By Timothy Dillon
Everything that is will one day end and join all that we know that was. In life few things are certain. Besides death and taxes, modern science has done a great deal to inform us on the finite nature of our civilization, our planet, our solar system, and even our galaxy. One thing that is certain, all of this, everything, everywhere will end. So instead of getting depressed, let’s celebrate the inevitable demise of our existence by talking about some of the possible ways we’re going to go.
2012 – Dismiss the Myth
December 21st, 2012 is going to come and go and maybe, just maybe, we will stop believing in these ancient superstitions. Why people still subscribe to an Armageddon legend that outlived the civilization that conceived it is a mystery unto itself.
The myth originated around the end of a cycle of the Mayan calendar. You read that correctly. The Mayan calendar does not actually end on December 21st, 2012, it is just the end of a cycle, followed promptly by the beginning of a new cycle. From there we have numerous other theories that somehow got piggybacked on to the Mayan calendar.
Theories about Nibiru, a rogue planet that will either collide or pass by the Earth but regardless cause irrevocable havoc to our planet. There is no such planet. (Non)crisis averted. Phew. Need more? Neil DeGrasse Tyson, The Fredrick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium and all-around genius, has been preaching the interstellar truth for the better part of his career. Here is Tyson dismissing this ridiculous theory in a very candid conversation about the 2012 phenomenon:
Unfortunately, not everyone has seen such evidence. In Russia, officials have reported strange events throughout the country. A women’s prison experiencing a mass psychosis and families clearing out their local supermarkets of basic (post-apocalyptic) supplies like matches and kerosene. It was enough to provoke a response from the Russian government.
Last week, the Minister of Emergency Situations was joined by other Russian officials in reassuring the population that the world was not going to end in December. This type of behavior has even been felt locally. Bars and liquor stores around Manhattan and Brooklyn have been adding extra employees to take shifts for December 21st to handle an “apocalypse rush.”
If you remain unconvinced, this next video walks through every end of the world theory associated with 2012 and debunks them. Sorry folks. The sun will rise on December 22nd and all the “End of the World” parties will only be good for an apocalyptic hangover.
Peak Oil – The (Inevitable) End of Western Civilization
Oil wells do not last forever. This is a very simple thought, but really take that in, and digest it. How does it sit? If you are relatively tranquil; if you find it rather benign, then you are not prepared for what Peak Oil theory has in store.
Peak Oil is the point at which the planet Earth has reached the peak of its oil production, not to be confused with using up half of our usable oil. Though it will likely occur around the same time, once peak hits, oil production will begin to steadily fall.
There are certain documentaries that imply such seriousness in their subjects, they transmit their information like public service announcements. I hold films like Restrepo in this category. Films that are honest about what they see as simple truths in our lives. In the film Collapse we meet Michael Ruppert as he discusses the basic science behind peak oil, human energy consumption, and the fundamental collapse of modern human civilization after abundant energy has disappeared.
There is not a single source of energy that compares to the yield that oil gives us. Our dependence on oil products such as plastics and other hydrocarbon-based materials makes it the most sought after substance on the planet. Paul Thomas Anderson knew what he was doing when he named his film There Will Be Blood.
Peak oil is more that just a theory, in the eyes of a reputed whistle-blower like Ruppert and others, it is unavoidable. Estimates vary greatly depending on the source. Theorists like Ruppert have changed their predictions on numerous occasions as the science of oil detection has changed.
While it may be uncertain when we will hit peak oil, the moment oil production officially hits its decline, and humanity has no groundbreaking development in alternative energy resources, it’s all over. Expect civil unrest. Oil will no longer become available to all. Transportation as we know it will end on a mass scale. People will begin to starve. Cities will become ghost towns. Air travel will cease to exist. Without abundant electricity, our satellites will fall out of the sky due to our inability to control them. As of right now there is just no replacement for oil in terms of how much it contributes to our way of life.
This blurb does not do the outcome of Peak Oil theory justice. For the full effect, be sure to enjoy Collapse in its entirety:
Impact Event – Keyhole of Death’s Door
Apophis is the Egyptian God of death and chaos. 99942 Apophis is a large asteroid that just so happens to be passing near Earth. It is not quite as big as the one that finished off the dinosaurs, but large enough to devastate life on our planet. This asteroid was named Apophis once scientists discovered a slightly higher than usual chance that it will impact Earth in the year 2036.
Impact events are not a new thing for the Universe. It is all part of the intergalactic billiard game that the Universe started with the Big Bang. Besides the asteroid that caused a major extinction event in Earth’s past, the Earth is no stranger to getting rock flung at it. According to the Earth Impact Database, there have been at least 100 meteor and asteroid impacts that we still have evidence of in this day and age. Since the dawn of humanity, we have not seen such a large object come close to Earth, let alone pose such a threat, even if it has less than 1 in 250,000 chance. That is still better odds than all other near-Earth objects than we have seen in our recent history.
Part of the suspense of Apophis is the fact that it will actually pass very close to the Earth just a few years prior to it’s projected impact. In 2029, Apophis will come so close to Earth it will fly beneath the orbiting satellites we have. It will pass closer than the moon, and likely be viewable with the naked eye. This event is important because depending on the trajectory is may pass through what scientists have referred to as the “keyhole.”
The “keyhole” is a small section of space, where by if an asteroid passes through it with a certain trajectory and tilt, it will later swing back around to impact the Earth. This keyhole is large, and even if it does not pass through the center, it will still mean an impact event the likes of which humanity has yet to see.
Thankfully, scientists are trying to devise plans to prevent this from happening. In early 2013, Apophis also will pass by Earth close enough for more observations to be made and better predictions as to whether or not it will even come close to the keyhole. Once we know we can spring into action. For how we do this, we turn once again to the ever knowledgeable and always hilarious Dr. Tyson for his solution to this event:
And just in case you think this is the only risk we face, here is a map of all the known asteroids in our solar system as well as a list of all the possible asteroids with their impact probabilities and timelines. One way or another Earth is going to be the target of one of these devastating rocks.
Last but not least, there is the slow, creeping death of climate change. If Hurricane Sandy serves as prevailing evidence enough, the world is changing one oddly weathered day after another. Does this shock us? After all, the climate has been changing for thousands of years.
The relative climate that we know of today is nothing compared to the ice ages and hot house stages of Earth’s climate. Whether or not this is man made is up for debate but if you ask Al Gore he will tell you it’s all our fault. If we don’t run out of oil and we manage to dodge a few asteroids then we might just be lucky enough to experience this slow extinction.
Last word goes back to Dr. Tyson and some wise words on the true nature of our world. In the meantime, remember that life is short, and if the world has its way, it will be even shorter for humanity. Happy Apocalypse to all!