From Planet of the Apes to After Earth, Hollywood has depicted Earth's demise many a time—but scientists' fears of planetary catastrophe are just as scary, LiveScience reports. Here are a few Doomsday scenarios as imagined by scientific minds:
- Global warming: Scientists call this the biggest threat of all. Extreme weather, increased droughts, redistribution of diseases, submerged low-lying areas ... future generations might live on a very nasty planet.
- Pandemic threat: New pathogens come up annually, so why not? Think SARS, bird flu, and the recent coronavirus MERS. "The threat of a global pandemic is very real," said Joseph Miller, who co-authored the textbook Biology.
- Fungus: Fungal threats can be even more destructive than bacterial ones. "We've had a new amphibian fungal disease that has just had devastating effects," said a scientist at the University of California, Berkeley. A killer fungus of humans would be just as deadly.
- Killer robots: Sounds nutty, sure, but the UN has called for a ban on them. And many computer experts say that the singularity—the moment when artificial intelligence outpaces human intelligence—is not far off.
Click to read about five more scenarios
, including the "Snowball effect"—when multiple disasters come together in a not-so-perfect storm.