Toronto Life




KILLER AI: According to some tech prophets, the irresistib­le convenienc­e of AI will leave us vulnerable when the singularit­y—the point where AI surpasses our own intelligen­ce—arrives. We may be decades away from Terminator-style armies, but the Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems already in use across the globe are terrifying enough.

TWISTERS: The GTA gets a couple of tornados per year, and in 2022, a line of wind storms—known as a derecho—caused $1 billion in damage when it passed through Ontario and Quebec. While there isn’t enough data to predict if we’ll get more chaotic wind events, we will be getting more big storms in general.

ZOMBIES: True, they don’t technicall­y exist, but there are parasites that take control of their hosts: the cordyceps fungus, made famous by The Last of Us, commandeer­s insects to spread spores. Horrifying, but unless you’re an ant, you’ll be fine. The risk of cordyceps jumping to humans is tiny, and even if it did, the fungus would have no power over us.

DEEP FREEZES: Paradoxica­lly, global warming can bring cold snaps. A hotter north weakens the polar vortex, a ring of strong winds that circle the pole high in the atmosphere. Those currents hold back arctic air, and when they go slack, blasts of deep freeze can travel as far as Texas. Most scientists agree, however, that our winters will be warmer overall.

SPACE ROCKS: A big enough, fast enough asteroid could wipe us out in an instant à la dinosaurs. So NASA is developing systems to knock them off course, and planetary defenders like Arushi Nath—the Toronto teen and science whiz who developed code to gather data about asteroids— are keeping a close eye on the skies.

NUCLEAR MELTDOWNS: Because of its proximity to the Pickering and Darlington nuclear generation stations, Toronto has an emergency response plan in place. In the unlikely event of a severe accident at one of the plants, protective measures will be needed for people within a 10-kilometre radius. That could include sheltering in place, taking potassium iodine pills and evacuating.

DYING BEES: Through their pollinatio­n of flowers and crops, bees play a vital role in the health of our ecosystem and agricultur­e. But extreme weather, pests and a lack of diverse crops have decimated bee colonies around the world. That’s very bad news, because if they die out, life for the rest of us is going to be a hell of a lot bleaker.

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