Five Existential Threats and how to deal with them.
Life on this tiny planet is very fragile. It is very precious. This could be the only planet in the whole universe to give rise to life.
We are not the only important form of life. All life is equally important. We are all interconnected. We have all evolved from the same incredible single event.
We are the only species able to appreciate this. We are the only species with the ability to destroy the planet. We are the only species with the ability to do something about it.
We are custodians of life.
It is a heavy responsibility.
Life could all we wiped out in one horrendous asteroid strike. It is an event that has happened a number of times in the past. It very nearly wiped everything out. The next big one could finish the job. One is going to happen at some time.
We have the ability to protect ourselves against such an event. We can scan the heavens and identify threats. We have the means to destroy or deflect asteroids.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused global chaos but it is not even a serious pandemic. We could easily encounter a virus to which we have no defences. It could wipe out all mankind. It could even be one that we have weaponised ourselves in our warfare laboratories.
We have had numerous warnings – Spanish Flu, SARS, MERS, HIV, Ebola, Avian Flu, Swine Flu. The next one is probably out there.
We could put finance into developing effective generic antivirals.
We should put a stop to the opening up of wilderness areas for logging and mining.
We should stop the trade in wild animals.
We should put a halt to ‘wet markets’.
We should carefully monitor what is going on around the world and have a fast global response, through the WHO, to isolate and contain an outbreak.
We should stop this national tendency to cover-up outbreaks.
We should prepare with adequate resources and strategies.
Back in the sixties we were all too aware of the threat of us destroying the planet with nuclear war. We set up a great number of bodies to prevent such an occurrence.
We have become complacent.
The threat has not gone away. It has become worse. We now have the break-up of our protective mechanisms, far worse nuclear and biological weapons, far shorter warning time, rogue states, religious fanatics, terrorism, genetic splicing, computers and technology.
The two main threats are still nuclear war and biological warfare, although chemical warfare and even A/I are looming.
The move back to nationalism, discrediting of global institutions, rise of new powers, such as China, Iran and North Korea, and return of the cold war with Russia has increased the risk.
We need to give more power to global institutions such as the UN.
We need to work more internationally to bring closer relationships and cooperation between countries, in particularly trading links, such as the EU, and in particular those countries presently outside the global community (North Korea, China, Iran and Russia).
We need to ensure greater diplomatic communication.
We need to counter religious fanaticism and terrorism.
We need counter nationalistic populism and fascism. It has been the root cause of most wars.
We need to create greater global equality and prosperity.
We need to take a global view of problems that beset certain nations – overpopulation, lack of employment, droughts, heatwaves, floods, famines, disease…………………
We need to become a collaborative global community not insular self-interested nations.
- Biodiversity and the destruction of nature
All life on this planet is interconnected. It has evolved for billions of years to create a self-sustaining web. The soil structure, atmosphere, oceans, weather and fresh water systems are dependent on this interrelationship.
This biodiversity is being threatened like never before. We have been clearing rainforests, overfishing rivers and seas, polluting, draining lakes, marshes and ponds and killing wildlife at an alarming rate.
Our activities and numbers are having a dramatic impact on the population levels of a large number of our invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals.
We act as if we no longer recognise that we are part of this system.
If we continue this trend we will cause a collapse in these communities. It will not only lead to the loss of many common and iconic species. That collapse will have a huge impact on soil fertility, air quality, ocean health, food production, weather and our ability to survive on this planet.
Put a stop to deforestation and habitat destruction.
Rewild areas that we have destroyed.
Fish and hunt sustainably.
Go vegetarian or introduce ‘clean’ meat (produced in a lab)
Farm responsibly with limited use of chemicals.
Reduce our global population.
Conserve endangered species.
Educate people to the importance of this unique interconnected web of life.
No it isn’t a hoax. It is real. The only scientists refuting the evidence are those employed by the industries with vested interest – the petrochemical industry, the agriculture industry, mining and logging.
The world is warming up due to the huge amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
The trouble is that we are approaching a number of tipping points. Once past those points things run out of control whatever action you take.
If the icecaps recede heat is not reflected back into space from the white snow and ice.
If the permafrost melts huge amounts of stored carbon is released into the atmosphere.
We are very close to this occurring.
If global warming takes off and global temperatures rise by just a couple of degrees we end up with heatwaves, desertification, climate change, a big rise in sea levels, massive changes in animal and plant populations, migrations and species creep.
This would result in most of our major cities being under water, many areas of the world being uninhabitable, mass migration, droughts, floods, drastic alterations in crop viability and farming.
There would be a huge impact on the entire environment with species migrating and extinctions.
There would be uninhabitable regions and low-lying countries would disappear. This would lead to mass migrations, competition for resources, devastating weather patterns (monsoon failure, droughts, hurricanes, floods, heatwaves, tornadoes, freezing winters).
There would be wars and terrorism.
In the past humans would have coped. We would simply have migrated. Now our numbers are too big. We are no longer hunter gatherers. We live in cities. Most of our cities are by the sea or on rivers. They are low lying and would be flooded.
Move from fossil fuels to green energy (sustainable)
Rewild with massive tree planting.
Educate the population.
Refute fake news and conspiracy.
Remove carbon from the atmosphere.
Never before have we held such power. We can use our intelligence to develop technologies, science and strategies to make our future safe in a dangerous universe.
We might not be able (yet) to deal with catastrophes such as volcanic eruptions or solar events but we can deal with many of the threats we face.
Hopefully we will put aside our greed, selfishness and petty political/religious differences and take a responsible attitude.
We are custodians of a unique and beautiful planet.
It is tiny and fragile and we alone have the ability to sustain it and enable it to prosper or to destroy it completely.
Are we intelligent or too selfish?