How Will the World End? Apocalyptic Theories and Why We’re So Intrigued By Them

Zombies? Climate change? Let’s discuss how the world will end

In Good Omens, a novel-turned-series available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video, a demon and angel join forces to stop the apocalypse. Now, while the idea of good and evil teaming up is definitely comical, the idea of the world coming to a tragic end isn't exactly foreign. After all, we all believe our version of the creation story—it would only make sense for us to have theories about the end of the world, too.

Let's take it back to the beginning. Some believe the world began because God wanted to give a home to those He created in His image and likeness. Others believe life as we know it is a result of millions of years of evolution. There are those who think that life began elsewhere in space and brought to Earth with the help of hitchhiking comets from other solar systems.

As many theories (and branch theories) as there are about how the world started, there are just as many guesses to how the world will end. Below, we discuss some of our favorite—and arguably the most realistic—possibilities.

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The death of a star

Also known as GRBs, Gamma-ray bursts are one of the most powerful phenomena in the Universe. They occur when massive stars collapse as they die, thereby creating a short blast of energy that the sun would never be able to omit in its lifetime. And if this happens close enough Earth, the effects it will have to our environment could lead to our extinction.

Scientists believe that a GRB would potentially destroy the ozone layer, flood our planet with ultraviolet light and eventually (or quickly) trigger rapid global cooling. The chances of this happening, however, are slim according to deputy project director of the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope David Thompson. Then again, others think that it might have been a GRB that caused the first mass extinction some 440 million years ago.

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The drying of oceans

There are a million coincidental things that make life on Earth possible: its atmosphere, its placement in the Universe, the combination of elements that can be found, sourced and used. If just one of these aspects were to tether too much to one side or the other, things would feel a little unlivable. One possibility that scientists have come up with is that the evolution of the Sun might cause the disappearance of one of the vital facets of the world: the ocean.

There are dire consequences foreseen as the Sun continues to evolve—particularly in the way that helium builds up in its core. As time passes, the Sun heats and expands and emits more power in doing so. Theoretically, the time will come when it gives off too much energy and hitting a molecule in our oceans will be enough to boil it. Unavoidably, this will cause the temperature to rise exponentially.

The good news (if you can call it that) is that findings say this won’t happen for another billion years or so.

The collapse of an ecosystem

While some theories answer the “How will the world end?” question with seemingly inevitable changes to the planet, there are possibilities that don’t have that level of certainty—though the process is much quicker.

In West Africa, there was sixty years of drought in Lake Chad. With 90 percent of the water’s use rendered virtually useless, over 40 million people in the surrounding areas were affected. This is history that occurred in our lifetime and could very well happen again.

Others will argue that the Earth has healed itself before and can continue to do so. However, there are reports that state our planet’s healing ability has a tipping point and that we’re close to reaching it. To be specific, scholars believe in a new geological era, called the Anthropocene, where in humans cause the rapid degeneration of everything that makes the Earth habitable.

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No matter what you believe about the Earth’s origins, there’s no denying that the very-real possibilities of how it might end is frightening—but at least they don’t have to be inevitable.

Tell us: What’s the most hair-raising theory you’ve heard? And what are you going to do to stop it?

Need to satisfy your curiosity for how the world might end? Catch Good Omens on Amazon Prime Video to see just how an 11-year-old boy might just be the cause—and how the rest of humanity will try to stop it. Catch your favorite shows on Amazon Prime Video with Globe Postpaid. All Postpaid subscribers can enjoy a 6-month subscription on Globe. Simply text APV to 8080.

Words Adie Pieraz

Art Alex Lara

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