Top Ten Threats to Global Security

Climate Change

Man-made or a natural event; there is no doubt that this is an urgent threat facing humanity. It may be a natural phenomenon but like any task if you quicken the process the increased likelihood that an error and mistakes will come into the equation or natural cycle. The list on the link are the important repercussions global warming may have on the world as we know it. Their is a growing awareness that man must co-exist with its environment in order to prosper and not just survive the future.  The consequences could be seismic for areas of the globe.

  • War
  • Economic Collapse
  • Numerous deaths in population areas depending on scale of natural disaster or change in weather conditions
  • Loss of Biodiversity
  • Resource Conflict
  • Potential Extinction
  • Natural Disasters: Floods, Storms, Drought and more.
  • Rising Sea Levels
  • Change in weather patterns
  • Ecosystem destruction
  • Loss of Wildlife

Biological Warfare

The idea of nuclear warfare is destruction that is all-encompassing, however biological warfare can be equally lethal in its capacity to kill millions of people. In the hands of a rouge state or terrorist organisation they have the ability to wreak havoc as they are difficult to repel due to low visibility, high potency, substantial accessibility, and relatively easy delivery. Their also the element of control that comes with a biological weapon. What happens if you lose control of this terrible weapon, it could wipe out a large segment of the human population depending on the deadliness of the cargo. It is also more dangerous than a nuclear weapon in many ways; they are cheaper to make and require less complex technology to produce the strategic effect desired, that being mass slaughter and the de-stabilisation of both the population in question and its military.

Anthrax, small-pox, bacterias, viruses are part of the potential package of a biological payload. It is biological weapons which present the greatest danger today of all three weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical and biological) as they are the easiest to acquire, have the weakest regime and yet have effects comparable to nuclear weapons. Consequently, countering biological weapons is a key security priority.

Nuclear Power

The classic example of mankind’s capacity to destroy itself is the nuclear bomb and hydrogen bomb.Both contain the ability now to not just reduce cities to ash (as the Americans did Nagasaki and Hiroshima) but entire regions as the 20th century has seen the proliferation of and evolution of the nuclear arsenal at the fingertips of the biggest world-powers.

The Cuban missile crisis is the closest we have come thus far to a nuclear conflict, but it appears the world is a state of ‘MAD’ (Mutally Assured Destruction) as in no one would benefit from a nuclear war and the government’s in power would have everything to lose  externally and internally if they would consider using such useless weapons. So in a messed up way they do prevent major wars (thus far) because they are strategically void. They really do lack objectivity and frankly they did not need to be utilized against the Japanese (in my opinion). If you compare the photos of Tokyo (first one) and Hiroshima (second) below you will see that the impact of regular fire bombing and nuclear bombs have the same result if the military puts their mind to gruesome task. Nevertheless the after-effects of nuclear fall-out is particularly harrowing and in my studies of memory of the nuclear bombings at University, all you had to do was look at the art-work created by survivors to truly understand the horrors of nuclear warfare depicted on the ground.


However let us consider nuclear power itself an effective power source but nonetheless a volatile source of energy. The Chernobyl disaster is a warning for the ages of mismanaging your attempts to harness nuclear power. Though still a disaster, the radiation effects from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe, was a smaller warning; that nuclear power is beyond our control. A natural disaster can cause nuclear power plants to malfunction or cause an explosion and fire releasing radioactive particles which if released in large quantities can spread, as seen in Chernobyl,  over much of the western USSR and Europe, essentially large regions across the world.

Nuclear war isn’t my biggest concern. It is the precariousness that involves trying to harness a energy source which if mishandled can firstly kill people, secondly cause genetic mutation, thirdly kill plants and animals, and fourthly reduce areas like Chernobyl uninhabitable for 20,000 years. We have only been around for 200,000 years the majority of which we have spent sharpening sticks, grunting and learning to make fire. In one century we have created sources by which we could ensure that we never return or very much render areas of the globe uninhabitable. Nuclear accident or nuclear war, either way man is playing with fire.


Their will likely always be radicals who seek the undermine local, regional or global balances of power. 9/11 was the most explicit example of how terrorism can re-shape the world as we know it. The fall-out of the attack had adverse effects on many people’s views on American foreign policy and its war against Islamist extremism.

Not only can terrorists re-shape the political spectrum, they are quite obviously dangerous individuals and organisations depending on what you brand as ‘terrorism’ (after all Nelson Mandela used to be a ‘terrorist’ in the eyes of the apartheid state). However the extremists  who force their warped ideologies onto another by murder, torture, and mass-destruction are grave threats to global security. Examples vary from Al-Qaeda, Al-Shaabab and Boko Haram to far-right extremists and ultra-nationalists. There are always new enemies to take the place of the old as seen by the resurgence of Al-Qaeda after Osama Bin Laden’s death.

These fanatics, the ones possessing ideologies that preach destruction, inequality and who do not flinch in the face of atrocity, ethnic cleansing or genocide are the ones who we should strive to be rid. This is an urgent matter, particularly with the opportunities to create, seize, or launch nuclear weapons, biological weapons, chemical weapons and other weapons of mass-destruction.


Computers, technology, phones lets face it the majority of us cannot live without it unless you are a survivalist. The economy, business transactions, everything we know now is available online and thrives upon it. A major cyber attack with the ability to cripple both military institutes or economic stability could have serious repercussions for us. Espionage and hacking , the loss of classified information; these aren’t the worse things that could occur. Picture an attack that could bring down the stock exchange with the lead on affect of both political and social stability. The destruction of the concept of globalisation through the use of worms and viruses is within the grasp of not just organisations but individuals. Do not underestimate a computer nerd, they hold considerable power in our world today.

Economic Collapse


Economic collapse can occur for a variety of reasons. Regional or world-wide economic collaspe can spark social and political discontent, create revolution and usher in extremism and violence based upon losses, increased poverty. The Great Depression (1929) was the greatest example of how long-term international economic stagnation and depression can cause brutal conflict such as World War II. The world is currently still in parts reeling Some countries have only recently stabilized from the credit crunch and nose-dive of the worldwide economy (the worst seen since the Great Depression.) The economy will always exist and is the centre of human prospect, trade, development, integration, and globalisation. However it is a double-edged sword that requires a harmonious balance; toy with that balance and it can quickly turn prosperity into poverty within hours and days.


“By the toll of a billion deaths man has bought his birthright of the earth, and it is his against all comers; it would still be his were the Martians ten times as mighty as they are. For neither do men live nor die in vain.” H.G Wells

Sometimes nature dictates that we must come down with sickness. The Dinosaurs got an asteroid, we have endured numerous plagues and diseases in our history that have decimated the human population and even inadvertently changed human history (the Black Death for example). The Black Death killed over 75-200 million people at its peak in the 14th century and 40% of Europe’s population. The estimated recovery time was two hundred years.  Then there was the Spanish flu which annihilated 3-5% of the world population in two years starting in 1918, infecting over 500 million and killing 60-100 million.

Viruses, if they go airborne, can be catastrophic for the human population and they have great capability to spread like wildfire on the ground particularly in concentrated/heavily populated areas. Diseases are so variable in their devastating nature that they can either be dealt with reasonably quickly and contained, or overwhelm human capacity to tackle the infection. Hence why we should be genuinely concerned about the existence of lethal biological weapons. Even if a disease didn’t destroy humanity, a major population reduction could adversely affect society for many generations.


During the 20th century alone, the population in the world has grown from 1.65 billion to 6 billion. This is an astonishing figure considering the 20th century was the most violent in world history and 3-5% of the world population was eradicated by the Spanish flu in the aftermath of World War I. Many problems will come with this which include the distribution of resources, lack of resources (which could lead to a major conflict), the excess consumption of resources, the production of food, water scarcity, poverty, environmental damage, the extinction of various animal species, and pollution.

The possibilities are endless as all these problems can create inherent political and social instability which in turn affects the policies and attitudes of nations across the globe. Population control is a necessity and family planning (China already have a one-child policy) and the empowerment of women in Third World and cultural archaic customs could be more crucial than ever in halting impending disasters involved with too many people in one place. In many places in the world still women are still viewed merely as a fertility machines; this attitude must change if we are to have any chance of reducing population growth through contraception or dare I say it to the extremists in religious faiths ‘abortion’. You thought the world is getting quite claustrophobic at seven billion? Wait till we hit fifteen billion or twenty billion.

Political and Social Instability

Revolutions can change countries and change the world as we know it. The Arab Spring, the Russian revolution, the Nazi rise to power, the Rwandan genocide, the Chinese revolution in fact every revolution is by and large born out social, political and economic discontent. The way a revolution goes is very volatile and unpredictable and can make a country an improved society for the better or worse than the society before depending on what fills the power vacuum (i.e. war, civil war, poverty, totalitarianism, democracy, communism).

Social and political instability can create shifts in power-play in international relations shifting the attitude of governments towards other nations and spawn extremist governments with extremist views on other ideologies depending upon the alliances can destroy the world as we know it. Nazi Germany is our warning, (imagine if the Nazis had possessed nuclear weapons) and all you need is one psychopathic leader with access to a nuclear arsenal to destroy civilization as we know it. Make sure you have good intentions when leading or planning a revolution as it often shapes the course of history.

Resource Depletion


Man is very much a consumer. We are effectively locusts, we consume everything in our path and very much in the modern age lack control. However unlike locusts we do possess the logic and capability to harness control over how much we need. The problem is finding that will-power to control a state and individuals insatiable greed. It is not only natural resources such as crude oil, gas, coal, and volatile uranium that should concern the world, it is the availability of both food and water both of which can be severely reduced by lack of land that can be cultivated and man-made droughts caused by environmental degradation, global warming and pollution.

Tensions between countries are constantly on the rise as nations are methodical and ruthless when it comes to acquiring resources. An important example of this is the genocide in the Darfur region situated in Sudan or the United States role in the Middle East.  It is clearly evident that the increasing number of wars that commence on the foundation of food and water scarcities may lead to uncontrollable levels of aggression, security trouble, and regional instability.

Matthew Williams


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