A study published this week claims to offer the first scientifically proven list of reasons for the end of the world. Or, as scientists say, risks …
1. Know 12 possible causes (scientifically proven) to the end of the world
A study published this week claims to offer the first scientifically proven list of reasons for the end of the world. Or, as scientists say, global risks with a potential definitive impact that, in extreme cases, could end all human life. By the definitive impact, authors Dennis Pamlin (of the Global Challenge Foundation) and Stuart Armstrong (Institute of Future of Humanity) refer to risks capable of causing the extinction of humanity or lead to a situation in which civilization falls into a state of deep suffering from which it can not recover. After extensively analyzing research and scientific data, the study identified 12 plausible ways for the end of the world. It is noteworthy that the authors do not believe that humanity is threatened, at least for the time being. Pamlin and Armstrong believe our species will still be a few million years older on the planet. But it’s good to be careful.
2. 1. Climate Change
The authors estimate that global warming between 4 and 6 ° C would be fatal to human survival. At high temperatures, millions of people would need to leave their homes because of rising sea levels, submerging coastal regions. Agriculture would also be severely affected.
3. 2. Nuclear War
According to the researchers, only a “very specific” nuclear war could wipe out humanity. Isolated bombings (like those of the United States in Japan in 1945) would be serious humanitarian catastrophes, but would not extinguish human beings. Even global nuclear wars would not have enough impact for this. A conflict that decimated the United States and Russia, for example, would affect less than 2 billion people, the minimum number of dead to compromise the continuity of the species. The problem with such a war is the so-called “nuclear winter”. If many warheads are detonated, the planet’s temperatures would fall rapidly, affecting agriculture and rendering human life nonviable.
4. 3. Global Pandemic
Like a nuclear war, only a very specific pandemic could end human life. The Black Death and the Spanish Influenza, for example, killed millions of people, but failed to extinguish civilization. The problem is that although medicine has evolved a lot in recent centuries, global distances have shortened with the evolution of transport, making it simpler for a disease to spread throughout the planet. In addition, large urban concentrations brought people together. Even if a pandemic killed most of humanity, it would leave some survivors immune to disease. But these few people would have had a hard time surviving on their own.
5. Ecological Catastrophe
The report explains that an ecological catastrophe would be a “situation in which an ecosystem undergoes a drastic, possibly permanent, reduction in the ability to support all its organisms, resulting in mass extinction.” Mass extinctions can happen for a number of reasons, such as global warming, the impact of an asteroid and even CO2 emissions.
6. 5. Collapse of the global system
This hypothesis suggests a collapse of the world political and economic system, generated by “a long and deep financial depression with high rates of bankruptcy and unemployment, a trade crisis caused by hyperinflation, or an increase in the mortality rate due to economic reasons.” The study also considers other possibilities for this global collapse, such as a large solar-wave explosion that destroys Earth’s electrical systems.
7. 6. Impact of a giant asteroid
The collision of celestial bodies with Earth has already caused extinction of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. An impact on the future could have similar effects.
Just like asteroids, volcanic eruptions have already caused mass extinctions on the planet. It is estimated that an eruption in the Permian-Triassic period, 250 million years ago, has extinguished 90% of the Earth’s species at the time. The eruptions could cause the planet to cool down and disrupt agriculture. But despite the impossibility of predicting them, they are extremely rare.
9. 8. Synthetic biology
The creation of biological systems, including artificial life, can be used for the development of a supervirus or bacterium that may be more infectious than its natural versions, for example. Most likely they are created as biological weapons, by armies and terrorist groups to be used in wars and attacks.
10. 9. Nanotechnology
In this hypothesis, the danger lies in the possibility of the technological revolution allowing anyone to build a highly destructive weapon, for example. “One hypothesis of the misuse of nanotechnology is the rapid extraction of uranium and separation of isotopes, facilitating the construction of nuclear weapons,” the authors write.
11. Artificial Intelligence
Like Bill Gates and Elon Musk, the report worries about the possibility of exponential advances in artificial intelligence. Once computer programs can learn to program alone, they could use this technology to upgrade themselves, causing an infinite spiral of super intelligence. If artificial intelligence remains friendly to humans, it can be beneficial. But there is a risk that she wants to destroy us someday.
12. 11. Incompetent politicians
Most of the problems listed so far would require a coordinated effort among national governments to resolve. Climate change is the most concrete example of this problem, but in the future, factors such as nanotechnology and the regulation of artificial intelligence may require a worldwide effort to be controlled. The problem is that attempts at cooperation between different political forces may even increase the problems they plan to overcome.
13. The unknown
The first 11 items on the list are known risks to humanity. But there are other dangers, which can have grave consequences for mankind, which are still unknown to us. Space-time cracks, zombies, extraterrestrials, monsters, sharknados … who knows what might be the next threat?
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