Top 10 Biggest Risks Facing Our World: Climate Change A Big Worry

The world is focused on the US-China trade war, Brexit, terrorism, and a bunch of other issues. But are they the most significant risks facing our world in 2019? Every year, the World Economic Forum publishes the Global Risks Report, which presents the results of the Global Risk Perception Survey. Here we take a look at the top 10 biggest risks facing our world, according to the Global Risks Report.

We are failing our environment

As part of the Global Risk Perception Survey, the WEF asked more than 1,000 experts, policymakers, and thought leaders from governments, businesses, civil society, and academia what they think are the biggest risks facing our world. The survey reveals that climate change remains by far the biggest risk – both in terms of likelihood and impact. Climate change-related risks account for five of the top 10 biggest threats.

The WEF warns that when it comes to taking care of our environment, “the world is most clearly sleepwalking into catastrophe.” The report looks at risks that are most likely as well as the ones that will have the biggest impact.

Extreme weather events such as floods, heatwaves, storms, and floods are the biggest risks by likelihood and third biggest by impact. Another major concern is that we are clearly failing to mitigate or adapt to climate change. Amid the trade war, Brexit, and worsening international relations, the world’s capacity to deal with climate change has declined dramatically.

The WEF and other institutions have warned repeatedly that the result of climate inaction will be catastrophic. We are already witnessing an increased pace of biodiversity loss. The lack of support from some of the world’s largest producers of greenhouse gases is leading to environmental policy failure.

Major natural disasters were named the third biggest risks. Last year, the world saw devastating earthquakes, tsunami, wildfires, geomagnetic storms, volcanic eruptions, and other natural disasters that caused economic losses of more than $150 billion. The incidents of wildfires have increased in the last few years as summers have become drier and hotter than before.

The fourth and fifth biggest risks are the growing incidents of data theft/fraud, and large-scale cyber attacks. Last year, data breaches at Facebook, Google, and dozens of other companies exposed data of hundreds of millions of people worldwide. More than 82% survey respondents expect the risk of cyber-attacks leading to data and money theft to increase in 2019. Fake news, identity theft, and the loss of privacy highlight our technological vulnerabilities.

The report also warns that large-scale involuntary migration due to wars, civil unrest, drought, and natural disasters is a major concern. Water crisis is one of the biggest societal risks. There has been a “significant decline in the available quality and quantity of fresh water.” It is negatively affecting both human health and socioeconomic development.

According to the WEF, asset bubbles in a major world economy are the tenth biggest risk facing our world. The report also warns of increasing polarization of societies, which could lead to social instability. Economic confrontations between major powers and the erosion of multilateral trading rules and agreements were other major concerns.

Top 10 biggest risks by likelihood

  1. Extreme weather events such as floods and storms
  2. Failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation
  3. Major natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunami
  4. Massive incidents of data theft/fraud
  5. Large-scale cyber attacks
  6. Man-made environmental damage and disasters such as radioactive contamination and oil spills
  7. Large-scale involuntary migration
  8. Major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse – both terrestrial and marine
  9. Water crises
  10. Asset bubbles in a major economy

Top 10 biggest risks by impact

  1. Weapons of mass destruction
  2. Failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation
  3. Extreme weather events
  4. Water crises
  5. Major natural disasters
  6. Major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse
  7. Large-scale cyber attacks
  8. Breakdown of critical information infrastructure and networks
  9. Man-made environmental damage and disasters
  10. Rapid and massive spread of infectious diseases




About the Author

Vikas Shukla
Although he has a background in finance and holds an MBA, Vikas Shukla is a technology reporter. He has a strong interest in gadgets, gizmos, and science. He writes regularly on these topics. - He can be contacted by email at vshukla@valuewalk.com