Originally Posted by Ankylus
Once again amazes me how many folks can't stay within the scope of the OP. The OP asks us to speculate on the end of our species. I vote for pandemic by mutant microbe, something like The Stand, but from somebody's home lab rather than from some big government facility. I don't see nuclear exchanges of sufficient scale to create a nuclear winter destroying life happening any time soon, although there will be one in the next 30 years. Birth rates are declining in all identifiable populations of the species even if overall population continues to grow. So that trend is reversing itself.
I consider the odds of any of that happening to be almost as likely being wiped out by an asteroid or a gamma ray burst.
Not saying that about EOTWAWKI, just destruction of the species.
I used to think that it might be some sort of nuclear exchange that would be our undoing, but recent events have caused me to realize that it might very well be our quest for cheap energy that ends our human reign on this planet. (Okay, maybe just the northern hemisphere
) But what happens when everybody from the top half of the world tries to move south all at once? Do you think they will be eager to share their resources?
We have been running up a nuclear tab for about 40 years and it's about to be called due.
If the spent fuel pool at Fukushima Daiichi #4 burns, it may start a chain of events that ends with all 7 of the spent fuel pools boiling dry, and the already melted reactor cores being deprived of the tons of water being sprayed on them daily. It would be hard to estimate the amount of caesium 137 and other highly radioactive daughter products that would be dispersed into the atmosphere in the resulting fires.
BTW if they burn, I doubt any firefighters would be willing to get close enough to fight it. That worked at Chernobyl, but I think people are smarter now.
Imagine what it would be like if you couldn't get any food that wasn't contaminated with radioactive poison. Not for you, or your children.
After a while, you will start regarding "radiation contamination below govt limits" as "Clean", and "Safe" as the ads will proclaim.
The half life of Caesium 137 is about 30 years, but that means that only one half of it will decay in 30 years. The rest goes on and on.
I don't know if it would "destroy humanity" but it sounds like it could get close.