Humanity is constantly under threat. Sometimes, it is through natural events such as gamma-ray bursts or mega-tsunamis, while at other times, the reasons are human-made disasters such as a nuclear holocaust or ocean acidification. But whatever the reason may be, these future events could possibly wipe out humanity. Keep reading the article to find out ten such horrible events.
1. Gamma-Ray Burst
The Wolf-Rayet star, WR 104, which is 8,000 light-years from the Sun, has the possibility of exploding in a hypernova and producing a gamma-ray burst aimed at the Earth within the next ten thousand years.
Gamma-ray bursts are the brightest electromagnetic explosions known to occur in the universe. They are accompanied by intense radiation. A gamma-ray burst striking Earth would immediately increase the ultraviolet radiation, but it would be relatively small. It wouldn’t cause a global catastrophe. The long-term effects of gamma rays are the most dangerous ones. They can cause chemical reactions in the atmosphere, creating nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide gas. Nitrogen oxide will deplete the ozone layer, cause photochemical smog, and cause nitric-acid rain. These could ultimately lead to irreparable damage to the Earth.
For the Earth, the most dangerous gamma-ray burst candidate is Wolf-Raylet star, WR 104. It is about 8,000 light-years away and is expected to explode within the next 500,000 years. There is a small chance that one of the gamma-ray bursts caused due to the explosion may hit the Earth. (source)
2. Collision with a Rogue Planet
One-hundred million years ago, our moon was formed when a rogue planet, Theia, collided with Earth. Such a collision in the future would certainly be the end of humanity.
Samples from the surface of the Moon was brought back to Earth by Apollo 12, 15, and 17 missions. Researchers analyzed them with six volcanic rock samples from Earth’s mantle. Comparing the chemical composition of both, they found out that the Moon was formed due to a head-on collision of another planet, Theia, with Earth. A similar case was rumored to happen in the future. Planet X, also known as “Nibiru,” was said to be on its way to collide with Earth. However, NASA claims it’s just a hoax. This does not rule out that such a collision is possible in the near future. If such a collision occurred, it would wipe out life from the surface of the Earth. (1,2)
3. Alien Invasion
Officially, humanity has not yet observed any extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI), but contact with ETI remains possible. If an alien invasion occurs, they might be able to unleash an unfriendly artificial intelligence or perform a catastrophic physics experiment, or might choose to destroy humanity to protect other civilizations.
A Nasa-affiliated scientist, Shawn Domagal-Goldman, and his colleagues have compiled a list of possible outcomes of alien contacts. This is to prepare humanity if contact with aliens ever occurs. In the report, they have divided the results of alien contacts into three broad categories: beneficial, neutral, and harmful.
It would be beneficial if, upon contact with aliens, they help us to advance our knowledge and solve global problems. According to the second result, neutral, the extraterrestrials may be so different from us that we wouldn’t be able to have any meaningful contact or conversation with them. The third one, harmful, is what we should be prepared for. Aliens may arrive on the Earth to attack, eat, or enslave humans, or they may simply carry unknown pathogens which can be fatal for the human race. (source)
4. Ocean Acidification
The high carbon dioxide level in the Earth’s atmosphere is slowly lowering the pH balance of the world’s oceans and making them acidic. Once the ocean acidification is complete, the entire oceans will turn acidic, causing mass extinction.
Two-hundred and fifty million years ago, most of the life perished on Earth during the Permian-Triassic Mass Extinction. The results of research published in 2015 show that ocean acidification played a key role in this process. Also, a nature climate-change study in 2012 shows that the current acidification rate is ten times faster than 56 million years ago. In the last hundred years, CO2 has risen about 30 percent, and ocean pH has fallen by 0.1 units.
Ocean acidification is a slow process. Therefore, it may take decades before the effect on marine life begins to show. But once it starts, it would cut off a major food source of humans. This would leave a major part of 9 billion people reeling in hunger. (1,2)
5. The Red Giant
About 7 to 8 billion years from now, if and after the Sun has become a red giant, the Earth will be engulfed by the expanding Sun and destroyed.
The Sun, the center of our solar system, is just over 4.5 billion years old. A star of the size of the Sun lasts a little over 8 billion years. So, our sun is more than halfway through its stable lifetime. A billion years down the line, our sun will become hot enough to boil our oceans, making Earth uninhabitable. A few billion years from then, it will become a red giant engulfing everything near it, including the Earth.(source)