To prevent catastrophe, governments must transform our resilience to climate breakdown, AI and engineered pandemics
It is profoundly difficult to grapple with risks whose stakes may include the global collapse of civilisation, or even the extinction of humanity. The pandemic has shattered our illusions of safety and reminded us that despite all the progress made in science and technology, we remain vulnerable to catastrophes that can overturn our entire way of life. These are live possibilities, not mere hypotheses, and our governments will have to confront them.
As Britain emerges from Covid-19, it could find itself at the forefront of the response to future disasters. The government’s recent integrated review, Britain’s taking of the G7 presidency and the Cop26 climate conference, which will be hosted in Glasgow later this year, are all occasions to address global crises. But in order to ensure that the UK really is prepared, we need to first identify the biggest risks that we face in the coming decades.