Sunday’s Good News: Doomsday Not Coming As Soon As Previously Thought

The Original Doomsday Argument
Doomsday Argument, a theory which bubbled to the forefront 30 years ago in an unpublished paper by astrophysicist and philosopher Brandon Carter, suggests that humanity is closer to its end than it is to its beginning. In short, the end is near.

The original doomsday argument assumed that 70 billion humans had lived since the beginning of the beginning of the world and used that figure to estimate that there is a 95 per cent chance no more than 1.4 trillion humans will ever live. So, given population growth estimates, they argued civilization’s expiration would be reached within 10,000 years.

Recalculation Provides Brighter Picture Of Humanity’s Future
Austin Gerig at the University of Oxford and his colleagues have recalculated the argument by including those facts and, according to an article in the MIT Technology Review, there is good news.

Gerig says he and his team “corrected the argument and performed a more thorough analysis to find that our actual chance of long-term survival is not zero, but perhaps somewhere between 1 per cent and 10 per cent.”

Existential Threats
Most security analysts are of the opinion that the proliferation of nuclear weapons, particularly in the hands of rogue nations or unstable individuals/groups, there is less of a consensus regarding the threat posed to our future by climate change.

The American Security Project views, at the very least, climate change as a threat to US national security. However, according to their recent analysis, “central Asian countries are divided about whether climate is a security threat or an environmental issue, with three labeling it as an environmental issue and four labeling it as a national security threat.”

Existential Threats Can Be Impacted By Our Actions
But Gerig and his colleagues base part of their optimism on the fact that our civilization is an advanced one with the capacity to take action to address the existential threats.

“If there is a message here for our own civilization, it is that it would be wise to devote considerable resources (i) for developing methods of diverting known existential threats and (ii) for space exploration and colonization. Civilizations that adopt this policy are more likely to be among the lucky few who beat the odds,” the paper advises.

“If most civilizations are complacent and do not take seriously the threats they face, then we can choose to be different,”  Gerig adds.

 

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