• Question: is the world going to end

    Asked by derm1tad on 22 Feb 2024. This question was also asked by bean1nun, tend1dew.
    • Photo: Andrew McDowall

      Andrew McDowall answered on 22 Feb 2024:

      Possibly, it’s uncertain at the moment, but not any time soon so far we can tell.

      As the sun starts to run out of fuel it will start to expand. In around 7-8 billion years from now it may grow large enough to consume the Earth. The Earth may survive this, the size the sun will expand but there is has some margin of error as to how large it will get and the expansion is likely to be accompanied by changes in the orbits of the planets, with the Earth moving further out from the centre of the solar system than it is today.

      For reference, the Earth is 4.6 billion years old and our own species has only been around 100,000 to 200,000 years, so you could say the Earth is currently in its mid 20’s, or humanity is about 14 minutes old, if the Earth and humanity were both to live to 70 years of age.

      If it does survive this, and other events surrounding the ageing of the sun, then there are some theories on the eventual fate of the universe (Big Rip, Big Crunch, Big Bounce etc.) that would see the end of the Earth, but these tend to happen over extremely long timescales (trillions of years, as if billions wasn’t long enough).

      If you’re more interested in just humanity, then the average length a mammal species exists for is estimated to be around 1 million years. So, all being well, we’re barely teenagers, which would certainly explain the state we’ve left our room in.

    • Photo: Martin McCoustra

      Martin McCoustra answered on 22 Feb 2024:

      It is pretty certain that the Earth will cease to exist in about 2 to 3 billion years. At that time, the Sun will expand out to around the size of the Earth’s orbit or even larger. In doing so, the Earth will be inside its atmosphere and subject to temperatures that will boil off all the volatile components and may even be high enough to evaporate the rocky crush and metallic core of our planet sending them back out into interstellar space for the next cycle of star formation. So Earth and the inner planets might cease to exist but our legacy will go on.

    • Photo: Hayley Pincott

      Hayley Pincott answered on 23 Feb 2024:

      Wow what a great question. I think there can be a couple of ways to answer this question.

      The world as we know it is on the path to ending as climate change continues to change the environment we live in. So if we continue then the world will be a very different place in 1000 years time. Will humans even exist at this point?

      If you’re asking about the destruction of the physical rock we live on then in about 5 billion years (at least) as the Sun expands it will most probably engulf Earth.

    • Photo: Alexander de Bruin

      Alexander de Bruin answered on 26 Feb 2024:

      eventually, but not likely any time soon unless there is some manner of cataclysmic nuclear war. Even then, it would likely just end life for humans, rather than cause the world to end

    • Photo: Michael Schubert

      Michael Schubert answered on 26 Feb 2024:

      Almost certainly, but not anytime soon! You’ve had some good answers about the end of the planet itself, but what Hayley says about the changing surface of the planet is also very relevant. The Earth may well exist in a few hundred thousand years – or a few million years – but what will it look like and who will live on it? Think about how much our planet has changed in, say, the last one hundred million years. It will look that different again in another hundred million!

    • Photo: Anton Edwards

      Anton Edwards answered on 12 Apr 2024:

      Not in your lifetime. Forget about it.