5 Terrifying Events that Could Spark a World Apocalypse
Doom often begins with complacency along with devastating denial
Most of us are familiar with the story about how you could boil a frog to death by placing it in water and gradually increasing the heat¹.
Unlike boiling water, which the frog would immediately escape from, room temperature water provides an initial comfort level. From that point forward, the frog would internally normalize the water’s increasing temperature — because the temperature increase is gradual.
This story is a myth, but it’s used to illustrate a more significant point. It refers to the countless things in our world that we have also normalized gradually in our minds. The fact is that our society tends to build a tolerance for things we once found disturbing.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at the violence, nudity, and profanity on today’s TV shows and movies, and compare that to the 1950s. Even network TV has changed. How about the laws we enact, or how small bikinis have gotten on public beaches, and so forth.
Five (5) potential apocalyptic events
This affinity that we humans have toward normalizing aberrant behavior can also create a blind spot in our natural sense of survival. We have to wonder if our tolerance prevents us from recognizing future disasters.
How to Understand the Pros and Cons of Globalization
Evaluating the world’s many connections and divides
Occasionally we need to experience something surreal to break the trance of complacency. Let us examine five devastating events that could spell doom for our world.
Are we ignoring their warning signs today?
As we live our daily lives, the world of artificial intelligence (AI) is making enormous strides. And it is doing so in virtually every facet of our society — you name it: medicine, technology, education, finance, and yes, warfare.
There are two basic doom scenarios regarding AI superintelligence. The first is when machines become too smart for humans to control anymore. There are a gazillion movies out there that depict this version of AI destroying humankind.
US Army Believes They Can Develop Mindreading Technology
Future soldiers to have powerful new tech in their arsenal
But the second doom AI scenario is more subtle and more realistic. Many experts out there claim that the nation who ultimately controls the most powerful AI will rule the world ².
If you have read or researched anything about future quantum computers and the singularity — when machine becomes as intelligent as humans — then you already know that this scenario is more than plausible.
If we continue to ignore the powerful undercurrent of global terrorism, then we do so at our own peril. Even though there’s a recent belief that terrorist movements like ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban have been greatly diminished, this is wishful thinking.
As world leaders push for more robust globalism measures, there’s going to be an even more significant pushback against them³. Pushbacks against authority have occurred since the dawn of civilization and probably always will.
If you look back through history, empires begin declining the moment more problems occur daily than their ability to solve them. A vision as big as the one globalism represents will most assuredly draw lots of ire from every corner of the world. And many of them will not be interested in peaceful solutions.
Over the past few decades, the regime change wars have resulted in millions of refugees dispersing throughout the world. Many of them refuse to acclimate to their new surroundings. If we refuse to recognize this as a sign of future hostility that we are in for a rude awakening.
Deadly global pandemic
In light of COVID-19, this is one scenario that most people find very plausible. That would not have been the case a few years ago.
The only thing preventing COVID-19 from being deadly is its relatively low mortality rate — which is less than 1%, as of this writing⁴. The worst thing about today’s pandemic is its ability to spread so quickly.
Let’s look back at a few past pandemics.
We had the Spanish flu in 1918; it was the worst pandemic that the world had seen at that point. Some 50 people million died — which was more than all deaths related to World War I. Its mortality rate was almost 3%. About one-third of the entire world population got sick from this flu in some form or fashion.
Then there was the SARS pandemic, which reached a mortality rate as high as 10% — even though there were fewer deaths than with COVID-19. There are two reasons why SARS is easier to treat than COVID: 1) its symptoms are much easier to identify, 2) it is not as fit to survive in the human population.
There are many other past pandemics we could discuss. We could also debate for hours as to whether some of these were created and unleashed on purpose. Our political bend would most likely dictate our views on this.
Let’s put politics aside for a moment. What happens when a virus comes along that can survive in human populations like COVID-19 yet has an extremely high mortality rate?
Do you not think it’s just a matter of time before we see that?
If we cut ourselves peeling vegetables, we are assured that our cut will heal once the bleeding has stopped, and everything will be fine. What if this were no longer the case?
When Alexander Fleming inadvertently discovered penicillin, our war against germs and bacteria become a victorious one⁵. Unfortunately, their effectiveness has gradually declined for two reasons: 1) doctors have overprescribed antibiotics, and 2) patients do not take the entire regiment of pills — they quit taking them after they feel better.
This prolonged exposure to various classes of antibiotics has permitted germs and bacteria to develop resistance to these drugs. We can’t forget that they are trying to survive in our world as well.
Scientists estimate that around 10 million people would die annually in a post-antibiotic world. Most of the deaths would occur in Africa and Asia, but people in the west would be significantly affected as well.
Many forces are working against a solution for this doom scenario. It cost billions to create new effective antibiotics, and with all the competition, margins are thinner than ever. Pharmaceuticals have less incentive to compete in this older, outdated market.
Even if and when new antibiotics are developed, it’s just a matter of time before these superbugs build up their defenses again. Would the new drugs be effective long enough to make them profitable and worthwhile?
How could we ever talk about doomsday scenarios without mentioning nuclear war? This dark cloud has been hanging over the world since the 1940s. And we all saw the devastation from those blasts.
Today’s conversation can take place with the knowledge that many nations already have the ability to deploy and launch nuclear weapons. So the issue now becomes political and geopolitical. Which nation(s) gets the itchiest trigger finger and why?
During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union were staring one another down at high noon in front of the entire world. Each of them was waiting for the other to reach for their nuclear arsenal. But that all changed when the Berlin wall came down in 1989.
Now all eyes are on China. With the United States trading at roughly a half-trillion-dollar deficit to the Chinese, the US has essentially built China’s entire military complex and infrastructure over the past decade.
Recent trade wars between China and the United States have increased tensions significantly between the two nations.
The United States is essentially an island nation, and its powerful navy demonstrates this fact. Islands must have a strong navy to survive. On the other hand, China is more mainland based and has a massive army. China could likely lose soldiers at a 5 to 1 clip to the US and still outlast them.
Both nations are fully aware of these differences, so it comes down to nuclear weapons — if either pushes it that far⁶. Most military strategists believe the South China Sea would be the place that would spark such an outbreak.
Fortunately, most experts also believe that neither country wants this outcome.
India and Pakistan have never been the best of friends. Their long history includes various conflicts and skirmishes that date back for several decades⁷. They have had vicious border skirmishes over territories like Hyderabad and Kashmir.
Unfortunately, both countries have access to nuclear weapons as well. And if they ever decided to use them, it would probably be on each other. Many analysts believe such a showdown is inevitable and only a matter of time. They perceive Pakistan’s government as unstable and dangerous, but also disturbing is how India continues to build its arsenal.
For an extended period, these two countries were dead even as far as nuclear technology advancements. New concerns were recently raised when India began investing in ballistic submarines, causing Pakistan to sound its alarm bells. Now the two countries are experiencing their own Cuban Missile Crisis of sorts.
The biggest fear of all is whether they drag other world powers into their conflicts like China and the US. Perhaps then the world would witness the very first nuclear proxy war.
: James Fallows. (September 16, 2006). The boiled-frog myth: stop the lying now! https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2006/09/the-boiled-frog-myth-stop-the-lying-now/7446/.
: Daniel Castro, Michael McLaughlin and Eline Chivot. (August 19, 2019). Who Is Winning the AI Race: China, the EU or the United States? https://www.datainnovation.org/2019/08/who-is-winning-the-ai-race-china-the-eu-or-the-united-states/.
: The Conversation. (October 22, 2020). The New Wave of Global Terrorism Is Right-Wing Extremism. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2020-10-22/right-wing-extremism-the-new-wave-of-global-terrorism.
 Our World in Data. (November 15. 2020). Mortality Risk of COVID-19. https://ourworldindata.org/mortality-risk-covid.
: Mayo Clinic Staff. (February 15, 2020). Antibiotics: Are you misusing them? https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/antibiotics/art-20045720.
: Paul D. Shinkman. (September 1, 2020). U.S. Reveals First Assessment of Chinese Nuclear Weapons Stockpile. https://www.usnews.com/news/world-report/articles/2020-09-01/us-reveals-first-assessment-of-chinese-nuclear-weapons-stockpile.
: Donald Johnson. (May 28, 2020). India-Pakistan Relations: A 50-Year History. https://asiasociety.org/education/india-pakistan-relations-50-year-history.