Fun question to ponder, but not cause for alarm
With all the winds and storms, it’s easy to slip into apocalyptic thinking. What will finally wipe us humans as a species off the planet?
The Bible makes it plain that no one knows when the end will come: 1 Thessalonians 5:2 - For you are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
Clearly disregarding this, prophets and nuts have been declaring “The End is Near” every time the calendar winds up with an unusual pairing of digits or a teen does something unsavory in front of adults. In fact, a Christian numerologist has predicted September 23rd as the apocalypse, the day Planet X, “the death planet,” will crash in to earth and destroy it. (Note that Planet X was also predicted to hit us last December and September, and back in 2012 when the Mayan calendar ended.)
Recently the British publication Times Higher Education polled 50 Nobel Prize winners and asked what they saw as the biggest threat to mankind.
The 50 winners of the highest prize in science and other fields represent a quarter of all living winners. Several respondents said they answered the question theoretically. They did not think the end was near, but, if asked, their answers were what they felt were the biggest threat.
So what did the collective geniuses eye as big nemesis?
The most common answer (34 percent) felt some type of environmental issue. Several cited climate change. Others referenced a problem people have faced since the beginning of time – feeding everyone and having access to drinking water, especially as the world’s population continues to grow.
Second place was “nuclear war,” with 23 percent citing it as a top choice (note with the style of poll, respondents could mark several choices). Some respondents linked this to the tension with North Korea and a few actually listed Donald Trump’s access to nuclear weapons as a threat to the planet.
The third top answer was infectious disease at eight percent. Four of the 50 laureates mentioned that this could come in the form of a new disease or it could come as increased resistance to existing strains of disease. Frighteningly, the World Health Organization also sounds a caution of resistance to existing drugs as a primary challenge to the globe, and we would all do well to remember that the Spanish Flu infected one-third of the world‘s population in 1918 and killed between 20-50 million people.
Tied for third (also eight percent) is an answer that may catch many by surprise as the laureates worried about selfishness/ dishonesty/loss of humanity. While many of us worry about these issues, it’s hard to believe they will destroy the human race, though some posts on Facebook certainly do make you wonder. One of the Nobel winners described the threat as, “humanist perspective as we rush into the age of the internet and its seductions.”
Following this is a threat that we would have pegged as being higher on the list, but it may connect into the above nuclear war fears, terrorism and extremism.
Tied with this are two more unusual choices, with three of the 50 laureates answering that “ignorance and the distortion of the truth” could cause the downfall. Another three answered ignorant leaders.
The answers are rounded out with one or two laureates pointing to issues such as drug use, more specifically all humans getting hooked on opiates, fears over artificial intelligence taking over, and oddly enough Facebook (maybe a Nobel winner with a sense of humor. But take a look at what’s on your feed today and maybe it’s not that farfetched.
It’s oddly fun to think about doomsday scenarios and is apparently widespread, hence the appeal of The Walking Dead. But keep in mind no one predicted any of these scenarios are likely any time soon, so you can go back to worrying about the fact north Georgia was put under a tropical storm warning.