Make a bold statement

Grab your visitors' attention front and center on your homepage, then give them an action to take.

Get Started

This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.

This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.
Global Threats 2020-04-14T13:53:10-04:00

Ranking the Apocalyptic Threats

A global pandemic made the short list but, despite the Coronavirus, it didn’t make the top of the list. In comparison to other viruses, believe it or not, it’s relatively mild. The Spanish Flu of 1918 may have killed close to 10% of the world’s population and was particularly fatal to those 25 and younger. The Coronavirus can help us learn how better to contain and fight future pandemics … if we will learn from it.

On the other hand, we know exactly what will happen if we’re hit by a large asteroid or comet. It will erase humanity and most life on earth. The chance of that happening is 100%. It’s happened many times before and will again. The problem is we don’t know when it will happen. Could be tomorrow or 1000’s of years from now.

Artificial Intelligence is different. With computers doubling in power every two years, we can extrapolate when they will be smarter than us. We just don’t know what will happen when that occurs. It could be ok, or … we might become pets. Below is a way to rank these threats.

Top Threats


To qualify, there must be evidence the threat is real (historic or hard science) and has the potential to take out humanity or civilization. While invasion by angry aliens isn’t completely impossible, calculating the odds … is.

Probabilistic Risk Analysis is the same science your insurance company uses to calculate your risk and your premiums. It simply weighs the likelihood something will happen, something bad, versus the consequences if it does. To determine the consequences and probability of each threat, we used peer reviewed science papers. Estimating global disasters isn’t an exact science. It’s also dynamic, changing based on things like nuclear weapons proliferation, advances in astrophysics, computer science or genetics. We welcome comments, updates and corrections to our estimates.

And The Award Goes To…

1. Large Asteroid/Comet Impact

In the number one spot? Seriously? The asteroid that blew up over Chelyabinsk was a wake up call. Using the recently declassified data from the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Monitoring System, scientists, for the first time, were able to directly calculate the impact rate. Previously, they estimated it by indirect methods such as counting craters on the moon. The results were shocking. We weren’t off by double or even triple. The real impact rate is 10 times higher than we thought. That takes a city obliterating impact from once in a thousand years, to occurring in our lifetime. A continent incinerating impact moves from every 100,000 years to possibly explaining what killed the Woolly Mammoth, Saber tooth cats and even the Clovis Indian culture 12,000 years ago.

The dinosaur killer was about six miles across, but even a half mile wide asteroid or comet carries more destructive power than all the worlds nuclear weapons combined. One the size of Halley’s comet would have the same energy as a global nuclear war, if it were repeated every day for fifty years, and would spell the end of humanity. The repetitive nature of impact’s along with their apocalyptic consequences, seals their position at the top of the list.

Reference: B612 FoundationCosmic Shooting Gallery VideoPredicting Space Impacts on Earth and Their Frequency; Extreme Albedo Comets and the Impact Hazard; Jupiter Impacts.

2. Artificial Intelligence

Another surprise. This one has the greatest uncertainty and many will argue that there isn’t enough information to rank it. We do know, however, that computer-processing power is doubling every two years. Extrapolating that growth, a computer will have more processing power than the human brain within the next 25 to 30 years, and may exceed the processing power of all of humanity by 2050. However, there’s a wildcard. There are now over two billion smartphones. Although each currently only has the IQ of a lobster, they are networked, like the neurons in a human brain. Combined, their IQ would already far surpass ours. Will consciousness arise spontaneously? If it does, will it be benign or malevolent? We don’t know. A “Terminator” future is unlikely, but what will happen when computers can outthink us?

Reference: NY Times: The Coming Superbrain; The Singularity Institute; Scientific American, Jun 2011: A Test for Consciousness.

3. Global Nuclear or Biological War

As more countries develop nuclear weapons capability, the chance of a country or terrorist group using a nuclear weapon increases. A Scientific American article (below) estimates that a single detonation or small-scale nuclear exchange is a 50/50 probability over the next fifteen years. A full-scale global nuclear war, however, is much less likely since the end of the Cold War, with only a one-in-thirty chance over the next ten years. Despite arms reductions, there are enough warheads left to kill a half billion people, followed by another billion deaths from radiation, disease and starvation. Although the climactic impact would be global, isolated countries, like Australia, might be less vulnerable, allowing for survival of civilization. Biological warfare is much harder to define but would probably have similar probability and consequences to a pandemic (below).

Reference: Scientific American, Sep 2010: Laying Odds on the Apocalypse; The Effects of Global Thermonuclear War.

4. Pandemic

With the Coronavirus pandemic, this is the least surprising on the list. With the rise of deadly viruses such as Ebola and the new threat of extreme long incubation period viruses, such as the Coronavirus, the risk of a deadly global epidemic similar to the 1918 Spanish Flu is very high (estimated at 50/50 over the next thirty years). Add the possibility of an accidental release of an engineered bug and the threat increases. With what we learn from the COVID 19, our ability to identify, isolate and combat a deadly future virus should be vastly improved … as long as we learn from it. What should be surprising is that a pandemic only took 4th place. This should emphasize that we need to be spending more time and resources to prevent or mitigate the other three threats.

Related: Superbug Gene; Scientific American, Sep 2010: Laying Odds on the Apocalypse.

…And the Runners Up

5. Solar Super Storms

Solar Super Storms are a real threat. The Electro-Magentic Pulse created by the storm can destroy any un-shielded electrical circuits instantly. If the solar storm of 1859 struck today, it could take out the world’s power grid for weeks or even months. Imagine what happens to our infrastructure with no power for a month. We can’t prevent solar storms but we can protect our infrastructure from them.

Related: Racing For The Solar Superstorm.

6. Super Volcanoes

Super Volcanoes are extremely dangerous but the probability is low over the next 100 years, and, currently, there’s nothing we can do about them.


7. Runaway Global Warming

Why didn’t Global Warming make the top of the list? If all the world’s ice sheets melt, it will be a twelve-meter sea level rise. Killer weather, such as increased hurricanes and droughts, along with rising sea level, would be catastrophic for coastal cities where a large percentage of the world’s population lives. However, for the next 100 years, the International Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program’s worst-case sea level rise prediction, published May 2011, is 1.6 meters by 2100. This would be a disaster but as dire as the consequences might be, we have decades to do something about it or plan for the results, unlike comets, global nuclear war or artificial intelligence.

8. Gamma Ray Burst

Finally, a Nearby Gamma Ray Burst is deadly but extremely unlikely and there’s nothing we can do. Sorry Zombie fans, maybe next year.

5 Surprising Tricks to Survive a Disaster

1. In a serious disaster, water pressure is often lost. We can live weeks without food but only days without water. Few realize that their hot water heater holds 40 to 60 gallons of clean water. Just get a container and open the spigot at the bottom of the tank.

2. Buy an extra computer UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply). Keep it plugged into the wall and charging, but don’t plug your computer or anything else into it. Inside it is a very large battery. Use it exclusively for your phone and they should last a couple weeks.

3. During a large-scale blackout, credit and debit cards become useless. Make sure to stash some cash around your home or car. If you tend to spend, use a larger denomination like a $100 bill and put it where it’s a little hard to get to (you’re probably less likely to use it outside of an emergency). Have enough cahs for a week of food and gas to get you away.

4. You can use a plastic bottle and the sun to sterilize water in an emergency. Take a clear plastic beverage bottle (must have the following written on the bottom: 3 arrows, the number 1 and “PET”). If the water is cloudy, first filter it through a clean cotton shirt, then put it into the bottle, close the lid and shake it. Leave it outside in direct sunlight for six hours (sunlight though a window is not sufficient). The sun’s ultraviolet rays will kill any bacteria in the water.

5. Have at least 2 weeks of non-perishable food and basic necessities on hand.

Despite the bad rap received by saturated fats, they may be a good disaster food.

  • Fats have the highest caloric content per gram (9 calories versus 4 for carbs and proteins). In a survival situation, calories are good … no one is dieting.

  • Unlike simple carbohydrates, fats will keep you from being hungry for 5 to 6 hours.

  • Fats are fully digested and produce little residue … meaning you won’t have to go to the bathroom as often, which may be important if you don’t have water to flush toilets.

  • Saturated fats (solid at room temperature) are more stable than unsaturated fats and less likely to become rancid when stored without refrigeration.

For example, canned meats, like the much-maligned Spam, are actually good disaster foods – high caloric content per weight, long shelf life and relatively inexpensive, but buy the lower sodium version if possible so it doesn’t make you thirsty.