The world started it seems with a big bang and the world was supposed to end, according to one cleric, on 21st May last at 6 pm, although I am not sure what time zone applied. That end of the world date has now been revised to 21st October. The end of days is best assigned to the same dustbin that now contains the warnings about the millennium bug, the protestations of members of parliament that their expenses were genuine, the claim that smoking banana skins made you high and the teachings of Stanley Green, the Protein Man.
Of course nothing lasts forever, not humanity, not the climate and not the stars in their courses. We do not need to worry about the world ending on a specific date, but one day the world will end, in the sense that it will no longer be able to support life as we know it. For centuries we have speculated that one day the sun will dim gradually cooling as it runs out of its hydrogen fuel. At the last estimates there was only enough fuel for another seven billion years, so perhaps worrying about the sun can be left for a couple of million years or so. It is, in the words of the song, nothing to get hung about.
When I was young we worried about the world ending in a nuclear holocaust, which was would happened had not the United States and the Soviet Union managed to avert a nuclear war in the nineteen sixties. Today the threat of such an event has diminished, even though there are more powers with nuclear weapons than ever. There is still a threat, but we sleep easy.
The latest fashion in threats is terrorism, which I think is best treated as crime, rather than as a separate thing. Terror begets terror, and is best fought by police, not soldiers. We should worry less about it. If you feel terrorised then the criminals have achieved their aims. Terrorism may change the world, if we let it, but not end the world.
So what will be the most likely way the world ends? In my view two things will end the world, not on a specific date, but step by step and slowly. One thing that will create the end of days is over-population and with its ally and child, climate change, the life and ability to live will be slowly strangled out of the planet.
And that is the way the world will end, not with a bang, but a whimper.