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This Earth Day, be glad our planet is safer than these visions

Shaun Harrison
EndEarth-PlanetApes9.jpg
1 of 16 20th Century Fox/The Kobal Collection

Planet of the Apes

Apes might like the future world of this 1968 classic, but for humans it's less fun than a barrel of power-mad monkeys. We only realize the fate of the Earth as Charlton Heston comes across a rather famous monument on a barren beach and realizes that humans are their own worst enemies: "We finally did it. You maniacs! You blew it up!"
2 of 16 courtesy Walt Disney Pictures

Wall-E

Pixar's tearjerker makes us sympathize with a robot more than we do with humans, and it's no wonder why: It envisions a future where lazy humans have covered the earth in so much trash that the planet can barely sustain life. Who can blame the robots in charge of the space ship for not wanting to return?
3 of 16 Andrew Cooper/Warner Bros./The Kobal Collection

The Time Machine

H.G. Wells wrote the novel on which this film is based in 1895, long before humankind had created the technology that could someday destroy us. He imagined modern life ending organically, with humankind devolving into two different races — and the vicious Morlocks preying on the helpless Eloi.
4 of 16 Warner Bros. Pictures/Everett Collection

The Road Warrior

Supporters of peak oil theory can look to this Mad Max sequel for a sense of how the world might look if we run out of dinosaur juice before we come up with something else to replace it: packs of sadistic gangs terrorizing a desolate wasteland, poaching what little oil remains.
5 of 16 Adam Taylor/Fox

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles

The future John Connor & Co. are trying to prevent is so dire, resistance fighters like Derek Reese must be sent back in time to make sure John keeps the future-ruling machines from ever being created. That's great, except the machines are smart enough to send people back to kill John as well. Time, you see, is a Mobius strip in the Terminator's world — but not in ours. What we're saying is, ride your bike more and try to recycle.
6 of 16 courtesy Touchtone Pictures

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

This one's simple: Aliens blow the Earth up. Not much coming back from that one. But hitchhiking is a great way to preserve natural resources. (Kidding! Never do this.)
7 of 16 Carole Segal/Sci Fi

Battlestar Galactica

After four years of death and destruction-filled war with Cylons, the fleet strikes a tentative truce with the robots to find a new home on planet Earth. When they finally arrive, they're greeted not with purple-mountain majesty and amber waves of grain, but grey, charred ground, destroyed bridges and buildings, and radiation-filled water and soil. Turns out the planet was destroyed 2000 years earlier in a nuclear attack, by the first group of Cylons who rebelled against their human inventors. Oh, you wily Cyclons.
8 of 16 courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

I Am Legend

This Will Smith epic imagines a New York City decimated by a virus that turns people into bloodsucking monsters. Wait, isn't New York already filled with bloodsucking monsters?
9 of 16 Peter Mountain/Fox/The Kobal Collection

28 Days Later

Before he turned to, um, lighter fare, like Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle imagined an England ruled by Rage virus-infected zombies. Almost more frightening are the humans who remain, soldiers who have barricaded themselves from the infected. Only near the end do we learn there may be hope for humanity.
10 of 16 courtesy The Weinstein Company

The Road

The upcoming film, starring Viggo Mortensen as a father trying to keep his son alive as they wander a world covered in ash and detritus, is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Cormac McCarthy. With most animal and plant life dead after an unnamed disaster, father and son have to decide how much mercy they can spare the others they encounter on the road, knowing that bands of cannibals will strike at their first misstep.
11 of 16 courtesy 20th Century Fox

The Day After Tomorrow

Hollywood didn't go for subtlety in this 2004 global warming nightmare scenario, in which the incredibly fast melting of polar ice results in the Northern Hemisphere freezing. Pros: You can walk to the Statue of Liberty now — no more need for a ferry. Cons: Everything else.
12 of 16 courtesy Universal Pictures

Waterwold

Why should you be afraid of global warming? Because, according to this box office flop, someday the world could flood, and you could end up on a raft with a monotone-voiced Kevin Costner.
13 of 16 Phillip Caruso/Polygram/The Kobal Collection

Twelve Monkeys

As a time-travelling convict, Bruce Willis goes back to 1990 to find a cure for the deadly virus that has contaminated the surface of the Earth in 2035. And to give Al Gore some good news (1992), and some bad news (2000).
14 of 16 Laurel Ent/The Kobal Collection

The Stand

Compared to the killer clowns and evil dogs of other Stephen King tales, the flu seems like a walk in the park. But leave it to King to create a superflu that wipes out nearly every living thing on the planet, setting up a final good vs. evil battle for humanity. Suck it, Cujo.
15 of 16 Robert Voets/CBS

Jericho

Life in rural Kansas can feel a little slow — some might even say boring — until it becomes one of the few places in the country not completely demolished by a nuclear attack. The Jericho Chamber of Commerce should totally point this out try to attract small businesses.
16 of 16 courtesy Flight 33 Productions

Life After People

This brand-new History Channel series imagines what the world might look like when the human race is no more. Fine, less war, pollution and toxic waste. But dogs aren't gonna be too happy about the no-belly-rubs situation. Cujo loses again.