Posted on May 2, 2016
Extinction is More Likely to Cause Our End Than a Car Crash is
Humans are Five Times More Likely to Die from Nuclear War or Climate Change Than a Car Crash
Wondering about whether our life will end in a car accident is not something that we think about every day, but a recent report has affirmed that dying in a vehicle accident is not what will likely happen to the average person. It’s more likely that a person will die in a catastrophic event that relates to human extinction that in the impact caused by one vehicle hitting another or hitting something else.
Since only 9,395 individuals perish annually in car crashes, it translates to about a 0.01 per cent chance that automobile accidents will be the cause of anyone’s life ending. There are other events that now score much higher than car crashes for death risks, including human extinction due to nuclear war, climate change or pandemics.
The upshot of this is that people demand that the airbags and seatbelts in their cars, trucks and SUVs function well to avoid getting into an accident, but no-one thinks about the real dangers of our species going extinct because of a number of very real problems we face. We know the risk of getting into a car accident isn’t that high, but we still take care to strap our seatbelts and make sure airbags and other safety features in our cars are working, to reduce any possible harm to us, which makes sense. But what kind of precautions can we take to reduce any harm coming to us by way of a catastrophic nuclear war or climate change effect? The Stern Review, a report produced by the U.K. government on the economic effects of climate change, assets that the risk of dying from a climate change or nuclear war event is much higher than 0.01 per cent. It is currently about 0.1 per cent, and growing yearly.
The societal version of a seatbelt or airbag could be future technologies that increase food production, policies that focus on cutting greenhouse-gas emissions, developing less sunlight-dependent sources of food, and increasing our human resilience to be able to survive the effects of coming catastrophes due to climate change or possible nuclear war.
A 9.5 Per Cent Chance of Human Extinction in the Next Century Estimated by Experts
The Global Challenges Foundation has reported that the likelihood of humans going extinct within the next hundred years is currently estimated at 9.5 per cent. This is because the risks of going extinct from catastrophic climate change or nuclear war are actually much higher than any other risks. The report cites many different occasions when the world was almost annihilated from the atomic bomb, both during the Cold War as well as much more recently. It describes an event as recent as 1995 when then-Russian president Boris Yeltsin went as far as retrieving launch codes and had a nuclear suitcase sitting open in front of him, because Russian systems thought a Norwegian weather rocket was a nuclear attack. Mercifully, he didn’t go through with it after Russian leaders surmised that the weather rocket had been a false alarm.
Another high risk for human extinction is climate change, where superstorms resulting from global warming will sweep across continents by the end of this century. Climate science veterans continue to point out that even if all countries in the world participate in concerted efforts to reduce carbon emissions quickly, the risk of global warming of six to ten degrees Celsius is higher than the allowable 3 per cent.
Natural pandemics are also very high on the scale of human extinction risks too. During the last two centuries, plagues were the most serious risks, and the Black Death during the 1340s claimed over 10 per cent of the global population and an earlier plague in the 500s took the lives of over 13 per cent of the human population. It is now feared that genetically engineered pandemics, artificial intelligence and geo-engineering that goes wrong now pose real threats to human survival.