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July 10, 2006 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

The End is Nigh (A Gambler’s Guide To Our Impending Doom)

Everything can kill you these days, but it seems that there are still a lot of us up and kicking. For all of those who haven’t lost all their money betting on the soccer, SALIENT Feature Writer Nicholas Holm is taking bets on which one of the much-hyped global threats is going to put the final nail in the global coffin.

HolmWe may as well all admit it, the earth isn’t going to be around for too much longer with all these wars and famines and plagues (and so forth) going on. As any fundy Christian or badger-loving greenie can and will tell you, (if you make the mistake of pretending that you give a rat’s arse about their opinions) we’re pretty much fucked. The real question isn’t “is the world gonna end?”, it’s “how?” Given that there’s probably very little that you as an individual can do to actually prevent the apocalypse, we figure it’s the least we can do to help you make a quick buck out of the end of the world. With that in mind, it may be a little difficult to find a bookie willing to take your bet, and maybe even harder to collect…

Avian Influenza

Birds used to be one of the few things that we didn’t need to be afraid of, because unlike Grizzly Bears they’re several spots below us on the food chain; cats eat birds, cows eat cats, people eat cows. That all changed though, when some poor bastard managed to catch the lurgy after French-kissing one too many chickens and now we all live in fear of a ‘global pandemic’. Governments around the world are hastily concocting drastic plans to curb the deadly effect, of avian influenza, and urging businesses and households to prepare for the worst if peace-negotiations with the birds fail and they unleash their deadly bio-plague upon us. While that’s all well and good, we should bear in mind that more people die from malaria every week than have so far died from bird flu, and if a pandemic did occur it wouldn’t be the end of the world, just the end of about 50 percent of humanity. The rest of us would most likely be kept alive as a slave race to our new avian masters, working in their underground birdseed mines.

20 – 1


Terrorists are lurking everywhere – in your basement, underneath your car, even in your shoes if you leave them out overnight. Hell, your parents are probably terrorists. Previously content to blow up little bits of England and Northern Ireland and say amusing things like, “take this plane to Cuba!”, the terrorists of yesteryear are no match for today’s sophisticated modern terrorist, who can run for hours off a single-AA battery and eat through solid steel doors. Yet despite their ubiquitous and high-powered nature, most terrorists lack any plans to ‘destroy the world’ as such, prefering to set their sights a little lower: a city, a continent, or a decadent Western ideology at most. This does not mean, however, that we should rest easy. The US State Department recently raided a terrorist cell where they discovered secret plans to hijack the moon and fly it into the Earth, potentially destroying us all. Remain vigilant.

8 – 1

Global Warming

There’s a scene in the furst Austin Powers movie where a man gets run over by a steamroller. The steamroller is very, very slow, and yet instead of jumping to one side he simply stands there with his hand out, screaming for someone to stop the steamroller. Global warming is like that. The polar icecaps will not flash-melt, like a Popsicle in a microwave, they will very gradually sink into the ocean as world temperatures rise. For this to destroy us all, we would have to lie on the beach, for probably well over a century, and ignore the fact that the water is rising incredibly slowly. Weather patterns will shift, sea currents will alter and perhaps low-level areas will be flooded if we can’t build retaining walls faster than two centimetres a decade. But the end of the world? Nah. Besides didn’t anyone see Waterworld? Global Warming will be like Mad Max, except shot in Mexico instead of Australia, and will star Kevin Costner. However that in itself is frightening enough.

40 – 1

Nuclear War

Most people figured that nuclear war went out of fashion with synthesizer dance music and poo-pants, but if you look at the world in terms of nuclear weaponry, not much has changed since the end of the Cold War. If anything, the situation’s gott worse. Not only has the peace-loving state of Israel managed to wrangle itself a few choice warheads, but their bestest friends in the whole wide world, the Islamic Republic of Iran, seem to want to join the nuclear party as well. Throw in India and Pakistan and you’ve got yourself the potential for a right-royal mess if some slap-happy military dude decides to push the big red button. Much like Madonna and Kylie before it, the Nuclear Way looks to be on the cusp of a glorious comeback as next season’s irrational fear of total annihilation, and a potential money-spinner for those brave enough to take a punt on this century’s answer to the Reagan-Gorbachev double act.

4 – 1

Wrath of God

It needs to be made clear that we’re not specifying any god in particular. Yahweh; Allah; Zoroaster; even Buddha, in an uncharacteristically violent move; could potentially strike down the universe as vengeance for a perceived slight, be it too many homosexuals on television, failure to properly separate meat and dairy or cow-tipping. When you look at the most almost infinite combination of deities and things we could do to fuck them off, you’d pretty much have to be crazy to bet against us being destroyed by the Wrath of God. There is, however, the slight problem of Secular Humanism, which tends to scoff at the mere suggestion of the existence of supernatural beings who command strict adherence to dietary regimes or ritual supplication. Still, even if you are a heathen, it’s hard to question the strongly held beliefs of the several million Evangelical Christians who believe that the rapture is coming. After all, these are the same people who voted for George W. Bush; how could they be wrong?

Dead Even or 1,000,000 – 1 (depending where you’re coming from)


Those of you who had the misfortune to see Armageddon probably discount any perceived danger from meteor impact. All we need to do is send up a shuttle-load of mentally retarded, but well-meaning oil-drillers with some nukes, and they can blast that puppy right out of the sky so the rest of us can go home and snog Liv Tyler. On the other hand, those of you who saw Deep Impact might disagree, that is if you hadn’t all killed yourself out of boredom. Meteors have proven tricky in the past, causing at least one near global extinction event, and if another one were to show up anytime soon there isn’t too much we could do about. If the dinosaurs, with all their advanced time-travel technology were unable to avert the meteor catastrophe, what chance would us lowly humans have? Pretty much near to nothing – the only thing saving us right now is probability. Based on the ratio of something to nothing in the universe, the odds of two somethings running into each other is near the low end of the chart. Pray for that to continue.

100 – 1

Oil Crash

“This is the way the world ends/not with a bang, but with a whimper,” T.S Eliot. Before anything else, wouldn’t it be colossally depressing if the world ended because we ran out of something that retails for less per litre than Coca-Cola? It seems slightly ludicrous to pour on the doom and gloom because we’re running out of oil. Water’s running out? That’s a problem. Oxygen’s running out? That too is a problem. Oil? From what we’ve managed to piece together from historical records there appears to have been a significant stretch of human history where we all got along pretty well without oil. I’m not sure how much the Green Party likes their cars, but I’m fairly certain I for one won’t equate the loss of the internal combustion engine with the destruction of all life on earth. If you’re going to get all quasi-philosophical, yeah, Oil Crash could be the end of the world as we know it, but no one makes any money betting on quasi-philosophy, smart guy. While potentially scary for bogans and boy racers, no one can really believe that Oil Crash will bring about the end of the world.

500 – 1


About the Author ()

Nick Holm, feared by his enemies, loved by his friends, is the whore of student media. Having cut his teeth working for the California Aggie, and come closer to committing hate crimes than anyone will ever really know while the News Editor of Massey\'s Chaff, he\'s somehow beached himself at Salient for the near future. Haunted by prophetic dreams that show him tantalising glimpses of a future that may come to pass if he fails to prevent the robot uprising he will like you if you bring coffee or malt liquor.

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