Sign of the Times

Cataloging the endless reasons the world could end

More stories from Faith Hultman

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the world as we know it is coming to an end. I’m firmly convinced that ten years from now we as a species will barely have a civilization to call our own.

Whether it be the threat of nuclear war, of which according to the former NATO military chief  Michèle Flournoy, there is a 10 percent chance, or just the threat of a lower-level conflict, we are really living our lives on the edge here in the United States.

It’s not just impending wars — according to The Guardian, in 1908 a comet fragment that was 200 feet wide burst into the atmosphere and exploded over Siberia with nearly 1,000 times the energy of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Astronomers estimate similar-sized events occur every one to three centuries. It’s been one century. We could be overdue for a massively destructive impact from outer space.

Speaking of outer space, a gamma ray burst could fry the Earth’s atmosphere and kill us all, or a rogue black hole could swallow us up from out of nowhere, or the Earth’s magnetic field could reverse — this happens every couple hundred thousand years, but the last time it happened was 780,000 years ago.

Something no one could predict, an attack from outer space, might even be on the way. There have been quite a few UFO related news stories lately, triggered by an article in The New York Times, which revealed the existence of a super-secret government-funded UFO program. I’m not above taking an unknown alien threat seriously.

While we wait for nukes to destroy us all, or for a gamma ray burst, or for an attack from outer-space, old diseases are taking on new life with antibiotic resistance. Cholera and measles have suddenly developed the ability to resist their antibiotic cures, which could spell out a plague which will kill us all.

Meanwhile, a panel of scientists said they believe the earth has never been closer to its end last Thursday. The Doomsday Clock, which has been tracking the threat of nuclear weapons and other technologies since the 1940’s, has never been closer to midnight.

Humans have been wrecking the planet for centuries: global warming, unsustainable living, and wreaking havoc on our planet’s biodiversity are all beginning to come to a head.

It’s not a question of if, but when the world will end. I don’t want to be left in the nuclear dust without a plan of action — when the ash clears, I’m going to do my very best to be one of the few survivors. Maybe when we rebuild civilization we’ll do it better. Doubtful, but we have to hold on to some hope in these uncertain times.

The problem with being truly ready for the end of life as we know it is that I’m a full-time college student in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I’m assuming you, the reader, are as well.

Because of this, for the rest of the semester I’ll be discovering and implementing methods of survival that are personalized for this city, and are doable on a college student budget. However, the art of survival is more interactive than it is academic, so the forthcoming updates on this column will be in video form.

HELLO EAU CLAIRE, it is time to come out ahead once civilization crashes around us.

This column will be the UW-Eau Claire student’s go-to for survival tips, tricks and advice. Hopefully when the end comes we here in the North will be ready.