In my book, 2012: Extinction or Utopia, I make a list of the various threats that face our planet, politically, socially, environmentally, and naturally, in an effort to appraise just how likely any of them are really to do us in. While the prospect of our own demise is always a guessing game, I thought the reader might find it helpful to look over my list and judge for themselves whether they agree with my assessments or not. Of course, you might even come up with a few of your own that I have overlooked, in which case drop me a post and let me know.

Alright, so just what are the threats to Mother Earth? Below is my chart of potential threats to the planet, both man-made and natural, along with what I consider to be their destructive potential to destroy, in turn, a global civilization, life in general (not just human beings, but all life on the planet) and the environment, rated on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 representing the lowest potential for destruction and 5 the highest):

Notice that many of the natural causes we traditionally assume to be the most destructive are really not the most serious threats we face. Earthquakes, for example, while extremely destructive, are localized events that may level poorly built structures and change the flow of a river, but have almost no impact outside of the quake zone itself. This is also true for seismic (commonly but mistakenly called tidal) waves which, while capable of inundating miles of coastline and devastating a coastal city, could hardly destroy all civilization on the planet. But there are a few on the list that really could be a major threat, so let's take a closer look. First, the natural doomsday threats:

Okay, that takes care of most of the natural threats, but what about those man-made dangers we face? Could we be sowing the seeds of Armageddon through our own technology? Let's take a look:

The reader will note I leave out global warming as a possible threat, which is intentional. The effects of global warming (or cooling, for that matter) are gradual and uncertain, making the prospect of doomsday far less likely under this scenario. Additionally, the science behind all the hoopla is still far from decided, and seems to be more politically driven than scientifically valid. (Remember, it was only a few decades ago that scientists were pretty certain we were heading into a mini-ice age that failed to materialize, so caution where predicting future climate trends is always a good idea.) I do devote a chapter to looking at global warming in my book, however, in case you are interested in looking at some of the data (probably out-dated by now, but still interesting).