Published: 22 September 2014
You are going to die. All of us will, eventually. It’s inevitable. With that in mind, have you thought about how you’d like to see it happen? If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the past couple of weeks thinking about that very thing. Maybe you’re still thinking about it. Maybe you hope it happens right now. Who knows?
Except not “yes, please”, because what you see above is an image of a nuclear blast, and as I discussed in this column the last time I was hoping the world would open up and swallow me whole, a nuclear blast is absurdly survivable. If I’m being completely honest, this strikes me as the most pronounced and recognizable failing of nuclear technology. Scary? Sure. Scary enough? Nope.
At least, it’s not scary enough if death is what you fear, because there’s a good chance that, instead of killing you, it’s just going to make everything terrible around you. You probably have enough “nuclear weapons” capable of doing that in your life right now. If shit is really going to go down, you want it to go down. We sort of talk about that on this week’s Unpopular Opinion podcast in that one of the guests once went through an exorcism …
… which is something you might want to look into if you expect to be dead soon. Get right with who you need to get right with, you know? Otherwise, it doesn’t have much to do with what’s happening here. Listen to it anyway.
Now, here’s how I hope I die someday.
#4. Super Volcano
Well, let’s start with a confession. If we’re talking vehicles that will eventually drive me into death’s warming embrace, a super volcano is the polar opposite of what I’m looking for. Don’t get me wrong, on the surface it seems great, because at least it will almost certainly kill every single one of us. I definitely don’t want to suffer an eternity’s worth of afterlife knowing people are still back on Earth doing fun shit without me. The problem is how it kills you.
Slowly, that’s how. If a super volcano erupts and you’re lucky enough to be in the immediate area, this is as acceptable of a fate as any. You’ll be destroyed instantly. It will be great.
For everyone else, though, it’s probably just going to trigger another ice age. All of the ash and other assorted debris it fires off into the atmosphere just sort of collects there for untold numbers of years and blocks out the sun. The climate changes drastically, to the point that life on Earth is no longer sustainable, and we all die.
That’s cool, but who wants to wait for all that shit? An ice age? So, what, we all freeze to death? We run out of food and starve? That’s going to take weeks, at the very least. Possibly months. It’s like getting an invitation to the end of the world. Who wants to have to look forward to something like that? Huge bummer, I bet.
Also, I probably could have just put all of that in the intro. Now, let’s talk about good ways to die.
#3. Man-Made Black Hole
Now this is the spirit, because it’s all our fucking fault. If you’re unsure what I’m talking about: a few years back, a collective of scientists at a place called CERN (which stand for European Organization for Nuclear Research, of course) constructed something called the Large Hadron Collider.
In the months leading up to it finally being turned on, the fear was that it could create a man-made black hole that would immediately swallow the Earth.
It would take six columns’ worth of site space to explain why. We should probably just leave it at “because science.” The Internet still seems to be accepting that bullshit phrase construction as a joke, so here’s hoping you enjoy it as an explanation for how you’ll die, also.
Anyway, this is an ideal “we all die” scenario for a few reasons. First up, as mentioned previously, it’s all our fault. We built a machine capable of destroying the world and flipped the “on” switch as if there wasn’t even a remote possibility it would be the last thing we ever do. Oh, hey, speaking of that, there’s literally a “black hole creation” button on the thing.
It’s not real, obviously, but fate loves to be tempted, and who are we to resist? So that’s great. If this ship is going to sink it should absolutely be our fault. I mean, it will be our fault, whatever the cause. We’ve done enough terrible shit as people that we’ve kind of got it coming, no matter how it happens.
This is different, though. This is us saying, “Oh, this could maybe end life as we know it?” and giving not one single shit. It’s everything ill-advised about humankind built into one machine. I’d maybe go so far as to say we need this to happen. It would be a learning experience that we’d profit from immensely in the unlikely event some of the smithereens we’re blown to travel far enough into the galaxy to land on a planet capable of sustaining life and we have the presence of mind to write down exactly where we went wrong as a people before it happens. Whatever we write it on will need to survive also. There are a lot of moving parts.
The absurdly brief window in which we’ll have to do that will be a beautiful time. We won’t have long enough to do anything to change our fate but possibly just enough time to realize what’s happening and that it’s all our fault. It’s more romantic than anything. Like we’re all falling off a cliff at once, thinking about the one wrong step that got us in that predicament on the way down. We may have never overcome our various differences up to that point, but in that moment, humankind will be one. We will all be of the same thought, and that thought will be “We’ve fucked up terribly.” Swoon!
It’s the part where it’s almost instant that I like the most, though, and that’s exactly what makes the next scenario such a risky proposition.
#2. Asteroid Impact
I’ve always been of the mind that, if I’m going to die in an apocalypse, I want the asteroid to hit me in the face. That’s assuming it’s an asteroid that causes all the problems, of course, but why wouldn’t we be assuming that right now? It’s the thing I’m talking about. Assume with me for a spell.
An asteroid impact is a tale of two possible deaths.
On the one hand, as mentioned previously, if you’re close enough see the impact, you should be fine. Your death will be instant and relatively painless. That’s what you want, and not just because life is a marathon that’s barely worth running. The more important detail is that, no matter what the specifics of the apocalyptic scenario unfolding around you may be, the last thing you want is to die in the aftermath.
Again, an asteroid is obviously going to kill everyone in its general vicinity, but that instant release isn’t something all of us will be lucky enough to have. The vast majority of us will sit on the sidelines waiting for the terrible to come our way. And if you’ve studied up on your post-apocalyptic film history, you know that’s likely to come in a variety of awful ways.
For one thing, just like with a super volcano, there’s a great chance humanity will be sans sun for an extended amount of time. An asteroid impact gets a higher spot on the list because at least we know where the volcanoes are. Asteroids can come from anywhere. We might have some advance warning of what’s about to happen, but we’ve also reached the point as a people where we’d just assume Ben Affleck would be coming along to save us in spectacular movie fashion right up until the moment the destruction starts.
With a lack of sun comes a lack of resources. With a lack of resources comes roving packs of marauders hoping to take your shit. I don’t know exactly how I want to die, but I do know I’d prefer that it not involve me waiting around for the inevitable moment when a dude in a dusty leather jacket stabs me in the kidney and takes what remains of my stockpile of Vitamin Water.
That’s the kind of shit you want to avoid in an apocalypse. You don’t want to wait. It should be swift and painless and at least somewhat enjoyable to watch. Anything else is just another way to die. With that, let’s talk about the Cadillac of apocalyptic scenarios.
#1. Neutron Star
A neutron star. Now this is top-shelf dying. If you care to know, it’s basically some more science shit that I also don’t feel like explaining. I was really sad when I learned about them, while watching a documentary about evacuating Earth, and I thought it sounded like a neat idea. Cracked probably wrote about them at one point. Google it.
What’s important is that, of all possible outcomes, this is the one we want. It is mutually assured destruction for everyone involved. You don’t stop a neutron star. If you’re in its way, this happens.
Hey, that’s us! Or it was, anyway. A neutron star does exactly what you see there to anything in its path, which, ideally, will include us some day. Don’t take that to be negative. The world is going to end. It’s inevitable. Everything ends. Everything dies. When that comes to pass, this is what you want. Your world explodes and everything flies away. No muss, no fuss. There’s nothing to think about. There’s no time for questions. It’s perfect.
Almost every other apocalyptic scenario involves at least some chance of survival. It’s temporary survival, though. You’re just putting off the inevitable. You don’t want to see the aftermath, you want to see the event. Way less suffering that way.
A neutron star is nothing but event. It leaves nothing in its wake. Its destructive force is unmatched in nature. If you’re hoping for the best possible end to civilization, a neutron star is it.