To begin to understand the consequences of mega-problems, we need to distinguish the components of risk and impacts.
Hazards: First we identify hazards – things that can go wrong. Let’s identify for the sake of argument, air pollution.
Vulnerability: different sectors of the population might differ in the effect of air pollution, for example, the very young and very old might be more vulnerable.
Exposure: With little exposure to a hazard the associated risk is clearly low. People who live in cities might be more exposed to air pollution than those in rural areas.
Impact: The risk associated with air pollution is the combined effect of vulnerability and exposure. The combined effect may be low (for example being middle-aged and living in the country) so the risk is low. That is NOT the same as saying that the impact will be low: I might have a low risk of dying, but my death would have a fairly large impact (at least on me). I have a very high risk of catching a cold, but its impact would be small.
In the previous step we ordered the hazards in order of significance. This time, rate them in order of both risk and then impact.
|1. Global Warming||9. Growth of Shantycities|
|2. Excessive Population Growth||10. Unstoppable Global Migrations|
|3. Water Shortages||11. Non-State Actors with Extreme Weapons|
|4. Destruction of Life in the Oceans||12. Violent Religious Extremism|
|5. Mass Famine in Ill-Organised Countries||13. Runaway Computer Intelligence|
|6. The Spread of Deserts||14. War That Could End Civilisation|
|7. Pandemics||15. Risks to Homo Sapiens’ Existence|
|8. Extreme Poverty||16. A New Dark Age|
Add hazards to your SWOT analysis. You might want to use Martin’s mega-problems as a basis but be selective, use your own words and add any others you think are important.
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