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mazingerz88's avatar

Is the destruction of all humanity still possible without nuclear wars, a dead Sun and planet killing asteroids?

Asked by mazingerz88 (26790points) August 3rd, 2012

Let us throw in into the mix, deadly diseases and the most catastrophic weather and natural devastations like earthquake and tsunamis. Without any of these harrowing events, does that mean humanity is bound to exist here on Earth until our star collapses on itself-?

Or is there another possible event that we humans haven’t considered up to this point-?

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35 Answers

King_Pariah's avatar

As slight and as improbable as it is, we could just wage a world war that ends in everyone pretty much wiping each other out. Or some country goes Spanish Inquisition on everyone and as a grand finale they commit mass suicide after wiping every “heretic” of the face of the earth.

Just takes a wee bit of imagination.

Brian1946's avatar

Another apocalypse might happen with a full-sized super-volcanic eruption. I don’t think one would kill every human being, but IIRC, the Toba Lake eruption killed 99.9% of all humanity 70,000 years ago.

Yet another one could be caused by a gamma ray burst from a hypernova, which could completely burn away our atmosphere.

zenvelo's avatar

There are lots of possibilities, but you’ve tried to take them all out of consideration.

Most certain right now is world wide crop failure from global climate change. Some scientists have opined that we passed the tipping point in the last 18 months and all we can do now is slow it down.

Mass starvation from overpopulation is also pretty damn close.

josie's avatar

When everybody is getting a paycheck, but nobody works

LuckyGuy's avatar

Did you intentionally eliminate chemical poisoning? It’s possible that some clever chemical company working on a new drug that’s supposed to unzip the DNA of cancer cells inadvertently lets it get out and it starts unzipping normal cells. It gets washed into the water supply and spreads uncontrollably.
Think Ice-Nine

Pandora's avatar

I want to make sure I understand you. What you want to know is if you take away all other things that can happen, if the planet will still exist ?
Sure why not. Its just a huge hunk of rock. Now, whether we would still exist? Maybe not. We are growing larger everyday at a crazy rate and eventually we will use up all our resources and damage the planet. It may resume but like many animals before us, I’m sure we will outlive our uses and not be able to reproduce healthy offspring.

Qingu's avatar

“The destruction of humanity” is actually pretty hard when you think about it. We’re an incredibly successful species. There’s a lot of us and we’re well-adapted for survival in a huge number of environments, and we’re smart enough to change our environment to suit our survival. I’d bet a few people could survive a full blown nuclear war, at least.

Saying that we will not survive because of overpopulation or using too many resources, to me, makes no sense. If we overpopulate or overtax the planet, some humans will die, but the population will eventually stabilize. Agriculture is renewable, and barring natural disaster or nuclear war some portion of the planet will be able to produce agriculture or even just wilderness for hunting and gathering.

That said, you did leave out a few natural disasters. Massive volcanism (which may have caused the Permian extinction, the worst one ever) might do the trick. Another scary thing is gamma-ray bursts —high-energy beams of radiation from distant exploding stars. If we get hit with one of those, it could ionize our atmosphere and that would pretty much be it.

Coloma's avatar

Sure, as @Brian1946 mentions. The threat of super volcanops like the one in Yellowstone park could easily seriously disrupt or wipe out most life on earth. The Yellowstone volcano has not erupted in the last something like 65,000 years and it is surmised the ash cloud from a major eruption could block out the sun on earth for decades and decades causing mass extinction of life forms.

flutherother's avatar

We might be invaded by an alien species who want the Earth for their own.
A super intelligent computer network decides to take over and humans become superfluous.
We evolve into an unrecognizable species leaving no human beings behind.
An ‘event’ occurs outside our galaxy and starts eating up space like cancer.
We start killing each other on a massive scale.

tedd's avatar

Well sure it is. Nuclear war is just the most likely one on the list.

YARNLADY's avatar

Maybe a plague that causes world-wide sterility. Nobody dies from it, they just stop having children.

athenasgriffin's avatar

Maybe a fanatic new world religion that advocates killing everyone who doesn’t believe, and then destroys itself with in-fighting?

It isn’t too far off. Just look at the Abrahamic religions.

Mr_Paradox's avatar

A giant gamma ray burst from a distant nebula that has been creating super large stars that instantly supernova. That would either kill us all or turn us into things from The Hills have Eyes.

Coloma's avatar

Lets not forget the untrackable, renegade black holes that could consume us at any moment.
Personally this is my doomsday hope, that our galaxy just gets sucked into a black hole and we never even know what hit us. lol

flutherother's avatar

God nods off, falls out of Heaven and crushes the Earth flat.

mazingerz88's avatar

That scenario posited by M. Knight Shyamalan in the movie The Happening. Mother Nature assassinating humans in a rather underhanded way. Ridiculous but scary.

CWOTUS's avatar

No one has mentioned another asteroid hit? That’s what normally does it. That’s why approximately 90%+ of all the life forms that have ever existed on the planet have become extinct. (No, it’s not because Americans like to drive fast cars long distances on wide, smooth roads… in Europe, mostly.)

My money would be on bacteria continuing to exist after the next one. If I could only collect on that bet…!

Qingu's avatar

@CWOTUS, you’ve got your facts wrong.

There have been five major extinction events in Earth’s history that we know of. The latest was the K-Pg event that killed off (most of) the dinos 65 million years ago. It is now pretty much accepted that it was an asteroid that did it. But the asteroid didn’t kill 90%+ of species—more like 75% total, less in the oceans I believe.

We are not sure what caused the other major extinction events. The worst of them, the Permian extinction (“the Great Dying”), was much worse resulted in 96% of marine species going extinct and 70% of land species though that’s just an estimate.

We do not know what caused the Great Dying. It might have been an asteroid, or it might have been volcanism, or both, or something different.

What we do know is that all five mass extinction events were characterized by disruptions in the carbon cycle and ocean acidification. Which is exactly what’s going on now, thanks to human-produced greenhouse gases.

zenvelo's avatar

Day of the Triffids night lights that turn the whole world blind! Everybody dies because they can’t find food.

basstrom188's avatar

A massive incurable computer virus which collapses all the microprocessor controlled systems on which our civilisation now depends.

ragingloli's avatar

There are still aliens.

ucme's avatar

I genuinely have no clue.

Coloma's avatar

Well, I am working on creating a giant strain of domestic geese the size of Mastodons. Look out world, the giant flappy footed behemoth cometh!
You shall all be goosed to death. lolol

fremen_warrior's avatar

@mazingerz88 you ask this question because you’d like to prevent it, because you are writing a book, or because you want to cause it? ;-)

King_Pariah's avatar

It’s amusing to see how many people failed to read the details

Ron_C's avatar

I predict that mankind will die from a massive world wide increase in stupidity. You can see it now in Congress, political parties, and religions.

Coloma's avatar


Yep, lack of empathy, greed and stupidity, the perfect storm. lol

mazingerz88's avatar

@fremen_warrior I read a few books, saw a lot of movies by now that tackled different causes of the destruction of humanity and its civilization or a variation of sorts and the reasons and causes keep repeating. Just interested in something else. Something original.

ShanEnri's avatar

We’re wiping ourselves out already!

King_Pariah's avatar

“The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

zenvelo's avatar

The calendar on all the computers and control chips roll over so that the clocks don’t know what day it is and are out of synch with the chips and everything fails! Oh, we tried that one…

Paradox25's avatar

I have a feeling that the ‘end’ will be somehow related to a major overpopulation crisis. This is assuming that a major cosmic event, like a giant asteroid, will not wipe us out first.

fremen_warrior's avatar

You people have really no idea what you are talking about – the universe will end when a tralfamadorian fuel test goes awry. Get your facts straight people!

ucme's avatar

Tsk, I feel such a fuel!

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