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This is How the World Ends: Twelve Risks That Threaten Human Existence


This is How the World Ends: Twelve Risks That Threaten Human Existence

Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

Extreme climate change. Global pandemic. Major asteroid impact. The rise of artificial intelligence.

These are just a few of the potentially world-ending events that threaten civilization as we know it, according to a new report from researchers at Oxford University.


Many of the most powerful ‘players’ demonstrably ‘doctoring’ the societal wellbeing of the indivisible planetary organism seem utterly oblivious to the dynamics they generate also becoming demonstrably self-replicating. In fact that self-replication is fundamental to the construct’s evaluation of itself.

Unlike a doctor who traditionally takes a Hippocratic oath to “do no harm”, harm is an ever present sliding scale practice based on an equally sliding scale from de-naturing and de-humanization to de-contextualization and demonization. These conditions in turn make the precautionary principle subject to an absurdist end-game mentality.

Were it not so deadly, it far outstrips entertainment value of a Marx Brothers’ movie to see how predictable the accusation flinging patterns are for listing and watching to see when and where they will have precisely documented and defined the speaker slinging the accusations.

In this sense I’m reminded of Ralph Nader proposing that only the very powerful who have any conscience can turn this floundering ship around. Human beings, the public, and the long devolving chain ending in ‘consumer’ is one that each of us can help each other heat countless crucibles to cast those chains into a new useful instrument that serves life.


One of the scarier exogenous risks I’ve heard of is a “collapse of the quantum false vacuum”. Physicists theorize that the current universe is in a metastable “false vacuum” state (the presence of "dark energy driving the observed acceleration in the expansion of the universe being one thing this predicts). There exists the possibility that a particularly energetic cosmic ray interaction or such could trigger a collapse of the vacuum - taking the form of a bubble expanding at the speed of light, annihilating all matter and physical laws in the path of its expansion - ultimately annihilating the whole universe. With it expanding at luminal speed, no warning is physically possible so when the bubble reaches earth we won’t even know what hits us.


One bit of comfort is that the universe is a big place and we would have to be very unlucky for this bubble to form in our immediate neighborhood (immediate neighborhood being a billion light years of so) - so even if one has already formed a couple billion years ago, the probability of it hitting earth over the next several million years is very small.

But it is good to consider such things and consider that all the events in this report affect only some of the life forms on the thin surface of a tiny speck in the vast universe.


Thank you for re-posting the link.
Explains the context around the world of calls for analysis of inequality - noting that IMF and WB busy themselves with ‘poverty’ (note: poverty is consequence of impoverishment) rather than the mechanisms and consequences of inequality causing the addiction to methodologies of impoverishment. This is the economic equivalent of an eating disorder with all of the attendant psychological evasiveness of self-fulfilling prophesy.

The narrative and how this gaming of the nation-state system is a narrative on parasitic practices that needs to become familiar in household conversation. Also looks like it applies directly to the stonewalling of nation states to investigation of a plethora of crimes.


The biggest threat to this planet are the complacent masses, whose main superpower is reading articles like this and sitting on their asses making “intelligent” comments. Get off your butts and make a difference, or shut up.


One notable and probably one of the most effective international actions to address these risks is the Zeitgeist Movement. There are many YouTube videos on the subject, most quite lengthy, but the subject matter is such that it requires long explanations and education on many issues. It is heartening to see such smart young people like Peter Joseph accomplishing wonderful things to make life worth living again.


The thoughtmaybe.com website you kindly posted the link for contains hundreds of important documentary films about critical issues, well-indexed and easy to browse. I’ve been looking for something like this for a long time. Thank you!


The world won’t end when humans make themselves extinct. The world will heave a sigh of relief.

Our fundamental attitude of human centrism places us at odds with nature and the world. We will lose that battle.

Our first step is to return to harmony with the world. Practice more humility, eschew hubris.

To save a place in the world for our children we must reduce our own over-population of the world. Or the world will do that for us.

The solution is in the problem.


One of the threats is listed as ‘A Global System Collapse’. This may be traumatic and is likely to produce much suffering, but for mammals and humans and many other beings that are part of the life of the planet as a whole a global system collapse might also be our only realistic hope to evade our current self destructive behavior, given the timeframe. A positive outcome for such a collapse would depend on many things and some good luck. But there is little evidence that the dominant world system, built on economic oppression, and fossil fuel use and backed by surveillance and violence is flexible enough to change on its own. Despite the warning signs to the empire, it is hard to imagine a humane and intelligent transformation.
I am not among those who think humans as a whole are the problem. the problem is the success of competition, greed and war in organizing us as a system. That system has to be replaced and there really are many humans modeling a better path. Bitterness and hopelessness are not the answer, but we must be flexible, realistic and creative in our hopes.


Your post arrogantly takes what’s true for Western consumerist societies and paints it as what’s true for all human beings. Like the Anglo-European conquistadors who branded those who lived in harmony with the earth, savages, by leaving out the witness and wisdom teachings of millions of Indigenous persons, you play into the same mindset.

There are people who act as sound stewards and regard the natural world as sacred.

No surprise that you rush to the population item. That happens to be the favorite tactic of devotees of The New World Order. Ironically, it’s mostly this group that lives so high off the hog using such a disproportionate share of Earth’s resources that they could, in small numbers, eviscerate what the other 6.5 billion use (and could preserve) far more conservatively.


We should take seriously the idea raised in Adam Frank’s recent article in the NY Times “Is a Climate Disaster Inevitable” that generally speaking all civilizations crash.


A typical home might use around 250 kW-hr of electricity per month. That is equivalent to the energy required to elevate me 1,125,000 meters above the earth. (37,500 m/day; 1,562.5 m/hr; 26 m/min; 0.43 m/s) At an approximate efficiency from coal combustion to household use of 25 percent that represents elevating me 5 million meters above earth per month or 2 meters per second, if you will. Using a conservative number of 2 W per square meter of solar input, this converts to a solar panel array 26 m by 26 m, using the same 25 percent efficiency estimate. We in fact do have the capability to do better.


You are forgetting that only humans heave sigh’s of relief as far as I know…


Actually, I find this encouraging: ‘a civilization’s collapse—"defined as a drastic decrease in human population size and political/economic/social complexity, globally for an extended time.’"

Encouraging because the earth desperately needs these things done, because we humans need these things done, and because we humans are thus far incapable of doing them with thought and foresight.

So let nature clean up our mess, if we are incapable of doing it ourselves. Yes, it will not be pretty. So what is pretty about all the GMO foods, all the war-mongering, all the licentious corporate welfare queens being subsidized for their wars against nature and against humans in particular, all the wasteful military spending, all the bizarre snooping so the bureacrats can have endless variations in their favorite un-acted porn, all the pretenses to govern when all the US Government does well is steal from taxpayers to subsidize corporate welfare queens for killing the planet…


I also thank you for posting that link. Great documentary and a great website.


From what I understand we do not have a “few centuries” to take steps to avert the catastrophic effects of global warming. Megadroughts are now expected to take place in the U.S. within 35 years. I can only assume that similar extreme events will occur elsewhere on the planet along with corresponding reactions from the ecosphere. I’m really not worried about asteroid strikes or changes in quantum fields. I AM worried about the increasing stressors inflicted by humankind and its corporate, consumerist civilization and the corresponding lack of adequate response by most governments who, for the most part, merely exacerbate the problems.


The idea of a global system collapse possibly being good for other living things needs a re-look because the way I see it, when the systems collapse, that would include the power grid, transport and others. What will happen to the nuclear power plants that need a certain level of attention, to not go directly to meltdown? Also, the system failure will undoubtedly have been caused by something, such as rising sea levels which will for sure put the nuclear power plants underwater. Only some kind of human extractive-based, system collapse, would benefit the rest of life on earth. That seems highly unlikely so I’d say, let’s not waste time thinking that anything good is going to come from that direction and work even harder to see that we, humans, don’t kill the goose, Mother Earth, that lays the golden eggs, the biosphere.


You are so right … your post brought up what I ususally say… talking about the the glittery products … 50 shades of nail color… qqqq1


Right. about the asteroids… like that something we can control… that is what gets me going when some says that we cannot do anything about climate change … This climate change is about our behavioe … you can do somdthing about behavior… takes a strong will … I have wworked with children and adults with behavioe issues… I’ve seen positve andnd productive results… I really have … so why can’t the rest of us work on our behavior… we used appled behiir analysis… and … other methods… positive re inforcement … one of these would be… if people want to become small organic farmers … do debt forgiveness znd give them limr 5 acres or a little more … they can suppppoort ghere community … by growing food … and living a real life… not running down the road to go to some job thatcreates even more co 2 … think I made some typos … can’t see …


When will this material become a consistent part of the education curriculum? Who, more than the young, need to be aware of the dangers that they will increasingly face? Humans have generally informed their young of the dangers of the world in which they lived. It is difficult to imagine a greater dereliction than failing to inform those who will have to live with the conditions our present actions are creating.