Ever wondered about small insignificant changes in our ecosystem becoming a significant cause behind a doomsday? I know doomsday comes to mind only in sci-fi movies and bloodshed.
The thought of doomsday has been prevalent since biblical times. There have been local legends and conspiracy theories alike. The idea of a doomsday strangely intrigues us, much like the fear of ghosts, from overhyped ones like an escalating global dictatorship to the more plausible ones, like meteor showers or volcanic catastrophes.
However, 5 things may cause a doomsday, and we wouldn’t be able to realise what caused such an event? For this, we have to delve into some of the most atypical tropes: arranged from the most well-known ones to those unheard of.
Insignificant Event 1: Extinction of Bees
This variant of doomsday prediction is the most well-known amongst those who have recently entered the rabbit hole of theories predicting the end of the world. Hence, it cannot be considered something “insignificant.” However, for many people, it is still a new topic. In the United States of America, 89% of bees have declined in relative abundance due to myriad reasons such as habitat loss, pesticides, climate change, disease etc.
Because bees are solely responsible for almost a third of the entire world’s agriculture, they are known as the most significant organism on Earth. Crops couldn’t multiply without the hard labour of bees fertilising them. The bees are also crucial for the food production of all the other animals and birds in the forest environment, who depend on them for berries, seeds, and fruits, by pollinating trees, bushes, and herbaceous plants.
So, we can see how agriculture, flora, and fauna largely depend on bees. With the extinction of bees, there will be no more pollination of flowers, leading to the undergrowth and failure of many crops. With the undergrowth and failure of crops, there will be widespread famine and food shortage.
The burden of pollinating flowers would now fall on the shoulders of humans. Sure, we have created drones, and we may as well create “literal drones”, which can do the job of drones in a honeycomb.
We have already done so. Plan Bee, or a personal robotic bee, was created in 2017. However, the drone in question costs over $100 and would we be alive to carry out such a mass-scale project while combating a severe food shortage? That’s a question worth answering.
Insignificant Event 2: Population Decline
Remember being taught in elementary school about overpopulation and population explosion causing depleting resources? Since then, things have changed a lot as more and more measures have been taken to control the population explosion. The world might see a new reason for doomsday in the next two hundred years.
Humans grow in geometric proportion compared to the food we eat, which grows in arithmetic proportion. Total fertility rate (TFR) refers to the average number of childbirths per woman. To replace an entire generation, the TFR of a nation should be 2.1.
China, the largest populated nation, has a TFR of 1.7. While we realise China’s one-child policy is the reason behind such abysmal birth rates, the TFR comes down once a nation pays attention to maternity health, better nutrition of children, having more normal births and such.
India’s second most populated nation had a TFR of 5.8 in 1961, reaching 2.0 in 2022. In fact, in 2022, India has seen its TFR plummet below the replacement rate for the first time in its long history. The nation currently with the highest number of childbirths per woman is Niger, with a TFR of 6.8. The lowest is South Korea, with a TFR of 0.8.
Women producing a football team of babies weren’t uncommon in earlier days. As we educated more women and maternity services improved, the TFR has been on a global decline worldwide. Along with India, Bangladesh’s TFR has reduced to 2.0 and Iran’s to 1.8 if we look at Asia alone.
Except for Turkey, which has a TFR of 2, the majority of countries in Europe fall below the 2.0 TFR. Other European countries vary from 1.3 to 1.9, with Bosnia and Herzegovina at 1.3 and France at 1.88.
It is predicted that as India’s TFR keeps falling and reaches Western European levels, its population will decrease by more than 300 million by 2200. While this might be a long way for India, it is already a reality in many nations.
Russia and Japan’s populations reduce every year due to their ageing population. By that time, even the African nations of Chad, Mali, Somalia and Niger would bring their population down to replacement levels – and unlike other nations, they might reach the replacement rate of 2.1 early.
Reason? Well, India might have a TFR of two – but put a group of random five women from Tier 2 cities between the ages of 30-35, and it is normal to see most of them have only one child. It wouldn’t be ordinary to see one of them not having a child. It would also mean that among those five women, the fertility rate is lower than one.
The women in villages and uber-conservative backgrounds are scoring and raising the number for the nation. Migration from rural to urban households also reduces childbirths since bringing up a child in big cities is pretty pocket-consuming.
Furthermore, the industrial pollution and the lifestyle in modern climatic adaptations in metropolitan areas have caused significant damage to the fertility rates. It results in PCOS, linked to insulin resistance, obesity, abnormal body or facial hair development, and acne. It is the most frequent reason for infertility in women living in urban and metropolitan areas.
Not every doomsday scenario must end with everyone facing death all at once. It is entirely possible for people to eventually die out and become extinct due to underpopulation and lack of viable options for childbirth. It may be possible for us to die one by one till everyone drops out of the lottery.
Insignificant Event 3: Solar Expansion
The sun shrinks for a while and increases by two kilometres every eleven years. During that period, the core of our solar star also increases in temperature. While we look at one of the worst ways to go out, this one is undoubtedly one of the worst, i.e., evaporating in thin air and being burnt alive. Fortunately, that would take five billion years as per current estimates, and this makes us realise how less we have evolved as human beings.
Solar expansion is an exciting phenomenon to look at. Every star dies; gravitational force pulls all the star’s gases towards its centre. The compression of massive flares of gases to its inner regions causes its outer regions to rebound and grow larger. Helium in the core also produces outward pressure to balance the gravity. With time, there will be fewer and fewer of its core left to burn, leaving everything in the hands of gravitational pull. As soon as the sun begins burning more hydrogen, it would be considered a “red giant”.
Even an increase of 1% of the sun’s luminosity will shift the solar system’s habitable zone far beyond – the planet of Mars. A habitable zone is a perfect zone around the solar system where water can remain at a constant temperature in its liquid form, and we can exist and evolve as human beings.
Nothing on Earth is capable of withstanding the intense heat if this occurs. Tantalum carbide, a substance with a maximum temperature resistance of 4,000 degrees Celsius, is the best we can do. Jet engine blades are coated with it here on Earth. I’m not going to refer to the atmosphere that would feel frozen every winter! That’s out of the question.
This change would mean complete evaporation of plants and the scorching of humans like fried potatoes. The ocean temperatures would start boiling, and the end of sea life would also begin as time goes by. More frequent volcanoes would erupt, and this would cause more greenhouse gases to emit.
Keeping this in mind, humans only have one billion years to survive, but there is one specific way by which humans might die sooner.
Insignificant Event 4: Drought
This situation is directly related to the increasing urbanisation, deforestation and alarming rate of global warming on Earth. These events have prevailed for a while and will never cease to exist even in the next few decades.
Climate change is a real possibility and might affect hundreds and displace thousands but talking of drought as an actual. Long-term issues with public health can also result from droughts, such as water shortages and poor water quality. Impacts on food and nutrition, sanitation and hygiene, and air quality.
Already, the islands of Kiribati and other islands around the island nation are said to drown beneath the sea level by the year 2050. The Netherlands and Bangladesh have severe problems too.
Bangladesh and Netherlands have collaborated to resist the problems of rising water levels which would drown their entire nations. It is said that by 2050, there will be numerous Bangladesh refugees who will suffer the firsthand crisis of climate problems. However, these problems are said to arise from rising water levels and not extreme drought.
How would an insignificant event like melting glaciers and rising sea levels give rise to drought and doomsday?
It won’t. It would rather kill climate-induced refugees and crops; one day, even the floods have to go back to the usual water level. It would also kill the marine ecosystem as the waters would now see a rise in numerous debris. However, by the time these happen, the summers would be much hotter than they are today.
Barren and non-cultivated land will lose water in the form of either seepage or evaporation. Once the waters in the ocean start to dry up after the initial floods, problems start. The place in the highlands and had colder temperatures would start getting barren. Fields in low-lying areas are now submerged or newly-re-emerging non-cultivable lands since they have lost their fertility due to severe stress.
Food production will be limited to certain crops due to the area of the lands herein. Nations bordering the sea would face the maximum impact. A series of floods, followed by a series of droughts. Farmlands which haven’t been receiving rainfall for over a year would be the first to face this consequence, and as a result, more and more people would flock to landlocked regions. The groundwater table would be depleted drastically.
It would happen as people gradually meet their end like a pandemic.
Insignificant Event 5: Reservoir-induced Seismicity
Yes, this is what we were taught in 8th standard environment science or geography. Dams and large reservoirs trigger earthquakes. I know people not having a science background would find this fact unbelievable, but it doesn’t change the fact.
The increased water pressure produced in the microscopic fractures and crevices in the ground beneath and close to a reservoir is thought to be the most commonly accepted explanation for dams generating earthquakes. Increased water pressure in the rocks acts to loosen faults that are already subject to tectonic stress but are kept from sliding by friction between the rock surfaces.
Earthquakes can be dangerous as they trigger several phenomena altogether. First, earthquakes cause damage and deaths due to landslides and crumbling buildings with weaker foundations. Then, they trigger shockwaves which further invite tsunamis in coastal areas to cause more damage and deaths.
Furthermore, an increasing rate of earthquakes also caused the tectonic plates to shift and form open cracks, triggering new volcanic activities! You can argue that we have saved our population a lot from getting extinct despite the earthquakes and their aftermath. Still, it does fall into something insignificant and quite ignorant to cause such widespread destructions.
In The End
I would say all the above points would take a long, long time to become as dangerous as to rip off humankind from the face of the Earth. Till then, we have time in our hands to maybe try in unison to change things as they are.