What Are Global Catastrophic Risks?

We have since built museums to celebrate the past, and spent decades studying prehistoric lives. And if all this has taught us anything, it is this: no species lasts forever.

- Kenneth Branagh, Walking with Beasts

Podcast of the Day

What if you were in a position to give away billions of dollars to improve the world? What would you do with it? This is the problem facing Program Officers at the Open Philanthropy Project - people like Dr Nick Beckstead.

Listen to Dr. Nick Beckstead on How to Spend Billions of Dollars to Prevent Human Extinction

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

Unthinkable as it may be, humanity, every last person, could someday be wiped from the face of the Earth. We have learned to worry about asteroids and supervolcanoes, but the more-likely scenario, according to Nick Bostrom, a professor of philosophy at Oxford, is that we humans will destroy ourselves.

Bostrom, who directs Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute, has argued over the course of several papers that human extinction risks are poorly understood and, worse still, severely underestimated by society. Some of these existential risks are fairly well known, especially the natural ones. But others are obscure or even exotic. Most worrying to Bostrom is the subset of existential risks that arise from human technology, a subset that he expects to grow in number and potency over the next century...

Continue reading Ross Andersen's article: We're Underestimating the Risk of Human Extinction

Further Reading

A global catastrophic risk is a hypothetical future event that has the potential to damage human well-being on a global scale. Some events could cripple or destroy modern civilization. Any event that could cause human extinction or permanently and drastically curtail humanity's potential is known as an existential risk

Potential global catastrophic risks include anthropogenic risks (technology risks, governance risks) and natural or external risks. Examples of technology risks are hostile artificial intelligence, biotechnology risks, or nanotechnology weapons. Insufficient global governance creates risks in the social and political domain (potentially leading to a global war with or without a nuclear holocaust, bioterrorism using genetically modified organisms, cyberterrorism destroying critical infrastructures like the electrical grid, or the failure to manage a natural pandemic) as well as problems and risks in the domain of earth system governance (with risks resulting from global warming, environmental degradation, including extinction of species, or famine as a result of non-equitable resource distribution, human overpopulation, crop failures and non-sustainable agriculture). Examples for non-anthropogenic risks are an asteroid impact event, a supervolcanic eruption, a lethal gamma-ray burst, a geomagnetic storm destroying all electronic equipment, natural long-term climate change, or extraterrestrial life impacting life on Earth... - Continue reading the Wikipedia article on Global Catastrophic Risk

Want to learn more? Check out: The Six Best Books on Global Catastrophic Risks

Related Topics

 Climate Change | Globalization | War

Each day I post the best introductory resources I can find on an important philosophical, scientific or historical topic. By collecting the best educational content the internet has to offer, I hope to make it as easy as possible for everyone to get into the habit of learning something valuable every day. If you’d like to join me, simply enter your email below:

[mc4wp_form id="204"]

Do you know of a  great introductory video, podcast, or article that deserves to be featured? Get in touch on Twitter or Facebook.