13 Major Global Risks That Used To Be The Stuff Of Science Fiction

death star

Photo: wikimedia commons

The theme of World Economic Forum’s Global Risks 2013 report, just out this week, is “resilience.”It includes a new a “national resilience measurement” to determine which countries are best positioned to manage catastrophe. 

But no country would be able to bounce back from some of the risks included in the survey.

We picked out 13 of the more bizarre scenarios the Forum envisions.

Militarization Of Space

Risk category: Geopolitical

Risk likelihood: 3.16/5

Description: Targeting of commercial, civil and military space assets and related ground systems as core to defence strategy.

Source: World Economic Forum

Unintended Consequences Of Nanotechnology

Risk category: Technological

Risk likelihood: 2.79/5

Description: The manipulation of matter on an atomic and molecular level raises concerns on nanomaterial toxicity.

Source: World Economic Forum

Massive Incidence Of Data Fraud Or Theft

Risk category: Technological

Risk likelihood: 3.52/5

Description: Criminal or wrongful exploitation of private data on an unprecedented scale.

Source: World Economic Forum

Vulnerability To Pandemics

Risk category: Societal

Risk likelihood: 3.2/5

Description: Inadequate disease surveillance systems, failed international coordination and the lack of vaccine production capacity.

Source: World Economic Forum

Vulnerability To Geomagnetic Storms

Risk category: Environmental

Risk likelihood: 2.59/5

Description: Critical communication and navigation systems disabled by effects from colossal solar flares.

Source: World Economic Forum

Unprecedented Geophysical Destruction

Risk category: Environmental

Risk likelihood: 3.17/5

Description: Existing precautions and preparedness measures fail in the face of geophysical disasters of unparalleled magnitude such as earthquakes, volcanic activity, landslides or tsunamis.

Source: World Economic Forum

Critical Systems Failure

Risk category: Technological

Risk likelihood: 2.96/5

Description: Single-point system vulnerabilities trigger cascading failure of critical information infrastructure and networks.

Source: World Economic Forum

Rising Rates Of Chronic Disease

Risk category: Societal

Risk likelihood: 3.43/5

Description: Increasing burden of illness and long-term costs of treatment threaten recent societal gains in life expectancy and quality.

Source: World Economic Forum

Persistent Extreme Weather

Risk category: Environmental

Risk likelihood: 3.7/5

Description: Increasing damage linked to greater concentration of property in risk zones, urbanization or increased frequency of extreme weather events.

Source: World Economic Forum

Proliferation Of Orbital Debris

Risk category: Technological

Risk likelihood: 2.87/5

Description: Rapidly accumulating debris in high-traffic geocentric orbits jeopardizes critical satellite infrastructure.

Source: World Economic Forum

Massive Digital Misinformation

Risk category: Technological

Risk likelihood: 3.36/5

Description: Deliberately provocative, misleading or incomplete information disseminates rapidly and extensively with dangerous consequences.

Source: World Economic Forum

Species Overexploitation

Risk category: Environmental

Risk likelihood: 3.68/5

Description: Threat of irreversible biodiversity loss through species extinction or ecosystem collapse.

Source: World Economic Forum

Unilateral Resource Nationalization

Risk category: Geopolitical

Risk likelihood: 3.35/5

Description: Unilateral moves by states to ban exports of key commodities, stockpile reserves and expropriate natural resources.

Source: World Economic Forum

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