Eschatology- the study of the end of the world. While different stances on the way in which the world will end are taken, including the infamous 2012 theory or on a more theological note- the second coming of Christ, the question still remains unanswered. And this question of how we will meet our doom is something we cannot provide concrete evidence for, only babble on about predictions and theories that seem most probable.
Former European Space Agency researcher and science fiction writer, Alastair Reynolds, shines a more positive light on the myriad of theories that predict the inevitable demise of humankind. He argues that catastrophes will always occur, no matter what. All the panic about climate changes, oil shortages, and melting ice caps are just an exaggeration as he backs up his claim with the improvement human beings have undergone compared to where we were hundreds of years ago. I guess it’s only uphill from this point on. Or at least that’s what we would like to think.
Even Sunetra Gupta, novelist and theoretical epidemiologist, focuses on a different end-of-the-world phenomenon, which is the idea that the world will end in a widespread, global epidemic. Past events in our history, like the influenza pandemic, has scarred many individuals into thinking that the possibility of some unknown disease could spread again, and the human race would then cease to exist. Just look at how many movies that illustrate such views have come out in the past few years such as I Am Legend, or more recently, Contagion. Gupta claims that in the past, the constant traveling and colonizing of different areas that had never been visited before made individuals back then more susceptible to such “infectious diseases”.
In contrast to the two views previously mentioned, Brian Greene, a string theorist, believes that the universe will be “swallowed up by black holes- and even those black holes will ultimately evaporate into a cold batch of particles, flitting through space.” Well that’s a lot to take in. And changing to a different theory, space scientist, Maggie Aderin- Pocock, argues that the chances of Earth being hit by a space object are small, but the “potential harm caused by such a collision” could be disastrous. She discusses the example of an asteroid that hit the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico 65 million years ago that “destroyed everything within a radius of 250 miles and triggered global tsunamis, worldwide firestorms, and huge earthquakes.” Now we know what happened to those dinosaurs.
In light of each of these different perceptions (some more scientific than others) on the eventual destruction of our existence, we can see that all this speculation about these ideas that we can’t even predict are out of our control. So with that being said, I’m going to enjoy my human existence instead of worrying about when it will end. All great things must come to an end, so let’s make it great while we still can.