In this week’s “Science Links” post I share a number of articles covering topics ranging from a man with an artificial heart surviving for 555 days, to NASA’s move to create a fully electric x-plane, to giant holes produced by methane opening up in the Siberian permafrost, a clear sign of accelerating climate change. There are also several tech and industry news articles covering topics such as Microsoft’s foray into blockchain technology and Google’s latest plan to deliver gigabit broadband to consumers. Enjoy!
Today’s prediction is unfortunately a gloomy one. I predict that there will be one (or more) climate shocks that will likely accelerate the warming of the planet beyond what is already anticipated. Related to this would be a dramatic loss of biodiversity in the oceans due to the acidifying of oceans, coral bleaching and overfishing.
Our planet is/was in natural equilibrium when it came to global temperatures. Now it seems the equilibrium has been disturbed by manmade activity. The signs are that our current models are too conservative and have not sufficiently accounted for the effect of methane – a greenhouse gas 25 times worse than CO2 – being released from melting permafrost and the possibility of reaching a tipping point / feedback loop situation.
The Wikipedia page on “global catastrophic risks” has the following definition: “A global catastrophic risk is a hypothetical future event that has the potential to damage human well-being on a global scale. Some events could cripple or destroy modern civilization. Any event that could cause human extinction is also known as an existential risk.” Another definition from the “Global Challenges Foundation” is any risk that can eliminate 10% of the population. No points for guessing what percentage of the population dies in an existential risk.
Arthur Raind is particularly concerned about four risks in 2030, two existential and two catastrophic: 1) super-intelligent AI, 2) engineered pandemics, 3) severe climate change, and 4) food scarcity (caused by ocean ecology collapse).
What do you think are the most significant risks that humankind needs to prepare for over the next 15 years?