Researchers at Oxford University conducted a study to determine the chances of the human civilisation ending due to natural causes. The study concluded that in any given year, the chances of human beings becoming extinct only due to natural causes is 1 in 14,000.

Around 99% of all the species that existed in the world are now extinct. Even though in recent years human activity has hastened the extinction of many species, natural causes have been the primary cause for extinction.

Researchers took into consideration only natural causes or calamities which could wipe out human civilisation. For human beings to become extinct, natural disasters would have to be large scale. A supervolcano or an asteroid collision could drive us to extinction as it did with the dinosaurs. A nearby stellar explosion caused by a star's collapse would result in a surge of radiation which could kill off most life on earth. A vacuum collapse could travel through the universe at the speed of light eradicating everything, including life on earth, in its path.

technological apocalypse solar storm
An overdue giant solar burst could wipe out communication and electricity systems on Earth iStock

Taking such natural causes into consideration, the researchers concluded that human beings have a 1 in 14,000 chance of becoming extinct every year.

1 in 14,000 might seem like a rare chance. However, to put things in perspective, the chance of an individual getting struck by lightning is 1 in 700,000. The chance of an individual getting attacked by a shark is 1 in 11.5m. The chance of an individual winning the National Lottery Jackpot is 1 in 45m. While more people live in fear of being chomped on by a shark, they should ideally be more worried about the collapse of the entire human civilization.

The study only took into consideration natural causes and calamities. The Sun pointed out that if the study took man-made causes into consideration, the chances of human extinction might have been much higher. The study did not consider climate change, nuclear warfare and bio-chemical warfare which could wipe out humans as well.

The Daily Mail pointed out another study conducted by a team from the University of Rochester in New York. The researchers simulated societies known as "Exo-civilisations," which were assumed to be highly advanced alien civilisations on other planets. By studying the most likely path the Exo-civilisations took, the researchers came to a morbid conclusion.

In all cases, the Exo-civilisation died-off, collapsed entirely or had a soft decline. In most cases, the Exo-civilisation slowly died-off and failed to recover. In some cases, there was a sudden calamitous ending to life on the planet. In a few cases, the population steadily declined until only 30% of the population remained sustainably on the planet.

Statistics from the Exo-civilisation study as well as the Oxford University study indicate that there are high chances of human extinction in the coming years.