By Sina S.
Many life forms have come and gone. Dinosaurs, dodos, passenger pigeons, thylacines, etcetera. This raises an important question: when is it our turn to die? How will we cease to exist, and why?
There are two main factors to consider when speculating the end of humanity. Will nature cause us to perish, or will we end ourselves?
Many believe that diseases will kill every person on Earth.
Some bacteria are becoming resistant to our antibiotics, but they are able to be stopped by bacteriophages, a type a virus that attacks bacteria.
Millions have died from infectious diseases like HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, and pneumonia. However, as scary as those seem, they’ve been around for thousands of years, yet we humans still persist.
As our medicines become better at preventing diseases, those terrifying illnesses could fade away. The probability of human-ending illnesses infecting millions of people will decrease, in nature.
Many countries are experimenting with biological warfare. This means that the diseases are being invented by people. The weapons are meant for the country another country is fighting.
That could get out of hand quickly. For example, if there are two nations fighting and one uses biological weapons, refugees could flee war zones, bringing disease to new regions.
Maybe our death will be like that of the dinosaurs, a giant rock from space crashing into the Earth. Thousands of meteors strike our planet every year, but most of them don’t do anything.
Most of them burn up in the atmosphere. If they do hit the Earth, they don’t do much besides splash into the ocean. Those that do hit the surface are around two inches.
However, there are some outliers. The most recent large meteor exploded above the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia. It was 20 meters wide. It caused 1,492 injuries and damaged over 7,200 buildings, without touching the ground.
The Earth gets bashed by meteors 23 feet wide every five years. These can cause an explosion the force of around 15 kilotons, equal to the strength of the nuclear bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima during World War 2.
Five kilometer wide meteors hit the Earth about once every 20 million years. Those can cause explosions with the force of 2.84 gigatons, equivalent to 56,800 Tsar Bombas. Tsar Bombas are the most powerful bomb ever dropped.
But these incidents often go unnoticed, due to the meteors landing in the Earth’s oceans, or landing somewhere where many people don’t live in, such as the Sahara.
Many fear that nuclear war will end the human race. A scenario similar to the Cuban Missile Crisis could trigger a country to unleash its nuclear arsenal. However, most countries know that it would not be wise to use their nuclear bombs, because other countries would retaliate.
But what if the bombs are dropped? The bombs themselves would vaporize millions instantly. The long-term effects are just as bad, causing climate disruption and radiation.
It only takes fifty 15-kiloton bombs to set the world into nuclear winter. Nuclear winter occurs when the soot released by the bombs would settle in the atmosphere, blocking the sun’s heat coming to the Earth. This would make the Earth colder, and cause famines from crop failure.
A nuclear armageddon would be very deadly however, it is very unlikely.
Despite all of these catastrophes, the most likely apocalypse would be overpopulation.
The Earth’s population in 1927 was two billion. 33 years later, it was three billion. 19 years ago, it was six billion. Now it’s 7.6 billion.
In 2050, experts say the Earth will contain 9.7 billion humans.
One of the biggest problems with overpopulation is that when there are more people, more people use fossil fuels. The amount of carbon dioxide would increase, warming up the Earth’s temperature. This leads to many problems.
The temperature increase would lead to rising sea levels due to melting ice caps. The sea level rise would cause flooding, many flat areas along the coasts will sink into the seas.
Especially in places like Bangladesh, Iraq, Kuwait, The Netherlands, the Baltic States, Senegal, Denmark, and Florida. Many small islands will sink into the world’s oceans like the Maldives, Micronesia, Kiribati, Fiji, Tuvalu, Seychelles, and Palau.
All of those people will need to be relocated to different countries. But will the world accept them?
As global temperatures rise, heat waves become more common which cause serious damage. Heat waves kill many from hyperthermia. So many people use air conditioning, that mass power outages occur.
The heat also contributes to increased wildfires from hotter and drier weather.
Rising ozone pollution would contribute to more respiratory illnesses.
Storms such as hurricanes would also become more severe as climate change would make the hurricanes windier and carry more rain.
The rise in population could also cause a war for resources, which could cause the previously mentioned biological warfare and nuclear warfare.
For now, humanity is still alive. But only time will tell if we will keep persisting.