3 dangerous paths we’re currently on
This may sound like some kind of doom and gloom story, but it’s not. It’s asking legitimate questions. Even if we humans don’t become extinct, we’re still capable of inflicting massive amounts of destruction on ourselves. Maybe so much that becoming extinct would be the best option.
Stay tuned until the end when I cover what the perfect storm might be like and how easy it is to come about. But don’t worry too much, as I also have an optimistic scenario to show you.
Dangerous Path #1 — Climate Change and Environmental Damage
I think climate change and environmental damage may be the number 1 way that we humans will eventually destroy ourselves. Even if you don’t think climate change is real, then consider all the other environmental damage that we’re causing.
The WHO estimates that around 4.2 million people die prematurely every year due to outdoor air pollution. That’s just one act of self-destruction out of many.
We, humans, don’t seem to care much about life.
You might think we’re on the right track though because of recent climate change agreements. Due to these agreements, many countries are planning to phase out coal. That’s a step in the right direction, isn’t it?
It is, or rather it was. The war in Ukraine has changed that stance, with many countries now considering phasing out coal more slowly. Some even want to produce more over the short term so that oil and gas sanctions can be placed on Russia.
And that is the crux of the problem. We’re all for tackling climate change — until it starts to adversely affect us. If it starts costing us money we suddenly don’t want to tackle it.
Newsflash — tackling it will lower our living standards. If we can’t accept that, and I don’t think we can, then the climate problems will continue to get worse. We’ll leave it until it’s too late. We’re just too selfish to take a small cut in living standards.
Dangerous Path #2— Nuclear War
There are currently 9 nuclear states — China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Scientific American estimates that they have around 13,000 nuclear warheads between them.
The consensus so far is that they have helped prevent World War 3. But with so many countries having so many weapons, it only takes a small incident to possibly wipe out the world world.
On 26 September 1983, the Soviet Union’s early-warning radar system reported that the US had launched 5 intercontinental ballistic missiles that were headed their way. It was only the decision by the officer on duty, Stanislav Petrov, to wait for corroborating evidence that avoided a full-out nuclear war.
Just think about that. One false warning or one mistake and it could be all over for us.
The main worry at the moment is that Russia’s war with Ukraine will spread further afield. This could so easily end up in another world war. That could bring the destruction of the world through nuclear weapons much closer.
There’s only a small probability of that happening. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
Russia is the current threat, but other countries have nuclear weapons, and more are trying to acquire them. The more countries that have them, the higher the probability of them being used is.
Something to bear in mind is that no one thought World War 1 or 2 would happen. After they started, people wondered how they started.
Humans are far too complacent.
Another world war could easily happen, and likely will one day. Then we’ll wonder how things got that far.
Dangerous Path #3— Economic Collapse
This seems like the most near-term risk to me. All over the world inflation is rising and there’s no sign of it stopping any time soon. This is destroying living standards. In the UK, this year will see the biggest drop in living standards since the 1950s. This is something that most of us have never seen.
Politicians and central bankers have spent the last year or two telling us that inflation won’t happen. Then they changed their tune to say it was transitory. Later they tried to say it will peak soon at a low rate.
Either they are incompetent or they are lying to us. Inflation is getting very serious. It’s already over 10% in many countries. Neither politicians nor central bankers are doing anything meaningful to try to bring it to an end. We still have extremely low interest rates which just encourages investing in assets.
While the British people are coping with the biggest drop in living standards for almost 70 years, property prices have risen over 10% in the last year.
Official inflation in the UK is currently at 7% and is expected to peak at over 10%. Why wouldn’t people buy property when interest rates are so low. It’s an easy way to make money, but it will all end in tears.
The Perfect Storm — All 3 Combined
Each one of the above is pretty scary, but what if we get the perfect storm of all 3 together. It’s easy for one of the above to feed into the other.
We still aren’t fully over the Great Financial Crisis of 2008. On top of that, we’ve had the recent pandemic that hammered the economy. Now we have the war in Ukraine, which has led to higher energy prices.
Add into the above that the higher energy prices have got some politicians wanting to continue mining coal and even allowing more fracking. All that will make climate change and environmental damage much worse. That will lead to a worse global economy.
When economic times are bad, war is more likely. Countries will start competing for scarce resources. Wars will further damage the economy. And on and on it goes until we finally self-destruct.
The Optimistic View
You may think that all I see is doom and gloom, but that’s not the case. I’m an optimist at heart. I think the above scenario is indeed possible, but I don’t think it’s probable.
So, what will happen instead?
I think Russia’s war with Ukraine will drag on for a while (weeks, months, years), but that there will eventually be some kind of agreement put in place to resolve the issues.
That will lead to energy prices dropping and will give the global economy a chance to recover.
But that’s not all. The world is changing at a rapid pace. Cheaper energy is on the way. As well as having a self-destructive streak, we humans are also very resourceful. New energy streams will be developed over the coming decades that will give us an unlimited supply of cheap and clean energy.
We’ll find a way to create less pollution and we’ll co-operate more with each other. Once the energy problem is resolved, we’ll have less reason to go to war with each other.
All this won’t happen overnight, but I think it will happen. Maybe over the next decade or two.