As the last days of the Mayan calendar tick away, the prophesied end of the world draws ever closer. The planet has been rocked by events that we would describe as the end but life has always bounced back – so far life has always found a way. The question is: can we survive the end of the world?

There are so many ways that our rule over the Earth could end: from asteroids to climate change and black holes to global pandemics. The basic things needed to survive most are large quantities of canned or dried food to make it through the turmoil and a source of water as it is unlikely that you could store enough. Medicines and ways to defend yourself are also a necessity without the public services.

Global pandemics are a terrible danger now; with air travel carrying people all over the globe diseases can spread like wild fire. The Black Death once killed half of Europe’s people – imagine what would happen if such a deadly plague was ferried to all parts of the world in a matter of weeks. But there is still some hope. The SARS virus with its fatality rate of nearly 10% almost went pandemic in 2002 when it killed 774 people out of the 8000 infected. However, institutions from across the globe worked together to arrest its spread and drive it out of the human population and back into the animals it came from. It shows that human ingenuity can have some effect against diseases. If one does spread stay away from densely populated areas at all costs. The more lethal it is the faster it will burn itself out by killing those most susceptible. There will always be people who are isolated and will escape a plague.

Zombie plagues are a little less likely but have actually been studied by governments across the world. The Army even has a vague plan on how to deal with one! The most likely cause of origin is a mutation to the rabies virus. If this is the case avoid getting bitten at all costs. Plans to contain such disasters involve killing the infected immediately and not helping them.

Cyber-attacks are a severe threat to civilisation. Time and time again companies have found their cyber defences completely unprepared to keep out malicious cyber assaults. With a world totally dependent on computers it shows it really is our Achilles heel (shown to great effect in Die Hard 4.0). However in the event of an attack, governments all over the world would focus on dealing with it; intelligence services, police forces and other computer hackers would be focused on removing the issue. Damage would be caused by a cyber attack but eventually it would be resolved.

Asteroids are a grave threat – if a large enough one were to hit the Earth it would block out the sun for years, fires would rage across the globe and Tsunamis would ravage vast tracks of land. However there is still a chance for survival. The heavens are constantly monitored for such threats and with enough nuclear weapons to destroy the Earth fifteen times over we do have some defence against these monsters. Even if one were to hit the Earth, humanity would still go on. Billions would die but governments would have warning of the oncoming threat and would have time to prepare shelters to save as many people as they could. Those who sheltered underground and had enough stock piled food to make it through the dark period would have a real fighting chance.

One thing is certain however; eventually our Sun will die which could be seen as the end of the Earth, which would be consumed in the inferno of this dying star. However it may not be the end. If humanity has survived all the other possible trials and tribulations they would probably be so advanced by this stage they would have colonies spread across the stars. They would mourn the loss of the planet that their ancestors were born on but humanity will go on.

Timothy Winstanley

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