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What is the greatest threat to human civilization?

In short, what do you think is the greatest threat to human civilization?
Anything from nuclear war, to global warming to alien invasion will be accepted as an answer. Note that actually causing humanity to go extinct in the process is not a requirement.
I would however prefer concrete answers, not abstracts like "lack of wisdom".

I'd have to say plague myself, though whether artificial or natural, I wouldn't know.
We're more interconnected, and travel faster, easier and more prevalent then ever before, and the rapid response and forceful quarantine infrastructure and personnel that would be required to prevent it are simply not in place.
It doesn't help that the vast majority of nations today are too slow to respond to emergencies and/or too softhearted to properly enforce a proper quarantine in the early stages when its still effective.

Seeing as I have some characters left, let me list off other common answers and why I don't think they're as dangerous:
--Global nuclear war simply doesn't seem very likely since the end of the Cold War and the gradual stripping down of arsenals. Localized cases like the India/Pakistan standoff are still there, but they don't threaten global civilization as a whole.
--climate change, man made or otherwise, simply isn't as apocalyptic as people make it out to be. Human civilization has existed for more then 5000 years in a wide range of fluctuating climatic conditions, and in many ways, we've actually grown more robust to their sudden change, not more vulnerable. Don't get me wrong, there is room for tremendous damage, but its not at "deathblow to civilization" levels.
--Zombies would be quickly wiped out by the military. For an army used to fighting against people with guns, zombies would be something of a vacation.

But back to being serious, what do you think is the greatest threat to human civilization, and why?


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    Feb 19 2014: Other than Lawren"s answer below the next biggies are the flipping of the poles which is imminent going by the weakening of the Earth's magnetic field and on a much longer scale the next ice age which will kill us all unless we prepare for it. And before anyone jumps in, both these events are scientific certainties. It's just a matter of time.
    • Feb 19 2014: All we'll have to do with the poles is switch a few parts on all our magnetic compasses. I doubt the change will be sudden enough for the magnetic surge to fry any electronics.

      As for oncoming ice ages, seems like something you can prepare for if you see it coming. And as damaging as it is, it doesn't sound at quite deathblow to civilization levels.
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        • Feb 19 2014: I had read many years ago that it is believed magnetic pole reversal occurs every twelve thousand years and this was what occurred to create the evolutionary changes we can't explain. Like where we come from when our best guess is primordial ooze. I had forgotten about this. Thanks for bringing it up.
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        Feb 19 2014: The biggest threat of flipping of the poles is the massive cancer increase due to the weakening and holes in the magnetic shield not blocking solar radiation. In both humans and animal life, I’m not sure if or how plant and sea life will effect but it safe bet they will be affected.
        • Feb 19 2014: Its a problem to be dealt with when it shows up, but it doesn't seem to be on the same caliber as some of those other issues people have raised.

          Seeing as its supposed to happen fairly often (on a geological timescale), we at least know its survivable without too much fuss. As far as I'm aware, pole shifts don't correlate with any mass extinctions or bottlenecks in the gene pool suggesting large die offs.
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        Feb 19 2014: There is a possible complication regarding the poles flipping. If there is a large solar flare or CME during the weeks or possibly months during which there will be no magnetic field, there could be massive disruption of power grids. If the whole of the US mainland had no electricity for a week, how many people would die? Remember the same would be happening in Europe and Asia.
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        Feb 20 2014: Nadav,
        The last Geomagnetic reversal occurred 780,000 years ago, so we simple don’t know for sure how much fuss it will cause.
        Sure it will not be quick and painless, but considering they do last an average of 450,000 years not being quick and painless is not the issue.
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      Feb 20 2014: Geomagnetic reversal is a process that takes millennia, and the risks to the biosphere are inconclusive and somewhat suspect. In any case, it's hard to classify it as a threat to civilization.

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        Feb 20 2014: Yes it takes millennia for a complete reversal, that is the problem. The chaotic period between produces a magnetic field that isn't organised enough to protect us from ionising radiation from the sun
        From your reference.
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          Feb 20 2014: Again, from my reference, there is no conclusive evidence that detrimental effects have occurred in the past or will occur next time. Life on Earth has quite nicely survived several of these events without a major disruption to the biosphere. I can't see how an organized, cooperative technological civilization would be impacted by a phenomenon that we will have several milennia to adjust to.
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        Feb 20 2014: The point is we have no data on how it will effect the electrical systems we now rely on. Previous events are no indication as the technology didn't exist then. A scrambled magnetosphere may allow atmospheric ionisation to levels that make it impossible to operate any electrical device or even at a much lower level shut down power grids. No electricity means no traffic lights, no sewerage, no tap water, no refrigeration, no internet or cell phones and no air traffic control.

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