COVID-19 Is Just One Of 10 Catastrophic Threats To Humans Today, Experts Say

General Health

COVID-19 has been getting more attention due to its threat to millions of people around the world. But experts warned the world is facing other challenges that could also affect the global population if left unchecked amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Commission for the Human Future (CHF) in Australia has issued a new paper showing 10 potentially catastrophic threats and how they could harm people around the world. The report also highlights how human activities have been accelerating mass harm since the mid-20th century.

These global risks are: 

  • Chemical pollution
  • Collapse of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity
  • Decrease in natural resources, particularly water
  • Development of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction
  • Development of powerful, uncontrolled technology
  • Global warming and climate change
  • Growth of human population beyond Earth’s carrying capacity
  • Increasing food insecurity and declining nutritional quality
  • Pandemics of new and untreatable disease
  • National and global failure to understand and address catastrophic threats

Each threat has different but significant impacts on people and the environment. The report states some could be a “significant” risk to human civilization, a “catastrophic risk” or a “existential risk,” which could eliminate humanity, according to professor John Hewson and Arnagretta Hunter, a cardiologist and physician, both from the Australian National University.

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Despite having different effects, all of the threats appeared interconnected. Hewson and Hunter said the COVID-19 pandemic shows how the global issues and changes in the environment affect each other.

“The response to the coronavirus has had implications for climate change with carbon pollution reduction, increased discussion about artificial intelligence and use of data (including facial recognition), and changes to the landscape of global security particularly in the face of massive economic transition,” the experts said in an article posted on The Conversation

To help address COVID-19 and other threats, experts recommend that governments work on long-term plans to understand scientific data, especially on climate change. They added the public should consider lifestyle changes that could help protect the environment.

“The human future involves us all,” Hewson and Hunter said. “Shaping it requires a collaborative, inclusive and diverse discussion. We should heed advice from political and social scientists on how to engage all people in this conversation.”

Australia Fire In this Monday, Dec. 30, 2019 photo provided by State Government of Victoria, a helicopter tackles a wildfire in East Gippsland, Victoria state, Australia. Ninian Reid/State Government of Victoria via flickr

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