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This planet has serious problems, and it has become an amusing pass time to guess what will end it all. This article ignores the leading contender to ending life on Earth and that is our own stupid actions. The threat of nuclear holocaust has not entirely gone away and with the Ukraine issue, it might be returning. This article also ignores the any reference to religious prediction, though a few of these possibilities could be used by God as a final blow.
There are people making big money predicting what will be the first disaster to bring down civilization. Each of these candidates is supported by their own set of Chicken Littles that are convinced that the end is near. I’m not sure I agree with any of them on that point. Taking this stand is quite easy of course since no one will be around to tell me I was wrong. All of the dramatic sudden disasters are good for the movies, but none of them have the certainty of climate change combined with overpopulation.
Overpopulation and Climate Change
In another article I discussed how extending the human lifespan affects our global situation. In general it predicts that the crush of the world’s population will outpace the available natural resources. This will be coming at a time when climate change is predicted to rob the fertile areas of the planet from much needed rainfall. The result will be famine, pandemics, and wars of attrition. It is only logical to predict that civilization as we know it will likely crumble when the resources can’t support it. This will not happen in a hurry; it will take time for the world to realize just how bad it is. An article published by The Observer at guardian.co.uk claims the world is a ticking time bomb. It sites the fact the humanity has destroyed one third of the natural planet in the last thirty years; we don’t have much left. The article also agrees with the prediction I stated in my article that we will need at least two earths of resources to supply the population by 2050. You can find the article at http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2002/jul/07/research.waste. We can slow the process with serious conservation, but we need to find off-world resources. Biotechnology is working to allow us to get more food from less land and I hope that will keep us going for a while.
Next in line would be the Earth being struck by a rogue asteroid. As you well know there were two good movies and many good science fiction books written on this subject. Results can be anything from the destruction coastal cities to, what the movie Deep Impact referred to as, an ELE an Extinction Level Event. Rogue asteroids are big rocks that are wondering outside the asteroid belt. They are difficult to find and to track. There have been a few relatively close calls; within a half a million miles or so.
The Earth is struck by small meteorites on a regular basis. According to the article titled Preventing Large Meteorite Impacts at http://legendarypharma.com/jdf/impact.html, most burn up in the atmosphere but some make it to Earth. In October 1992 a fireball was seen by people from Kentucky to New York as is rushed to Earth through the atmosphere. It smashed through the back of a car and created a crater below it. That meteorite weighed just twenty-seven pounds. A rock does not have to be huge to be devastating. The Arizona Meteor Crater is over a mile long and it was created by a meteor no more than eighty feet long. It is estimated that is would take a meteor not much bigger than the Empire State Building to swamp the east coast of the United States if it landed in the Atlantic. The asteroid Apophis will make its run at Earth in 2029. The first predictions were alarming; it seemed that the odds were 1 in 37 that the Earth would be struck. More data and better analysis capability now puts the odds at 1 in 45,000. However, Apophis will be back in 2036.
Is one going to hit tomorrow? I don’t think that is very likely. The article is pressing for funds to create an early warning system. Clearly there is a vested interest in getting funds that has nothing to do with meteors, but the points are still valid. Go to the web site and others like it, and decide for yourself.
Magentic Pole Reversal
Reversing of the magnet poles is something that will happen. It can happen soon or it my not happen for a million years or so. We do know that the magnetic pole is moving. There are many articles on this subject. The explanation at Ask the Scientist, http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/phy99/phy99357.htm, and the article with the exciting title, Suns Rays Toast Earth as Poles Flip, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/nov/10/science.research, indicate that it is possible that pole reversal is due but the good news is that it could be a thousand year process; we may have a little more time. Also the real danger occurs during the reversal when our protection from the sun’s radiation goes to zero; the protection does not necessarily have to go to zero.
Less Honoarable Mention
The other doomsday predictions are, in my opinion, less valid and not worth as much of my article space. There is an older theory that our sun is part of a binary and its partner is a dark star, maybe a brown dwarf. In the original theory they named the partner Nemesis. When Nemesis reaches its closes point of approach to the sun it would be in range to affect the Ort Cloud (the cloud of asteroids around the solar system). The claim is that its gravity well will disturb the orbit of thousands of asteroids and send them hurdling toward the sun as comets. With many comets falling at the same time the odds that the Earth would be struck becomes quite high.
There are web sites heralding the approach of Nebiru. This is supposed to be a planet, sometimes called Planet X, that is in an very elliptical orbit around the sun and every five thousand years or so it makes as pass and knocks the Earth around with its gravity well. The web sites claim it is on the way and Hubble has seen it several years ago. I have a problem with that because if the government, scientist, and the military have known for a least a year about this; it would have gotten out. If politicians can’t keep their sex lives a secret they would have no hope of keeping something his big a secret. Besides, it should have been here by now.
The new doomsday theory on the block is the world being toasted by a solar flare. Web sites are noting that we have entered a time of high solar activity. We are also approaching a time of syzygy. Syzygy is term giving to the alignment of the planets. The theory is that the gravity well created by the syzygy will cause a solar flare to be sucked through the solar system toasting us before we can say ouch. What they don’t tell you is that there must have been at least a million syzygies during times of high solar activity since the Earth was born and we’re still here.
One may wonder why doomsday predictions are being hyped. There was all that hysteria over 2012. Could that have been because Sony Pictures released a major disaster movie based on the 2012 doomsday predictions? Would a movie company cause the boost in the hype? It’s not like that hasn’t happened before. Maybe the end isn’t has near as we think.