by Fred Guterl - Executive Editor, Scientific American - HuffPost
Doomsayers come, and they go. In the 18th century, Thomas Malthus predicted that the human population would outpace its ability to feed itself. Paul Erlich picked up that theme in the 1960s, but since then the world population has doubled. So what has changed? Our own success as a species has created new a terrifying risks that didn't exist a few decades ago. By our dominating presence on the planet, we are in danger of upsetting climate systems in ways we don't fully understand. As the world becomes more global, we are putting ourselves in more intimate contact with other species, creating opportunities for new emergent diseases. To fight these pathogens, we are racing to unlock mysteries of biology, which could be used for good or for ill. We have built an elaborate global economy on technology that was never intended to handle this kind of scale and complexity.
In the book The Fate of the Species [Bloomsbury, US$25.99] I delve into what these risks are. Think of it as sitting around a campfire and listening to scientists talk about what could do wrong. Here, in that spirit, are a few ways our world might just come to an end:
Read the eight ways at HuffPost