What would happen if the earth's destruction was pinpointed and inevitable?

I’m talking about the social ramifications here; I’m interested in knowing what people think would happen if, say, we knew a black hole was coming towards Earth, and we knew it would be here in exactly two years, and there was bugger-all anybody could do about it. What would happen? How would people behave? How would things change as the doom date got increasingly closer? I’m more interested on the social/political level than on the personal level, but whatever is fine. Of course, it’s all speculation.

I can confidently predict that I’d manage a herion overdose in the last few days.

-Joe, never tried it, won’t need to worry about addiction, now will I?

On a globle scale (at least the parts of the globe with awareness and understanding of the situation) society would go through five distinct stages of grief:

Denial / seperation: At first, most people would dismiss the impending doom, or if convinced of it, would dispute the fact that there is nothing we can do about it.

Anger: Once the full gravity :dubious: of the situation has sunk in, chaos and anarchy will ensue. Riots, uprisings, wars, constipation and other forms of social disorder will break out left and right. At this point, even the parts of the globe that were previously impervious to the information would start to wonder WTF? Worst case scenario at this point: we take ourselves out before the “event” has a chance to, best case scenario: most of the world sinks into a “Mad Max” type of third world common culture.

Barganing: Those who are left will be searching for answers. Religions will spring up right and left, ranging from classical faiths (ones here now) to a whole new class of pagan, monothiestic, polytheistic and bizarre beliefs. Tension, piety and competition between these will cause more wars and conflicts further segmenting society.

Depression: Faced with the isolation of a fractured social structure, disillusionment with religion and utter helplessness against the impending doom, both suicide and homicide rates would skyrocket.

Acceptance: Those who survive all of the above mentioned chaos will bond together, at the last few moments the world will know peace for the first time in thousands of years, possibly for the first time ever. As the tremendous gravity of the black hole rips our world apart, we will all realize that the best thing to do is lie on the floor with a paper bag over our head. This won’t help of course, but in a few minutes it won’t matter anyway.

Certainly it would depend on the timeframe, wouldn’t it?

In your two years example, that’s enough time for the movie-style “most of humanity comes together to build a giant space ark to carry a large portion of the world’s humans aloft” situation to at least be discussed. If, on the other hand, you’re talking a matter of weeks or months, I’d guess crime goes up, religious-ness (attendance at services, general loudness of religious-type people) goes up.

Interesting question.

Perhaps not an answer to the OP, but I would suggest watching the very interesting film Last Night. It deals with this exact situation. The film is set in the day before the world will end. The exact time of the end is known.

To quote Tom Leher:

And we will all go together when we go.
What a comforting fact that is to know.
Universal bereavement,
An inspiring achievement,
Yes, we will all go together when we go…

<snip to respect copyright>

Oh we will all char together when we char.
And let there be no moaning of the bar.
Just sing out a Te Deum
When you see that I.C.B.M.,
And the party will be come-as-you-are.

Oh, we will all burn together when we burn.
There’ll be no need to stand and wait your turn.
When it’s time for the fallout
And Saint Peter calls us all out,
We’ll just drop our agendas and adjourn.

Well, for the sake of this discussion, I’d like to assume that the destruction is absolutely inevitable and inescapable. If it makes you feel better, imagine that there are nine black holes all surrounding the earth and space-dingos guarding our atmosphere to kill anyone who tries to get out. :wink:

God is more powerful than any black hole or space-dingo. He would not allow us to be destroyed as this would mess with his plans for the rapture. He’d probably use a Giant Burrito (beef, bean and cheese) to fend off our doom.

There was a Sliders episode about this . . . As the asteroid got nearer, some prayed and some had orgies and some played Russian roulette.

Of course, this is all being posted with the assumption that the scientists/authorities would actually tell the general population about their impending doom.

So 'scuse me while I hijack, ahem, borrow your thread to ask…would they tell us? If an asteroid or whatever were heading smack towards the third rock from the sun, it seems like it would be something certain world leaders would keep quiet. Unless they thought they had a moral obligation to tell the people of the world that they were all about to die, or else they thought it would help their reelection campaign (priorities, priorities…).

And now to the harder question: Would you want to know the world was going to end? Or would you rather go on living your life and one day, kaboom, you’re instantly vaporized into a clould of space rubble?

Ducktail, I welcome your additions.

I’d imagine if it really was some sort of cataclysmic galactic event, even amateur astronomers would eventually catch on.

Also, I’m not sure I believe even a government cover-up would be enough to suppress what is essentially the biggest and most important piece of information in the history of civilization.

I think it would be like the 60’s* was only more frenetic, frantic and violent.
People would be racing around doing things they want to do before they died. There would be a lot of free love and heavy drug abuse. Many people would no longer care about consequences. There would be a lot of chaos, some people would become more violent and some more peaceful.
Some religious groups would consider it God’s Will and greet it as the Rapture or Ragnarök.
The Cubs would be on the verge of winning the World Series as the Earth was destroyed 2 days prematurely due to a slight miscalculation.

Driver8: I saw Last Night, it was an interesting take on it.


  • The Hollywood and “Fond Memory” version, not the reality

Good point.

Okay, so the world will be destroyed in twenty years. Right now, only a small group of government-sponsored scientists and maybe a world leader or two know. Now do you want to know?

Interestingly enough, I remember way back in middle school there was a rumor that the world would be destroyed by an asteroid in twenty three years…I wonder where that came from…

“Girls, stop giggling! What’s more amusing than algebra? Girls! Brittany, hand me that note. No, seriously. No need to blush, I’m sure it’s something you can share with the class. Hand me the note!” teacher opens up note did u hear? asteroid hitting earth in 23 yrs!!!

Welcome to my nightmare! :smiley:

I think that if the time-frame was anything beyond a few years, there wouldn’t be much change. We as humans seem to have a very limited sense of “future.” Besides, “science discovered it - science will solve it.”

I suspect that the Science Council would sit back, scoff and do nothing.

I think initially, there’d be a rise in crime. People would eventually come to grips with their impending doom, throw their hands up and either form huge orgies or try to find some god.

Preferably a god of orgies.

All Hail Bacchus, lead us in our ending times. Dionysus we beseech you keep us drunk and happy.


A perfect trinity. The cheese is what makes all the fifference.