Posted by: Captain Easychord | August 3, 2009

Choose Your Own Apocalypse

When I was in Junior High, my cousin told me all about how comets or meteors could fall to Earth and wipe out the planet.  For a year or so I actually spent a nontrivial amount of time actually worrying about this… as if there were anything that I could do about it!  To this day, it’s the first thing that I think of that could disrupt seemingly inevitable events.

I’m not sure if this was the seed that planted the idea or if it were just another stop along the road, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve had a bizarre and macabre fascination with cataclysm and human civilization-threatening events.  I don’t even know what it is about it that intrigues me so much.  Maybe it’s the scale of the thing?  Maybe it’s the knowledge that nobody will ever tell the tale of what happened… because we’ll all be gone by then.

In any case, I couldn’t help but take an interest today when Slate published a “Choose Your Own Apocalypse” quiz that presents a user with 144 preselected factors from which one can select up to five causes of the end of the USA.  Responses are mapped on two axes:  whether the source is manmade or natural and whether the events relate to heavy or trivial death tolls.  Finally, a classification is given for your ideas about the USA’s demise.

I couldn’t help myself but to play twice.  The five catastrophes that I first chose were:  supervolcano, ocean acidification, geographical sorting, alien invasion and (of course) asteroid.  These choices trend towards “nature’s fault” and “everybody dies.”  My second five were:  information war, electromagnetic pulse, antibiotic resistance, synthesized supervirus and internal guerilla warfare.  Again, we’re firmly in “everybody dies” territory, but this time it’s overwhelmingly man’s fault.  Happy thoughts!

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