I’ve had a bad sleep cycle to start the week. And my contacts are already out. So, I’m going to do something really vital to your existence and, before the hour of the wolf creeps up on me (no, Angelo, you’re not – you’re gonna fall asleep first), I’ll tell you 5 horrible ways the world could end. You want an apocalypse? Well I’ve got five of them.
“It turns out I suddenly find myself needing to know the plural of apocalypse.”— Riley Finn
☢ Global Thermonuclear War
Alright, the Red Menace is no longer lurking behind the Iron Curtain. Things just aren’t what they used to be. Around the time that Captain Ramius jumped ship, the Soviet Union collapsed, downsized, and stopped trying to invade the bible belt of Patrick Swayze’s US of A. We don’t sing songs about the nuclear end of the world anymore, and even James Bond now fights the evil forces of water hoarders and not anyone trying to set us up the bomb.
However, while all that super power posturing and fingers on the button may be gone there are now 8 verifiable nuclear powers and more states suspected of trying to acquire atomic weapons. Plus, you have the good ole Middle East and Israel’s widely suspected but not officially acknowledged nuclear program. So, while the Eagle and Bear no longer threaten to launch salvos of ICBMs at each other, there’s enough firepower out there to plunge our global environment into a giant blanket of death.
So the next time you skip over that news article about the growing tension between India and Pakistan, go back and read it. Those guys we whine about stealing our tech and phone jobs also have their fingers on the button. I believe the Hindi word for Boom is still Boom.
☠ Zombie Apocalypse
Barring the Eagle and the Bear there’s always The Serpent and The Rainbow. Impossible, you say? Well, that’s half the reason this might happen. Perhaps it won’t be the T-Virus but corporations will definitely be responsible.
The amount of chemicals being pumped accidentally into the environment (through spills and other industrial SNAFUs) and intentionally (manufacturing wastes and even farming) is staggering. Lest you think it insignificant, ask the frogs and sea-life how they feel about it.
Furthermore, the amount of drugs and chemicals we ingest is equally impressive. Not to mention the consumption of genetically engineered foods which is entirely unprecedented in millennia of natural history. It’s really a wonder it hasn’t happened yet.
Or, perhaps, it’s already begun?
[EDIT-MAY19: Well, even the Center for Disease Control is on board with the notion.]
⚒ Crude War
A variant of the already prophesied global war for resources, it is all but accepted — even by the doddering public — oil gets top billing because it powers so much of our technology. If you still believe Western military intervention in the Middle East has anything to do with democracy then enjoy your apple pie (which, by the way, will cost exponentially more to make less than 10 years from now).
At some point, The Powers That Be could stop playing nice and start taking resource-rich land without apology. And the world will be plunged into a conflict the likes we have never seen.
⚙ Robot Uprising
While it’s long been the subject of fiction, from Asimov to Will Smith, oh wait … okay, from Asimov to James Cameron … crap! From Asimov to Harlan Ellison to the Wachowskis, the idea of machine intelligence trying to take over the world has been popular. But it’s been becoming less and less far-fetched of late.
Mad scientists are creating unmanned weaponry the likes of which we have never seen. From exoskeletal suits to nanotech, the age of the machine is already here. We’ve even perfected robotic birdflight. That’s right: robot birds! And the amount of program-run technology, from your fridge to your car, is astounding and exists without question from the general public. While you might scoff at attempts to create artificial intelligence, your computer-controlled appliance might start to scoff at you. Even back in 2004, the growth of computing power was projected to reach astronomical proportions … by 2010.
But, the kicker is, and I’ve been Chicken Little-ing this for years, now, there is already a company building robot suits they call HAL — and that company is called Cyberdyne! I really hope there’s a Sarah Connor out there, raising her son to save our bacon because the rest of you lot are too busy on XBL to notice the coming doom.
☀ Alien Invasion
If aliens attack, one plucky band of US Marines won’t save our necks. However, we consider this the least likely end of the world scenario. That’s right, zombies are more likely than extraterrestrial armies, right? Right? Well, maybe.
Let’s forget our egocentric notions and religious assertions. Let’s look at the math. NASA now says there may be two billion Earth-like planets in our galaxy, according to research from their Kepler telescope. And there are about 170 billion galaxies estimated in the universe. So, to think there is no other life out there seems, as one old dude once said, like an awful waste of space.
If they’re anything like us, when their civilization expands to the intergalactic level it’s likely they will be in a conquest mindset. So, at some point, we may find out how the Incas felt. Besides, if you were an alien culture and came across Earth, would you really want to make friends with us? I mean, we produce things like Hitler, vegemite, and Snooki.
Klaatu barada nikto, indeed.
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Well, those are only 5 of the possible apocalyptic scenarios. There are more but I’m not trying to induce mass panic. For now, you should watch the skies, support renewable energy and nuclear disarmament, try to eat more holistic/organic foods, and, for the sake of future generations, keep an eye on your automated coffeemaker.