South korean conservative protesters participate in a rally a day after north Korea announced the had carried out a 3rd nuclear test on February 13, 2013, in Seoul.  Chung Sung-Jun/Getty images

This story is part of a group of stories dubbed
A tree killed by rising saltwater is seen beyond a mud flat at dawn top top the east shore of the Salton Sea on October 22, 2005. Across the lake from Salton City, California. David McNew/Getty images Ecosystems are the delicate neighborhood of living organisms, prefer humans and also animals, interacting with their nonliving environment, prefer air and water. Ecosystems can recover indigenous a specific amount of affect from humans, like temperature boosts or habitat loss, yet there’s a tipping suggest at i beg your pardon they can’t — and also according come the report, we could be getting to that tipping point.

Lake Chad in West Africa is an example of ecological collapse. Sixty year of drought, overuse the water, and the effects of climate adjust have reduced the lake by 90 percent. Its huge reduction has adversely impacted the livelihoods of much more than 40 million human being in Chad, Nigeria, Niger, and Cameroon that count on it.

You are watching: How the world is going to end

Scholars think this moment in background constitutes a brand-new geological era, referred to as the Anthropocene. In this brand-new era, humans are the primary readjust agents, promptly degrading what makes the world habitable, intensifying greenhouse gas concentration, and also damaging the wellness of naval ecosystems.

5) Pandemics

Twice in contemporary history, plagues have actually swept across the world, death an estimated 15 percent that the population in a couple of decades. Lock occurred way back in the fifth and 14th centuries, respectivelybut over there is a severe risk that a new infectious disease could cause an additional outbreak, especially with today’s urban and also mobile global population.

Luckily, deadly diseases with the capacity to spread worldwide are rare. However they do occur — a century ago, the Spanish flu killed more than 50 million people. Outbreaks of SARS and also Ebola in recent years additionally ring alarm bells.

Antibiotics, our greatest defense versus disease, are becoming less reliable as part strains the bacteria become resistant to them. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria space responsible because that an approximated 700,000 annual deaths. If we don’t develop new advances versus antibiotic resistance, that number is approximated to with 10 million through 2050.

6) Asteroid impact

Asteroids are rocks the revolve around the sun and also that sometimes collide v the Earth. An asteroid large enough to cause a global catastrophe hits earth every 120,000 years, researchers estimate. It’s most likely what eliminated the dinosaurs, and also if one asteroid even one-tenth the dimension of the one that brought about their die out hit planet today, the outcomes would it is in devastating. Scientists estimate it could release enough particles to block the sun for months and cause a famine killing thousands of millions.

NASA announced in 2011 the it had mapped much more than 90 percent the objects in space larger than 1 kilometer in diameter, and also that none of them are likely to fight Earth. However there’s still a lot us don’t know about smaller objects that, while unlikely to cause a an international catastrophe, can have a big enough local impact to disrupt social and also economic systems.

7) Supervolcanic eruption

Onlookers and also media gather together lava from a Kilauea volcano fissure erupts in Leilani Estates, ~ above Hawaii’s big Island, on might 26, 2018. Mario Tama/Getty pictures A supervolcanic explode 74,000 years earlier ejected so lot debris into the environment that scientists think it brought about the planet to cool by several levels Celsius. Part experts think this resulted in the best mass plant and also animal die out in human history, happen the types to the brink that extinction.

How likely is that to take place today? It’s tough to say due to the fact that we don’t have much to to compare it to, but data suggests a supervolcanic eruption wake up on median every 17,000 years. If that’s true, climate we’re overdue — the last one we recognize of was 26,500 years back in new Zealand.

We don’t have a means to anticipate eruptions more than a few weeks or month in advance, and also we nothing really have any way to reduce the likelihood the eruption appropriate now, but scientists room monitoring several locations of risk, consisting of Yellowstone in the US.

8) Solar geoengineering

There’s a dramatic choice for stopping, or even reversing, rising an international temperatures, but it come with far-reaching possible risk.

Solar geoengineering would reflect light and heat far from planet and back into an are by injecting aerosols into the stratosphere, the 2nd layer of earth’s atmosphere. For now, it only exists in computer models, yet the first experiment is being planned by Harvard researchers.

Solar geoengineering is one of two arising technologies that could manipulate the atmosphere and reduce climate risk. The various other is directly removing carbon dioxide indigenous the atmosphere, i beg your pardon doesn’t right now exist top top a big enough scale.

If solar geoengineering to be deployed, that would impact the whole atmosphere and also be humanity’s largest-ever an international endeavor. While it is the just known technique that might stop rising temperatures, there’s quiet a lot us don’t know, including whether it could destabilize local and global climate or ecosystems. Manipulation ~ above this range without knowledge the effects could turn the end to be catastrophic for the human being race. The modern technology could additionally be cheap sufficient (as low as $10 exchange rate a year) that it can be wielded by one nation or a wealthy individual, presenting the possibility of reckless use.

9) fabricated intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is progressing rapidly. Surveyed researchers estimate, ~ above average, that there is a 50 percent possibility of AI being able come perform many tasks as well as, or far better than, people by 2050, v at the very least a 5 percent chance of surpassing human intelligence a couple of years after that.

There’s a common misconception that the risk of AI is that it will come to be malevolent. The bigger problem is that it will become too an excellent at the job. As the report says: “If you ask an obedient, intelligent vehicle to take you to the airplane as quick as possible, it might get you over there chased by helicopters and covered in vomit, doing not what friend wanted yet literally what you asked for.”

The implications come to be much an ext frightening as soon as you think about AI weapons in the hand of the dorn person, or an AI eight race leading to an AI war.

10) Unknown risks

It wasn’t that long earlier that climate adjust and nuclear warfare were mostly unheard of. Today, they’re dangers we’ve currently seen the damaging effects the — and that we issue could obtain much worse. Since of this, yes a possibility that we haven’t also conceived that what is most likely to kill us.

Sign up for the Future Perfect newsletter.

See more: How Old Do You Have To Be To Get A Tattoo In Alberta ? Is It Legal For Minors To Get A Tattoo In Canada

double a week, you’ll obtain a roundup of ideas and solutions because that tackling our biggest challenges: boosting public health, decreasing human and also animal suffering, easing catastrophic risks, and — to put it just — getting better at doing good.