In the 1990s, A European biotech company prepared to commercially release a genetically engineered soil bacterium for use by farmers. They were operating under two very reasonable assumptions:

1. Nobody likes plant waste.

2. Everybody likes booze.

Who are you, and why should I care?


I’m Robert Brockway, and my mom says I’m special.

 

Not good enough.

Okay, I’m an editor and columnist for Cracked.com, and I wrote a book called Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants you Dead. So I guess you should care because the title of my book is basically threatening you and everybody you love.

 

So you’ve done what, collected some statistics on death? Compiled the weirdest ways people died? What’s interesting about this?

Well no, this is all about the apocalypse. The end of life on Earth. The real ways humanity nearly went extinct, the most likely ways it might still, the more fantastical ways it could in the near future, and so on.

 

You’ve written a non-fiction book about the apocalypse? So you’re saying you’re a prophet of the lord? I had an aunt who thought that once. It was all fun and games until she bit the neighbor.

Nope! This is all based in science and fact. I admit I exaggerate sometimes because, as you can hopefully tell from the title, this book is not above comedic fear mongering and hyperbole. Its goal is to entertain and hopefully amuse the reader while also introducing them to some of the terrifying ways they and their loved ones might die in agony sometime soo- you know what? This is starting to sound crazy.

 

Aunt Penny lives a full and satisfying life as long as she takes her blue pills three times a day.

Okay, hear me out: I’m not saying the world will certainly end in one of the scenarios outlined in my book. But the concept of the apocalypse is largely relegated to fiction. We tend to think that it’s simply too outlandish to happen. And if we do imagine the end of humanity’s reign on Earth, it is in some far removed cosmic event, billions of years in the future. There’s no personal connection to it; no stakes for you, right now. While the scenarios in the book are not statistically likely to occur in your lifetime (or at least, not on the world-wide scale that I outline,) they are still a distinct possibility, or else came much closer to fruition than one would reasonably assume.

 

Are you playing coy with me? Do you have a pinky in your mouth? Are you twirling a little white parasol? There’s only so much teasing I will take…

Fine. Some examples: Did you know there’s such a thing as a mega-tsunami? In disaster movies, we see tsunamis as gargantuan killer waves that wipe away whole cities, but in reality they look more like an approaching tide. But a mega-tsunami is a naturally occurring event that plays out exactly like a ridiculous disaster movie. They’re behemoth waves, often triggered by large landslides, that have caused major extinctions in prehistoric times. They’re not exclusive to pre-history, though: There have been several small-scale events in this past century alone. And by small scale, I mean they were only a measly couple of thousand feet high at the crest. If circumstances are right, they can get so large as to wipe out a continent’s entire coastline. And circumstances are very close to right…

 

Yes but-

Ooh, there’s also this asteroid called Apophis that has the potential to be another Extinction Level Event! There are not one, but two chances it might hit Earth within the next few decades.

 

I see words like “might” and-

I’m forgetting the Supervolcano! A volcanic eruption so large it could crack a continent and the ensuing ash cloud would cover the entire surface of the Earth. There’s an active Supervolcano right now that shows nearly every major sign of eruption…here in North America.

 

You’re…you’re actually getting excited about this?

Look, I admit there may be some deeper emotional issues here that need attending. But again, I’m not saying the odds are in favor of these things happening. Only that they are not statistically infinitesimal, as we tend to believe. There’s only what, a 1 in 45,000 chance that Apophis will hit? That’s what it was at the time I wrote the book anyway. They change it almost monthly. It’s gone as low as 1:450 and as high as 1:250,000. Basically, they just don’t know.

 

1:45,000? As in, roughly the same odds as winning a modest amount in the state lottery?

Right. And it’s coming by twice.

 

Says who, some whack-job astrologist?

Nope. NASA.

 

Jesus Christ. And you think this is funny? You wrote a humor book about this?

Well, sort of.

I call it ‘comedic fear-mongering,’ and I guess the hope is that if I present this information in an over-the-top way, maybe drawing a few laughs from it in the process, people will be less afraid of these dangers than if they’d learned about them from a more serious source. Like the Supervolcano thing: Mainstream media wasn’t really discussing that when I wrote the book, but it’s all over the news now. If somebody had read this book first, that’s old news to them. Maybe when the anchor-person starts hyperventilating about it, they’ll just remember the book and laugh.

 

And you think that’s therapeutic somehow?

No, but anybody around them at the time will be impressed by the fact that they simply giggled a little bit when the news said everybody might die by fire.

 

You’re sick in the head, man. 1 in 45,000? That’s funny to you, huh?

No, I just –

 

You just what? What?! My nephew is five now, you’re saying he gets to live safely to his thirties, at which point he buys not one, but two lottery tickets to a fiery explosion? That’s funny.

I think you’re taking it wrong…

 

No, you’re wrong! You’re wrong inside. This interview is over!

What? But you’re me. You’re a fictional interviewer who exists solely for the purposes of narrative. I made you in my head!

 

You disgust me. This is done.

I haven’t even told you about the hyperca-

 

IT IS DONE, SIR.