It certainly has been one hell of a week. Political uncertainty and unease is a breeding ground for fear mongering and overall anxiety, amiright?
To help ease some of the tension, let's talk Doomsday Scenarios!!
In four different articles alone, and there were 30 different scenarios listed between them. WOW!!
I've cross-referenced the most reputable articles and have created a list of their TOP TEN scenarios. The first five are listed here...ENJOY!!
Asteroid Impact or Comet
Many scientists consider this the most likely doomsday scenario. Because of a 106 mile/171 kilometer wide crater in the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula, they theorize an asteroid or comet killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. What would happen now if the Earth suffered a similar impact? If we’re lucky, we’ll only suffer from flooding, firestorms, and acid rain. It’s also likely that impact debris will cloud the air and block out the Sun’s light. The impact would also release greenhouse gases (sulfur dioxide followed by carbon dioxide) and influence the planet’s climate. But if the impact is strong enough, it could affect the Earth’s core and shut down it’s magnetic field, leaving the planet exposed to solar winds and us to deadly ultraviolet radiation. While astronomers have been able to detect and predict the flight paths of some of the larger asteroids and comets, some are not so easily spotted. It also should be noted that comets move much faster than asteroids and thanks to the laws of physics, are much more dangerous. The only thing going for us? Oceans account for 70% of our planet. If an asteroid or comet landed in one of our oceans, research suggests that the water would absorb most of impact. Yes, we would see earthquakes and tsunamis, but that would be the worst of it.
This doomsday scenario appeared on all four of the lists I referenced...but after doing a little research, I’ve discovered that a supervolcano wouldn’t actually eradicate life on Earth. Our planet has suffered a few of these types of eruptions recently (2.1 million, 1.3 million, and 640,000 years ago) and there weren’t any extinctions. Let’s talk about Yellowstone specifically. Lava wouldn’t really be an issue at all. In the past, it has never flown too far, just slightly past the park’s boundaries. It’s wind-blown ash we need to be concerned about. Scientists theorize that, following the eruption, four inches of ash would occupy a 500 mile (800 kilometer) wide circle surrounding the volcano. This ash would spread throughout the United States impacting rivers, streams, and midwest agriculture. It would infiltrate the breathing air in the Pacific Northwest, but that would likely be the extent of the immediate damage. An eruption would also likely release a bunch of sulfur dioxide and cause the planet to cool for at least a decade, resulting in climate change. Yes, while all of this is terrible, it’s still highly unlikely that all life as we know it would cease to exist.
If you’re a fan of zombie movies, you know this threat well. It’s also the basis for Stephen King’s The Stand. A biological agent is a bacterium, virus, parasite, fungus, or protozoan that can be used to adversely affect human health, and as a doomsday scenario, would completely wipe-out mankind. For zombies, the contagion is spread through DNA. Depending on the specific storyline, this could mean blood, saliva, or both. In this type of a scenario, only those able to avoid a zombie attack are spared. In The Stand, a top secret government airborne pathogen is accidentally released. It spreads quickly and kills everyone who isn’t immune, a whopping 99.4% of humanity. According to Wikipedia, “More than 1,200 different kinds of potentially weaponizable bio-agents have been described and studied to date.”
The star that lights our skies is a serious threat to mankind. Solar flares are unexpected flashes of light that are observed near the Sun’s surface. They are fueled by the release of magnetic energy stored at the star’s core and are often followed by a coronal mass ejection (CME), a massive discharge of plasma and magnetic materials, and electric currents. CME’s occur on the Sun daily and sometimes they’re big enough to directly affect the Earth. In June of 2015, a solar flare generated a “geomagnetic storm that emitted a burst of cosmic rays” that actually succeed in cracking our planet’s magnetic field. The cosmic rays beat down on Earth for hours, weakening the shield and eventually cracking it. The geomagnetic storm was so strong that radio signals in North and South America were temporarily knocked out. A stronger CME could cause an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) which would destroy power grids and knock out communications satellites, which would undoubtedly result in worldwide pandemonium. If the magnetic shield is destroyed, there will be nothing left to protect us from solar winds and deadly space radiation. It would be the slow and painful end of mankind.
Many people believe that the end of mankind will be caused by artificial intelligence (robots that think and act independently). The Terminator franchise is probably the most popular storyline that addresses this threat, but many other films have also covered the topic (The Matrix, i, Robot, Blade Runner, etc.). The idea here is that if robots become intelligent enough to think and act on their own accord, they will realize that the need for mankind is obsolete. In Terminator, the AI wage war on the humans by controlling all the world’s machines (weapons, vehicles, factories, communications, etc.). While we still may be a little ways away from developing true AI, the threat it poses is very real.
Sources: Included in article.