Every generation thinks it’s the last one, that it will see the End of Days through moral failing or external invasion or biblical prophecy. So on the one hand, worrying about the Apocalypse is something everyone goes through at some stage. On the other hand, we’re probably the last generation, doomed to see the End of Days through our moral failings and external invasion and biblical prophecy.
Here are six ways it could play out.
Climate change seems fairly plausible
Recently, oil company Santos revealed their long-range plans are based on a global temperature increase of 4°C. That kind of change will mean massive shifts in weather patterns that will destroy our crops, not to mention (at least) our coastal cities. Say goodbye to Wollongong is what we mean. And for the purposes of this article, it’s worth noting that ancient viruses and bacteria, long frozen in ice, are waking up – and we have no way of knowing how they’ll affect/infect us.
A global pandemic could wipe us all out
Play a few rounds of this co-operative boardgame, and it’s easy to see how rapidly disease can spread from city to city until we’re desperately quarantining entire continents and turning on each other. If gaming isn’t your thing, watch a few modern zombie movies for the same effect. Yes, there’ll be a ragtag group of survivors battling against the odds in search of a cure before it’s too late, but as Nikita Khrushchev (allegedly) once said, the living will envy the dead.
Mutually Assured Destruction could be back at any moment
Speaking of the Soviet Union, back when the USA and USSR were the two superpowers locked in a twilight struggle for global dominance, one of the less reassuring philosophies guiding their ideological battle was that of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). Put simply, neither side would risk all-out thermonuclear war because the response would destroy them as well. For a decade or so post-Fall, we could relax knowing we lived under a unipower system, but now Russia’s on the rise again and America’s all out of diplomacy.
Remember the asteroid that killed dinosaurs? That could happen again
It’s fairly well established that 66 million years ago a flaming ball of space-rock crashed into Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula and created the Chicxulub crater... as well as completely decimating our planet’s ecosystem. Hollywood might have you convinced we’ll spot any of its siblings heading our way in time to send a lantern-jawed science-hero up to deflect that asteroid’s trajectory, but the truth is that our asteroid-detection skills leave a lot to be desired.
Robots rise up and destroy us
This is the one that gets people’s eyes rolling, but that’s probably because they haven’t realised how far we’ve come in the development of AI technology. Not only that, but for some reason we’re teaching robots how to fire handguns. All that's left to do is wait for them to become self-aware and then bow before our new masters.
Everything in Revelations might be true
It’s the book that’s been terrifying article writers since they were a little boy sneaking peeks at the back of the Bible in Sunday School. There’s no way I'm fact-checking the dimly remembered stuff about opening vials or cracking seals and angels blowing trumpets to herald an era of darkness and persecution. Those websites all have scary paintings of multi-headed dragons rising up from seas of blood, and some of us need a good night’s sleep, thank you very much.
The Story of God airs Sundays at 8:40pm on SBS. Watch the apocalypse episode right here at SBS On Demand: