Likely Apocalypses: Asteroid Apocalypse

It’s time to look at another possible apocalypse! (This is actually the last in our series of likely apocalypses, so if you have any ideas for other things that could wipe us off the face the planet, let us know!) This month’s apocalypse is an asteroid or meteor strike. (Probably an asteroid.) Unlike some of the possibilities we’ve looked at, this one doesn’t give us much control. There aren’t a whole lot of things we can do at the moment to nudge an asteroid if it’s on a collision course with the planet. (And, you know, sending Ben Affleck to nuke an asteroid isn’t really the world’s best solution to inevitable doom and destruction.) One day we might be able to use the USS Enterprise to pull an asteroid away with its tractor beam, but at the moment, we have…uh, we have Ben Affleck, Bruce Willis, and some nukes.
Let’s face it: in the grand scheme of things, Earth is a sitting duck. I mean, it’s not exactly going anywhere. (Relative to some astronomical objects, that is. You know, like asteroids.) Compared to the much more mobile asteroids, meteors, and comets, Earth is…well, it’s stationary. Which means that it’s a pretty easy target. And we know that we’re not immune to space bombardment — there are impact craters all over the world; currently, the Earth Impact Database has 190 confirmed “impact structures.” Okay, so 190 doesn’t seem like a lot, considering how big the planet really is, but have you looked at the moon lately? Impact craters, ahoy!
Anyway, my point is, asteroids, meteorites, and other assorted hurtling space objects have the ability to wipe us all out. The possibility is there, and it pops up every now and again.

What would an apocalypse by an asteroid look like?

Well, it wouldn’t be pretty. Big boom, lots of destruction, ash and debris covering the sun, doom, despair, yada yada. I mean, the dinosaurs aren’t here to talk about what they went through, but I can’t imagine it was anything fun.
The immediate impact zone would be obliterated instantly, but the rest of the world would probably die a slow and painful death. Lack of sunlight would mean less plant growth, which would mean less food, which would mean starvation. The water supply would probably be cut off or contaminated to some extent. The Internet would be cut off. People would lament the loss of funny cat videos and Instagram photos of people’s lunches. People would riot (because people always riot; also, see: no Internet). People would die. People would eat each other when the food ran out (well, hopefully not, but who knows). People would turn into zombies (kidding).
Of course, that’s assuming it’s a large asteroid, one capable of triggering an extinction event similar to the K-T event (the one that killed off the dinosaurs). If were smaller, then it would look a bit different. So, in that case, maybe things on Earth would change just enough to make it difficult or impossible for humanity to survive. For example, maybe the soil changes just enough so that crops won’t grow. Or it would “just” wipe out a major city or two. Or, like the Tunguska event, there would be damage, but not mass destruction.
I suppose, in some ways, that anything is possible, depending on the size of the asteroid and where on the planet it actually hits.

How likely is an asteroid apocalypse?

Impacts from space objects/debris are actually fairly common, but most of those are pretty small and land in places where no one notices. However, large meteorites (objects that actually hit the planet are called meteorites), especially extinction-triggering ones like Apophis, are rare. So while I don’t think a full-on extinction event is likely, a smaller but still devastating impact could be.

What could we do to survive an asteroid apocalypse?

Avoiding a collision with an asteroid would be ideal, really. I mean, if nothing hits us, then it would be super easy to survive, right? (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)
So, how do we avoid an asteroid impact? Send Bruce Willis and his scrappy team of drillers to nuke it out of orbit, obviously. (But in case our intrepid team is unavailable, I’m sure Elon Musk will come up with something.)
In all seriousness, I’m not exactly sure how we would truly be able to avoid an asteroid impact if one was on a collision course with Earth. NASA is currently working on technology that will deflect an asteroid, which would be pretty cool if it actually gets up and running, but as of now it’s still in development.
At the moment, all we can really do is keep an eye on the skies and track near-Earth objects as best as we can. Luckily, NASA has a project that does just that (you saw that one coming, didn’t you?) NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies has several teams who search for and track all the fun things that are zipping around out there in space. Hopefully they can give us enough notice of anything big enough that could kill us (and hopefully the DART program is fully operational when they do).
But if an asteroid hits us before we have the ability to redirect it, well, things could be bad. Our ability to survive would likely depend on the size of the asteroid that hits — if it’s a smaller asteroid, survival could depend solely on where it lands. If it hits a city, it would be super crappy to be living in that city, now wouldn’t it?

Likely apocalypses: the hyper-intelligent animal

It’s time to look at another likely apocalypse! We’re nearing the end of our list of possibilities, so if you have a possible apocalypse you’d like us to take a look at, just let us know. This month’s possibility is a hyper-intelligent animal apocalypse. I know, I know — it sounds totally out there, but hey, dolphins are super smart, and at some point they might get tired of jumping through hoops on command, so an animal revolt could be a thing one day. (Are you prepared for your dolphin overlords?)
Of course, I’m not saying that animals aren’t smart. I mean, okay, so they may not be Einstein, but animals are intelligent — some more than others (looking at you, dolphins). That said, they haven’t figured out how to make nukes (yet, anyway), so there’s that.
Anyway. If, one day, there are suddenly a bunch of animals who can communicate in Human and use opposable thumbs, what would happen if they wanted to take over the world? Just in case you’ve been pondering this burning question (who hasn’t, right?), then you’re in luck, because that’s what we’re looking at!

What would a hyper-intelligent animal apocalypse look like?

(First, I’m going to say here that “hyper-intelligent,” for the purposes of this article, is to have a level of communication, intelligence, reasoning, deduction, and analysis that is comparable to that of humans. That may be closer to reality for some animals than others, of course.)
Personally, I’m thinking a reverse zoo. At first, anyway. Honestly, I think a pissed off and vengeful Shamu would want to lock us up in similar conditions, even if it’s only for a little while. And while we’re all locked up in cages, they can a) point, laugh, and ask us how we like them apples, and b) go take over the world.
Then, of course, we’ll have to bow down to our new animal overlords.
Or maybe we’ll just spend the rest of our lives trying to escape from angry badgers bent on revenge. Who the hell knows.
Okay, in all seriousness, I’m not convinced that animals on their own could cause an apocalypse that would wipe out the human race. But, in the right circumstances, they could take advantage of an extinction event (whatever that may be). So, to speculate a little: let’s say that there’s a nuclear war (I’m not going to speculate on what causes that war, though). Let’s just say that the world goes boom. There’s nuclear winter, radiation everywhere, humans do not survive. But, like in the aftermath of the dinosaur extinction, something survives. Maybe it’s lizards. Maybe it’s snakes. Maybe it’s the peregrine falcon. Maybe it’s the Canada goose. Maybe several animal species survives. In any case, let’s say that these survivors, helped along by radiation, evolve much faster than they normally would. Now they’re “hyper-intelligent.” They may not have opposable thumbs, but they’ve found a way to compensate.
And then…they take over the world. And Earth becomes the planet of the geese. Or something.

How likely is a hyper-intelligent animal apocalypse?

Well, it depends on what apocalyptic scenario we’re looking at. The scenario in which one or two animal species rise up and take over the human race? Probably not all that likely. But the scenario in which a surviving species (or multiple surviving species) pick up the pieces of a decimated world in which humans have already been wiped out? Likely.
After all, it’s already happened. (Poor dinosaurs.)

How do you survive a hyper-intelligent animal apocalypse?

Scenario one: make friends with your new animal overlords, pronto. Maybe they’ll consider you useful. Or it’ll be a reverse pet thing. Either way, you’ll (hopefully) be alive, and you’ll (hopefully) be treated well.
Scenario two: you can’t.

Likely Apocalypses: Government Collapse

It’s time to look at another likely apocalypse! This month, we’re looking at government collapse.
Let’s be honest — if there’s a likely apocalypse that’s more likely than others, it might be this one. The world is sort of terrifying and terrible right now. And is it just me, or does it seem like the world is a hair trigger away from world nuclear war? (And if it comes to that, I’m pretty sure my country is doomed. We have no nukes, and we live next door to a country that does, but has also said they won’t come to our aid.)

What would an apocalypse by government collapse look like?

Probably nothing good. (I mean, really.) But let’s break it down a bit. For a government collapse to cause a worldwide apocalypse, it would have to be the government of a large, powerful country. It would have to be powerful enough to wreak havoc on the global economy, and would have to be big enough that its collapse would trigger a worldwide threat. So, this would probably mean the collapse of the U.S., the U.K. (maybe?), Germany, Russia, or China. Maybe France. And I think it would have to be more than one government collapsing at the same time. It might be possible for the world to overcome one major power falling apart, but two or even three or more? That’s harder.
Aside: if France or Germany collapse, would that also trigger the collapse of the EU itself? Because that would domino this apocalypse into fast-forward.
Also! I think that, for a government collapse to bring about the apocalypse, it would have to be the total breakdown in the government itself. Like, maybe a Designated Survivor season 1 type of collapse, only without Kiefer Sutherland there to save the day. Not “oh the government is collapsing based on the results of the last election.” Though…I suppose that might be true, in a slow-and-painful-death sort of way. And, of course, I suppose that the population could rise up and there could be a revolution or a coup or something, and a government could collapse because of the people. (If there was a revolution, what would happen after? Anarchy? A puppet government? A military dictatorship? The next Napoleon? The possibilities are seemingly endless!)
In any case, regardless of how it happens, a country’s government would have to fall apart, completely, with chaos and confusion and all that fun stuff. The local currency is devalued (probably), people lose money, there are riots, borders close, people (probably) die. (It doesn’t sound fun.)
And what happens after? Once all the chaos dies down, are we then left with the Hunger Games? Or maybe Incorporated? (That show was cancelled far too soon, by the way.) Or Blade Runner? Or Planet of the Apes if we all end up mutated from radiation?

Is an apocalypse by government collapse likely?

Well. I think it could be. I mean, I think it’s certainly possible. More possible than any of the other likely apocalypses I’ve talked about, with the exception of maybe nuclear war (which, in all likelihood, would be related to a government breakdown).
Let’s face it — the world is a touch unpleasant and scary right now. I think, honestly, that the world going down the road toward anarchy or dystopia is quite possible. Would that be caused by a government collapse (or many governments collapsing)? I don’t know. It could. Or it could be caused by governments hitting red buttons and the world going poof. At this point, anything’s possible, really. But I think that the world is on a very precarious ledge at the moment, and at it could crumble and collapse at any moment.

How can we survive an apocalypse by government collapse?

Um. I don’t know. Go off the grid, maybe? Build an underground bunker? Pray and hope for the best?
Honestly, I don’t know. I think that, whether we like it or not, the government plays such a big role in people’s lives (either directly or indirectly), that there’s just no surefire way to survive a collapse.

Likely Apocalypses: GM Foods

It’s time to look at likely apocalypses again! This time, we’re going to look at the possibility of an apocalypse by genetically modified foods.
Genetically modified, or GM, foods, are pretty well known. Even if most people only have a passing knowledge of GM foods, it seems as if everyone has an opinion. I mean, say “Monsanto” in a crowded room and then sit back and watch the world burn. (But, um, not literally burn.) So, can GM foods really cause an apocalypse? Let’s take a look.

What are GM foods?

GM foods are, in essence, pretty self-explanatory. They’re crop seeds that have been genetically engineered, typically for a particular purpose. (No, that purpose is not to cause zombie food. Well…at least I hope not.) These seeds may grow crops that are more resistant to weather damage, need less pesticides, grow more easily in hard-to-grow environments (like dry soil), or have a higher crop yield. (There are other reasons, and I can’t pretend to even have an inkling of them all, but those are a few.)
I guess you could say that GM foods are crops that are bred for a purpose. Like cross-breeding roses for the perfect shade of red, only with food that people ingest. Okay, okay — to be fair, breeding roses isn’t exactly the same thing. That’s more selective breeding, which has been around for centuries. GM seeds aren’t selectively bred per se; they actually have foreign DNA inserted into them to promote whatever purpose for which they’re being modified.

Are GM foods safe?

Well, this is sort of what’s causing the controversy. There’s currently no evidence that GM foods are harmful or cause health issues/defects/etc, but…there isn’t any evidence that says they aren’t totally safe, either. The absence of harm doesn’t necessarily prove safety, but the lack of proven safety doesn’t necessarily prove harm, either. So…the jury’s still out. Some countries have also banned or restricted the use of GM crops, so make of that what you will.
In the meantime, I guess I’ll just sit here and eat my ripe-for-longer banana. (Kidding; I’m allergic to bananas.)

Can GM foods cause an apocalypse?

Um. I don’t know. I mean, I guess it’s possible, since no one seems to truly know what the long-term effects (if any) are. Is it likely? Well, at the risk of sounding like an indecisive record…I don’t know. Long-term effects and all that. This is one of those things where really, only time will tell. (Though if it does cause an apocalypse, would we be able to recognize it before it’s too late? Hmm…)

What would a GM food-based apocalypse look like?

Who knows! Really, anything is possible, and I’m sure many other people have thought about this. Personally, I think it would be more along the lines of unintended consequences. I have a list of “what if’s” that fall under that. For example, what if a modified strain mutates and stops growing, leading to starvation? Or what if it mutates and ends up poisoning people? What if GM foods end up producing more allergens, or somehow lead to adverse health reactions? Will crops lose their genetic diversity? What if seeds are controlled by one or two corporations, giving them the ability to control the world’s population? (Insert twirly mustache villain here.) Will a reliance on modified food then allow people to weaponize the seeds (think biowarfare)? What if the world ends up relying on GM foods, which leads to only having one or two strains of any single crop, and something goes wrong — like famine or a bug infestation or a disease? Will the altered plant DNA eventually alter human DNA and create plant people? (I know, I know, this one’s unlikely. It would make a fun novel though; someone should get on that.)
So many apocalyptic possibilities.

Sources (and extra reading)

https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2015/02/gmo-foods-what-you-need-to-know/index.htm
https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Food-technology/Understanding-Genetically-Modified-Foods.aspx
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-truth-about-genetically-modified-food/

Likely Apocalypses: Plague Apocalypse

It’s time to examine some more likely apocalypses! (Yay!) This time, let’s look at the possibility of a deadly plague.
One of the most famous plagues in history is the Plague. That is, the Black Death (or the Black Plague). It killed over one-third of Europe’s population in the mid-1300s. As the Black Death made its way across Europe, towns and villages were full of mass graves, quarantines, plague masks, and dead people. It was not a pleasant time.
I imagine that at the end of it all, people were relieved to, you know, not be dying anymore. It was gone, and life could go back to normal, without the threat of another epidemic.
Except…it’s not gone.
No, really. It isn’t. It’s still around in some parts of the world, lurking, waiting for some unsuspecting rat or flea to pick it up and carry it around. (It was recently found in Arizona.) (Have you stocked up on plague masks yet?)
The intervening centuries have been relatively kind to our plague friend, and it’s just as deadly as it was in the fourteenth century. Sure, there are treatments available nowadays, but it can still kill you.
The “black plague” is actually a bacterial infection that goes by the lovely name of Yersinia pestis (sounds friendly, doesn’t it?). There are three forms: bubonic (found in the lymph nodes); septicemic (found in the bloodstream); and pneumonic (an advanced stage when the bacteria is passed directly from person to person). It is, quite frankly, terrifying and terrible (sort of like Ebola, but from rats and fleas). It’s super virulent, and if it isn’t caught and treated in time, it will probably kill you in a horribly gruesome way. (God help you if you reach the pneumonic stage, because you’ll probably die.)

Can the plague cause an apocalypse?

YOU BETCHA. If not the plague, then a plague. It might be Ebola. Or Marburg. Or SARS. Or some flu variant that hasn’t been discovered yet. But a deadly epidemic (of whatever) has always been a possible apocalypse – there are a lot more bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics these days, and there are some crazy deadly viruses floating around out there.
We have learned, through some awesome epidemics like the Black Death, the Spanish Flu, and even more recent epidemics like H1N1 and SARS, that bacteria and viruses are very effective at killing people. If there’s something out there that’s untreatable, deadly, and spreads quickly, well…bye y’all. It’s been nice knowing you.
I mean, apocalypse by illness is so possible that “biological warfare” is an actual thing.

How can you survive a plague apocalypse?

Get thee to an isolated compound, preferably underground, with no contact with the outside world. But make sure the people in the compound aren’t already infected, or you’re screwed anyway.
Honestly, if a fun new disease is going to kill the human race, there isn’t going to be much that we can do. If our immune systems can’t handle it, then no amount of herbs are going to save us, and no vaccines will, either (especially if it moves too quickly or mutates too fast).

Likely Apocalypses: Religious Apocalypse

So far in our list of possible apocalypses, we’ve looked at worldwide nuclear war, environmental disaster, the zombie apocalypse, and a robot apocalypse in more detail. Now, let’s take a look at the possibility of a religious apocalypse.
Okay, to be honest, a religious apocalypse seems pretty unlikely. (But if I’m wrong and god rains hellfire on us, then it’s probably also not survivable. Sorry about that.) Sure, there always seem to be a few people telling everyone and their dog that the Rapture is on its way and we’re in the End Times (and don’t forget the “Mayan Apocalypse” of 2012!), but apocalypse by deity is, at this time, not the most likely.
That said, nearly every religion speaks about the end of the world – eschatology is included in most holy writings in some way. (And, admittedly, it’s my favorite part of theology…maybe this was why my theology professors were always bemused? Hmm.) Christianity, with its Book of Revelation, probably has the best known religious apocalyptic example. And really, it sounds long, involved, and possibly complicated, what with the Seven Seals and the four horsemen and all that. But most, if not all, religions include something about the End Times in their books/texts/teachings. Even “ancient” religions (I use quotation marks because reconstructionists are bringing some of those religions back to life), speak about the end of the world. See: Ragnarok.
Regardless of what the religious texts claim will happen afterwards (a new and better world where there’s actual, honest to god world peace, for example), the end result is always the same: the world as we know it will end. Maybe God/the gods and goddesses/the Goddess/Source/the Universe/what have you just gets tired of watching us doom ourselves and steps in with the reset button. Who knows?

What could it look like?

Who knows! (I’m being serious.) Religions do talk about the end times, but they don’t always agree on what will bring about the end of the world. Now, I’m not well-versed in a lot of other religions, so what I know of their eschatology is based on Internet research. But, a quick Google search gives me a worldwide flood, a river of molten metal, demons, the Antichrist, a Judgement Day (no, not that Judgment Day), the degeneration of society (hmm…), and the appearance of seven suns in the sky. And those aren’t even all of the possibilities.
So really, when talking about specifics, no one actually knows what a religious apocalypse could look like. What we do know is that there will be doom and despair and destruction.
Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Could a religious apocalypse actually happen?

Well, if there are deities out there watching us (and the end times haven’t started yet), I suppose there’s a possibility that they’ll throw up their hands in defeat and hit the reset button on human civilization because have you looked at us lately? We haven’t exactly been the models of modern major generals paragons of peace and love and kindness and friendship and all of those other general good things.
Okay, I suppose anything is possible. But I think it’s more likely that the gods will just abandon this sinking ship and pretend it never happened, so a religious apocalypse will probably not be a thing.
But if I’m wrong, I’m sorry. And if you find yourself sitting in a lovely handbasket during the end of the world, save a spot for me, will you?

What can we do to survive a religious apocalypse?

Repent, ye sinners. Or pray. Actually, I don’t know.
 
 

Likely Apocalypses: Robotic Apocalypse

Of all the likely apocalypses, the Robotic Apocalypse is one of the most unsettling.

The Replicators in Stargate were one of the most formidable enemies for any intelligent species because they cannot be reasoned with or stopped without completely changing your way of life to one that eradicates any metal components. You can’t drive or fly away because they take every piece of metal and MAKE MORE REPLACTORS. Their only objective is to reproduce, consequences be damned. Continue reading “Likely Apocalypses: Robotic Apocalypse”

Likely Apocalypses: Zombie Apocalypse

While a Zombie Apocalypse might not be the most likely, it’s definitely the most well trodden.

Zombies are fictional undead creatures that are created when the dead body of a human being is restored to “life” again. This phenomenon is so interesting that Hollywood has made many movies on it.
In ancient concepts, zombies were created by doing magic on the dead. In modern terms, the meaning has completely changed. Now there is no magic instead the zombies are created by accidents like unusual radiation, mental illness, viruses, scientific accidents etc.
In most zombie theories, people believe that any person that dies, no matter what their cause of the death, will become one of the undead.

  • Zombies eat living things, mainly humans.
  • If a zombie bites someone, it spreads the disease to that person and they are also transformed into a zombie.
  • Some zombie viruses can also be spread by water, sexually or even by air.

Thus, if in some area of the world someone accidentally got affected by a zombie virus, they would spread the virus locally, if not nationally, within a few weeks.
What might the Zombie Apocalypse look like?
The scenario of a zombie apocalypse has been covered by many movies, video games, books, comic books, and TV shows.
The Walking Dead, for example, has covered a lot of things about zombies, how they “live,” survival, and how they might look.
According to the theories, these undead people will try to eat your brain or flesh. They will have messy hair, move like a drunken person, have a decaying flesh, and odors will be so pungent you may actually see them.
In short, they will likely be so gross that you’ll want to vomit and run away.

Is the zombie apocalypse really going to happen?

May be, maybe not. Just be prepared. Some diseases currently in existence are as deadly as any zombie virus: like rabies, human mad cow disease, all variations of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), etc. These diseases affect the human brain and have high chances of mortality. They are highly painful and can change the behavior of a normal person to an aggressive beast.
Plus, there will be a lunar eclipse across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina on Aug 21, 2017. People believe that radiation from the eclipse could be a reason for corpses to regain mobility as an undead scourge. Make sure you protect your eyes. Wear the eclipse glasses and find some indirect method to see the eclipse to avoid the harmful radiations as much as possible.

What to do for survival?

For survival, you will have to make a plan.

  • You can live only three days without water and 3 weeks without food.
  • Securely store a decent amount of water or make sure you have a way to purify a source.
  • Store enough food for yourself and family for at least a few weeks.
  • Keep everything you need at home and don’t leave unless you are going for something that is more important than your life.
  • Keep your weapons with you all the times.

Likely Apocalypses: Environmental Disaster

When we created a list of likely apocalypses, Environmental Disaster was one of the top suggestions and fears. Let’s do a deeper dive into the end of the world at the hands of an environmental disaster.

What is the Most Likely Apocalyptic Environmental Disaster?

You’re probably aware of some major environmental disasters that have affected thousands or millions of lives around the world. Some of the most common include Chernobyl, Bhopal, Kuwaiti Oil Fires, Love Canal, The Exxon Valdez, The Aral Sea, and Tokaimura Nuclear Plant among others. All these disasters are in the past. The next major disaster that shocks the world to its roots is not far away.
A major earthquake that destroys the United States is increasingly likely. Continue reading “Likely Apocalypses: Environmental Disaster”

Likely Apocalypses: World Wide Nuclear War

Let’s expand on some of the likely apocalypses we touched on back in our list of likely apocalypses.

First up in the list of likely apocalypses: World Wide Nuclear War

Nuclear war may be inevitable, but we have been lucky so far. However, we shouldn’t kid ourselves that the end of the cold war has made the threat of the nuclear war an irrelevance. In a lot of ways, things are more dangerous than ever. There are two nuclear powers who refuse to play nicely with each other in Pakistan and India, then there is the newly armed and unpredictable North Korean regime, and a belligerent Russia keen to reassert its power to the world. According to analysts, there is a 5% chance that a nuclear war could happen every decade. All it takes is for someone to press the detonation button. A single US stealth bomber can carry 16 B83 nuclear bombs. Each of those bombs can produce 75 times the yield of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and a single Trident submarine can destroy over 40 million people. Continue reading “Likely Apocalypses: World Wide Nuclear War”