Antibiotic resistance, and many others, fingered as big future risks to humans

The World Economic Forum has published the 2013 edition of its annual Global Risks report. Reading the document quickly leads one to the conclusion that, if the experts are right, the future is most unlikely to be a continuation of the present. Based on a survey of over 1000 experts worldwide, the report groups risks into the categories of economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal, and technological.

One of the highlighted risks, under the heading of The Dangers of Hubris on Human Health, is that of antibiotic resistance. The report quotes Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization, as saying “A post-antibiotic era means, in effect, an end to modern medicine as we know it. Things as common as strep throat or a child’s scratched knee could once again kill.”

Environmental risks which are shown in the report to be trending to increased likelihood to occur in the next ten years and increasing impact if the risk were to occur include:

  • Rising greenhouse gas emissions
  • Failure of climate change adaptation
  • Persistent extreme weather
  • Irremediable pollution
  • Land and waterway use mismanagement
  • Mismanaged urbanization
  • Species overexploitation

In other categories of risk, top risks with increasing likelihood to occur and increasing impact if they do occur include:

  • Severe income disparity
  • Diffusion of weapons of mass destruction
  • Water supply crises
  • Cyber attacks

and quite a number more.

This fascinating and complex report, which will undoubtedly be a significant topic of conversation not only at the Davos Annual Meeting of the WEF but amongst opinion leaders everywhere, is available by scrolling down to Global Risks 2013 – Eighth Edition on the page 

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