Four months in, this year has already been a remarkable showcase for existential and catastrophic risk. A severe drought, devastating bushfires, hazardous smoke, towns running dry – these events all demonstrate the consequences of human-induced climate change.
While the above may seem like isolated threats, they are parts of a larger puzzle of which the pieces are all interconnected. A report titled Surviving and Thriving in the 21st Century, published today by the Commission for the Human Future, has isolated ten potentially catastrophic threats to human survival.
Not prioritised over one another, these risks are:
- decline of natural resources, particularly water
- collapse of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity
- human population growth beyond Earth’s carrying capacity
- global warming and human-induced climate change
- chemical pollution of the Earth system, including the atmosphere and oceans
- rising food insecurity and failing nutritional quality
- nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction
- pandemics of new and untreatable disease
- the advent of powerful, uncontrolled new technology
- national and global failure to understand and act preventatively on these risks.