We live in volatile times and it is not about doom-and-gloom talk. A new report entitled “Global Catastrophic Risks 2016” issued by researchers at Oxford University, warns that there is a dramatic increase in the likelihood of apocalyptic events, which in the worst case, could eliminate 10 per cent or more of the human population within the next five years.
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.
“There are some things that are on the horizon — things that could completely reshape our world and do so in a really devastating and disastrous way,” Sebastian Farquhar, director of the Global Priorities Project, said.
The global risks identified by the researchers include pandemics, nuclear war, artificial intelligence and natural disasters with each one ranked according to probability.
Topping their list is nuclear war and pandemics (both natural and deliberately engineered), followed by climate change, geoengineering and artificial intelligence.
“The global catastrophic risks in this report can be divided into two categories. Some are ongoing and could potentially occur in any given year,” the paper says.
“Others are emerging and may be very unlikely today but will become significantly more likely in the coming decades.”
The report also states a number of exogenous risks, which are not related to human activity, including super volcano eruptions, threats from asteroids and comets.