• Weird Nature

All The Ways Experts Believe The World Could End

List RulesVote up the world-ending events you think are likely to destroy all human life.

There's a haunting thought that crosses everyone's mind at one point or another: "How will the world end?" Then, we often follow that thought with, "When will it end?" There's some comfort in knowing that human extinction will likely be billions of years after our lifetimes, but there's still an unsettling feeling of knowing the planet we live on will one day cease to exist.

Many scenarios for life on Earth ending are far out of our control. There's so much that we don't know about space, the planets, and the universe, and many dreaded fates for this planet seem impossible to predict. Even though there's not much each individual can do at the moment, we can continue to live life to the fullest while still being a little curious about the planet's fate.

If you've ever wondered, "How will the Earth end?" then you're not alone. Scientists have come up with so many theories for the end of the world, and we've had a few close calls over the years. But luckily, most of the hypothesized events won't occur for several billion years. 

  • 1

    We Could Blow Ourselves Up With Nuclear Weapons And Then Bring About A Nuclear Winter

    Photo: US Navy (photo 80-G-396229) / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Not all the causes for human extinction are out of our control. All the launch-ready nuclear weapons from the United States and Russia could burn tens of thousands of miles of land. A nuclear firestorm that massive would release up to 180 million tons of smoke and black carbon soot into the stratosphere. 

    This type of explosion would lead to a nuclear winter, which would prevent the majority of sunlight from reaching the Earth's surface. It would cause temperatures to drop drastically, freezing over major agricultural zones.

    Consequently, growing seasons for resources would be eliminated for possibly a decade or longer. Most human and animal life would slowly perish due to famine. And even if any people survived food shortages, the environment at that point could be too toxic and radioactive for human life. 

    Truly cataclysmic?
  • 2

    An Asteroid Could Hit The Earth

    Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    About 66 million years ago, a city-sized asteroid hit Earth and ended life for all dinosaurs and most other species. If one asteroid took out all massive reptiles so quickly, then the same could eventually happen to human life, too.

    A massive asteroid isn't expected to hit Earth anytime soon. According to the geological records from NASA, a large asteroid hits Earth about every 100 million years. However, smaller asteroids strike more often, and there's evidence of small meteor impacts killing people within the past thousand years or so.

    Currently, the only known asteroids large enough to take out the whole planet are Pallas and Vesta, which are the largest in the solar system. The strike would have to be so severe that it would boil away all of Earth's oceans. While it's possible, it's extremely unlikely that a large collision like that will occur. 

    Truly cataclysmic?
  • 3

    An Eruption From A Supervolcano Could Be Large Enough To Destroy Life On Earth

    The Yellowstone supervolcano is capable of causing a natural disaster that many people wouldn't suspect. If it ever erupts, it could eventually lead to human extinction.

    Scientists predict that the eruption of the volcano would kill 5 billion people. Then, the smog and ash from the volcano would create a drastic climate change and block the sun. With very little sunlight, plants would die, leaving any remaining humans to starve.

    This wouldn't be the first time that a volcano took out a massive group of people. Mount Vesuvius erupted and wiped out entire cities in 79 CE. 

    The Yellowstone supervolcano is about 2,100,000 years old, and research shows that it erupts every 600,000 to 700,000 years. There are no signs that it will erupt in the near future.

    Truly cataclysmic?
  • 4

    Humans May Go Extinct As Part Of A Mass Ecological Collapse

    Photo: Jeff Keeton / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    Due to the poor way that mankind is treating the planet, up to a million species are suspected to go extinct within the next few decades. Humans have changed about three-quarters of the planet's land, which means about half a million species don't have enough space for their basic survival needs. 

    Sadly, the rate of extinction is estimated to be hundreds of times higher than it was throughout the past 10 million years. Of course, with other species going extinct, human life will soon suffer, too.

    Other species play a role in growing food, benefiting drinking water, and providing fertile soil. The more species that disappear, the less resources humans will have to work with. Thus, humans will eventually go extinct with the other struggling species.

    Truly cataclysmic?