The end of the world as we know it

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

Bridges that have been standing for centuries are falling down; high rises are crumbling; major cities are engulfed by water; highways are overgrown by grass; humans are long gone.

There go the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, the Empire State Building. They crash to the ground, and there is nobody around to see it (so did it really happen?).

I spent the major part of one afternoon watching “Life After People,” the documentary on the History Channel that examined what would happen if humans one day just disappeared.

The production, research, and graphics are excellent, but what I really like is the theme – the world after doomsday.

I know that it’s for entertainment purposes only. I know that humans will not all of the sudden disappear off the face of the Earth. But it is entertaining to think about what would happen if we did.

The Washington Post ran a graphic recently abut how much time Earth has left.

It starts out gently enough. For example, 1,000 years from now: “If civilization collapses, most buildings, bridges and dams around today will have fallen.”

Now, why would civilization collapse in just 1,000 years? And, according to “Life After People,” a lot of these structures would actually remain standing longer than that.

Let’s assume that civilization does not collapse. Then, “due to rapid evolution of languages, no single present-day word will have survived.”

That’s better. We’ll be here in some form, but won’t be able to understand anything anyone said earlier.
I don’t know why this is even a big deal. I had to study Shakespeare in high school and college and had no idea what he wrote.

So, the fact that languages change over 1,000 years is not a shocker.

In 2,000 years, we’ll start to be in a real mess, according to the documentary. Sea levels rise by six meters (19.7 feet), which should flood everything near water, like New York City, for example.

In 50,000 years, Niagara Falls disappears as Lake Erie erodes. What are all those honeymooners going to do over there? They’ll be looking out of their hotel windows and see a dry falls. That’s not very romantic.

And, what will they call it, since there are no falls? I guess just Niagara.

Maybe by then we’ll have the technology to recreate things like that anywhere we want by just pushing a few buttons, or by just thinking about it.

In 500,000 years, according to the Post’s chart, there is a likelihood that Earth will suffer an asteroid hit. And, we’ll be going through the Ice Age again, so whoever is alive will not be very comfortable.

It all falls apart from there. Eventually, the Earth dies and plunges into the sun, which also dies. But that won’t happen for another 100 quintillion years, which is a very long time.

So, since we’re doomed anyway, why not go somewhere else, where mankind can continue to happily reproduce? Let’s start with a one-way ticket to Mars.

This planet also will plunge into the sun eventually, but colonizing it would be practice for the longer trip somewhere where the sun would still be good when ours burns out. We’ve got to start somewhere.

Mars One is a Dutch-based non-profit foundation that will establish a permanent human settlement on Mars. The company has selected 1058 hopefuls as candidates to begin human life on Mars in 2025.

Who would volunteer to win a one-way trip to Mars? More than 200,000 people offered to go when the company announced that it was accepting applications.

I would probably prefer to go on a later trip, maybe when they’ve figured out how to come back.
But, a lot of people are willing to leave everything behind and be rocketed over to a planet where they cannot breathe the air, because there is none.

We’ll make some. Problem solved. So, maybe the human race is not doomed after all.

Time for another segment of “Life After People.” I like this show almost as much as “House Hunters International.”

So, it’s either the Earth crumbling, or whether the beach house pool is big enough. It’s a crazy world.