Book Review: The Pandemic May Be the Least of It

Toby Ord’s premise is straightforward: He believes that we are living in a unique moment in human history, and that the decisions we make in the coming decades will determine which of two fates awaits humankind. In one scenario, our numbers diminish, our buildings crumble to dust, and eventually the Earth forgets that we were ever here. In the other scenario, we continue to flourish, safeguarding what we have created against both natural and human-made risks so that we last as long as the planet itself; perhaps our distant future will see us populating the galaxy. While the perils of the present day are not to be dismissed, Ord, a philosopher at the University of Oxford, has his sights clearly set on our long-term prospects, and draws on voluminous research and the latest science to weigh the risks that humanity faces — and urges us to confront these risks head-on.

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