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Terrifying existential risks to life on earth



A global catastrophe risk is a hypothetical future event that could lead to the destruction of modern civilization, mass extinction or the complete destruction of the planet. The geological record of the earth is filled with asteroid impacts, climate changes, ice ages, super volcanoes and extinction – much extinction; but the greatest risk to life may not come from anything terrestrial.

Here are 10 of the most terrifying existential risks to life on Earth.

10th Warfare and Weapons of Mass Destruction

In 1983, the Soviet Union's early warning system announced the launch of several USAF Minuteman ICBMs from US military bases. The only thing that prevented us from immersing our sky in a nuclear fire was officer Stanislav Petrov's feeling that the warning was a false alarm.

John F. Kennedy once estimated the likelihood that the entire nuclear war would be "somewhere between one in three and even". The American cryptologist Professor Martin Hellman has claimed that nuclear war is inevitable. The United States and Russia have a combined arsenal of 14,700 nuclear weapons, and global supply is in the high 15,000.

Although Cold War studies estimated that billions of people would survive the initial conflict, the debate rages on whether secondary effects such as nuclear winter, radiation sickness due to failures, and unforeseen environmental factors could contribute to the complete extinction of life on Earth.

A 2008 Future of Humanity Institute survey estimated the likelihood of warfare extinction by 2100 at 4% and the likelihood of nuclear warfare extinction at 1%.

Other forms of warfare, e.g. B. Biological and chemical warfare also carries its own risks – although chemical warfare is significantly less likely to threaten life on Earth as a whole.

. 9 Biotechnological catastrophe

  Biological warfare

In 2008, a survey by the Institute for the Future of Humanity estimated that life on earth would die out due to the accidental release of a biologically modified organism to 2%. The increasing accessibility of technologies with which we can change the properties of viruses and other viruses Biological agents have led to an increased risk factor that such agents are accidentally released into our environment and have devastating effects on the ecosystems with which they come into contact ,

In 2001, researchers attempted to sterilize rats by accidentally developing a new virus, instead modifying it. The modified virus became extremely volatile for the mice, even for those who had already been vaccinated.

After the rapid developments in CRISPR processing (processing of DNA sequences in genomes of organisms such as bacteria and archaea), an international summit announced in December 2015 that it was "irresponsible" to continue processing human genes until security measures and effectiveness could be addressed.

. 8 Nanotechnology

In K. Eric Drexler's 1986 book Engines of Creation the pioneer of nanotechnology outlines a frightening scenario in which nanomachines are accidentally created that use organic matter as an energy source. In the end, production devours all life on earth. While this idea that such an event could be coincidental has been rejected by modern experts in the field, with the emerging development of nanotechnology there is still a substantial existential risk.

While the development of nanotechnology offers a variety of advantages such as automation, medical progress and manufacturing, there are also risks in the same areas. It has been argued that the advent of these technologies could lead to a new arms race. Because nanomachines are so small and factories could use them as little space as a small desktop, it would be incredibly difficult for governments to regulate their use or production. It has been found that nanotechnology would be extremely beneficial in medical procedures, but the same applies to warfare. Without their knowledge, nanomachines could enter the bodies of enemy combatants or civilians and kill the subject just as effectively as with other medical procedures.

. 7 Artificial Intelligence

Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Bill Gates have argued that the rise of superintelligent machines would mean a certain fate for humanity; and it all comes down to control. Automation is already establishing itself in many industries. The robots we serve may not be intelligent enough to pose a threat, but what happens when A.I. surpasses human intelligence? Would we consider it out of date? Would it try to exterminate us?

Most of you are probably thinking of Terminator-style machines or A.I. Controlled drones chasing people in the trenches of a post-nuclear wasteland – and although this is certainly a possibility – the threat could take a completely different form than that offered by Hollywood science fiction films. More and more systems are automated and are based on basic A.I. to do rudimentary things. What happens if this automation extends to medical devices, or if computer viruses can adapt themselves to countermeasures, or if superintelligent machines are given the ability to build even greater artificial intelligence?

Science fiction writer and computer scientist Vernor Vinge suggested that the moment when humanity creates an intelligence that is greater than itself is exactly the moment when the human era ends and it calls the singularity ,

. 6 Mineral Exhaustion

The price of helium has increased by more than 250% in the past ten years. One of the world's largest stocks of the element, the Federal Helium Reserve, has gradually run out of supply over the past decade and is estimated to sell its remaining supply by 2021. Helium is used in vital medicine technology, arc welding and pressurization with liquid powered missiles. Although it is one of the most common elements in the known universe, it is extremely rare on Earth.

Scientific data seem to indicate that humans live far beyond the sustainability of our planet. In July 2015, the official United Nations global population outlook was revised, according to which the population would increase to 8.5 billion by 2030. As of February 2020, 7.7 billion people are currently living worldwide.

Due to the increased demands on the Earth's resources, which are associated with population growth, scientists and researchers are suggesting that it is not a question of whether, but when, these resources dry up.

. 5 Natural climate change

It was suggested that at some point in the distant past, ice covered the entire earth and wiped out all life on the surface. The causes suggested for this "snowball earth" ranged from space clouds (dust and particle clouds that could have blocked the sun at one point), a reduction in greenhouse gases to a much darker sun.

Ice ages dominate most of the Earth's timeline. Interglacial periods are overshadowed by long periods of time when the ice sheets dominate the surface of the planet and can be affected by fluctuations in the Earth's orbit, darkening and brightening of the sun during their natural cycles and processions, as well as extraterrestrial events such as catastrophic bombardment by asteroids – which can drastically increase the temperature of the earth. The average duration of an interglacial period is around 10,000 years.

The last ice age was more than 11,000 to 17,000 years ago.

It is worth noting that a modern ice age would have a drastic impact on human civilization. This would disrupt many industries, shrink usable land for crops, and it is possible that such an event would cause civilization to fully implode. To what extent is controversial.

However, what is not controversial is that with another snowball earth scenario in modern times all life on the surface of the earth would die out.

. 4 Alien Invasion

Although there is currently no evidence of the existence of extraterrestrial life, many prominent astronomers and scientists (like Carl Sagan) suspected that this was very likely, and in 1969 the "Extra-Terrestrial Exposure Law" was called Response to the possibility of biological contamination due to the Apollo program included in the United States Code of Federal Regulations.

Although it is unlikely, extraterrestrial life, if it exists, could find us and penetrate Earth, thereby eradicating and replacing human life, our resources will be stolen, the planet will be terraformed to be its own To serve needs, enslave us, or destroy the planet as a whole.

Stephen Hawking suggested that we should be careful when answering messages from potential alien civilizations. If such a civilization viewed us as inferior and if it were technologically advanced, there is no telling what they could do to us.

. 3 Cosmic Threats

In April 2008, it was announced that two simulations of long-term planetary motion, one at the Paris Observatory and the other at the University of California at Santa Cruz, would indicate a 1% probability for Mercury. The orbit could at some point be affected by Jupiter's attraction become unstable during the life of the sun. If this became a reality, the simulations indicated that a collision with the earth could be one of four possible results. And if that happened, all life on earth would be wiped out. Period.

Last year we took the first photo of a black hole in the center of the M87 galaxy. And it is believed that smaller black holes are quite common in the universe. Recently, ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter / Submillimeter Array, a set of 66 telescopes scattered across the Atacama Desert in northern Chile) believed they might have discovered a migratory black hole over the mass of Jupiter in our galaxy. It is believed that migratory black holes are rare, but if such a black hole migrated to our solar environment, the effects would be catastrophic.

Then there is a possibility that gamma rays will roast the earth and the vacuum decay will transform our universe into a lower energy state at the speed of light – everything we love without warning, massive solar flares or superstorms that could boil us and inevitably the gradual expansion of the Sun's radius to a red giant where it comes to dominate the sky and boil our oceans if they don't consume the planet completely (luckily the last one won't happen for billions of years)

If it doesn't make you feel like an insignificant piece of star dust, I don't know what's going to happen.

. 2 Asteroid Impact

The chicxulub asteroid struck the earth 66 million years ago, killing the dinosaurs and causing the global temperature of the earth to rise by 5 degrees Celsius, a change that lasted 100,000 years.

Recently the Chelyabinks meteor exploded over Russia with an explosion that was stronger than a nuclear explosion and injured around 1,200 people.

Scientists often describe our solar system as a "shooting gallery", and it shouldn't come as a shock that NASA has discovered well over 15,000 documented objects close to Earth. Perhaps the most worrying are Atira asteroids, a class of asteroids that circle too close to the sun to be easily recognized. Such an asteroid called LF-6 is a world end object with the fastest known orbit of all objects in the solar system. Its orbit also intersects that of Venus, and it is possible that interactions with Venus' gravity may someday change the asteroid's orbit and send it on a collision course with Earth.

What's most terrible about the possibility of an asteroid hitting Earth? is that there is no viable plan to distract or destroy a planetary ender. Nuclear weapons have been proposed in the past, but new research suggests that nuclear weapons would not only be largely ineffective, but could even make the situation worse by breaking down a massive asteroid into large pieces.

. 1 Environmental disaster

The extinction of the Holocene is the sixth mass extinction and is ongoing. The mass extinctions of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, arthropods and plants are measured 100 to 1000 times faster than previously determined natural background rates since the end of the last ice age.

Some of these mass extinctions have been attributed to the hunting patterns of early humans as they expanded in number, as the extinctions coincided with the steady growth of the human population and the rise of civilization. However, there is some debate about how much human hunting activity has contributed to the extinction of megafauna and massive land mammals like the woolly mammoth.

One of the factors could be climate change and ocean acidification.

Ocean acidification is known as the ugly twin of global warming. For almost 200 years, the ocean has absorbed more than 150 billion tons of carbon from human activities, which has led to a record reduction in the average pH value for sea water. The risks associated with more acidic oceans include the extinction of biologically diverse habitats such as coral reefs and marine life.

And then there is a collapse disorder of the colonies. Measured at the beginning of the 21st st century, CCD is a phenomenon that occurs when almost all worker bees in a colony disappear, leaving a queen, lots of food and some nurse bees to care for the rest of the immature bees.

Bees help pollinate 35% of the world's food sources, and current estimates suggest that 25% of bumblebees in the United States are threatened with extinction. Habitat loss, pesticide use and disease are believed to cause the decline.

Environmental disasters like this could very well accelerate the mass extinction of life on Earth, and scientists give us a decade to solve this problem before we cross the point of no return.

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