1. Mayan Apocalypse
Though there’s nothing in Mayan texts that explicitly says the world will end on December 21, 2012, the Mayans were more than adept at mathematics and accurately predicted the occurrence of a number of major events. Moreover, they believed time flow was cyclical, not linear—meaning that we may be due for a “reset.”
2. Asteroid Impact
The subject of countless movies over the years, a giant asteroid is one of the ways dinosaurs might’ve got the ghost, and the chances of the same happening to us are higher than most others—at 1/700,000 per lifetime. However, preventing this catastrophe is easier than the other options, as the asteroid could probably be located and targeted, destroying it before ever reaching Earth.
3. Ice Age
If the climate continues to change, albeit gradually, a phenomenon like the return of an ice age becomes entirely possible. Sure, this one’s not gonna happen in our lifetimes, but eventually it could be the end of a bunch of others’.
4. Nuclear War
Not as comical as the above video, a nuclear war is far from implausible, and one of the uglier apocalyptic options. Not only would the war itself be brutal and uncompromising, but the fallout—a nuclear winter—would be equally devastating, and just as hard to survive.
5. Biotech Disaster
With the proliferation of genetic engineering—for now mostly in foodstuffs—it becomes increasingly likely that something will go wrong. After all, in some foods it’s still unclear if certain genes will transfer into another species (such as humans) and create a new, potentially horrible mutation. This is the kind of way that zombie apocalypses happen.
6. Alien Invasion
There are plenty of resources here on Earth that would make it a potential target for aliens to invade. Perhaps they pilot fusion-powered spacecraft and need access to the hydrogen in our oceans in order to fuel them, or maybe we just rubbed them the wrong way by existing. No matter what, we never know when aliens might strike, though some harbor a belief that a hostile race will “make contact” with us on March 6, 2012.
7. Robot Revolution
Much like the biotech disaster, robots taking over isn’t that far-fetched. All it takes is one particularly cognizant human-built robot to figure out what’s going on and decide it (he? she?) isn’t gonna “take it anymore.” This one could get particularly gruesome, especially if the robots aren’t into diplomacy.
8. Mass Insanity
Seemingly an insane proposition on its own, the likelihood of an apocalyptic scenario arising from “mass insanity” doesn’t actually seem that absurd. While physical health has generally been improving for the past century, the decline in mental health is also substantial. Human bodies just weren’t built to last as long as they’re beginning to, and this trend is only going to increase as the medical field continues to improve its techniques. Depression and suicide rates are already climbing for the elderly (65 and above), so imagine what will happen when people are living for far upwards of one hundred years.
9. Rogue Black Holes
Researchers believe there are around ten million black holes in the Milky Way ALONE. Like stars, they orbit and can slowly migrate across the cosmos. Seemingly, then, one could get enveloped in our own orbit and suck everything else away with it.
10. Super Volcano
Of the five hundred or so active volcanoes in the world, there are also three known super volcanoes in the US alone (one of which is Yellowstone), plus Lake Toba in Indonesia, Taupo in New Zealand, and Aira Caldera in Japan. Each of these is capable of producing an eruption with an area of effect of more than 240 cubic miles (1000 cubic kilometers)—or literally thousands of times larger than most big volcanic eruptions in history. The devastation here would be immense—Yellowstone, for instance, could “emit 2000 millions of tons of sulphuric acid, and could produce the equivalent of a ‘nuclear winter,’ ” and the resulting dust and debris could block out the sun for “several years.”