of science-fictional movies and stories. But it’s not just a story. Scientists themselves are worried about the chance of AI take over. even if that doesn’t happen, losing lots of jobs, heavy impacts on human rights (like AI-powered surveillance) will happen that brings us to a whole new world where mankind has fallen behind the machine and in control by them.
So one problem would be AI turning against us, and the other would be them helping us too much which of course would be a disaster if you think about it as a very dangerous weapon in the wrong hand. Just like nuclear weapons, those in power can easily send their AI’s to fight each other. The AI war will have similar results as any other war but at greater scale and with a high chance of losing control over the war and damaging lots of people directly or indirectly.