Bored & Confused: How will the world end?

Midterm season often feels like the world is ending; there are tests, projects and deadlines coming from left and right. But while we’re here freaking out about the possible end of our worlds coming from the end of our academic careers, when and how will the world actually end? Let’s explore how different sources explain impending apocalypses.

According to the interpretation of the Bible by Jehovah’s Witnesses, the “end of the world” is actually considered to be “the end of the framework of human society” in that “‘evil men will be done away with’” for “good people” instead. So, Earth will still exist. The Bible further explains that we’ll know that the world is ending when the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse — Conquest, War, Famine and Death — arrive. When these four tragedies begin to occur on a worldwide scale, the apocalypse will have begun.

There are scientific ways that predict the end of the world, as well. This January, in fact, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists officially predicted that we are 30 seconds closer to midnight on the Doomsday Clock, a countdown to the apocalypse.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists explains that nuclear arms, climate change, environmental degradation, hyper-nationalism and even the election of President Donald Trump all contribute to a more dangerous atmosphere.

Astronomers predict further that the apocalypse could occur through solar storms. Solar storms are an unpredicted increase and flash of light from the sun, causing an extreme disruption in the environment. 

Additionally, there is worry of pandemic as well. The time is ripe for a deadly global pandemic, because half of Homo sapiens live in cities — plus, we have airline travel, so we can ship the pandemic disease around the globe in less than 24 hours.

With an increase in globalization, technology, cities and population, there is an increased likelihood of interaction and the spread of disease. Not only should we be concerned about a pandemic in humans, but also a crop pandemic. Many worry about food supply, and if crops fail or there is a lack of food production, possible famine or food riots could occur.

You’ve heard about the caldera volcano under Yellowstone, which could erupt at some point and release enough lava to pave over Yellowstone Park. But that’s nothing compared to the damage that can be done by a large igneous province, which is a volcano that doesn’t explode. Instead, a huge crack opens in the Earth’s crust — often between tectonic plates — and lava just starts bubbling out.

All these events combined would truly destruct the world as we know it.

Finally, literature also explains possible ways to apocalypse. For example, George Orwell’s 1984 predicts an end of normal society and the beginning of mass oppression through war and censorship. Max Brooks’ World War Z predicts an apocalypse by “the great zombie war.”

With all these definitions of the apocalypse in mind, maybe now that awful midterm or paper you need to write won’t feel quite so bad. Your Western Political Thought midterm? Really bad. Yellowstone erupting? Even worse.