Experts Knew a Pandemic Was Coming. Here’s What They’re Worried About Next.

Experts Knew a Pandemic Was Coming. Here’s What They’re Worried About Next.

Nine disasters we still aren’t ready for.

Editorial Rating



  • Analytical
  • Applicable
  • Concrete Examples


Scientists, policymakers and writers obsessed over destructive pandemics for years. They anticipated the political and economic chaos that the coronavirus pandemic is causing. People in the 21st century might still be ill-prepared to face other calamities – such as violent political extremism, nuclear apocalypse and massive earthquakes. And, the United States’ mistakes in its response to the pandemic may provide a wake-up call for crisis preparedness. This article listing nine more big ways things could go wrong might inspire you to prepare yourself for the next calamity.


1. Potential future calamities include the danger that violent white nationalism could become a global threat.

Terrorism and national security experts regard “white nationalist violence” as a real and growing threat. In the past, white supremacist extremists remained isolated and regional, but today they are connected on a global scale.

The terrorist white supremacist group the Russian Imperial Movement, for example, seeks to inspire followers worldwide. The alarm bells US and other officials sound about these groups are reminiscent of alerts about al-Qaeda prior to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

2. “Deepfakes” and digital manipulation could undermine trust in the institutions people need.

Purposeful misinformation and disinformation attacks struck the 2016 US presidential election. With the US 2020 election looming, experts believe new iterations of cyberattacks will feature bad actors who remove or change relevant data and undermine people’s sense of what’s real and what’s fabricated.

A new generation of “deepfakes” – sound and video fabricated with artificial intelligence (AI) – could create real-seeming records...

About the Author

Garrett M. Graff, a journalist and the director of cyber initiatives at the Aspen Institute, also wrote The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11.