Want to know how will the world will end? Here we give you a rundown of the most likely ways the human race (and the world as we know it) will be obliterated…
We’ve scoured the bookmakers and the web to find the odds of each scenario happening. If you’d like to place a bet, we’ll pay out once mankind has been wiped out. Winner takes all.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, so please feel free to comment and add your own doomsday predictions. We’ll add the best ones to the article.
Space boules: Asteroid impact
Odds 250,000 to 1
We’ve all seen the outcome on Hollywood blockbusters – an asteroid hits Earth and boom… New York, Paris and London are engulfed by fire, ash or tidal waves and a few lucky survivors in high places survive.
What they didn’t tell you about is the global cooling as a result of the ash and dust clouds. Crop failure, suffocation, freezing temperatures. Only a home for cockroaches and dogfish really.
The scary thing is, it’s not a question of IF an asteroid will hit the Earth, but when. Actually, it’s more a question of HOW BIG. Although small meteors hit the Earth all the time, it is estimated that a half-mile wide big-boy strikes the Earth on average every 250,000 years. That would wipe out civilization as we know it at the very least.
Star Wars: Alien Attack
Odds 100 to 1 (Ladbrokes slashed their odds to 100/1 in 2014. Do they know know something we don’t?)
Martians could be hiding behind the moon plotting an attack with the sole aim of destroying the human race. Or, an Alien race might see planet Earth as one giant game reserve, ripe for the hunt. That’s assuming all aliens are bad-ass.
Even if Aliens don’t want to swat us, they might be hungry for resources and see us as nothing but wasps to be swatted away to get to the honey (do wasps make honey?). They could just be looking for a holiday home, but unwittingly bring disease or introduce animals, fauna or flora that destroy our native species.
Any alien contact would have dire consequences. It would be no different to Europeans colonising/invading half the world, and wiping out the native population with disease, war and sucking up their finely balanced resources. Even now, western ‘civilization’ is making first contact with native tribes in the Amazon, and screwing up their lives for good.
Cough, sneeze: Global epidemics
Odds 250 to 1
With an ever growing population, intercontinental air travel, and mass migration, even if we don’t manage to destroy ourselves, a potent strain of bird-flu, Ebola, or some yet to be discovered horror orgsanism, could do the job.
An outbreak is very likely to be our own stupid fault. With intensive farming, over-use of antibiotics, over-population, and rapid and extensive global travel, we’ve created a perfect environment for a strain of super-bug to gobble up our organs like a roast dinner with gravy.
The Black Plague killed one in four people in Europe, whilst the flu killed over 20 million lives between 1918 and 1919, AIDS has produced a similar death toll (and we’re yet to find a cause), and we’ve only just got the particularly nasty Ebola under control.
Zika, the mosquito-borne virus associated with brain damaged babies has just broken out and could become the next epidemic. Equally as scary is that old diseases such as cholera and measles are making a comeback and have developed resistance to antibiotics…
Man made climate change
Odds 5 to 4 (yep, we’ve really screwed things up)
As the level of active research and specialization in climate science increases, so does agreement that humans are directly changing global temperatures. Last December, the UK and US joined 193 other countries in signing the first ever agreement to address climate change. However, many scientists believe there is a huge gap between the goal of 2C and the action that is currently on the table.
Existing pledges will likely add up to over 3C. Exceeding 2C of warming takes us into unchartered territory and could be devastating. What isn’t in doubt is that there would be serious consequences for food and water supplies.
What many people don’t tend to think about is the knock on effects of higher temperatures, like the increased spread of disease, the atmosphere irreversibly spiralling into a Venus-like carbon dioxide filled hell-fire, or skiing holidays being a thing of the past (resulting in Toffs and Chavs co-existing in tropical Scottish holiday destinations before killing each other in a Buckfast fuelled frenzy).
Over consumption: Pollute ourselves to death
Odds 5 to 4 (look up what happened on Easter Island. It’s only a matter of time)
A wise Indian proverb says ‘Only when the Last Tree Is Cut Down, the Last Fish Eaten, and the Last Stream Poisoned, will man realize he can’t eat money.’
We are all aware of air pollution emergencies, gigantic areas of plastic waste floating in oceans, acidification of our water, and deforestation to make way for palm plantations. Yet, we still want the latest iPhone; man can’t stop destroying everything to meet unwavering want from a ballooning population.
We are killing off wildlife at alarming rates and the loss of biodiversity is serious. We are undoing billions of years of evolution where every species is dependent on another. At least 30,000 species vanish every year from human activity. We are living in the midst of one of the greatest mass extinctions in Earth’s history.
We’ve already woken up to the fact that pollinating insects might become extinct, leading to widespread crop failure. That could be the tip of the iceberg.
Skynet goes mental: Robots destroy mankind
Odds 2,000 to 1
Skynet (‘the machines’) becomes self-aware and destroys mankind, or turns us into batteries.
There’s probably little doubt that we will create machines exceeding our intelligence within the next 20 years. The question is, will those machines realise how stupid, selfish and destructive the human race is before correcting our behaviour… by blowing us up with our own nuclear weapons and turning our own Sandwich Toasters against us?
In reality they’ll probably help us develop new medicines and mathematical solutions all sorts of problems.
World War III
Odds 50 to 1
It is estimated that the US and Russia have close to 20,000 nuclear warheads on standby. The scary thing is, nuclear wars have almost happened by accident in the past following computer glitches and breakdowns in communication. Also, although the cold war seems like a distant memory, political situations evolve quickly and events like the Syrian conflict can quickly escalate into wider conflicts.
There are perhaps even scarier alternatives to be fried alive within seconds, or dying of radiation poisoning; many countries have been experimenting with biological weapons since the WWI. Compared with atomic bombs, bioweapons are cheap, simple to produce, and easy to conceal.
Genetic engineering might lead to the creation of very targeted biological weapons that could target specific genes unique to specific ethnicities.
Down the plughole: Black hole swallows Earth
Odds 1,000,000 to 1
This probably isn’t one of the Armageddon possibilities that keeps you awake at night, but our galaxy is apparently full of black holes. Collapsed stars loitering in space that has a gravitational field so intense that no matter or radiation can escape. This means black holes consume everything around them even the light sources that might otherwise show us where they are.
Researchers guesstimate there are about 10 million black holes in the Milky Way and one wouldn’t have be particularly close to Earth to spell the end of the world.
Imagine all of the planets of the solar system being pulled out of alignment, asteroid belts being thrown off their usual course and the Earth being dragged closer or further away from the Sun. Whether we’d cop it from a peppering of asteroids, or freeze/boil to death from the sun’s path altering, we probably wouldn’t live to see what’s through the black hole.
Toasted like a marshmallow: Giant solar flare fries Earth
Odds 500,000 to 1
Solar flares are gigantic magnetic outbursts on the sun that bombard Earth with a torrent of high-speed subatomic particles. Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field protect us from standard flares, but scientists have estimated that normal looking stars (similar to our sun) can brighten by a factor of 20 in a brief burst, or superflare.
A superflare on the sun could disintegrating the ozone layer and fry us like eggs to the surface. Scientists don’t know whether our sun could exhibit such behaviour, or whether it’s just a matter of time.
Odds 1,000,000 to 1
Like solar flares, it’s not as glamorous as an asteroid strike (they don’t make Hollywood movies about gamma-ray bursts) but a radiation burst from two stars bashing into each other in a distant galaxy thousands of light-years away could destroy the Ozone layer and fry the Earth. Tiny foodstuffs at the bottom of the food-chain, like plankton, would die, thus leading to a collapse of the natural order. Skin cancer rates would by high. Very high.
Scientists understand little about bursts so it’s hard to estimate the chances of being boiled alive by one.
Reversal of Earth’s magnetic field
Odds 1,226 to 1
The Earth has a magnetic field, a North pole and a South pole (which is how compasses work daaa). You guessed it; a reversal is when North pole is transformed into a South pole and vice-versa.
We know that the Earth’s magnetic field has undergone numerous reversals of polarity throughout time through magnetic patterns found in volcanic rocks. In the last 10 million years, there have been four to five reversals every million years, on average.
The last reversal was close to a million years ago, so we may be due a switch. Before reversing, the magnetic field tends to slow down and stop. Perhaps a sign that it could be happening is that the strength of our magnetic field has decreased about 5 percent in the past century.
The magnetic field protects us from particle storms, cosmic rays, and subatomic particles from deep space. Without magnetic protection, these particles would strike Earth’s atmosphere, eroding what is left of the ozone layer. Who knows what mayhem this could cause the Earth, but it’s unlikely to be good.
Death by volcanic ash
Odds 250 to 1
In 1783 and Icelandic volcano erupted causing lava flows, floods, ash clouds, and fumes. The eruption itself wiped out 9,000 people and 80 percent of the livestock. The knock on effect killed a quarter of Iceland’s population through starvation and winter temperatures were 9 degrees lower than average in the US.
This was just a taste of what Mother Earth is capable of serving up. Some scientists believe that volcanic eruptions were the cause of mass extinction of the dinosaurs, rather than a meteor strike. It is estimated that eruptions across, what is now India, raged for century after century, unleashing lava hundreds of thousands times greater than the Icelandic eruption in 1783. Even scarier was an earlier, even larger, event in Siberia that scientists estimate wiped out 95 percent of all species.
In America, the Columbia River Flood Basalt Province forms a plateau of 164,000 sq km, containing more than 300 individual large lava flows. The last big pulse of flood-basalt volcanism was about 17 million years ago and some people think another is long overdue.
Don’t mess with mother nature: Biotech disaster
Odds 100 to 1
While we are busy extinguishing natural species at an alarming rate, we’re also creating brand new ones through genetic engineering.
So far there is little evidence to suggest that GM crops are harmful to humans. However there is evidence that genetically modified genes can cross over into other species, leading to fears of super-weeds. History tells us that when we mess with mother nature, the results are usually disastrous (even if not for the human race, for everything else).
If we throw the natural balance out of kilter, the consequences could be far reaching. A loss or change in biodiversity could undo billions of years of evolution.
On top of accidental biotechnology blundering is the prospect of its deliberate misuse. What if a terrorist group or rogue nation decide to create an airborne version of the Ebola virus mixed with the common cold, where only the chosen few are given the antidote?
Particle accelerator mishap
Odds 500,000 to 1
Scientist created the Large Hadron Collider to try and unlock the secrets of the universe. Some people have suggested the powerful crash of subatomic particles could create a black hole, which might suck the Earth inside-out.
However, physicists say this is extremely unlikely based on the laws of gravity alone. Even if it did happen, the miniscule black hole is likely to be so unstable it would disintegrate immediately before pull us all through and destroy the planet.
God has had enough – Divine intervention
Odds 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 to 1
Christianity has the Book of Revelation, Judaism has the Book of Daniel, and Islam has the coming of the Mahdi.
All of these teachings have the same concept – the high lord has had enough of us bungling humans and brings the world to an end.
We are certainly messing things up so is an end to it all on the cards?
Is there anything we haven’t thought of? Leave a comment below and we’ll add the best ones to this article.