And The Award Goes To…
A Pandemic is probably the least surprising on the list. With the rise of deadly viruses such as HIV and Ebola, and antibiotic resistant bacteria, such as MRSA, the likelihood of a global epidemic 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. Unlike in the movies, however, experts believe that a pandemic is unlikely to wipe out mankind or civilization, but the death toll could be horrific.
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.