The first time I remember worrying about the end of the world was in 2012.
According to an interpretation of the Mayan calendar, the end of times was supposed to occur on Dec. 21, 2012. There was no main consensus on how this apocalypse would commence, but many people believed the Mayans predicted the world would end that day.
As a young teenager, part of me also believed the outlandish claim. My parents and grandparents tried to reassure me by saying that there had been many predicted doomsdays in the past. There were always people who believed them, they said, but the predicted doomsday always came and went as usual. Despite their reassurances, I still worried.
But, just as my family had predicted, Dec. 21, 2012 came and went with no surprises. Christmas came a few days later, and then came the new year.
Now that I’m older, I know that when and how the world will end has been a topic of discussion since the beginning of time. While we may never be able to predict our demise, there are many popular ideas about the subject with varying degrees of possibility.
One of the most popular theories is rooted in religion.
“I’m a really spiritual person, so I would think it would have something to do with God, for sure,” Sarah Cordle, sophomore communications and public relations major, said.
Religious texts of the Abrahamic faiths describe the end of days as a time of judgement, when God will release his wrath on earth and decide who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. In Judaism, the end of times is when the Messiah will come. Some forms of Christianity believe there will be a war between Jesus and the antichrist.
“This world [will be] done away with by the war that happens between God and Satan,” Michael Grandison, 2016 graduate and staff member of Cru, said. “God reigns victorious with his people, and then a new world is created from that.”
According to the texts of these religions, there will be many signs of the end of times including famines, plagues, wars, and natural disasters.
Another popular end-of-world theory is that environmental changes caused by humanity will cause the extinction of our kind.
“I think it’s honestly going to be some kind of horrible environmental disaster caused by us,” Lindsey Polcyn, sophomore vocal performance major, said. “Probably within the next hundreds of years.”
According to the Daily Mail, Australian microbiologist Dr. Frank Fenner said in 2010 that humans will go extinct in the next 100 years due to “overcrowding, declining resources and climate change.”
Resources such as fossil fuels are finite, and we already see this affecting our economy through the rise of gas prices. Climate change will affect the growth of food sources and the availability of water due to droughts as well. With an already overcrowded world, it’s easy to see how this could go downhill fast and result in a major loss of lives.
Another theory, and the one I find most pressing, is the possibility of a nuclear war.
“Honestly, [I see the world ending] in a nuclear holocaust in the next two, maybe six years,” Connor Campbell, sophomore international relations major, said.
For the past few years, North Korea has been testing long-range missiles that many fear may someday be aimed at the United States. This mixed with President Trump and Kim Jong Un’s heated remarks to each other have caused a real fear of a nuclear fallout.
According to the New York Times, North Korea can “probably” strike the United States, but they aren’t the only country that can strike the United States. Besides North Korea, Britain, France and China have the capability to hit the United States and basically anywhere else in the world. And if someone does strike, all hell would break loose.
A missile’s range of damage can vary depending on the power of the missile, but anyone within the immediate area of the blast would die immediately. Within a slightly larger range, others would be subject to radiation, which without medical treatment would probably cause death. For miles outside of that range there would be injury from building collapse, as well as from burns from the blast.
If a nuclear missile were to hit the U.S., more countries would get involved, resulting in more death and possibly the extinction of the human race.
While the students I spoke to had ideas about the end of the world, many of them didn’t think it would be happening anytime soon. I think it’s safe to say that humanity’s demise (both the when and the how) will be unpredictable.