On the Next Thanksgivukkah the World Will Be Cold, Strange, and Ruled by Super-Turkeys


98
On the Next Thanksgivukkah the World Will Be Cold, Strange, and Ruled by Super-Turkeys

On the Next Thanksgivukkah the World Will Be Cold, Strange, and Ruled by Super-Turkeys

On 97,000-year timescales, the Earth’s tilt also shifts, meaning that in the far future it will have changed a few degrees, altering the amount of sunlight each part of the ground receives. Changing the Earth’s axial tilt will likely alter the seasons and could kick our planet back into a global ice age. We are currently sitting pretty after the end of the last glaciation period, but some models suggest that a new one will start in about 50,000 years. Historically, ice ages last an average of 100,000 years. Global warming could delay the coming of this icy era. If humans stop adding new carbon into the atmosphere by 2200, some models suggest the delay could be 5,000 years.

In about 50,000 years, gravitational friction from the moon will have slowed the Earth enough to lengthen the day on Earth by about a second (meaning more calendar headaches to anyone around). By the year 77,094, many asteroids and comets of significant size will have hit Earth. Impacts comparable to the Tunguska event that flattened trees over 2,000 km2 of Siberia in the early 1900s are expected roughly once a millennia, or possibly even more frequently. An object roughly half a kilometer or larger in diameter – probably the minimum size needed to cause a large-scale global catastrophe – should, statistically speaking, hit Earth at least once in the next 100,000 years.

The Earth’s crust will have shifted a little before the next Thanksgivukkah. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge is producing new ocean crust at a rate of 2.5 centimeters a year. At that rate, the Atlantic Ocean would be just under two kilometers wider in 70,000 years. The Pacific plate is moving even faster, as much as 9 cm a year near Hawaii. In 75,000 years, Hawaii will have shifted almost 7 kilometers to the northwest.

A 75,000-year period is also a long enough timescale for plenty of animals to have gone extinct, either through natural processes or because of human influence. Remember that 75,000 years ago, Northern Europe was covered in far different fauna, including woolly mammoths, cave lions, tarpans, and other Pleistocene animals. It’s entirely possible that turkeys will have long gone the way of the dodo by the next Thanksgivukkah (alternatively, they could breed into super-turkeys and overrun the globe). It also seems probable that new species will have evolved to occupy the niches left open by extinct creatures, though exactly when new organisms will appear or what they will look like is basically impossible to predict.

But really, in all likelihood, there won’t be Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, America, or Judaism at all. You can nitpick with me here since we have no idea how long any particular religion or country will last and maybe these will stick around much longer than I expect them to. But it’s only been something like 10,000 years since people started to organize themselves into complex societies. That’s 10,000 years for every single empire ever to have risen and fallen, every organized religion to have been born and died, every civilized idea to have come and gone. Are we going to go through that another seven or eight times? Who knows. Maybe the niche exploited by the super-turkeys will be the one left open by us.

If humans don’t survive the changes that Earth will go through in the coming millennia, most of the things we built will also be gone. Over thousands of years, cities will crumble, rivers will overflow and break their dams, and satellites will fall from their orbits. The Arecibo message, beamed to stars 25,000 light-years away, will have reached its destination and, if anyone is there to hear it, could have made its way back to Earth. A few spacecraft, like Voyagers 1 and 2, will still be out there floating. Rock monuments, like Mount Rushmore, would not yet have completely eroded away. One day, there will basically be nothing left to testify that humans were ever here at all.

But, hey, nothing lasts forever.

1In the old days, the priests had a useful check on their calendar with reality by seeing if the first month of the year (called “Aviv” or spring) came when spring started. If Adar, the last month, was ending and spring had not yet come, the priests would just say “Okay. Do over. Adar II, guys,” and get the calendar back in sync.

2This is only sort of true. Hanukkah, like all Jewish holidays, starts when the sun goes down the day before the “first” day of the holiday. So even though Hanukkah will start at the earliest on Nov. 29 in the future, the candles for the first night will be lit on the 28th (when Thanksgiving is also happening) in 2070 and 2165. Perhaps the Thanksgivukkah meme will be dusted off again in those years for nostalgia’s sake. Also, since Jewish law requires that Passover appear in spring, it seems likely that at some point they will fix the calendar to prevent this drift from going too far.

Sharing is caring 👋 don’t forget to share this post on Tumblr !


Like it? Share with your friends!

98