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Scientists list 12 biggest threats to mankind

Posted on Sunday, 15 February, 2015 | Comment icon 25 comments

Many believe that humanity sits on a knife edge. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 NikoLang
Researchers have drawn up a list of the dozen most likely scenarios that could spell the end of humanity.
The exercise, which was conducted by scientists at the Global Challenges Foundation and the Future of Humanity Institute, was designed to help the human race to better understand and address the risks that could lead to its untimely demise.

"It is a scientific assessment about the possibility of oblivion, certainly, but even more it is a call for action based on the assumption that humanity is able to rise to challenges and turn them into opportunities," the study authors wrote.

Chief among the items on the list are natural disasters such as an asteroid strike or the eruption of a supervolcano, both of which could have dire repercussions for life on our planet.

The majority of the scenarios however are based on problems that we ourselves have created. The most recognizable among these is the destructive potential of runaway climate change, but there are several other man-made scenarios that most people might have not even considered.

These include ecological catastrophe, a collapse of the world political and economic system and the development of a biological weapon. Also on the list are more futuristic possibilities such as a world overrun by nanoscopic robots or an out-of-control artificial intelligence.

Perhaps the most interesting entry on the list however is the threat of "unknown consequences", which relates to possible side-effects of our activities on Earth that we are not yet aware of.

"One resolution to the Fermi paradox - the apparent absence of alien life in the galaxy - is that intelligent life destroys itself before beginning to expand into the galaxy," the researchers wrote.

Let us hope that this turns out not to be the case.

Source: Independent | Comments (25)

Tags: Doomsday, Apocalypse

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #16 Posted by spud the mackem on 16 February, 2015, 8:47
You don't need to be a scientist to predict or guess how the human race will end.
Comment icon #17 Posted by regeneratia on 17 February, 2015, 0:58
I think the CIA has to be in that list.
Comment icon #18 Posted by MissJatti on 17 February, 2015, 11:42
Muslims should be on that list
Comment icon #19 Posted by Astra00 on 17 February, 2015, 12:54
End of days. Full screen needs to be observed.
Comment icon #20 Posted by maximusnow on 17 February, 2015, 18:37
opps! Left one off the list, Greed!
Comment icon #21 Posted by Dark_Grey on 17 February, 2015, 18:41
Giant rocks from space. It's obvious, likely and has happened before several times. Just look at the surface of the moon; we live in a cats cradle of asteroids. We used to think the Earth was isolated when in fact just the opposite is true...
Comment icon #22 Posted by White Crane Feather on 17 February, 2015, 18:53
Well.... I guess all those crazy peppers aren't so crazy. It seems they will be the ones to inherit the earth. One day the SHTF will happen it will be those most prepared the will go on. This is why we exist in the first place our deep ancestors had niches that allowed them to survive these cataclysms before. Granted nuclear war has never happned before. As for Ai, I don't think Ai will take over. If we are succesful we will be melding with our technology eventually even evolving beyond physical existance. A type 5 civilization could be right here with us and we would never know it.
Comment icon #23 Posted by theotherguy on 18 February, 2015, 22:48
Most of those won't be too much of a problem if we can get a stable, self-supporting off-planet civilization going fast enough. At least, not immediately; the bad seeds will need to have something to run into the ground before they start running society into the ground.
Comment icon #24 Posted by and then on 19 February, 2015, 3:57
Giant rocks from space. It's obvious, likely and has happened before several times. Just look at the surface of the moon; we live in a cats cradle of asteroids. We used to think the Earth was isolated when in fact just the opposite is true... There is mention of such in the book of Revelation - a "falling star" that will kill off 1/3 of the life of the oceans and a multitude of people because the waters will be poisoned. But war and the famine and disease that accompany it are what will make the biggest dent in our population. By the end of the 7 years the population will be roughly HALF what ... [More]
Comment icon #25 Posted by Whisperer on 5 March, 2015, 5:00
Most probably a massive solar flare, you'd need a deep hole to escape the heat and lots of prep to to encourage a minimum of 60 people to hide out with ya....but then again so would a scenario like rampant viruses, nonbots etc...or maybe...

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