Leaders and experts across the globe believe extreme weather events and natural disasters pose the likeliest threats to the world, according to a new report, and the likelihood of their occurrence makes them even more concerning than weapons of mass destruction.
While the World Economic Forum‘s annual Global Risks Report for 2018 found that weapons of mass destruction were ranked as the most impactful threat, they were ranked as less likely to occur than extreme weather events, food and water crises, large-scale involuntary migration, or ecosystem collapse. Other threats that especially concern the roughly 1,000 experts in government, policy and business surveyed include cyberattacks, terrorist attacks and data fraud or theft.
Almost all respondents, 93%, predict that “political or economic confrontations/frictions between major powers” will increase in 2018, and 80% expect “state-on-state military conflict or incursion” and “regional conflicts drawing in major power(s)” to heighten this year.
“Humanity has become remarkably adept at understanding how to mitigate conventional risks that can be relatively easily isolated and managed with standard risk-management approaches,” WEF founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab and president Børge Brende wrote in the report’s preface. “But we are much less competent when it comes to dealing with complex risks in the interconnected systems that underpin our world. … When risk cascades through a complex system, the danger is not of incremental damage but of ‘runaway collapse’ or an abrupt transition to a new, suboptimal status quo.”