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Encyclopedia > Risks to civilization, humans and planet Earth

Risks to civilization, humans and planet Earth are existential risks that could threaten mankind as a whole, have adverse consequences for the course of human civilization, or even cause the end of planet Earth.[1] The concept is expressed in various phrases such as "End of the World", "Doomsday", "TEOTWAWKI", and others. Scope/intensity grid from Bostroms existential risk paper. ... Central New York City. ... This article is about Earth as a planet. ... Look up end of the world in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Look up doomsday in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


Types of risks

Various risks exist for humanity, but not all are equal. Risks can be roughly categorized into six types based on the scope (personal, regional, global) and the intensity (endurable or terminal). The following chart provides some examples: Look up Humanity, humanity in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

Typology of risk [1]
Endurable Terminal
Global Continental drift Gamma ray burst
Regional Flash flooding Permanent submersion under sea level
Personal Being disoriented by a nearby bolide Being decapitated by a sudden fall from a great height

The risks discussed in this article are at least Global and Terminal in intensity. These types of risks are ones where an adverse outcome would either annihilate intelligent life, or permanently and drastically reduce its potential. Jamais Cascio made an alternative classification system. Plates in the crust of the earth, according to the plate tectonics theory Continental drift refers to the movement of the Earths continents relative to each other. ... The image above shows the optical afterglow of gamma ray burst GRB-990123 taken on January 23, 1999. ... Flash flooding is rapid flooding of low-lying areas, rivers and creeks that is caused by the intense rainfall associated with a thunderstorm, or multiple training thunderstorms. ... The term bolide (from the Greek βολις, bolis, missile) can refer to either an extraterrestrial body that collides with the Earth, or to an exceptionally bright, fireball-like meteor regardless of whether it ultimately impacts the surface. ... Decapitation (from Latin, caput, capitis, meaning head), or beheading, is the removal of a living organisms head. ... Jamais Cascio is a San Francisco Bay Area-based writer and ethical futurist. ...

Future scenarios

Many scenarios have been suggested. Some that will almost certainly end humanity are certain to occur, but on a very long timescale. Others are likely to happen on a shorter timescale, but will probably not completely destroy civilization. Still others are extremely unlikely, and may even be impossible. For example, Nick Bostrom writes:[2] Nick Bostrom at a 2006 summit at Stanford University. ...

Some foreseen hazards (hence not members of the current category) which have been excluded from the list of bangs on grounds that they seem too unlikely to cause a global terminal disaster are: solar flares, supernovae, black hole explosions or mergers, gamma-ray bursts, galactic center outbursts, supervolcanoes, buildup of air pollution, gradual loss of human fertility, and various religious doomsday scenarios.


It is certain that events in the universe will cause life on Earth to come to an end. Calculations indicate that the Andromeda Galaxy is on a collision course with the Milky Way. Andromeda is approaching at an average speed of about 140 kilometres (87 miles) per second and thus impact is predicted in about 3 billion years. This merging could eject the solar system in a more eccentric orbit and an unwanted position in the merged galaxy causing our planet to become uninhabitable, even if an actual collision does not take place. This article is about the tv programme Life on Earth. ... The Andromeda Galaxy (IPA: , also known as Messier 31, M31, or NGC 224; often referred to as the Great Andromeda Nebula in older texts) is a spiral galaxy approximately 2. ...

In about 5 billion years, stellar evolution predicts our sun will exhaust its core hydrogen and become a red giant.[3][4][5] In so doing, it will become thousands of times more luminous.[6] As a red giant, the Sun will lose roughly 30% of its mass, so, without tidal effects, the Earth will be in an orbit 1.7 AU (250,000,000 km) from the Sun when the star reaches it maximum radius. Therefore, the planet is thought to escape envelopment by the expanded Sun's sparse outer atmosphere, though most (if not all) existing life would have been destroyed by the Sun's proximity to Earth.[3] However, a more recent simulation indicates that Earth's orbit will decay due to tidal effects and drag, causing it to enter the red giant Sun's atmosphere and be destroyed.[4] Some scientists predict that the sun will eventually make the Earth uninhabitable in as little as 500 million years.[7][8] Projected timeline of the Suns life In astronomy, stellar evolution is the process by which a star undergoes a sequence of radical changes during its lifetime. ... Sol redirects here. ... According to the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, a red giant is a large non-main sequence star of stellar classification K or M; so-named because of the reddish appearance of the cooler giant stars. ...

On an even longer time scale, the universe may come to an end. The current universe is estimated as being 13.73 billion years old. There are several competing theories as to the nature of our universe and how it will end, but in all cases, there will be no life possible. These scenarios take place on a considerably longer timescale than the expansion of the sun. This box:      The ultimate fate of the universe is a topic in physical cosmology. ... This box:      This article is about scientific estimates of the age of the universe. ... For other uses, see Universe (disambiguation). ...

Meteorite impact

In the history of the Earth, it is widely accepted that several large meteorites have hit Earth. The Cretaceous-Tertiary asteroid, for example, is theorized to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. If such an object struck Earth it could have a serious impact on civilization. It's even possible that humanity would be completely destroyed: for this, the asteroid would need to be at least 1 km (0.6 miles) in diameter, but probably between 3–10 km (2–6 miles).[9] Asteroids with a 1 km diameter impact the Earth every 500,000 years[9] on average. Larger asteroids are less common. The last large (>10 km) impact happened 65 million years ago. So-called Near-Earth asteroids are regularly being observed. The history of the World is human history from the dawn of humanity to the present. ... Willamette Meteorite A meteorite is a natural object originating in outer space that survives an impact with the Earths surface without being destroyed. ... This article is about Earth as a planet. ... Badlands near Drumheller, Alberta where erosion has exposed the KT boundary. ... Orders & Suborders Saurischia Sauropodomorpha Theropoda Ornithischia Thyreophora Ornithopoda Marginocephalia Dinosaurs were vertebrate animals that dominated the terrestrial ecosystem for over 160 million years, first appearing approximately 230 million years ago. ... Badlands near Drumheller, Alberta where erosion has exposed the KT boundary. ... Computer model of the Apollo Asteroid 6489 Golevka Near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) are asteroids whose orbits are close to Earths orbit. ...

A star passage that will cause an increase of meteorites is the arrival of a star called Gliese 710. This star is probably moving on a collision course with the Solar System and will likely be at a distance 1.1 light years from the Sun in 1.4 million years. Some models predict that this will send large amounts of comets from the Oort cloud to the Earth.[10] Other models, such as the one by García-Sánchez, predict an increase of only 5%. Gliese 710 is a red dwarf star in the constellation Serpens Cauda, with visual magnitude 9. ... This article is about the Solar System. ... A light-year or lightyear (symbol: ly) is a unit of measurement of length, specifically the distance light travels in vacuum in one year. ... Artists rendering of the Oort cloud and the Kuiper Belt. ...

Less likely cosmic threats

A number of other scenarios have been suggested. Massive objects, e.g., a star, large planet or black hole, could be catastrophic if a close encounter occurred in the solar system. Another threat might come from gamma ray bursts; some scientists believe this may have caused mass extinction 450 million years ago.[11] Both are very unlikely.[2] This article is about the astronomical object. ... This article is about the astronomical term. ... For other uses, see Black hole (disambiguation). ... In astronomy, gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are flashes of gamma rays that last from seconds to hours, the longer ones being followed by several days of X-ray afterglow. ...

Still others see extraterrestrial life as a possible threat to mankind;[12] although alien life has never been found, scientists such as Carl Sagan have postulated that the existence of extraterrestrial life is very likely. In 1969, the "Extra-Terrestrial Exposure Law" was added to the Code of Federal Regulations (Title 14, Section 1211) in response to the possibility of biological contamination resulting from the US Apollo Space Program. It was removed in 1991.[13] Scientists consider such a scenario technically possible, but unlikely.[14] Green people redirects here. ... Carl Edward Sagan (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996) was an American astronomer and astrochemist and a highly successful popularizer of astronomy, astrophysics, and other natural sciences. ...

In April 2008, it was announced that two simulations of long-term planetary movement, one at Paris Observatory and the other at University of California, Santa Cruz indicate a 1% chance that Mercury's orbit could be made unstable by Jupiter's gravitational pull sometime during the lifespan of the sun. Were this to happen, the simulations suggest a collision with Earth could be one of four possible outcomes (the others being colliding with the Sun, colliding with Venus, or being ejected from the solar system altogether).[15] This article does not cite any references or sources. ... “UCSC” redirects here. ... This article is about the planet. ... For other uses, see Jupiter (disambiguation). ...


Ice age: In the history of the Earth, many ice ages have occurred. More ice ages will almost certainly come at an interval of 40,000–100,000 years. This would have a serious impact on civilization, because vast areas of land (mainly in North America, Europe, and Asia) could become uninhabitable. It would still be possible to live in the tropical regions, but with possible loss of humidity/water. Currently, the world is technically existing in a warm period between such ice ages (the last ending c. 10000 years ago), and all civilizations (save a few hunter-gatherer populations) have come into existence within that time. Variations in CO2, temperature and dust from the Vostok ice core over the last 400 000 years For the animated movie, see Ice Age (movie). ... North American redirects here. ... For other uses, see Europe (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Asia (disambiguation). ...

Global pandemic: A less predictable scenario is a global pandemic. For example, if HIV mutates and becomes as transmissible as the common cold, the consequences would be disastrous, but probably not fatal to the human species,[16] as some people are immune to HIV.[17] This particular scenario would also contradict the observable tendency for pathogens to become less fatal over time as a function of natural selection. A pathogen that quickly kills its hosts will not likely have enough time to spread to new ones, while one that kills its hosts more slowly or not at all will allow carriers more time to spread the infection, and thus likely outcompete a more lethal species or strain. A real-life example of this process can be found in the historical evolution of syphilis towards a less virulent form. Also as a virus mutates in a direction of being easily transmittable it will likely give up much of its virulence in the process. Though this is not to say that a highly destructive and highly transmissible disease is not possible. Of course, a pandemic resulting in human extinction need not arise naturally; the possibility of one caused by a deliberately-engineered pathogen cannot be ruled out. For other uses, see Pandemic (disambiguation). ... Species Human immunodeficiency virus 1 Human immunodeficiency virus 2 Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS, a condition in humans in which the immune system begins to fail, leading to life-threatening opportunistic infections). ... Acute viral nasopharyngitis, or acute coryza, usually known as the common cold, is a highly contagious, viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory system, primarily caused by picornaviruses or coronaviruses. ... For other uses, see Natural selection (disambiguation). ... Syphilis is a curable sexually transmitted disease caused by the Treponema pallidum spirochete. ...

Megatsunami: Another possibility is the megatsunami. A megatsunami could, for example, destroy the entire east coast of the United States of America. The coastal areas of the entire world could be flooded in case of the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.[18] While none of these scenarios could possibly destroy humanity completely, they could regionally threaten civilization. Megatsunami (often hyphenated as mega-tsunami, also known as iminami or wave of purification) is an informal term used mostly by popular media and popular scientific societies to describe a very large tsunami wave beyond the typical size reached by most tsunamis. ... Motto: (traditional) In God We Trust (official, 1956–present) Anthem: The Star-Spangled Banner Capital Washington, D.C. Largest city New York City Official language(s) None at the federal level; English de facto Government Federal Republic  - President George W. Bush (R)  - Vice President Dick Cheney (R) Independence - Declared - Recognized... The West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) blankets the continent of Antarctica west of the Transantarctic Mountains, covering the area called Lesser Antarctica. The WAIS is classified as a marine-based ice sheet, meaning that its bed lies well below sea level and its edges flow into floating ice shelves. ...

Ecological disaster: An ecological disaster, such as world crop failure and collapse of ecosystem services, could be induced by the present trends of overpopulation, economic development, and non-sustainable agriculture. Most of these scenarios involve one or more of the following: Holocene extinction event, scarcity of water that could lead to approximately one half of the Earth's population being without safe drinking water, pollinator decline, overfishing, massive deforestation, desertification, climate change, or massive water pollution episodes. A very recent threat in this direction is colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon that might foreshadow the imminent extinction of the Western honeybee. As the bee plays a vital role in pollination, its extinction would severely disrupt the food chain. An ecological crisis occurs when the environment of a species or a population changes in a way that destablizes its continued survival. ... Humankind benefits from a multitude of resources and processes that are supplied by natural ecosystems. ... Map of countries by population density (See List of countries by population density. ... Economic development is the development of economic wealth of countries or regions for the well-being of their inhabitants. ... It has been suggested that Small-scale agriculture be merged into this article or section. ... The Dodo, a bird of Mauritius, became extinct during the mid-late seventeenth century after humans destroyed the forests where the birds made their homes and introduced animals that ate their eggs. ... Deforestation of the Madagascar Highland Plateau has led to extensive siltation and unstable flows of western rivers. ... Tap water Mineral Water Water of sufficient quality to serve as drinking water is termed potable water whether it is used as such or not. ... Pollinator decline is based on observations made at the end of the twentieth century of the reduction in abundance of pollinators in many ecosystems worldwide. ... The Traffic Light colour convention, showing the concept of Harvest Control Rule (HCR), specifying when a rebuilding plan is mandatory in terms of precautionary and limit reference points for spawning biomass and fishing mortality rate. ... This article is about the process of deforestation in the environment. ... For the labor union vitiation procedure, see NLRB election procedures#Decertification elections. ... Variations in CO2, temperature and dust from the Vostok ice core over the last 450,000 years For current global climate change, see Global warming. ... Raw sewage and industrial waste flows into the U.S. from Mexico as the New River passes from Mexicali, Baja California to Calexico, California Water pollution is the contamination of water bodies such as lakes, rivers, oceans, and groundwater caused by human activities, which can be harmful to organisms and... Honey bees entering a beehive. ... Binomial name Apis mellifera Linnaeus, 1758 The Western honeybee or European honeybee (Apis mellifera) is a species of honeybee comprised of several subspecies or races. ... Carpenter bee with pollen collected from Night-blooming cereus Pollination is an important step in the reproduction of seed plants: the transfer of pollen grains (containing the male gametes, sperm) to the plant carpel of flowering plants, the structure that contains the ovule (which in turn houses the female gamete... Food chains, food webs and/or food networks describe the feeding relationships between species to another within an ecosystem. ...

World population and agricultural crisis: The 20th century saw a rapid increase in human population due to medical advances and massive increase in agricultural productivity[19] made by the Green Revolution.[20] Between 1950 and 1984, as the Green Revolution transformed agriculture around the globe, world grain production increased by 250%. The Green Revolution in agriculture helped food production to keep pace with worldwide population growth. The energy for the Green Revolution was provided by fossil fuels in the form of fertilizers (natural gas), pesticides (oil), and hydrocarbon fueled irrigation.[21] David Pimentel, professor of ecology and agriculture at Cornell University, and Mario Giampietro, senior researcher at the National Research Institute on Food and Nutrition (INRAN), place in their study Food, Land, Population and the U.S. Economy the maximum U.S. population for a sustainable economy at 200 million. To achieve a sustainable economy and avert disaster, the United States must reduce its population by at least one-third, and world population will have to be reduced by two-thirds, says the study.[22] The current estimated world human population is 6,427,631,117. ... All human societies have medical beliefs that provide explanations for birth, death, and disease. ... The Green Revolution was the worldwide transformation of agriculture that led to significant increases in agricultural production between the 1940s and 1960s. ... Theoretical Human population increase from 10,000 BC – AD 2000. ... Fertilizers are chemicals given to plants with the intention of promoting growth; they are usually applied either via the soil or by foliar spraying. ... the plane is spreading pesticide. ... A 3-dimensional rendered Ball-and-stick model of the methane molecule. ... Irrigation is the artificial application of water to the soil usually for assisting in growing crops. ... Cornell redirects here. ... The United States Census of year 2000, conducted by the Census Bureau, determined the resident population of the United States on April 1, 2000, to be 281,421,906, an increase of 13. ... The Earth Day flag includes a NASA photo. ... Map of countries by population — China and India, the only two countries to have a population greater than one billion, together possess more than a third of the worlds population. ...

The authors of this study believe that the mentioned agricultural crisis will only begin to impact us after 2020, and will not become critical until 2050. Geologist Dale Allen Pfeiffer claims that coming decades could see spiraling food prices without relief and massive starvation on a global level such as never experienced before.[23][24] ‹ The template below (Expand) is being considered for deletion. ... This article is about extreme malnutrition. ...

Pole shift theory: An abrupt reorientation of Earth's axis of rotation could cause a new extinction event.[25] A pole shift theory is a hypothesis that the axis of rotation of a planet has not always been at its present-day locations or that the axis will not persist there; in other words, that its physical poles had been or will be shifted. ... An extinction event (also known as: mass extinction; extinction-level event, ELE) occurs when there is a sharp decrease in the number of species in a relatively short period of time. ...

Supervolcano: When the supervolcano at Yellowstone last erupted, 600,000 years ago, the magma and ash covered roughly all of the area of North America west of the Mississippi river. Another such eruption could threaten civilization. Such an eruption could also release large amounts of gases that could alter the balance of the planet's carbon dioxide and cause a runaway greenhouse effect, or enough pyroclastic debris and other material may be thrown into the atmosphere to partially block out the sun and cause a natural nuclear winter, similar to 1816, the Year Without A Summer. Such an eruption may cause the death of millions several hundred miles from the epicenter and overall hundreds of millions of deaths worldwide due to the failure of the monsoon, causing starvation on an unthinkable scale. A supervolcano is a volcano that produces the largest and most voluminous kinds of eruption on Earth. ... Yellowstone redirects here. ... Nuclear winter is a hypothetical global climate condition that is predicted to be a possible outcome of a large-scale nuclear war. ... Development of global average temperatures during the last thousand years. ... For other uses, see Monsoon (disambiguation). ...

Modification of the Sun's properties: The Earth could be dragged into the sun when it becomes an enlarged red sun by no later than about 7.6 billion years[26]; before actual collision with the sun the oceans would evaporate, and the planet could be destroyed by tidal forces. Alternatively, if the Sun shrinks to a white dwarf the Earth would be too frigid to sustain life . A unique film in that is is one of the few to combine a hero of the wild west genre, Charles Bronson, and a legend of Japanese films, Toshiro Mifune. ... The tidal force is a secondary effect of the force of gravity and is responsible for the tides. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...


Some threats for humanity come from humanity itself. The scenario that has been explored most is a nuclear war or another weapon with similar possibilities. It is difficult to predict whether it would exterminate humanity, but very certainly could alter civilization, in particular if there was a nuclear winter event.[27] The Titan II ICBM carried a 9 Mt W53 warhead, making it one of the most powerful nuclear weapons fielded by the United States during the Cold War. ... This article is about the theoretical world-ending destruction. ... Nuclear winter is a hypothetical global climate condition that is predicted to be a possible outcome of a large-scale nuclear war. ...

Another category of disasters are unforeseen consequences of technology. When plotted on a logarithmic graph, 15 separate lists of paradigm shifts for key events in human history show an exponential trend. ...

It has been suggested that learning computers that rapidly become superintelligent may take unforeseen actions or that robots would out-compete humanity.[28] Because of its exceptional scheduling and organisational capability and the range of novel technologies it could develop, it is possible that the first Earth superintelligence to emerge could rapidly become very, very powerful. Quite possibly, it would be matchless and unrivalled: conceivably it would be able to bring about almost any possible outcome, and be able to foil virtually any attempt that threatened to prevent it achieving its desires.[29] It could eliminate, wiping out if it chose any other challenging rival intellects, alternatively it might manipulate or persuade them to change their behaviour towards its own interests, or it may merely obstruct their attempts at interference.[30] AI redirects here. ... Human, Artificial Intelligence, Superintelligence and Hyperintelligence scale - yr 2008 ‘Super’ derived from the French and ultimately Latin ‘Supra’ is a descriptive combining form meaning: 1) above, over, beyond - superstructure. ... For other uses, see robot (disambiguation). ... Anatomy In the context of joints, manipulation is the forceful, passive movement of a joint beyond its active range of motion. ...

Biotechnology could lead to the creation of a pandemic, Nanotechnology could lead to grey goo in which out-of-control self-replicating robots consume all living matter on Earth while building more of themselves - in both cases, either deliberately or by accident.[31] It has also been suggested that physical scientists might accidentally create a device that could destroy the earth and the solar system.[32] In string theory, there are some unknown variables. If those turn out to have an unfortunate value, the universe may not be stable and alter completely, destroying everything in it,[33] either at random or by an accidental experiment. This is called Quantum Vacuum Collapse by some.[34] Another kind of accident is the Ice-9 Type Transition, in which our planet including everything on it becomes a strange matter planet in a chain reaction. Some do not view this as a credible scenario.[35] Insulin crystals Biotechnology is technology based on biology, especially when used in agriculture, food science, and medicine. ... For other uses, see Pandemic (disambiguation). ... Nanotechnology refers to a field of applied science and technology whose theme is the control of matter on the atomic and molecular scale, generally 100 nanometers or smaller, and the fabrication of devices that lie within that size range. ... Grey goo is a hypothetical end-of-the-world scenario involving molecular nanotechnology in which out-of-control self-replicating robots consume all living matter on Earth while building more of themselves (a scenario known as ecophagy; eating the environment). ... Self-replication is the process by which a thing may act, and thereby make a copy of itself. ... This article is about Earth as a planet. ... This box:      String theory is a still developing mathematical approach to theoretical physics, whose original building blocks are one-dimensional extended objects called strings. ... String theory is a model of fundamental physics whose building blocks are one-dimensional extended objects (strings) rather than the zero-dimensional points (particles) that are the basis of the Standard Model of particle physics. ... A term used to describe a runaway chain reaction, usually cataclysmic, such as that created by the fictional material ice-nine invented by Kurt Vonnegut. ...

It has been suggested that runaway global warming might cause the climate on Earth to become like Venus, which would make it uninhabitable. In less extreme scenarios it could cause the end of civilization.[36] According to a UN climate report, the Himalayan glaciers that are the sources of Asia's biggest rivers - Ganges, Indus, Brahmaputra, Yangtze, Mekong, Salween and Yellow - could disappear by 2035 as temperatures rise.[37] Approximately 2.4 billion people live in the drainage basin of the Himalayan rivers.[38] India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar could experience floods followed by droughts in coming decades. In India alone, the Ganges provides water for drinking and farming for more than 500 million people.[39][40][41] The west coast of North America, which gets much of its water from glaciers in mountain ranges such as the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada, also would be affected.[42][43] According to the California Department of Water Resources, if more water supplies are not found by 2020, California residents will face a water shortfall nearly as great as the amount consumed today.[44] Global warming refers to the increase in the average temperature of the Earths near-surface air and oceans in recent decades and its projected continuation. ... This article is about the planet. ... For the movie Himalaya, see Himalaya (film). ... For other uses, see Asia (disambiguation). ... Ganga redirects here. ... The Indus is a river; the Indus River. ... The Brahmaputra is one of the major rivers of Asia. ... Length 6,380 km Elevation of the source  ? m Average discharge 31,900 m³/s Area watershed 1,800,000 km² Origin Qinghai Province and Tibet Mouth East China Sea Basin countries China The Chang Jiang (Simplified Chinese: 长江; Traditional Chinese: 長江; pinyin: Cháng Jiāng; Wade-Giles: Chang Chiang... The Mekong is one of the world’s major rivers. ... The Salween River (also spelt Salwin, a. ... This article is about the color. ... Drainage basin. ... Anthem: Kaba Ma Kyei Capital Naypyidaw , Largest city Yangon (Rangoon) Official languages Burmese Recognised regional languages Jingpho, Shan, Karen, Mon, Rakhine Demonym Burmese Government Military junta  -  Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council Senior General Than Shwe  -  Vice Chairman of the State Peace and Development Council Vice-Senior General... A drought is an extended period where water availability falls below the statistical requirements for a region. ... North American redirects here. ... For individual mountains named Rocky Mountain, see Rocky Mountain (disambiguation). ... This article is about the mountain range in the Western United States. ... The California Department of Water Resources is responsible for the management of water resources in California. ... This article is about the U.S state. ... Deforestation of the Madagascar Highland Plateau has led to extensive siltation and unstable flows of western rivers. ...

Approximately 40% of the world's agricultural land is seriously degraded.[45] In Africa, if current trends of soil degradation continue, the continent might be able to feed just 25% of its population by 2025, according to UNU's Ghana-based Institute for Natural Resources in Africa.[46] A world map showing the continent of Africa Africa is the worlds second-largest and second most-populous continent, after Asia. ... 2025 (MMXXV) will be a common year starting on Tuesday in the Gregorian Calendar. ... United Nations University (UNU) is a university established on December 6, 1973 by adoption of resolution 3081 by the United Nations General Assembly, upon the suggestion of U Thant, UN Secretary-General at the time. ...

James Lovelock, creator of the Gaia hypothesis, in his book The Revenge of Gaia (2006), has suggested that the elimination of rain forests, and the falling planetary biodiversity is removing the homeostatic negative feedback mechanisms that maintain climate stability by reducing the effects of greenhouse gas emissions (particularly carbon dioxide). With the heating of the oceans, the extension of the thermocline layer into Arctic and Antarctic waters is preventing the overturning and nutrient enrichment necessary for algal blooms of phytoplankton on which the ecosystems of these areas depend. With the loss of phytoplankton and tropical rain forests, two of the main carbon dioxide sinks for reducing global warming, he suggests a runaway positive feedback effect could cause tropical deserts to cover most of the worlds tropical regions, and the disappearance of polar ice caps, posing a serious challenge to global civilization. Dr. James Ephraim Lovelock, CH, CBE, FRS (born 26 July 1919) is an independent scientist, author, researcher, environmentalist, and futurologist who lives in Cornwall, in the south west of Great Britain. ... For other uses, see Gaia. ... The Revenge of Gaia: Why the Earth is Fighting Back - and How we Can Still Save Humanity (2006) is a book by James Lovelock. ... A rainforest is a forested biome with high annual rainfall. ... Rainforests are among the most biodiverse ecosystems on earth Biodiversity is the variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome or for the entire Earth. ... Homeostasis (from Greek: ὅμος, homos, equal; and ιστημι, histemi, to stand lit. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Top: Increasing atmospheric levels as measured in the atmosphere and ice cores. ... Carbon dioxide (chemical formula: ) is a chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom. ... The thermocline is a layer within a body of water where the temperature changes rapidly with depth. ... For the ships, see USS Arctic, SS Arctic, MV Arctic The red line indicates the 10°C isotherm in July, sometimes used to define the Arctic region border Artificially coloured topographical map of the Arctic region The Arctic is the region around the Earths North Pole, opposite the Antarctic... Greek ἀνταρκτικός, opposite the arctic) is a continent surrounding the Earths South Pole. ... A red tide resulting from a dinoflagellate bloom discoloring the water on the right An algal bloom is a relatively rapid increase in the population of (usually) phytoplankton algae in an aquatic system. ... Diagrams of some typical phytoplankton Phytoplankton are the autotrophic component of plankton. ... A coral reef near the Hawaiian islands is an example of a complex marine ecosystem. ... A carbon dioxide (CO2) sink is a carbon dioxide reservoir that is increasing in size, and is the opposite of a carbon dioxide source. The main natural sinks are (1) the oceans and (2) plants and other organisms that use photosynthesis to remove carbon from the atmosphere by incorporating it... Global warming refers to the increase in the average temperature of the Earths near-surface air and oceans in recent decades and its projected continuation. ... Positive feedback is a mechanism by which an output is enhanced. ... This article is about arid terrain. ...

Using scenario analysis, the Global scenario group (GSG), a coalition of international scientists convened by Paul Raskin, developed a series of possible futures for the world as it enters a Planetary Phase of Civilization. One scenario involves the complete breakdown of civilization as the effects of climate change become more pronounced, competition for scarce resources increases, and the rift between the poor and the wealthy widens. The GSG’s other scenarios, such as Policy Reform, Eco-Communalism, and Great Transition avoid this societal collapse and eventually result in environmental and social sustainability. They claim the outcome is dependent on human choice[47] and the possible formation of a global citizens movement which could influence the trajectory of global development.[48] Scenario analysis is a process of analyzing possible future events by considering alternative possible outcomes (scenarios). ... The Global Scenario Group (GSG) was a team of environmental scholars, headed by Paul Raskin, who used scenario analysis to analyze future paths for world development in the face of environmental pressures and crises. ... Dr. Paul Raskin is President of the Tellus Institute where he directs a team of professionals in environmental, resource, and development policy research. ... The Planetary Phase of Civilization is a concept defined by the Global scenario group (GSG), an environmental organization that specializes in scenario analysis and forecasting. ... Variations in CO2, temperature and dust from the Vostok ice core over the last 450,000 years For current global climate change, see Global warming. ... Policy reform, in addition to its more general meanings, has been used to refer to a future scenario which relies on government action to correct economic market failures and to stimulate the technological investment necessary for sustainable development and the creation of a truly sustainable planetary society. ... There are very few or no other articles that link to this one. ... Great Transition is a vision created by environmental scholars of the Global Scenario Group of how humanity could create a planetary civilization that reflects egalitarian social and ecological values, affirms diversity, and defeats poverty, war, and environmental destruction. ... The Earth Day flag includes a NASA photo. ... A global citizens movement refers to a number of organized and overlapping citizens groups who seek to influence public policy often with the hope of establishing global solidarity on an issue. ...

Other scenarios

Antibiotic resistance 
Natural selection would create super bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, devastating the world population and causing a global collapse of civilization.[49]
Gulf Stream shutdown 
There is some speculation that global warming could, via a shutdown or slowdown of the thermohaline circulation, trigger localised cooling in the North Atlantic and lead to cooling in that region. This would affect in particular areas like Ireland, the Nordic countries, and Britain that are warmed by the North Atlantic drift.[50][51]
Demographic trends create a "baby bust" that threatens the order of civilization.[52]
Mutual assured destruction 
A full scale Nuclear war could kill billions, and the resulting nuclear winter would effectively crush any form of civilization.
A lack of natural selection and the tendency of the more intelligent to have fewer children would lower the average health and intelligence enough to lead to an eventual collapse of civilization.
Markets fail worldwide, resulting in economic collapse: mass unemployment, rioting, famine, death, and cannibalism.[citation needed] (This scenario happened, to some extent, in the 1930s and 1940s, helping to cause World War II which has, so far, been the only war to involve nuclear weapons. That war (along with its its immediate precursor in Asia, the second Sino-Japanese War) also involved major atrocities and genocide. Such a scenario, in an age of ICBMs and hydrogen bombs, might be even worse in the future.)
Some scenarios of simultaneous ecological (food & water production) and economical (see f.e. below) collapses with overpopulation are presumed to lead to a global civil war, where the remaining habitable areas are destroyed by competing humans (so called 'Mad Max'-scenario).
As of late 2007, increased farming for use in biofuels, along with world oil prices at over $140 a barrel,[53] has pushed up the price of grain used to feed poultry and dairy cows and other cattle, causing higher prices of wheat (up 58%), soybean (up 32%), and maize (up 11%) over the year.[54][55] Food riots have recently taken place in many countries across the world.[56][57][58] An epidemic of stem rust on wheat caused by race Ug99 is currently spreading across Africa and into Asia and is causing major concern. Scientists say millions of people face starvation.[59][60][61]
Peak oil 
Oil becomes scarce before an economically viable replacement is devised, leading to global chaos and discomfort.[62]
Experimental accident 
The unlikely creation of a hypothetical microsingularity or exotic matter in particle acceleration experiments, or some unanticipated experimental accident, resulting in destruction of the planet or a large scale disaster. An (impossible) example was that the first test of an atomic weapon might lead to ignition of the atmosphere and global destruction (see Trinity test). Concern currently exists over the Large Hadron Collider triggering a disaster[63], although the scientific community does not take this possibility seriously.[64][65]

Antibiotic resistance is the ability of a microorganism to withstand the effects of an antibiotic. ... Shutdown or slowdown of the thermohaline circulation is a possible effect of global warming. ... Global warming refers to the increase in the average temperature of the Earths near-surface air and oceans in recent decades and its projected continuation. ... Political map of the Nordic countries and associated territories. ... The North Atlantic drift is a powerful warm ocean current that continues the Gulf Stream northeast. ... Map of countries by population Population growth showing projections for later this century Demography is the statistical study of all populations. ... Mutual assured destruction (MAD) is a doctrine of military strategy in which a full-scale use of nuclear weapons by one of two opposing sides would effectively result in the destruction of both the attacker and the defender. ... The Titan II ICBM carried a 9 Mt W53 warhead, making it one of the most powerful nuclear weapons fielded by the United States during the Cold War. ... Nuclear winter is a hypothetical global climate condition that is predicted to be a possible outcome of a large-scale nuclear war. ... Dysgenics is a term applied by some researchers to describe the evolutionary weakening of a population of organisms relative to their environment, often due to relaxation of natural selection or the occurrence of negative selection. ... The field of finance refers to the concepts of time, money and risk and how they are interelated. ... For other uses, see The Great Depression (disambiguation). ... The 1930s were described as an abrupt shift to more radical and conservative lifestyles, as countries were struggling to find a solution to the Great Depression, also known as the [[. In East Asia, the rise of militarism occurred. ... The 1940s decade ran from 1940 to 1949. ... 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 Eastern front Battles Military operations Commanders Technology Atlas of the World Battle Fronts Manhattan project Aerial warfare Home front Collaboration Resistance Aftermath Casualties Further effects War crimes Consequences of Nazism Depictions German battleship Schleswig-Holstein, shelling Westerplatte, September 1, 1939. ... Citizens of Hiroshima walk by the A-Bomb Dome, the closest building to have survived the citys atomic bombing. ... Belligerents China United States1 Empire of Japan Collaborationist Chinese Army2 Commanders Chiang Kai-shek, Chen Cheng, Yan Xishan, Feng Yuxiang, Li Zongren, Xue Yue, Bai Chongxi, Peng Dehuai, Joseph Stilwell, Claire Chennault, Albert Wedemeyer Hirohito, Fumimaro Konoe, Hideki Tojo, Kotohito Kanin, Matsui Iwane, Hajime Sugiyama, Shunroku Hata, Toshizo Nishio... The Nanking Massacre (Chinese: 南京大屠殺, pinyin: Nánjīng Dàtúshā; Japanese: 南京大虐殺, Nankin Daigyakusatsu), also known as the Rape of Nanking and sometimes in Japan as the Nanking Incident (南京事件, Nankin Jiken), refers to what many historians recognize as widespread atrocities committed by the Japanese army in and around Nanking (now Nanjing... For other uses, see Holocaust (disambiguation) and Shoah (disambiguation). ... A Minuteman III missile soars after a test launch. ... The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945 lifted nuclear fallout some 18 km (60,000 feet) above the epicenter. ... Map of countries by population density (See List of countries by population density. ... For other uses, see Mad Max (disambiguation). ... <nowiki>Insert non-formatted text hereBold text</nowiki>A famine is a social and economic crisis that is commonly accompanied by widespread malnutrition, starvation, epidemic and increased mortality. ... Bio-energy redirects here. ... Oil price in 2003-2005 The price of light, sweet crude oil on NYMEX has been above $40/barrel since late July 2004. ... In epidemiology, an epidemic (from [[Latin language] epi- upon + demos people) is a disease that appears as new cases in a given human population, during a given period, at a rate that substantially exceeds what is expected, based on recent experience (the number of new cases in the population during... Species T. aestivum T. boeoticum T. dicoccoides T. dicoccon T. durum T. monococcum T. spelta T. sphaerococcum T. timopheevii References:   ITIS 42236 2002-09-22 Wheat Wheat For the indie rock group, see Wheat (band). ... A world map showing the continent of Africa Africa is the worlds second-largest and second most-populous continent, after Asia. ... For other uses, see Asia (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Peak oil (disambiguation). ... A gravitational singularity (sometimes spacetime singularity) is, approximately, a place where quantities which are used to measure the gravitational field become infinite. ... The Trinity test was the first test of a nuclear weapon, conducted by the United States on July 16, 1945 at , thirty miles (48 km) southeast of Socorro on what is now White Sands Missile Range, headquartered near Alamogordo, New Mexico. ... , The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a particle accelerator and Hadron collider located at CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland. ...

Historical futurist scenarios

Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), who was involved in alchemy and many other things in addition to science and mathematics, studied old texts and surmised that the end of the world would happen no earlier than 2060, although he was reluctant to put an exact date on it.[66] Sir Isaac Newton in Knellers portrait of 1689. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

Many believe that the Maya civilization's Long Count calendar ends abruptly on December 21, 2012. This misconception is due to the Maya practice of using only five places in Long Count Calendar inscriptions. On some monuments the Maya calculated dates far into the past and future but there is no end of the world date. There will be a Piktun ending (a cycle of 13 144,000 day Bak'tuns) on December 21st, 2012. A Piktun marks the end of a 1,872,000 day or approximately 5125 year period and is a significant event in the Maya calendar. This article is about the pre-Columbian Maya civilization. ... The Maya calendar is a system of distinct calendars and almanacs used by the Maya civilization of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, and by some modern Maya communities in highland Guatemala. ... is the 355th day of the year (356th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2012 (MMXII) will be a leap year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

See also

For a related concept in sociology, see Social disintegration. ... The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, 1945, rose some 18 km (11 mi) above the hypocenter. ... For other uses, see Survivalism (disambiguation). ... The Olduvai theory states that industrial civilization (as defined by per capita energy consumption) will have a lifetime of less than or equal to 100 years (1930-2030). ... The Planetary Phase of Civilization is a concept defined by the Global scenario group (GSG), an environmental organization that specializes in scenario analysis and forecasting. ... Variations in CO2, temperature and dust from the Vostok ice core over the last 450,000 years For current global climate change, see Global warming. ... This does not cite any references or sources. ... Subsistence farmers with a Treadle Pump. ... Human, Artificial Intelligence, Superintelligence and Hyperintelligence scale - yr 2008 ‘Super’ derived from the French and ultimately Latin ‘Supra’ is a descriptive combining form meaning: 1) above, over, beyond - superstructure. ... Mega Disasters is a History Channel series about massive natural disasters that have occurred in the past and how we are vulnerable to similar disasters in the future. ... St. ... A Malthusian catastrophe (sometimes called a Malthusian check, Malthusian crisis, Malthusian dilemma, Malthusian disaster, Malthusian trap, Malthusian controls or Malthusian limit) is a return to subsistence-level conditions as a result of population growth outpacing agricultural production. ...


  1. ^ a b Bostrom, Nick (March 2002). "Existential Risks: Analyzing Human Extinction Scenarios and Related Hazards". Journal of Evolution and Technology 9. 
  2. ^ a b Nick Bostrom, section 4.7.
  3. ^ a b Our Sun. III. Present and Future
  4. ^ a b Distant future of the Sun and Earth revisited
  5. ^ Serge Brunier (1999). Majestic Universe: Views from Here to Infinity. Cambridge University Press, p42. ISBN 0521663075. 
  6. ^ Red Giants
  7. ^ SPACE.com - Freeze, Fry or Dry: How Long Has the Earth Got?
  8. ^ Sun, the solar system's only star
  9. ^ a b Nick Bostrom, section 4.10
  10. ^ Date With The Neigbors: Gliese 710 And Other Incoming Stars
  11. ^ Explosions in Space May Have Initiated Ancient Extinction on Earth, NASA.
  12. ^ Twenty ways the world could end suddenly, Discover Magazine
  13. ^ Urban Legends Reference Pages: Legal Affairs (E.T. Make Bail)
  14. ^ Nick Bostrom, section 7.2.
  15. ^ Ken Croswell, Will Mercury Hit Earth Someday?, Skyandtelescope.com April 24, 2008, accessed April 26, 2008
  16. ^ Nick Bostrom, section 4.9.
  17. ^ Evolution: Library: HIV Immunity
  18. ^ US West Antarctice Ice Sheet initiative
  19. ^ BBC NEWS | The end of India's green revolution?
  20. ^ Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy
  21. ^ How peak oil could lead to starvation
  22. ^ Eating Fossil Fuels | EnergyBulletin.net
  23. ^ Peak Oil: the threat to our food security
  24. ^ Agriculture Meets Peak Oil
  25. ^ Wilford, John Noble (2006-10-12). Study Links Extinction Cycles to Changes in Earth’s Orbit and Tilt.
  26. ^ Denis Overbye. "Kissing the Earth Goodbye in About 7.59 Billion Years", New York Times, March 11, 2008.
  27. ^ Nick Bostrom, section 4.2.
  28. ^ Bill Joy, Why the future doesn't need us. In:Wired magazine. See also technological singularity.Nick Bostrom 2002 Ethical Issues in Advanced Artificial Intelligence http://www.nickbostrom.com
  29. ^ Nick Bostrom 2002 Ethical Issues in Advanced Artificial Intelligence http://www.nickbostrom.com
  30. ^ Nick Bostrom 2002 Ethical Issues in Advanced Artificial Intelligence http://www.nickbostrom.com
  31. ^ Eric Drexler, Engines of Creation, ISBN 0-385-19973-2, available online
  32. ^ Nick Bostrum, section 4.8
  33. ^ Malcolm Perry, Quantum Tunneling towards an exploding Universe? in: Nature, 24 April 1986. available online.
  34. ^ The day the Quantum Vacuum Collapsed
  35. ^ Frank Wilczek, in an e-mail, This available online.
  36. ^ Isaac M. Held, Brian J. Soden, Water Vapor Feedback and Global Warming, In: Annu. Rev. Energy Environ 2000. available online. Page 449.
  37. ^ Vanishing Himalayan Glaciers Threaten a Billion
  38. ^ Big melt threatens millions, says UN
  39. ^ Ganges, Indus may not survive: climatologists
  40. ^ Glaciers melting at alarming speed
  41. ^ Himalaya glaciers melt unnoticed
  42. ^ Glaciers Are Melting Faster Than Expected, UN Reports
  43. ^ Water shortage worst in decades, official says, Los Angeles Times
  44. ^ World Running Short on Water
  45. ^ Global food crisis looms as climate change and population growth strip fertile land
  46. ^ Africa may be able to feed only 25% of its population by 2025
  47. ^ World Lines: Pathways, Pivots, and the Global Future. Paul Raskin. 2006. Boston:Tellus Institute
  48. ^ Dawn of the Cosmopolitan: The Hope of a Global Citizens Movement Orion Kriegman. 2006. Boston:Tellus Institute
  49. ^ Researchers sound the alarm: the multidrug resistance of the plague bacillus could spread
  50. ^ Gulf Stream shutdown
  51. ^ 45% chance Gulf Stream current will collapse by 2100 finds research
  52. ^ Phillip Longman "The Global Baby Bust" in Foreign Affairs magazine.
  53. ^ The global grain bubble
  54. ^ New York Times (2007 September) At Tyson and Kraft, Grain Costs Limit Profit
  55. ^ Forget oil, the new global crisis is food
  56. ^ Riots and hunger feared as demand for grain sends food costs soaring
  57. ^ Already we have riots, hoarding, panic: the sign of things to come?
  58. ^ Feed the world? We are fighting a losing battle, UN admits
  59. ^ Millions face famine as crop disease rages
  60. ^ "Billions at risk from wheat super-blight" (2007-04-03). New Scientist Magazine (issue 2598): 6–7. Retrieved on 2007-04-19. 
  61. ^ Leonard, K.J. Black stem rust biology and threat to wheat growers, USDA ARS
  62. ^ James Howard Kunstler "The Long Emergency", in Rolling Stone Magazine
  63. ^ New Scientist, 28 August 1999: "A Black Hole Ate My Planet"[1]
  64. ^ Safety at the LHC.
  65. ^ J. Blaizot et al, "Study of Potentially Dangerous Events During Heavy-Ion Collisions at the LHC", CERN library record CERN Yellow Reports Server (PDF)
  66. ^ "Isaac Newton, the Apocalypse and 2060 A.D.", by Stephen D. Snobelen, University of King’s College, Halifax

Nick Bostrom at a 2006 summit at Stanford University. ... For other uses, see NASA (disambiguation). ... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... is the 285th day of the year (286th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... The New York Times is an internationally known daily newspaper published in New York City and distributed in the United States and many other nations worldwide. ... Bill Joy William Nelson Joy (born Nov 8, 1954), commonly known as Bill Joy, is an American computer scientist. ... Wired is a full-color monthly magazine and on-line periodical published in San Francisco, California since March 1993. ... When plotted on a logarithmic graph, 15 separate lists of paradigm shifts for key events in human history show an exponential trend. ... Nick Bostrom at a 2006 summit at Stanford University. ... Nick Bostrom at a 2006 summit at Stanford University. ... Nick Bostrom at a 2006 summit at Stanford University. ... K. Eric Drexler (born April 25, 1955) is best known for popularizing the potential of molecular nanotechnology. ... Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology Engines of Creation (ISBN 0-385-19973-2) is a seminal molecular nanotechnology book written by K. Eric Drexler in 1986. ... This article is about the physical universe. ... is the 114th day of the year (115th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1986 (MCMLXXXVI) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link displays 1986 Gregorian calendar). ... Dr. Paul Raskin is President of the Tellus Institute where he directs a team of professionals in environmental, resource, and development policy research. ... Phillip Longman (born April 21, 1956, Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany) is a renowned demographer. ... This article is about a journal. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar in the 21st century. ... is the 109th day of the year (110th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... James Howard Kunstler (born 1948) is an American author, social critic, and blogger who is perhaps best known for his book The Geography of Nowhere, a history of suburbia and urban development in the United States. ... This article is about the music magazine. ...


Discover Magazine is a science magazine that publishes articles about science. ... The Right Honourable Martin John Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, FRS (born 23 June 1942) is a professor of astronomy. ... Our Final Hour is a 2003 book by the British Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees. ... Jean-François Rischard is a Luxembourgish economist, and was the World Banks vice president for Europe from 1998 to 2005. ... E.O. Wilson with Dynastes hercules E. O. Wilson, or Edward Osborne Wilson, (born June 10, 1929) is an entomologist and biologist known for his work on ecology, evolution, and sociobiology. ...

Further reading

  • Derrick Jensen (2006) Endgame. ISBN 1-58322-730-X
  • Jared Diamond (2005). Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. ISBN 0-670-03337-5
  • John Leslie (1996). The End of the World. ISBN 0-415-14043-9

Please wikify (format) this article or section as suggested in the Guide to layout and the Manual of Style. ... Endgame: Volume 1: The Problem of Civilization Endgame: Volume 2: Resistance Endgame is a two-volume work by Derrick Jensen, published in 2006, which argues that civilization is inherently unsustainable and addresses the resulting normative question of what to do about it. ... Jared Mason Diamond (b. ...

External links

  • Last Days On Earth (TV documentary) ABC News 2-hour Special Edition of 20/20 on 7 real end-of-the-world scenarios (Wed. Aug 30 2006)
  • "What a way to go" from The Guardian. Ten scientists name the biggest danger to Earth and assesses the chances of it happening. April 14, 2005.
  • "Confronting the New Misanthropy", by Frank Furedi in Spiked, April 18 2006
  • Ted.com (video) - Stephen Petranek: 10 ways the world could end
  • Armageddon Online, A collection of doomsday scenarios & Daily News
  • Exit Mundi, a collection of end-world scenarios.



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