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The End of Life on Earth

In life, they say, nothing is guaranteed except Death. This applies just as easily to human life and its reign on Earth. Sooner or later, one day, life on Earth will cease to continue. It may even happen tomorrow, you don`t know. Along with life on Earth, the planet will possibly cease to exist as well.

Meteor Strike

( asteroid (1997), Armageddon, Deep Impact )
It has already happened according to scientists, many millions of years ago. It is the most likely cause of the extinction of the dinosaurs. Consider the size of the Earth, the size of a meteor or asteroid to destroy all life doesn`t have to be massive, it only needs to be about a few miles across. `Armageddon` and `Deep Impact` are two good examples Hollywood films in recent years to show how a threat would be faced by us and how it would be defeated. A note of caution should be added that artistic licence has been added to those films, it is not believed by some to be able to land a spaceship on a meteor. The most likely way of preventing a meteor strike is to use Nuclear Weapons to destroy or divert the object. It`s happened once and the Earth is hit every day by meteorites, however most burn up in the atmosphere. Those that do reach the ground, do not have the potential to cause mass death. There is as far as I am aware of no cases where someone has been hit by a meteorite. There is a case of a person dying from a meteorite hitting her home whilst she slept and her house burning down. There is an international project going on at the moment where they are trying to track all the NEO (Near Earth Objects) out there and take relevant action. In Asteroid, the meteorite hits the Earth whereas in the other two, we manage to destroy the danger.

Viral Disease

( Twelve Monkeys )
Every now and then, there is an epidemic that wipes out large numbers of people. Two good examples of this scenario is the 1918 epidemic of `Spanish Flu` which killed millions of people worldwide. Although it was known as Spanish Flu, its origins is not known, some believe it originated in the Far East, an area where man had not been before. Others believe it came from a World War I hospital camp in North France. A third possibility is that it came from Kansas, US. Long before that, around the middle of the 17th century, the Bubonic or Black Plague wiped out many thousands of people across Europe and further afield. The disease has not totally disappeared, it is lying dormant somewhere as well as test tubes in research laboratories. Diseases are believed to have existed for millions of years in host animals before crossing the species barrier into humans. `Spanish Flu` is believed by some to have originated in birds before crossing over to humans. The SARS virus that is currently affecting China is believed to have originated in chickens and because of the living conditions of chickens and humans, the virus crossed the species barrier. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ) has identified the source of the Lassa Virus ( a level 4 virus ) as being that of a RAT. Although Ebola is associated with monkeys, they are not the host creature, because disease hosts do not die from their disease. It is unlikely that a Viral Disease would be successful in killing everyone because some people will be immune to the disease due to some genetic abnormalities. As we expand and move into areas of the world where people have never lived before, unknown viruses will appear. They are normally referred to as emerging diseases. Ebola is the best known emerging disease. In Twelve Monkeys, humans have been forced underground since a virus was released that killed the vast majority of the population. One man is sent back in time to discover more about the virus. Even though a virus has the potential to wipe out nearly everyone, some people will be immune from the virus to continue on. There is a theory which is being supported by some people that a number of viruses have arrived here after hitch-hiking on the back of comets/meteorites which have crashed here.

Nuclear War

( By Dawns` Early Light, The Day After )
With the end of the Cold War, the chances of a Nuclear War have receded now. However in recent years, there has been an increasing worry amongst countries of the rise in unstable and "ROGUE" nations pursuing weapons of mass destructions of which Nuclear Weapons is the most well-known. There is much talk of if there were to be a nuclear war tomorrow, the entire world population would be killed off, and this would not be true. The reason for that is that the world`s population is so spread out, you couldn`t hit every place were a large In By Dawn`s Early Light, terrorists in Turkey infiltrate a Nuclear Weapons Base and fire off missiles at America. America retaliates. Nuclear War would not be the end of life on Earth. Governments would have underground bases in which people would be able to survive and then once the firing has ceased, will return to the surface to repopulate it. In `The Day After`, however the Governments deliberately set off the Nuclear War caused by the Russian military build-up in East Germany.

Terrorist Attack

( By Dawns Early Light, BBC`s Dirty Bomb, Right at Your Door, Sum of All Fears, Twelve Monkeys )
It is said that more than half the world`s population has seen a James Bond film. In some of them, "You Only Live Twice" being a good example, the terrorist organisation plans to start World War Three. Apart from provoking WW3, the terrorists could release a virus which spreads round the world like wildfire like that in the film "Twelve Monkeys". In 2001, after the attack on the World Trade Center, a terrorist launched a viral attack using Anthrax. Due to the nature of the disease and the rapid deployment of the necessary medical teams, the attack didn`t pose an earth life threatening event. It is not to say a viral attack would not be "successful". American and br/itish Governments have been busy buying Smallpox vaccines as they fear this disease will be the choice of terrorists to kill as many of their people as possible. As I`ve mentioned before there would be some people to whom the virus has no effect. The least successful attempt at killing everyone on the planet using a weapon of mass destruction would be a chemical one. The amount required to kill people would be extremely impossible to produce. Chemical attacks by terrorists would be small scale like the Tokyo underground railway attack. To kill everyone on Earth, the terrorists would need to get hold of a lot of nuclear weapons but those are all securely controlled by Governments. Uranium is closely guarded in countries where it is mined and used. If a terrorist was to gain access to Uranium, it would need to be enriched but only Governments have the equipment to do this. If they had managed to get hold of one, that would more likely lead to Nuclear War between governments who blame each other for allowing the terrorists to gain access to one. Osama Bin Laden has never hidden his desire to gain access to nuclear weapons. Intelligence agencies, (CIA and MI6) think what`s more likely is that terrorists will get hold of nuclear material and make a dirty bomb. A dirty bomb is radio-active material wrapped around conventional explosives which will shower the material around a large area of land. In the early 00`s, the BBC showed a film about a dirty bomb being set off and what happens next. In Sum of All Fears and Right at Your Door, the terrorists explode nuclear weapons. In SoAF, the bombs lead to a nuclear confrontation between the Americans and Russians. In RaYD, we just focus on a man trying to survive the fall out.

Alien Attack

( Independence Day, War of the Worlds, V )
It may seem implausible to many people but it is something that should be considered. The scenario has been written about in many books and can be seen in many films. The most famous literary version is H.G.Wells "War of the Worlds". In the story it tells of an attack by Martians who roam the planet destroying all life forms. What method they would use is open to debate, they could use direct attack as we have seen in "War of the Worlds" or by stealth, in other words they wouldn`t be so visible in their attacks like we`ve seen in the television series of the 60`s "The Invaders". The aliens would face a stiff battle in conquering the planet taking into account the number of people alive today. Their technology would probably outperform ours, after all they have made the journey to us. Even if the Aliens did succeed in attacking, pockets of defence would continue for as long as they were here. Along with themselves, they would undoubtedly br/ing diseases which we would be unable to defend ourselves against. Hopefully as we see in films, the aliens would ultimately be defeated by viruses to which they have no immunity. In V, the aliens pose as our friends whilst all along abduct our people for use as food and soldiers.

Solar Collapse

( Sunshine, Doctor Who )
This, you`d be glad to hear will not occur for many millions or billions of years yet. the Sun is a massive ball of fire and is burning its fuel like car uses petrol. Sooner or later, the fuel will run out and when it does, the Sun will begin to expand. As it expands, the temperature on Earth increases and water will boil away. Before the water goes, life will disappears, unable to survive in the new environment. By this time in the far off future, man might have developed the method for leaving our planet and find another planet with Earth`s environment on which to colonize. This will definitely happen, it is a question as to whether human life will have already gone by then or not. In Sunshine, the Sun is dying and only a reboot can do it. Astronauts travel to the Sun to explode the Mother of all nuclear bombs to kick start the star. In Doctor Who`s 2005 Series, the Doctor travels to when the Sun goes supernova. The good news is that humans have moved off to another planet, New Earth. By the time the Sun goes super, we`ll have managed to find a way to move off the planet or we will have become extinct. As the Sun gets bigger, we`d moved to the next planet out and then to the next.

Technological Overthrow

(Terminator, The Matrix )
The premise is that we build superior computers and robots who we mistreat and who become self-aware. They become able to think for themselves and decide that Humans are inferior to their needs. They eradicate them as in Terminator or use humans as power cells for their computers. In Terminator, the central computer Skynet launches nuclear weapons against Russia so that they retaliate which they do. In the Matrix, the humans survive in an underground city called Zion living in hope of returning to the surface. In Terminator, the humans are on the verge of winning back the Earth but Terminators are sent back into the past to kill the leader of the human resistance before Judgement Day. In Matrix, the humans are powercells who live in a Virtual Reality world to keep their minds active.

Global Warming

( Waterworld, Day After Tomorrow )
There has been much noise made of Global Weather by environmental campaigners such as Greenpeace. The theory behind this is that due to the amount of fossil fuels ( coal, gas and oil ) being burnt, the heat produced is trapped in our atmosphere. Over time, temperatures around the world would rise causing famine as vegetation is unable to adapt to the new temperatures. Tropical animals and the diseases they carry ( e.g. mosquitos ) move north or south as the environment changes to enable them to survive. The ice-caps will melt causing the water levels to rise. Slowly, the low-lying lands will disappear, forcing people into ever smaller areas of land to live on. In Waterworld, the whole planet is water and people survive on boats. Day After Tomorrow is set as the world`s climate changes, how the top of the world is ravaged by snowstorms. In reality, the world`s temperature will not change as sudden as it does in the film but the premise that the world could cool because of global warming is correct.

Geological Disaster - Supervolcano

( Supervolcano )
We are all familiar with what a volcano is, in a simple explanation, it is a mountain that erupts under pressure with hot magma from the Earth`s crust. A supervolcano forms at lower levels referred to as a `Caldera`, a crater. Pressure builds up over many thousands of years because the events that would cause an eruption are stopped from happening. The pressure will become so unbearable that first, there will be an earthquake followed by an eruption that will shoot magma higher into the sky than any conventional volcano. The amount of dust that is sent into the sky will be too much to settle back down straight away. The dust will travel round the world and cover out the sky blocking out sunlight as it does so. Most people who were not killed by the explosion will die from lack of sun light and food. The effects will be in the same league as a meteorite hit and most people will think that is what`s happened.

Armageddon

( None aware of )
According to the Bible, all life on Earth will end with the second coming of Jesus. A battle will take place in an area of Jordan known as Armageddon. Some people have warned that because of the Iraq incidents that Armageddon is upon us. However we now know that those people are wrong. It could flare up again but as there is quasi-peace between Jordan and its closest enemy, Israel, the prospects of this is small. Things could change but personally thinking not in the short-term.

Genetically Modified Crops

( None aware of )
Drug companies think they know what`s best. Science is too complex for them to know all the consequences of their actions. GM Crops will become resistant to certain diseases and vermin therefore helping people to live and survive longer. All they are interested in is making money and they see GM as a competition and as such don`t think things through properly. These vermin are eaten by other animals in the food chain, those animals are eaten again by something else. Along the food chain, humans might be involved and because the vermin at the beginning are wiped, there is a knock-on effect. This will cause food to become scare and famine resulting from it. Another scenario is that because crops are known to cross-pollinate, plants that have not been altered will become so. This could lead food that was once harmless to humans becoming harmful, they couldstart producing poisons. A scientist once said we could produce a tomato which was tastier and redder than before. If it isn`t br/oke, don`t fix it and tomatoes aren`t br/oke. Why do some people think they have to be GOD!!!! One compromise that the companies had made was to make the GM Crops fertile thus controlling their but third world campaigners forced them to change their minds.

Scientific Experiment Gone Wrong

( None aware of )
Who knows what experiments are being carried out at this precise moment in time. They don`t have to answer to any international or national governing bodies. An experiment that they class as harmless could have disastrous consequences for current and future generations. A seemingly simple and harmless experiment could have knock-on effects, ones that they had not planned for.

Progress into Space

( Star Trek, Firefly )
Our lives progress and we leave and colonize planets so if our planet dies, the human race doesn`t. To do this, we need space craft that have the ability to travel to far off stars with planets either through faster than light travel or use of a wormhole. According to Einstein, to create a wormhole, we would need the power of an exploding star, the only star we could therefore use is the Sun which is not a wise idea. We would simply use the resources available to us on the new planet then leave. There will be planets that are younger than Earth to which we can continue on. In Firefly, we leave our planet and colonise a solar system of uninhabited twenty planets.

Loss of Resources

( Mad Max, Postman )
One of the most famous Apocalyptic so they`re called films is Mad Max. It is set in the near future where we`ve used up nearly the entire amount of human resources. All that`s left is sparse oil reserves and gangs roaming the countryside looking to capture what`s left to use for themselves. In this scenario, the human population collapses as disease, war and overpopulation take their toll on the survivors. In Tripods, humans have gone back in technological terms but in that series, it was forced upon us by aliens. In Mad Max, it was us humans who causes the damage unlike that in Tripods. Some people say we have reached the peak of technological advancement, other disagree. To give some idea, in the early nineties, the International Patents Office said that all that could be designed had been. Then years later, the DVD was launched. If we can find a way of replacing our Insatiable appetite for oil, we may end up going down this route. The Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani was quoted in `NYTimes article The breaking Point` as saying `The Stone Age didn?t end for lack of stone, and the oil age will end long before the world runs out of oil.` ref. In other words, we will find a replacement but when, I personally don`t know.

Earth`s Core Stops

( The Core )
The Earth core is a spherical mass of molten iron which is always moving and provides us with the Magnetic Shield from the Sun. If the core should stop moving, the planet would be exposed to harmful rays from the Sun. Electrical equipment would be affected first along with birds flying. The world would then begin to heat up along with famine, foods, and mass migrations. The Core has been known to swap its magnetic points every so hundreds of thousands of years. The next swap is way behind schedule and scientists believe it could happen soon in geological terms. It is highly unlikely that this would happen very soon like tomorrow. Equipment would be affected, it is unlikely we would see mass extinction if it did. The weather would be affected but the magnetic shield would still be in place.

Gamma Ray Burst

( None aware of )
When a star goes Supernova, it unleashes a massive amount of Gamma-Rays which if Earth is in its past will completely obliterate the planet. The gamma-ray will destroy the ozone, boil away the waters, it annihilate the planet. After its done, nothing living will be alive unless possibly hiding deep under ground and even then, they would need to heavily protected. The supernova would need to be close to us to affect us. Gamma-Rays were first noticed duing nuclear weapon testing but when the U.S. Government put gamma-ray burst satiellites into space to monitor Russia to see if they were getting round the Nuclear Test Ban treaty, they discovered they were coming from space. Small amounts of gamma-ray won`t destroy the planet but the amount generated by an exploding star could. Although Betelgeuse is planning on go pop either tomorrow or in the next million years, the planet would have to be in the path of the rays.




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