Thursday, March 19, 2015

#78 / How The World Ends

The CityWatch blog (the city in question being Los Angeles), has recently published a list entitled "This Is How The World Ends." The list published by CityWatch is based on work done by "researchers at Oxford University," and the Oxford University report can be read in its entirety by clicking this link. That report states, in a somewhat less than modest fashion: 

This report has, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, created the first list of global risks with impacts that for all practical purposes can be called infinite.

The Oxford University list is worth reading, but it's not going to reveal much that hasn't already been discussed right here, in my postings to this Two Worlds blog. In fact, I think I have mentioned every one of these dangers to human civilization, except perhaps the danger of a potential supervolcano eruption. But anyone who has been to Yellowstone National Park (as I have, and as I have reported here) will have an appreciation of that danger, too. 

Here is the Oxford University list of those "infinite" risks, followed by a statement by the Oxford University researchers who put the list together:

The 12 global risks that threaten human civilisation: 
Current risks 
1. Extreme Climate Change
2. Nuclear War
3. Ecological Catastrophe
4. Global Pandemic
5. Global System Collapse 
Exogenic risks 
6. Major Asteroid Impact
7. Supervolcano
Emerging risks 
8. Synthetic Biology
9. Nanotechnology
10. Artificial Intelligence
11. Uncertain Risks 
Global policy risk 
12. Future Bad Global Governance

The idea that we face a number of global risks threatening the very basis of our civilisation at the beginning of the 21st century is well accepted in the scientific community, and is studied at a number of leading universities. But there is still no coordinated approach to address this group of risks and turn them into opportunities.... 
The report’s essential aim is to inspire action and dialogue as well as an increased use of the methodologies used for risk assessment. The real focus is not on the almost unimaginable impacts of the risks the report outlines. Its fundamental purpose is to encourage global collaboration and to use this new category of risk as a driver for innovation.

I have three observations: (1) the "world" that is being discussed is what we call "human civilization." (2) "Bad Global Governance" is in and of itself a major risk. (3) The Oxford researchers take it for granted that we can change the "world" that faces the infinite risks they list, and they are absolutely right. That's because the "world" that faces the listed threats is the "world" we create ourselves. The current "world" will "end" when we create a new one.

With "infinite" danger facing us, in all too many very real and recognizable ways, it's time to remake human civilization. 

That should keep us busy for awhile!

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