Natural Versus Human-Made Disasters

Disasters come in many forms, and many scopes. There have always been ecological disasters like hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and volcanoes. Now with the emergence of humans, there are entirely new classes of disasters, including nuclear weapons and other environmental devastation. In addition, these things have changed a lot, because technology has put many disasters firmly in control of man. Even natural disasters are not something that dooms us, instead we are able to stop or mitigate the effects of a lot of them. This has a lot involved with existential threats, and for the first time we can do something about them, or even causes them ourselves.

There are many natural disasters. These normally are essentially weather based. This includes hurricanes, flooding, mudslides, and things like that. These are not really things that can be avoided with our level of technology, and they can kill many people, but we also are very good at recovery efforts and keeping people safe. For example, people in Midwest America have tornado drills, things like that. However, there are also more dangerous and wide scale disasters. Massive solar flares can disrupt our technology. An asteroid could wipe out our civilization, as one did with the dinosaurs. We could all be killed by a supernova exploding or a gamma ray burst. In addition, many of these things are not things we can predict or stop.

Human made disasters though, those we are things we could stop, but we are not having much luck. Currently we are in the middle of what has been termed another mass extinction, which is killing many animal species in the world. Humans are causing global warming, we are using up natural resources, and Earth's oil reserves are being depleted. This does not bode well, but these are all things that are thankfully preventable with research into alternate technologies. There are also many cultural and economic changes we could make to mitigate the damage.

Anyway, a greater concern is the possibility of disasters brought about by future technologies. For example, robots could be very problematic. Self-replicating nanobots can literally eat the entire world if left unchecked, destroying all life on earth. This is called a Grey goo scenario. A nuclear war would be an unprecedented disaster, killing most (though not all) life. These are disasters that will not happen yet, and if we take preventative measures, we could perhaps avoid the worst future scenarios.