Doomsday Clock, anyone? Yeah, it’s been around since the 1940s, and its creator, Dr. Edward Teller, was a key member of the Manhattan Project. The clock is a symbolic measure of how close humanity is to destruction. It’s currently set at 100 seconds to midnight. Clearly, we’re all afraid of something. Here are 12 end of the world scenarios that scare us the most. (Unless you’re into that sort of thing…)
End of the World Scenarios
We know that it’s not pleasant to think about, but the truth is that any one of these scenarios could happen at any time. So we urge you to take a look around our site and learn as much as you can. It could very well save your life.
One theory about how our planet came into existence is that a giant asteroid collided with Earth in its early days.
If another asteroid were to hit us in modern times, we would have no chance against it. If this happens, the only thing you can do is hope for a quick death or pray for God’s mercy on your soul. The impact would throw debris into the atmosphere, blocking light, heat, and oxygen. The temperature on Earth’s surface could drop to below freezing, killing plants in minutes.
Ice Age (hyperborean theory)
The Ice Age (also known as the “Hyperborean theory”) is the end of the world theory that states that the Earth is presently in an ice age that will eventually result in an absolute cold.
Several theories suggest that the Earth is in an ice age that eventually results in an absolute cold. One popular idea is that there were four periods when glaciers covered the Earthirst period, known as the Huronian Ice Age, which occurred around 2.4 billion years ago and lasted 100 million years.
Volcanic Winter (volcanic eruptions)
The volcanic winter theory posits that global cooling and other climatic changes following the eruption of a supervolcano could trigger an ice age. The last such catastrophe occurred during the Toba eruption in Indonesia about 74,000 years ago.
The Toba super-eruption caused reduced sunlight because of aerosols in the stratosphere, lowering temperatures globally by 3-5 degrees Celsius for several years. This is comparable to the cooling following significant explosive volcanic eruptions such as Krakatoa in 1883 and Mount Pinatubo in 1991.
A large volume of particulate matter was pushed into the upper atmosphere, but this layer gradually settled over India and China after one year because of their high altitudes.
The Zombie Apocalypse is one of the world’s most popular and widely discussed ends.
Some believe a zombie apocalypse could happen due to an unknown pathogen or virus. Still, it may also be caused by an electromagnetic pulse or another natural disaster such as an asteroid impact. This event would be followed by chaos, panic, and a general societal breakdown. The zombies will cause widespread fear and panic among people.
There is debate about whether zombies are real or not, but many believe that they could happen because we don’t know what lurks inside our Earth (e.g., what animals and insects might be lurking). The word “zombie” is often used to metaphorize phenomena such as brainwashed people, human bodies deprived of souls, and the walking dead.
In the scenario of a supervolcano eruption, there is a significant production of ash and sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere.
- This can be fed by gas and magma in the volcano.
- The level of particulates in the atmosphere is enough to block out all or most sunlight from entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
- This is known as a volcanic winter.
In the past, global temperatures have dropped significantly due to this scenario. Reduced vegetation led to a collapse of animal populations that feed on that vegetation.
Although global temperatures may lower from this eruption, they would most likely return to what they were before once it eventually dissipates. The leading cause for concern with the supervolcano eruption is not necessarily the temperature drop but rather what happens after it has stopped erupting.
After all, we are talking about a volcano with an eruption volume of 1,000 cubic kilometers – more than enough to blanket continents in ash and potentially plunge the Earth into another ice age if it remains for several years or decades.
This scenario is most likely to wipe out a significant number of lives, not necessarily directly because of the eruption but rather all the horrific events that are likely to occur.
The ozone layer is the region of Earth’s stratosphere that contains relatively high levels of ozone gas; it also absorbs most of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Depleting this ozone layer will lead to skin cancer, cataracts, and other medical conditions.
- An ozone layer is a layer of the atmosphere made up of molecules, primarily O3, which can absorb solar UV radiation.
- A current concern for this layer is depletion.
This has been attributed to the rise in levels of certain substances that destroy ozone molecules. The wind from sun flares would cause the Ozone Layer to be pushed away, allowing more pollution to enter the Earth’s atmosphere and surface.
There would be an intense amount of destruction in a nuclear war scenario. All the buildings and structures that were manufactured will be destroyed.
- All the vegetation that was living on the land would be destroyed.
- The sky would turn pitch-dark due to all the dust in the air.
- The sun and the stars would not be seen due to all the dust and ash particles in the air.
After nukes are detonated on land, it will look like before nuclear winter sets in. Since the bombs have destroyed all vegetation, nothing is left to filter carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
This leads to massive amounts of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere resulting in a greenhouse effect that traps heat near the Earth’s surface and rapidly heats our planet.
After a nuclear bomb detonates on the water will create a tsunami wave, as seen above. This would be the first thing you know if you’re lucky enough to survive all else and be near an ocean when nukes go off.
The power from one nuke going off under the sea can kill millions of people from drowning. If you’re not so lucky to survive being caught in the middle of a tsunami wave, then a quickly heating planet or a lack of oxygen is your demise.
The ecological collapse end of the world scenario is where humans have caused the extinction of all life on Earth. Sometime in the future, humans will extract more from nature than they can replenish.
- This will lead to a global-scale cycling crisis.
- Eventually, natural resource extraction rates will be greater than natural regeneration rates, and civilizations will crumble owing to environmental factors such as climate change and pollution.
The idea was first proposed by ecologist Eugene F. Stoermer in the 1980s and popularized by environmentalist Paul R. Ehrlich in his book “The Population Bomb” (1968).
Ehrlich saw the collapse of civilization due to overpopulation, which he stated is caused by overconsumption. The estimated rate of global human population increase peaked around 1970.
The environmentalist movement is mainly concerned with man’s destruction of the natural world, which they think could cause a mass extinction. The idea championed by scientists such as Stephen Hawking does not necessarily subscribe to anthropogenic climate change but views humanity as its primary threat.
The Economic Disaster end of world scenario is when a change in the economy causes all marginal workers to lose their jobs instantly.
This would happen when the government could no longer regulate, control, and provide for the needs and wants of its citizens, and citizens took matters into their own hands through protest or rebellion.
Once this happens, it is tough to reverse the course of events.
This would be the most significant cause of the Economic disaster end of world scenario. When people are so hungry that they no longer care about anything but one day’s food, there is a high chance that workers will revolt. The government may also collapse due to malfunction, corruption, or inefficiency.
This would be an instant economic crash that may produce another end-of-the-world scenario.
If reserves were low, countries might start trading oil for food instead of money-making other unaffordable items except for the rich and powerful few, which cause civil unrest and revolution among all lower-class citizens who cannot afford even one meal per day.
This means that the rich and powerful would control all the food and water supplies since they own most of the farmland, leading to death, famine, and disease for those who cannot afford these life essentials.
Pandemic end-of-the-world scenarios are kinds of scenarios for apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, including, but not limited to, viral pandemics. The pandemic is often a zombie apocalypse, and the metaphor is often used in fictional media as a cataclysm.
In a pandemic scenario, a pandemic disease is a sickness that spreads across a large region, for instance, an entire country or the world.
Pandemics’ origins include animal and human contact with deadly agents such as bacteria or viruses. If a pandemic disease reaches an isolated island or remote area, it may take longer for humans to develop immunity against it.
In some cases, quarantine is impossible because many people are infected simultaneously. Terrorists have even engineered pandemic diseases to create biological weapons through genetic engineering.
A global epidemic occurs when infections from all over the Earth are spread worldwide in one season, rather than being confined to limited outbreaks within countries and continents.
An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is a short burst of electromagnetic energy. An EMP can be generated by natural events like lightning strikes, solar flares, and artificial events like nuclear explosions.
Nuclear explosions produce gamma rays, which make a pulse of electrical and magnetic energy. EMP effects were seen during atmospheric nuclear testing in the 20th century and solar storms in 2012.
The burst of electromagnetic energy associated with an EMP disrupts or damages electronic equipment and infrastructure that rely on electrical power to operate.
Although most people equate EMPs with lightning or solar events and think these can only cause minor problems, there is some concern about how much damage could result from an EMP caused by an artificial device such as a high-altitude nuclear explosion (HANE).
Hanes are sometimes called “Electromagnetic Pulse Bombs,” “Super-EMP Bombs,” or “E-Bombs.” HANE represents the most dangerous type of EMP, potentially being 1,000 times more potent than a solar flare.
The effect of EMP on modern devices is causing so much concern today. The average person has dozens of electronic gadgets connected to power cords and the Internet in their home or office. These include computers, televisions, microwaves, refrigerators, sewing machines, flashlights…even wind-up clocks!
These devices are vulnerable to EMP effects because they all have computer parts, making them susceptible to damage from an “electromagnetic pulse bomb.” If you are caught out in the open during a high-altitude nuclear explosion (HANE), nothing will protect you from the direct blast energy of the blast itself.
We’ve all fears. Some of us are afraid of ghosts, some of us are afraid of heights, and some of us are afraid that a gigantic meteor might come crashing down to Earth and obliterate all human life as we know it. While the last scenario may seem like something out of a horror movie, unfortunately, it’s not outside the realm of possibility.
There have been many close calls throughout history where astronomically disastrous events narrowly missed our planet. Each scenario is chilling in its own right but taken together they provide a sobering reminder that our time on this pale blue dot might one day come to an abrupt end. If you found this article informative (and depressing), be sure to check out our other articles on troubling scenarios.