Top 20 Ways the World Might End

1 / 14
by: Laurie L. Dove
Read more Read less
Actually, a gas mask wouldn't help in most of these scenarios. You might want to save the shelf space in your shelter for more critical things (like medicine and board games).
Up Next:How will the world end?, Tweets & Posts: How Will the World End?, Will the world end in 2012? Take the quiz!

There are plenty of theories about how the world might end, but most have one thing in common: The ending.

No matter how the death knell occurs, the world as we know it will cease to exist someday. Either the planet will become unable to sustain life (possibly all life, possibly just current life) or our civilization will break down, leaving those humans who manage to survive limping along, less civilized than ever.

Despite this gloomy eventuality, it's not all bad. An impending apocalypse is a great reason to stock up on ramen noodles and canned goods. And we're betting a few bottles of wine will store just as well as bottled water -- just don't forget to leave a corkscrew in your bomb shelter.

And we'll have germs to keep us company. (Yay?) Scientists believe that microorganisms will survive any number of global disasters. In fact, some bacteria are even expected to thrive on toxic waste [source: Wassenaar]. If it turns out that Armageddon puts an end to human beings, these single-celled organisms could take over, evolve into complex, humanlike creatures and repopulate the Earth. Of course, this process could take a few hundred million years [source: American Museum of Natural History].

While we wait for the experts to come up with a "bring the humans back" timeline, we'll peruse a few apocalyptic scenarios. Oh, and you may want to hone a few useful end-times skills -- like crafting a flint knife or curling up into a protective ball. We'll be doing the same.

More on