"The end is nigh" a common trope throughout the ages. But there are some very real apocalyptic events that could, if they happened, completely change the face of the Earth forever.
Here are some scenarios that governments around the world are making contingency plans for. But first, some Black Sabbath to get you in the mood (for no real reason).
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What kinds of apocalyptic events are there?
You can probably think of a few apocalyptic events off the top of your head. But some of the most popularized (for want of a better term) are as follows (courtesy in part of Gizmodo): -
- Alien invasion.
- Life-ending asteroid impact.
- World ravaging plagues.
- Social collapse from environmental and economic collapse
- Technological collapse
- Rise of the homicidal machines.
- Nuclear holocaust
- Technology Singularity.
- Humans all turned into batteries.
What is an apocalyptic event?
An apocalypse is defined as: -
"A very serious event resulting in great destruction and change:" - Cambridge Dictionary.
The term "Apocalypse" is derived from the Greek word meaning "revelation", or "an unveiling or unfolding of things not previously known and which could not be known apart from the unveiling".
The word is steeped in religious meaning for the end of time and has come to be applied to any civilization or life-ending event that would end life as we know it.
What is the doomsday scenario?
A "Doomsday Scenario" is "an extremely serious or dangerous situation that could end in death or destruction" - Macmillan Dictionary.
It is used as a synonym for an apocalyptic event and is a common feature of science-fiction literature, films, and other media. They can be all-encompassing leading to the extinction of all life, including humans, on Earth.
Other scenarios can be more "minor" whereby "the cultural, technological, environmental or social world is so greatly altered it could be considered as a different world." - Wikipedia.
What would cause an apocalypse?
According to sites like nzherald.co.nz, there are several potential causes for apocalyptic scenarios. These are as follows: -
- A global pandemic like Ebola or the Spanish flu after WW1.
- The eruption of a supervolcano like Yellowstone.
- Artificial intelligence - - if it turns on us.
- Extreme climate change.
- Synthetic biology and genetic engineering used for nefarious purposes.
- Asteroid impact. The Earth's history stands testament to the after-effects of these.
- Ecological collapse - Enough said.
- Nanotechnology for use as WMDs.
- All-out nuclear war.
- Poor or genocidal governance.
- Global system collapse.
Which apocalyptic events are governments planning for, if anything?
Here are 5 examples of apocalyptic events that governments around the world are at least attempting to plan for.
1. Planning for the coming zombie apocalypse
Believe it or not but some governments have actually produced disaster plans in case of an event akin to a zombie apocalypse. The United States' Centers for Disease Control posted tips on how to survive one should it ever occur.
These tips are obviously made partly in jest but have serious real-life applications in case of more realistic events such as large hurricanes. It contains information on what should be included in your emergency provisions.
"If you prepare for the zombie apocalypse, you'll be prepared for all hazards," says CDC spokesman Dave Daigle.
This includes things like clean drinking water, food, medication, tools, and other supplies. sanitation and hygiene products and first aid supplies to name but a few.
It's actually a very interesting read and I would recommend that you give it a quick once over. While it is humorously written to address a zombie apocalypse, it is applicable to many other disaster events in the real-world.
2. Some nations are planning for the worst-case scenarios of global warming
Whatever your views on this issue, many governments around the world have been planning for the worst-case scenario. Island governments are particularly concerned about the possibility of rising sea levels for obvious reasons.
One example is the island nation of Kiribati in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The island is barely above sea level as it is, and any major rises would completely drown the island.
They have contingency plans in place to buy land from other nearby nations, like Fiji, to relocate their population of 100,000 should the worst-case ever occur.
The Maldives is another island nation in potential danger. In a PR stunt back in 2009, before the opening of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, then-President Mohamed Nasheed held an underwater cabinet meeting to draw attention to the potential problem.
He has since been at the forefront of leading the charge to encourage other nations to reduce their emissions ASAP.
3. The fall of the United States has actually been planned for by some states
The collapse of any sophisticated and mature nature, like the United States, would have very serious consequences for its inhabitants. If such an event were to occur through economic collapse, famine, war or other reasons, some governments, like the U.S. have seriously thought about contingency plans.
In his 2012 book, Senator Jim DeMint states, “We are in serious trouble and very close to economic collapse. This is not hyperbole; Americans have never been this close to losing all the freedom, prosperity, and opportunity that generations of citizens and soldiers have fought and died to give us.”
The state of Wyoming actually attempted to pass a bill in February of the same year to address just this issue. Called the "Doomsday Bill" it aimed to set up contingency plans in case the Federal Government ever collapsed.
Though it was ultimately defeated it had some interesting proposals from developing their own currency to plans for addressing food and energy preparedness.
4. Technological collapse could be devastating
Another serious concern in our modern world would be a technological collapse. We are heavily reliant on things like cellphones and the internet for many aspects of our daily lives and economy.
This is a potential Achilles heel that could be exploited by nefarious agents, like terrorists with relative ease. The United States actually ran a war game for this exact scenario back in 2010.
It was a highly detailed and probable exercise whereby America's cellphone network collapsed after millions of citizens downloaded a virus-infected smartphone application. Because of the interconnectivity of things today, like the power grid to the net, it was also affected.
They also decided to detonate some bombs in Tennesee and Kentucky and a major hurricane in the Gulf. As you do.
The exercise, called "Cyber Shockwave", was an interesting one and many fascinating lessons were learned. But sadly, it turns out, no real contingency plan spun off from the war game - - as far as we are aware!
But the Pentagon has also run other disaster scenarios for other countries around the world like Pakistan,
5. Plans are in place for a life-ending asteroid impact!
NASA and FEMA have actually made some tentative plans for an asteroid armageddon scenario. They have been working alongside other international space agencies like the ESA and the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN) to run exercises in the unlikely event a life-ending asteroid makes an approach for Earth.
As it happens, NASA and its partners have been keeping an eye out for dangerous asteroids for some time. Their Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) has been watching the skies for over 20 years for potentially calamitous near-Earth objects.
Lindley Johnson, NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer, said in a statement that, “These exercises have really helped us in the planetary defense community to understand what our colleagues on the disaster management side need to know,”.
“This exercise will help us develop more effective communications with each other and with our governments.”, he added.
Exercises like this are being used to develop and refine government plans like the National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy and Action Plan.