We have viruses, magnetic pole shift and solar flares as the key elements of problems currently being on the radar. Unless we are blindsided, then an asteroid is unlikely, and a super-volcano would be an outside chance at the moment, but both still present, but with low odds of happening in the next 100 years. All of these will happen at some point, the question is when.
Climate change occupies most people’s minds at the present. The concentrated efforts of all the worlds minds are on avoiding this from happening. This is based on the simple assumption that mankind has caused all of it though the generation of excess CO2, so mankind has the ability to cure it by simply reducing CO2. The picture is definitely much more complicated than this; methane, water, chemical make-ups of the atmosphere, localise albedo’s, volcanoes, growth cycles and distributions of microscopic organisms, farming, land use, climate patterns and solar variations and cycles, orbital paths, just to name a few, all having a large effect as well.
Each specialist has a model of the world based on their discrete knowledge of part of the picture. Nobody has so far modelled the world based on more than a few parameters, the current ideas a bit like diagnosing the running of a person’s body and how it works by continually just taking their temperature and recording their breathing. It means you miss 99% of what’s happening in the background. The world’s climate is wildly varying with changes being different depending on where you stand on the planet, but there seems to be the general trend that things are warming up, the poles melting and sea rise happening. Is what we are seeing normal? Not according to people who live at this exact moment in time, but this is true for anybody who thinks purely in terms of what their view or societies is at the moment. Anything else is wrong and to be stopped. A bit like naturalists and their attempts to prevent change and evolution. What is now is right, what may be in the future is wrong, unless it preserves exactly the present set of creatures in exactly the place they should be. Invasive and non-indigent species to be fought, so such indigenous species such as grey squirrels to be wiped out without consideration, even though they have been here for over 100 years, re-introducing species into the wild, even though they have not been here for 100 years and now bear no resemblance genetically to the original ones.
It tends to be ‘what is right and correct is what we grew up with,’ unless we have a somewhat rebellious personalities, then it’s ‘what is wrong and incorrect is what we grew up with.’ But the only thing constant in live is change.
Viruses over the past 100 years have increases in intensity and coverage, still only a few getting through. Solar flares are always possible, but dependent on their polarity and intensity for effect. Without having electrical equipment in the past to show the effects, they are a completely unknown quantity, all that can be said being one major one that could take out a lot of systems worldwide in 163 years. In 2025 we possibly have a major peak that could be out of the ordinary based on current higher levels of radiation than normal at the present. But the biggest flares seem to come within a year before that peak.
Pole shift is an unknown quantity but unlikely to happen for the next 30 years.
Asteroid and meteorite hits are common, but all that can be said is one super event or civilisation killer in 66 million years. There is some evidence that there have been a number of very large events over the past 12,000 years but and more during the period since the large carnivores and other animals disappeared, but the actual events may be the reason why there is so little history for these periods. A large amount of history is ‘missing,’ assumed or presumed ‘not to exist.’
Super volcanoes are all over the world, some still not discovered. Volcanic activity in the world seems to be increasing again. All that can be said is one major event, Taupo volcano, 26,500 years ago. The previous one was 48,500 years before that, so maybe one every 37,500 years. Yellowstone seems to erupt about ever 2 million years, the last eruption estimated between 0.5 and 2.1 million years.
If I was to bet on an imminent event it would probably be another Carrington type event. For the last 160 years the earth’s magnetic field strength and the location of the earth’s magnetic poles have been changing in an alarming pattern. The overall strength has been getting weaker and a large magnetic anomaly has been developing over the south atlantic. Up until about 1860 the wanderings of the poles have been pretty haphazard, especially the north pole, but within set limits, returning within those limits after reaching a boundary, but since then there has been a move in one direction. It may just be a coincidence, but around this time we had what is known as the Carrington event in 1859. This may have been an electromagnetic pool ball that hit the world and set things in motion. Now add to this the unusually high solar activity that is supposed to peak in 2025, the danger period being the year before this peak, together with a weakened protective field coinciding with this in an unusual coronal mass ejection heading in our direction and hitting the world at this time, it may be very catastrophic if it was also the wrong polarity. For solar maxima there is an 11-year cycle between peaks, but looking at past statistical records there may also be a 15 period major cycle that would possibly coincide with 2024. It may be a statistical anomaly, but a strong solar flare at this time and 165-year period may not have been noticed by the civilisations at the time other than just being a ‘portent’ of change or current events, the previous high being 1694 and before that around 1529.
So, we have the yearly chance of:
major virus outbreak – 104 years or 0.01, but the number increasing each year.
Carrington event – 166 years or 0.006, but may be cycle driven.
Super volcano – 27,000 years or 0.000037, but there are a few of these and haven’t happened for quite a while.
Pole shift – 42,000 years or 0.000024, again hasn’t happened for quite a while.
Civilisation killer asteroid – 66 million years or 0.000000015, hasn’t happened for quite a while, but may need a coicidence with basalt lava outbursts.
Or one of these occurring every 64 years, so most people will experience at least one, possibly with a 50% chance of seeing two.
But there are many scenarios that are still in left field. We don’t know what sentience is, and the unqualified and extremely suspect assumption is that all developing intelligence will have the same value system as we currently have ourselves. Growing up as ourselves, logically, there can be no other ways of looking at things, except on this planet there are about 7.94 billion different ways at the last count, and that is just the views of assumed intelligence in humans. Animals have a logic to them, and nobody is sure how that reduces to simple reaction to stimulus and instinct as you go down the scale and where it stops being logical and becomes more chemical.
We are all very logical, and maybe even respectable in some ways, so ‘You could tell what a Baggins would say on any question without the bother of asking him.’ But the truth behind this is that nobody probably in the whole of the universe throughout its whole existence will think in exactly the same way about anything.
Causality in operation, function and setting means that of out 100 billion neurons with their 50,000 connections each, you’re probably in the region of 100,000,000,000^50,000! (factorial) possibilities per person to deal with 1% parallel processing of 1% storage of 10% of inputs, consisting of maybe 500 trillion bits of information per second. This is you, and computers are more homogenous in operation. The big assumption is that all brains are constructed and work in the same way, even alien ones. The chance of this being true if intelligent alien life does exist and having the same values, are probably close to infinity to 1, similar to two human brains working exactly the same. We have a better chance because of constant exposure for similar ends in survival. The religious have a word for god, in that god is ‘ineffable.’ The likelihood is that if we generate a sentient being or meet one not of this earth, ‘ineffability’ would be their prime characteristic. You are venturing into the unknowable.
I still have the opinion that long distance space travel is unlikely, as is life elsewhere in the universe being extremely rare. So far as we know science hasn’t come up with anything more than theory, which often needs total star energy level power to do any of it. Worm holes in space. Nice concept, but you need something like a close black hole, the nearest being maybe 3,500 light years away, about 20,000,000,000,000,000 miles. We’ve just about managed to get people about 240,000, so only about 86 trillion times as far to go. So, you wouldn’t use one to go down the shops and people would dislike living like spaghetti being close to one unless you were a super model. Again, warping space, but quite often needing even more power than the sun puts out in its lifetime to do it. Anything we do see, either down to misidentification of natural events we are unfamiliar with, or experiencing them in unusual contexts that throws our interpretations, or they are remnants of past earthly civilisations, a small chance of them being human, a much larger chance being an early offshoot and descendant of earthly intelligent dinosaurs.
The legends of ‘Nagas’ may be a folk memory of this. Also, Quetzalcoatl, vision serpents, worms, the longs of China and many other unconnected places in the world seem to refer to similar type creatures in the past that originally had knowledge and wisdom, being more beneficial to humans, but now rare or no longer around.
‘Diversity in all things.’ This not only means just one area but all areas, including thoughts. People fear the different, unfamiliar and unknown. That’s it. But to remove something living from the equation, shuts down most of their possible causality curve, reducing their input to simple chemical resource, lessening that which there is.