FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Meteors and Volcanoes and Viruses... Oh My!

Thinking about the future might all be for naught if the worst of Sir Martin Rees' forecasts are correct. The astronomer royal and professor of cosmology and astrophysics at Cambridge, Rees suggests that humans have a 50-50 chance of surviving the 21st century without a major cataclysm.

"Some natural threats, such as earthquakes and meteorite impacts, remain the same throughout time," he says, "while others are aggravated by our modern interconnected world. But we also need to consider threats that are human-induced."

Among the leading candidates for a humanity-ending catastrophe within the next 70 years are:
  • A super-volcanic eruption. These occur every 50,000 years over geologic "hot spots" such as Yellowstone National Park, and can cause global damage.
  • Climate change, which could lead to worldwide famine.
  • A viral pandemic on the level of the 1918 influenza outbreak that killed 20 million people. A similar outbreak would likely be far more devastating.
  • The impact of a meteor 1.5 km wide or larger.
  • Being assimilated into artificial intelligence.

Have a nice day!

Source: AiKnowledge