The events of 2020 have left a lot of us wondering what could possibly be next?
Australia experienced its worst bushfire season, the US west coast dealt with horrific wildfires, the stock market crashed, the death of George Floyd sparked an American uprising and the world is still trying to control the coronavirus pandemic that has taken the lives of over 1.6 million people globally.
Experimental quantum physicist Dominic Walliman wanted to find out the most likely events that could threaten humanity next and how catastrophic they could be, so he created a ‘map of doom’ to demonstrate the disaster scale of some scenarios.
“Before the pandemic there were lots of people warning us that something like this would happen at some stage and yet when it happened we as a society were completely unprepared for it,” Dr Dom said in a video.
“Now this made me wonder what other things exist out there, what are the other disaster out there that we aren’t prepared for.”
In the Youtube video, Dr Dom explains how he compared the risks he found and charted them based on the number of casualties and the likelihood of them occurring.
He sorted the threats into four categories - ‘total disasters’, ‘really bad’, ‘freak accidents’ and ‘total disasters that were very unlikely to happen’.
Antibiotic resistant bacteria
Dr Dom explains that a biological disaster that is currently happening and has the likelihood to become a total disaster is antibiotic resistant bacteria.
“It claims around 700,000 lives per year and this is expected to climb up to 10 million lives per year by 2050 unless we find ways of tackling it.
“This is a bigger risk to us than pandemics but we don’t hear about it much probably because it’s not an acute event, it’s just happening in the background,” Dr Dom explains.
Another major threat that is currently happening and Dr Dom believes is likely to become much worse if we continue on the same path we are now is climate change.
Explaining that the best estimate from the World Health Organisation (WHO) is that 150,000 people are dying each year as a result of climate change, with an increase to 250,000 by 2050, Dr Dom reminds viewers that while the Covid-19 pandemic has killed over a million people, there is a reason scientists are still vocal about the effects of climate change.
“Climate change is basically like a really bad pandemic but just spread out over years and years and getting worse,” Dr Dom said.
The figures used in the video are based on The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projections for the worst case scenario, which Dr Dom explains have historically proven to be too optimistic so unfortunately, he believes his prediction would actually cause more casualties than shown in the video.
The good news is Dr Dom believes he could be wrong, if action is taken.
“In the best case let’s say that the entire world goes completely carbon neutral in the next 10 years, which is optimistic but that would mean that we are just locked in to the current death rate due to climate change,” he explains.
Here's how the covid-19 pandemic compares to other threats to humanity. Climate change and antibiotic resistance are both significantly larger threats.
Full video here: https://t.co/Kn8bUDKeax#covid19 #climatechange #AntibioticResistance #ClimateTwitter pic.twitter.com/ONm5Rjf1iz
— Dom - Domain of Science (@DominicWalliman) December 4, 2020
‘Social inequality makes disasters worse’
Dr Dom’s map of doom also takes into account social inequality as the physicist believes disasters are made worse with factors such as online disinformation, income inequality and overpopulation.
“The richest 1 per cent of the population have emitted more than double the carbon of the poorest 50 per cent of the population but climate change is going to hit the poorest people the hardest. Social inequality makes disasters worse,” he said.
Dr Dom believes that charts like his map of doom are a useful tool to help people understand risks and what we should be focusing on to help prevent them or lessen their impact.
“I think it would be a really useful way for the general public to see the biggest threats to humanity and see which are the things we should be focusing on and putting our energy into trying to prevent,” he said.
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