Ever since time began, humans have been obsessed with trying to foresee and predict the end of the world.
Many maniacal prophets have spent their days warning us that the end is right round the next corner, and several cult leaders have convinced entire congregations of people to kill themselves en masse, convinced the end was nigh.
While thankfully such insanity is normally contained to the fringes of extreme religion, humans do have a peculiar obsession with our own demise. While there are very few events that would leave humanity utterly and absolutely extinct, there are endless scenarios whereby we could see our numbers reduced to utter insignificance, and where it may be better to be one of those wiped out than to survive in the horrendous aftermath.
Here are 9 of the most horrifying potential cataclysms. As you read and recognize that some of them aren’t all that far-fetched at all, try not to take an anxiety attack. As the old saying goes..whatever will be, will be!
9 Catastrophes Which May End the World
1) Economic Collapse
In 2008 we got a little glimpse of what economic death might look like as the entire Western financial system came within a few days of total meltdown and collapse.
It’s easy to dismiss economic collapse as something that wouldn’t have such a serious impact. Well, think again. The freezing of credit would mean utter and absolute chaos, and we’re talking war on the streets and zombie apocalypse type shit.
You see, everything runs on money and credit, and without the free flow of it there’d be no food on the shelves, no electricity, no communications devices, no fuel for vehicles, and well, no just about anything.
While some may think such a scenario is actually desirable, that’s only because they’re sitting in their centrally heated homes with a fridge full of food while imagining it. Their opinions would likely change after the first mob of angry, hungry people kicked their front door in and ransacked their home for food, medicine, and fuel.
An economic collapse probably wouldn’t spell the end of humanity, but it certainly would mean nations wiped out, mass starvation, sweeping sickness and all out chaos.
2) Climate Change
Let us not descend into the realms of madness and claim that climate change is a hoax. While there’s still (some) room for healthy debate on what causes it, the data is pretty clear and tells us our climate is changing rapidly.
Climate change is one of the scenarios on this list that could lead to the utter annihilation of the human race. Think mega waves, terrifying super storms, widespread crop failure, and starvation, flooding as sea levels rise, civil unrest and warfare as displacement creates huge waves of refugees, and finally the environment becoming incapable of supporting life because of extremely high, or low, temperatures.
It’s unclear whether or not we have time left to actually do anything about climate change, but experts generally agree that we can at least slow it down by a couple of hundred years, even if we can’t stop it.
Until man understands he does not exist in a vacuum but as part of a fragile and delicate whole upon which we absolutely depend, the threat of extinction by climate change will remain real.
Even if a few did survive…what kind of world would they inherit? Hopefully, we won’t be around to find out if/when it happens.
3) Alien Invasion
Probably the least likely on the list since there’s no credible evidence that aliens actually exist, it still does get the old brain juices flowing to think of what might unfold if an advanced alien civilization did show up and had hostile intentions.
Would humans end up as pets in cages? Would we end up as slaves? How about as a food source? Or even the guinea pigs for alien medical experiments?
Since it’s basically impossible until we at least discover verifiable evidence of their existence, we don’t need to worry about this one.
4) Super Bug/Virus
H1N1? Ebola? AIDS? MERS? Take your pick, because any one of these and thousands of other lesser known bugs and viruses could mutate into a super bug, spread through the human population, and cause a global pandemic which brings humanity to its knees.
If you think such a thing could never happen, tell that to the inhabitants of Europe between 1346 and 1353, and the estimated 75 to 200 million (public records weren’t too accurate back then) people who died horrible, painful deaths as a result of becoming infected by what’s now commonly referred to as ‘The Plague’.
A modern day super plague could quite easily happen as a result of either bio-terrorists deliberately creating one, or due to a virus mutating and becoming resistant to all of the antibiotics we have created to fight infections off.
Add in air travel and the fact that humans move more freely and faster than ever before in history and you have a recipe for a colossal wipe out the likes of which we’ve never seen. If something does mutate that’s resistant to our advanced medicines, it’s bye bye humanity because the doctor won’t be able to write you a script for this one.
So far we’ve managed to escape this fate, but the next on the list is one we’ve managed to stave off for the last half a century or so but are now more than ever teetering on the edge of.
5) All Out War
When you think back to the numbers of people killed in the previous World Wars, it boggles the mind. In the Battle of the Somme alone there were over 59,000 British and French casualties, and that was only one battle!
It doesn’t bear thinking about what the numbers might be if we experience another all-out war today. While perpetual war seems to have engulfed certain regions of the world at present, it has yet to morph into a war between Goliaths like WW1 and WW2. Some analysts argue that we may be on the brink of another World War, but others argue that saner heads will prevail since a global war on the scale of previous ones now would almost certainly end in mutual annihilation for all concerned.
With the chemical, biological, nuclear and who knows what other kind of weapons man has created since the last global showdown, it would be pie in the sky to even hazard a guess at the sheer destruction and death that would follow.
For the first time in history humanity has created weapons that can wipe out entire cities in one blast, could take out nations within days or weeks, and could, if they fall into the wrong hands, bring an end to humanity itself.
6) A Fatal Asteroid Impact
When you look out into the majesty of space and admire the stars, you don’t register that there are absolutely massive sheets of jagged rock, some of which register easily at the size of some US States, flying around at speeds we can barely even register.
Yet there are.
If one of those were to plummet toward earth and smash into our planet, it’s pretty safe to say it would be game over for virtually everyone. Not only would the impact be incalculably destructive, but a chain reaction of volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, crop failure, disease from all of the dead bodies and a general catalog of carnage would unfold upon those who survived the impact.
While movies such as Armageddon like to paint a rosy picture and pretend that NASA would see the killer rock coming and send a Bruce Willis-like hero up to save us, the fact of the matter is that only a fraction of the skies are being observed at any one time and the sheer enormity of space means that one could easily slip by unnoticed and wreak havoc on humanity.
Alas, it would be a quick and relatively painless death as compared to some of the others one this list, but it’s still god damned terrifying to consider! And that’s not even touching upon the Nibiru cover up theory. Wait…forget we said that.
7) Pollution Leading to Environmental Destruction
Even those who deny that climate change may bring an end to our destructive ways (and us in the process), can’t deny that pollution is real and is becoming more than a small problem.
From plastic islands in the Pacific Ocean to the dumping of nuclear waste in the arctic, to the everyday destruction of the Amazon and equatorial rain forests, humans are doing a pretty good job of wrecking the planet we rely on to survive.
Will we manage to stop poisoning the air we breathe, the rivers we drink from, and the land we grow our food on to stave off a total and absolute collapse of the delicate and interlocked global ecosystem, or will we continue to exploit and destroy the world around us to the point where the vast majority of us just can’t survive?
We’ll have to wait to find out, but unless we change our habits and find more sustainable ways to eat, travel and play, we’re going to bring about an end to the very world which allows us to do those things to begin with. Yikes!
8) Rogue AI
When Mark Zuckerberg announced that he was going to create an AI assistant to help him with tasks over at Facebook by the end of 2016, we knew we’d crossed a precipice.
You see, people like Mark Zuckerberg don’t put their reputations on the line for plain old anything, and for someone of that status to make an announcement like that is a fair indicator that it will very likely come to pass.
While AI has been around for a while, it continues to get smarter with every passing year, and there may come a point when, you guessed it, it becomes smarter than us.
Now we agree that there’s a fair argument that smarter than humans is a pretty low bar to set, but regardless, when AI eventually surpasses human intelligence, we will absolutely and totally lose any and all control of it.
What then? It’s anybody’s guess. If AI surpasses us in terms of overall intelligence, it will generally mean it has fully formed decision-making abilities, and potentially the ability to reject all of the options and create it’s own, meaning it could turn against us at will if it doesn’t like us.
Given humanity’s general past, there’s a fair chance it won’t like us, and then we won’t be able to do much about it because IT WILL BE SMARTER THAN US. If we create AI capable of mass destruction, which let’s face it we probably will, then whose to stop it from destroying us en mass?
While we’re unlikely to see an I Robot scenario unfolding anytime soon, it is cause for concern in the perhaps not too distant future. Could our children come face to face with machines smarter than they? Could our grandchildren go to war with the robots that have risen up and taken over?
For now, it remains an interesting thought experiment and let’s hope it remains that way. If we’re really as smart as we think we are, we might just put a stop to this AI business before it becomes a runaway train with nobody at the wheel.
9) Universal Contraction
When scientists observed the universe, they discovered that the longer they observed it, the further apart some stars got from each other, and they concluded, reasonably, that the universe was expanding.
Since this tied in nicely with the Big Bang theory, scientists declared it a fact, and so it has remained until this day.
But if the universe is, in fact, expanding at incomprehensible speeds, that must mean it is using energy to do so, and since there is no infinite source of energy that we know of, it stands to reason that some day that energy will run out, and the universe will stop expanding.
What will it do then? Will it simply stop and stay as it is for all eternity? Nope! What will then likely happen, the experts tell us, is that the universe will contract and crush to death anything and everything it has created over the last several billion years.
The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche actually believed that the universe has been doing this time and time again, in a cycle of expansion and contraction, for all of time, and will continue to do so for all eternity. Whether or not he was right matters not, but what is certain is that everything the universe has ever created since the beginning of time will some day be crushed and pulverized into oblivion by the very same force that gave rise to it.
And that makes all of the other cataclysmic theories on this list look like minor inconveniences by comparison.
We live in a dangerous world, and everything, including humanity, is toast one way or another.
There’s nothing we love to focus on more than the weird and wonderful here at Ninestien, especially when it has a dark and depressing twist. We think this list of potential ways humanity will inevitably meet its demise makes the cut!
So how do you think the world will end? With a bang, or with a whimper? What have we forgotten to include in this list? Enlighten us in the comments below.