The Doomsday Clock is maintained by The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board, which includes 18 Nobel laureates. Its sole purpose is to represent how close the world is to global catastrophe, which is symbolized by midnight. Basically, The Doomsday Clock is the scientific equivalent of that bum who terrorizes the citizens of every city by holding a sign that reads, “The end is nigh.” Right now, said bum may have a very good point…
The clock is the closest to midnight it has been in 64 years, just 2 ½ minutes to midnight. That could change tomorrow, but the fact remains that there is a real fear that one of the following 15 catastrophes could wipe out most, if not all, of the people on earth. If the world’s governments are able to solve some of the more terrifying issues facing humanity, the clock would wind back some; unfortunately, there’s no simple solution to stop polar ice caps from melting or bees from disappearing…
Although the clock is just a symbol of the disasters that threaten humanity, scientists expect the government to pay attention to it. In 2016, scientists moved the ticker ahead 30-seconds because governments around the world failed to address threats. “The global security landscape darkened as the international community failed to come effectively to grips with humanity’s most pressing existential threats, nuclear weapons, and climate change.” That’s not a message from Lex Luthor either; that’s a message from our scientific community begging the world’s governments to take these threats seriously.
15. A Gamma-ray Burst Cooks The Atmosphere And Kills Us All
Gamma-rays are frequently spotted in the universe tearing sh-t up. It’s the universe’s way of telling us that we’re nothing but a big marble suspended in space, and we can be flicked into nothingness in mere seconds. Their explosive energy has the power to fry the atmosphere, searing through the ozone layer, and killing everyone and everything. Nothing would survive.
Gamma-rays are the most powerful thing in the known universe, and it’s entirely possible that they’re the byproduct of faraway alien warfare. Intent not to let us have any fun, astrologists predict they’re most likely caused by two collapsed stars bumping into each other. Or, maybe it’s just god flicking his marbles (that theory doesn’t show up in any scientific research papers); either way, a gamma-ray burst could kill us at any moment.
And, there’d be no preparing for a gamma-ray burst. If you’re hoping for a final goodbye, a chance to right a wrong, or tell your family how much you love them, you’re not going to get it. Double stars aren’t undetectable, and there wouldn’t be a moment’s notice before the gamma-ray lay waste to the earth’s surface.
14. Out Of Control Nanotechnology Triggers Our Robotic Overlords
The Grey Goo theory is the theory that our nanotechnology will start assembling itself and never stop. All it takes is a few assemblers to be built in a lab, they go crazy, and this results in a manufacturing rate that would consume all of the earth’s resources. Nano-obsessed scientists claim they will include provisions in the work they’re doing. They’ve yet to create an assembler, but they won’t give up trying. The day they finally create an assembler, our chances of global destruction increase exponentially.
Yeah, the “Matrix” movies are cool to watch, but they pose an unlikely scenario. It’s not that robots won’t take over the world, it’s that they’d have zero reason to keep us alive (even in a pod living in a computer simulation). No, if our electronics sought to take us over, they’d just destroy us with whatever was at their disposal. Be this violence or some other computer-generated, life-eradicating method, it’s possible our Nano-technology will be the death of us all.
13. Unstable Countries Cause A Nuclear Armageddon
There’s nothing stopping other countries from dropping bombs on our own except the power of friendship. Our ability to forge relationships with other leaders protects us from their missiles and nuclear weapons. Too bad, America is widely unpopular, kind of like the jock in a teen comedy. We think we’re popular, but that’s probably a bubble. We’re not bullies, but some smaller country (say North Korea) is still hoping for a chance to knock us down a few pegs…
There’s a lot of nukes out there too. Iran is building nuclear weapons, and North Korea has equipped a ballistic nuclear warhead capable of reaching America’s West Coast. Perhaps scarier still, is that some nuclear weapons are small enough to fit in a suitcase, and terrorists are actively seeking ways to smuggle these weapons into the country.
Global fallout is when nuclear material gets into the stratosphere. It’s a slow killer because it’s dispersed by atmospheric winds and gradually ingested by humans. Local fallout is far more deadly. That’s the mushroom cloud, a giant bomb dropped on us. Its blast kills many, and its long-term effects kill us slower with radiation poisoning. Let’s hope it never comes to that.
12. A Bioterrorist Infects Us All With A Deadly Disease
Bioterrorism is a common plot in movies, “12 Monkeys” and “Batman Begins” for example. In these films, some sinister antagonist wants to infect the world (or just Gotham) with an infectious, rapidly spreading virus. Unfortunately, life can mimic art and there’s a very real threat of some monster human releasing toxic biological agents on humanity, and we have little to no means of protecting ourselves.
There are lots of diseases capable of killing people in a single day, including meningococcus, Chagas, small pox, MRSA, and even more that will slowly lay waste to humanity. If a terrorist can contain and release an infectious disease on a large group of people (say at a concert, hospital, or in an airport), we’re all basically screwed.
If you’re underestimating the seriousness of bioterrorism, consider that our government (both democrat and republican) have a near constant fear of a biological attack. They know this is a threat that can start by turning a doorknob or shaking someone’s hand.
11. Supervolcano Eruptions Lay Waste To The Earth
Volcanic eruptions are nothing to shake a stick at. They’re responsible for some of the deadliest atrocities in history, including laying waste to all of Pompeii and most of Oro Province. Supervolcanoes are a million times more deadly than a volcano. There’s 20 that we know of on Earth, including four in the United States.
Yellowstone in Wyoming is among the most potentially dangerous supervolcanoes on earth. Most seismologists agree that Yellowstone last erupted 640,000 years ago. Since then, its magna pockets have been filling, giving it the most potential for an eruption. The biggest and probably most recent supervolcano eruption was Mount Toba, which erupted roughly 74,000 years ago. It’s widely believed it nearly wiped out all life on earth, including humanity.
Fortunately, known supervolcanoes are constantly monitored and scientists don’t believe we have anything to worry about; at least, for the next thousand years. Unfortunately, there could be supervolcanoes hidden on earth that are closer to eruption. Also troublesome is the fact that the study of supervolcanoes is a relatively new science, and we only began recording their activities back in the mid-1970s.
10. A Methane Bomb Lays Waste To Life On Earth
Plenty of scientists attribute the dinosaur’s extinction to a methane bomb, a sudden cataclysmic release of atmospheric methane. They believe that methane gases wiped out 96 percent of the ocean’s species, 70 percent of the earth’s vertebrate species, and there was a mass extinction of insects who can basically survive anything. It’s estimated that it took somewhere between 10 and 30 million years for the earth to recover.
Rest assured not all scientists agree this is what caused the world’s largest mass extinction, but those who do, warn that we’re heading for a similar fate as the dinosaurs. Global warming has led to instability all over the world, including its most obvious side-effect, the melting of polar ice caps. There could be a devastating amount of methane gas inside Antarctica’s rapidly melting ice, say researchers at the University of Bristol, England. Their research has shown that there could be up to 390 billion tons of carbon, enough really to kill us all and leave cockroaches to evolve into the dominate species.
9. Taking Antibiotics Causes A Drug-Resistant Superbug
All scientists agree that bacteria has the power to become resistant to drugs. Those who don’t agree aren’t called scientists in intelligent circles, but rather they’re called crackpots… It’s common knowledge that bacteria can mutate and gain resistance, and ultimately turn into an antibiotic-resistant superbug. Fortunately, we can stop this from happening; unfortunately, we probably won’t because we’re lazy.
Antibiotics are good for treating bacterial infections, and in many instances, they’re necessary. In many more instances, they’re overprescribed. Patient abuse is also a leading contributing factor. Not following your prescription has the potential to rapidly destroy the world, so please take all your antibiotics. Too many people stop taking their antibiotics. For example, if you’re prescribed antibiotics by your dentist; maybe you stop taking them because the pain goes away.
By doing this you’re actively contributing to the success of superbugs. Who knows what insane strain of bacteria will do us all in. It could be a mutated version of the E.coli bacteria or something else, but it could be so super awful it wipes us all out.
8. A Rogue Black Hole Rips Through Our Solar System
Our planet couldn’t escape a rogue black hole. It would enter our solar system and just start devouring everything, and who knows what’s on the other side. Its gravitational pull is so strong, it’s unlikely we’d survive the compression of black hole travel; however, maybe there’s a silver lining. Maybe a black hole will just transport us to somewhere new, as Stephen Hawking has theorized. He says they’re nothing to fear from black holes because they’re a portal. His evidence to support this is that what goes into a black hole is never seen again…
Okay, so the black hole/portal theory is based on some really flimsy evidence. The truth is we don’t know anything about black holes. They’re among the universe’s greatest mysteries. More than likely, black holes are just another murderous weapon of the unexplored universe. And, we’d never see it coming. Although huge, they’re stealthy and fast. Who knows, maybe we’ve already traveled through a black hole and are living in some alternative universe where our president is a Cheeto and Dances with Wolves is an Oscar winning movie.
7. The Spanish Flu Makes A Comeback And Everyone Dies
The Spanish Flu is a pandemic capable of killing 50 million people worldwide. Most people attribute the end of World War I to its destructive powers. It’s a killer flu. Like most flu, it starts with a fever and nausea, but the aches and pains don’t fade away. They intensify, and the diarrhea will dehydrate you to the point of suffocation. You’ve literally sh-t the air out of your lungs. When the dark spots appear on the patient’s cheeks, it’s time to say goodbye. (Except, no one’s around because who’d risk sitting next to a Spanish flu infected person?)
If you don’t die from the flu, expect to die from the flu’s fallout. If the movies are right, the people who survive the flu won’t be able to handle the economic collapse and will turn into murderous savages. Basically, raiders will take over and good people will be so marginalized they’ll need to hide underground fearful of both the flu and the evil people who’ve taken over the surface world.
6. An Alien Civilization Uses Their Advanced Weaponry To Eviscerate Humans
Aliens pose a real existential threat to humans. If they’ve got the tech to travel here, they’ve got the tech to create weapons capable of mass genocide. They’ve got a few good reasons to take us out. Maybe our resources are valuable to them, maybe they see our space travel as a threat to their space travel monopoly, or they see us as genetically and intellectually inferior and eliminating us from existence is akin to swatting a mosquito.
If you listen to alien conspiracies, you know that aliens may already be here. Although things like crop circles have been debunked (turns out some farmers just strapped some wood planks to their feet), other phenomenon haven’t been debunked. The CIA has released many documents that show our skies are frequented by unidentified flying objects, and a huge amount of people have documented their abductions. So, who knows? Maybe they’re already here and content to just live among us.
5. A Massive Asteroid Slams Into Earth
It’s entirely possible that an asteroid could slam into the earth and kill us all. It would need to be at least a mile wide to cause massive global extinction. The civilizations near where it landed would be completely eradicated upon impact, others across the globe would be affected by clouds of dust which would cling to the upper atmosphere preventing precious sunlight from reaching us. The climate would enter a period of impact winter and we’d all die. It’s entirely possible the impact could also trigger massive worldwide earthquakes and super volcano explosions.
Those scientists who believe that an asteroid killed off the dinosaurs, predict that it was just six miles wide. You may be thinking some handsome group of oil riggers will be able to enter space and nuke the asteroid a la “Armageddon,” but scientists promise this is an impossibility. Basically, if an asteroid sets a course toward earth, it will be a countdown to death day more akin to “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.” If you haven’t seen that movie, watch it, it’s great.
4. Turns Out We Were Never Really Alive To Begin With
We could all be living in a computer simulation. If the creature playing the simulation decided to erase the save file, we’d all be eradicated. Just like that, we’d disappear in the time it takes to click an x and close a webpage. This may sound like the mad spouting of a conspiracy theorist or science fiction author, but actual scientists agree that it’s entirely possible our existence is nothing more than a simulation created by another evolved civilization.
Among the modern world’s most brilliant minds is Tesla creator, Elon Musk. He is among those who lend credence to the “simulation argument,” which is the subject of Oxford philosopher and futurologist Nick Bostrom’s research paper that theorizes humanity is unlikely to reach a posthuman stage (meaning we’ll never see another creature evolve intelligently). He also asserts that we’re living in a simulation, and respected inventor Musk backs up these claims by prophesying that people will create simulations indistinguishable from reality, and this could definitely be one of those.
3. A Massive Solar Storm Wipes Out All Technology
Have you ever considered what would happen if all technology suddenly stopped working? It’s a real possibility if the solar flare is strong enough that it could wipe out everything electric. Cars would stop dead on the road. Our computers, telephones, and other means of communication would die. We’d be catapulted back to the days before the Industrial Age, the days before technological achievement; even battery powered watches would stop working.
If a solar flare caused this complete loss of technology, humanity would certainly fold on itself. People would struggle for food, water, and other necessities. Resources would be scarce because there’d be no way (besides maybe steam boat) to ship the things we need to stave off starvation and dehydration. This is a disaster scenario wherein we kill each other or watch our loved ones die. It would be neighbor against neighbor in a fight over the remaining supplies available on the grocery store shelf, or in someone’s else’s house because desperate people are a—holes. In this scenario, we lose our humanity, but enough people should survive to repopulate the world and make every living steampunk enthusiast’s dreams come true.
2. Magnetic Reversal Causes Cosmic Rays And Particle Storms
The earth is way overdue for a magnetic reversal, or geomagnetic reversal. Basically, this is when the earth’s magnetic field realigns itself. The north aligns with the south, and the south aligns with the north. It may not be dangerous, as long as the earth is able to hold onto its magnetic field and reflect incoming particles.
Oh by the way, scientists predict it will probably happen sometime in the next 100 years. Yeah, there’s a chance it will occur in your lifetime unless you’re super old and reading this. In which case, cool and lucky you, and also screw your generation (if you’re a baby-boomer) for contributing to the rampant suppression of life-saving science in order to push profits over the preservation of the human race.
Magnetic reversal could happen at any time, and it’s sure to be a disaster. In fact, it’s likely to kill us along with animals and vegetation. The European Space Agency has published research that shows the earth’s magnetic field is weakening. If the polarity of the earth reverses, we’re likely to lose our magnetic protection. Cosmic rays and particle storms would quickly kill us all.
1. An Angry Deity Ends The World
Anything is possible right? Even the highly unlikely scenario that an Abrahamic religious Judgement Day comes to pass. Or, that those religions had it totally wrong and some other God (or gods) end the world in an epic show of power. Maybe the deity ends the world with no notice, or he makes a giant production of the thing and rewards some with life (everlasting life?), and others with an eternity of suffering.
The concept of judgement, as in a deity rewards believers and ends non-believers, only exists in Abrahamic religions, such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Strange, when I put it that way it’s hard to believe those religions bicker so profusely among themselves. Out of the thousands of religions in the world, their gods seem to have the most in common; yet, they can’t seem to get along. That being said, most religious zealots would probably claim a god for their own, even if it had nothing in common with their holy texts. Good luck selling your Sundays of biblical worship to the almighty Cthulhu.