The many ways our world could end
by Ishaan Tharoor, The Washington Post
The man-made fires ravaging huge expanses of the Amazon rainforest have – if only for a brief moment – trained global attention on a looming calamity facing the planet. More people now understand that a series of alarming environmental developments are all linked: A spike in carbon emissions, the rapid melting of Arctic ice, the steady rise of global temperatures, the increasingly erratic and extreme storms assailing coastlines. Every day, we are living in a “dramatic climate emergency,” declared U.N. Secretary General António Guterres this week.
But it’s not just an evolving climate that poses an existential challenge to humanity. “End Times: A Brief Guide to the End of the World,” a new book by veteran science writer Bryan Walsh that published this week, is a harrowing chronicle of a range of threats that could bring about human extinction in the not-so-distant future. These include eternal dangers to the planet, such as supervolcanoes and asteroids, but also distinctly modern perils – from killer robots and artificial intelligence to civilization-ending nuclear war to weaponized bioengineered super viruses. And then, of course, there’s the inexorable toll of man-made global warming, whose effects we’re already feeling around the world.
Walsh’s book isn’t all gloom, taking us to the front lines where researchers and scientists are seeking new ways to protect humanity.