There seems to be a subset of the population that easily succumbs to the idea that some major disaster is going to befall us at any time. The fear of an apocalyptic event that wipes out large chunks of humanity seems to act like oxygen for such people, and as a result we are regaled with the possibility of one imminent catastrophe after another, with diseases (Ebola, swine flu, bird flu), meteors or asteroids hitting the Earth, weather (a big snowfall in winter), and so on.
Of course, the news channels also feed these fears because people watch or listen to the news a lot more when they think some disaster is going to happen or has happened, even if it occurring elsewhere. Even I get caught up in the fear-mongering. Yesterday there were predictions of a ‘historic’ and ‘mammoth’ storm that was going too blanket the east coast from Philadelphia to Boston with mountains of snow. It was not expected to affect Cleveland but even I was checking the weather reports last night and this morning, just to see how bad it was. (It wasn’t as widespread as initially feared, but bad in parts.)
But if you cannot wait until the news channels tell you what to worry about, the BBC has helpfully put together an infographic of all the possible cataclysmic events that could possibly happen, when they might happen, and their likelihood of occurring, so you can panic without any help from anyone else. It helpfully categorizes the events by the time scale, whether it is human-caused or natural, and its degree of seriousness along a five-point scale labeled as ‘keep calm’, ‘check bucket list’, ‘live dangerously’, ‘move to Mars’, and ‘it’s all over’. You’ll be relieved to find that there are only two items in the last category, the death of the Sun and the death of the universe.
It’s actually quite a fun and informative graphic. Just don’t freak out at all the ways that we can die in large numbers.