There were always ways for one to perish. In modern times, the risk of death isn’t as great for any particular individual. Everyone still dies, but most don’t need to worry about it constantly. (Not that this stops them from worrying anyways.) Death arrives at old age. But there is another type of perish. This second type doesn’t show up too much for now, but the risk is increasing. One person’s individual death isn’t an issue for the entire world, but this new risk will have severe consequences.
Unfortunately, there are ways to kill more than one person at a time. Salting fields and rigging gunpowder explosives were common throughout much of history, but even they couldn’t kill large populations at once. Killing millions of people by salting fields would have taken a tremendous amount of time. Nuclear weapons, on the other hand, do not. In fact, humanity now has the capability of using nukes to make itself nearly extinct in a short time period.
Scary stuff, but it gets worse. The threat of nukes is not as great as the threat from bioterrorism and cybersecurity threats tied to important infrastructure. Imagine weaponized Ebola, or the prospect of a compromised power grid. Not all of these threats are likely, but they are growing more probable – and potentially more problematic – every year. The world is becoming less dangerous from the point of view of the individual, but more dangerous from the point of view of groups of people. Even if a bioterrorist threat is highly unlikely (and it isn’t) the amount of damage it could cause is so great that we should begin thinking of solutions. As they say, an ounce of prevention is better than a small chance of human extinction.
This blog is dedicated to the ways we can mitigate these forms of risk, among other things. Hopefully, we will be able to explore actionable strategies to prevent asteroid impacts, dirty bombs, and other terrible scenarios. Humanity has no other choice.