Climate change. Automation. Misinformation and political polarization. Antibiotic resistance. Pollution in the air and water. Water security. Food security. Insect populations dying out. Have we even touched on phytoplankton yet?
After Redditor TTToooooot asked the online community, "Currently what is the greatest threat to humanity?" many weighed in with their predictions. Tackling these issues requires a massive collective effort. But will we get to that point? Only time will tell.
"Once that ecosystem collapses..."
The ocean slowly dying. Once that ecosystem collapses we won't be able to feed ourselves. Governments will crumble pretty quickly.
"I think people underestimate..."
Biodiversity Loss. (Closely followed by nuclear weapons and global warming).
I think people underestimate the problem that biodiversity loss is. Climate change is a huge problem, but I think biodiversity loss is even more problematic.
There is a total collapse of insects populations, and we begin to see a huge decline in bird populations. Other species will 100% be impacted and I don't want to admit it but it'll sooner or later impact food production, and that's where people will realise that crap hit the fan.
Wilful ignorance. The demonisation of "experts" and academics to the extent that people are congratulating themselves for being uneducated.
Excess consumption of resources vs the planets ability to produce and recover. We consume more than we can produce. Which means any disaster could tip the scales into a deficiency. Too much and you would get a collapse, without compensation.
"The average person..."
Weaponising bipartisan issues in every country making everything a 'team sport' rather then a shade of grey. People would vote for the worst thing on earth just to be on the winning side.
The average person has no understanding that there are more bots on the internet than people. That every interaction serves only to make them more pliable to the will of whoever pulls the strings that day.
"I think a lot of our infrastructure..."
Coronal mass ejection striking the Earth. I think a lot of our infrastructure isn't designed to handle it and even just a few days of power and internet going out across the civilized world could wreck us as a society.
"A recent study found..."
Bees and other insects are dying off at faster than we've seen in decades and never at THIS rate.
A recent study found that we've had a 98% decline in ground insects over 35 years in the Puerto Rican Rain Forests
In the higher portions of tree canopies there has been an 80% lost in insects.
For reference if we lost 80% - 98% of humans in Puerto Rico, the population would fall from about 3,200,000 Million to between 64,000 and 640,000 people.
We've also lost 58% of Butterfly Species in English Farmlands. Same idea as above, imagine if we lost 58% of people in England. The population would plummet from about 56,000,000 people currently to about 23,520,000 people.
The drop in butterflies happened over a 9 year period. Imagine 32million people dying in England over a 9 year period.
"There's an increasing amount of people..."
Ourselves. There's an increasing amount of people who are actively denying science, people who deny climate change, and meanwhile our own governments are choosing profit over the safety of us.
There won't be some big disaster or meteor to kill us. We'll end up killing ourselves as a species.
Disinformation, us vs them mentality, anti-intellectualism, all the things which people point to as issues really come down to the rise of social media- or more generally, recommendation algorithms.
These are all problems that used to be issues and were dying back down with the introduction of the television and early internet, but now we have brought them right back. Recommending you things based on only those ideas which are either completely unobjectionable or what you already agree with is the single key to polarization, and when too many people are only seeing things and people who do that, societal progress on every possible issue will grind to a halt as everything stops being about improvement and starts being about rivalry.
Personally, I doubt many if any of the issues we face today will see meaningful progress until this is fixed, one way or another, and I fear we will become autocracies before we realize how to actually regulate these systems.
"The collapse of those systems..."
I agree that a post-antibiotic era, climate change, anti-intellectualism, and water scarcity are all huge but in terms of a threat we are facing right now, today, in this moment, I would argue it is the return of populist nationalism. The Long Peace that existed after World War II and the system of alliances, economics, and networks that supported it are are all directly imperiled by populist nationalism.
That isn't a threat that will take years to manifest it is one which is actively bringing us to the brink of a major regional or international war right now. If its proponents are successful we will likely see a return of a global political environment much more akin to 1920 or 1820 than anything we have seen in the past 80 years.
The collapse of those systems will also vastly decrease our ability to address the challenges of water scarcity, climate change, and antibiotic-resistant illness. Not to mention the likely hood of increased military violence all over the globe.