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AbruptSLR

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Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« on: July 05, 2015, 11:51:15 PM »
Anthropogenic Existential Risks are associated with the potential, or effective, extinction of the current human race; which includes the risk of replacement by (or domination by) a subsequent species.  Such risks include consideration of the coupled risk between climate change as a stress riser and other potential anthropogenic risks to the species including: (a) biotech, bioterror, bioerror, (b) nuclear risks, (c) non-renewable resource depletion, (d) information era risks: AI, robotics, cyborgs, machine learning, (e) genetic engineering, (f) geoengineering, (g) collapse of environmental conditions and (f) nanotechnology.  Specifically, this thread considers the probably rapid convergence of such multiple trend-lines towards a possible tipping point before 2100.

Such existential risks are actively being evaluated by such as:
(1) The Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centre_for_the_Study_of_Existential_Risk
and
(2) Global Catastrophic Risk Institute (GCRI)
http://gcrinstitute.org/
http://gcrinstitute.org/publications/
and
(3) The Future of Humanity Institute (FHI), at Oxford

Also see the FHI associated image of the scope and severity of global threats:
http://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/
http://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/research/publications/

For a quick introduction to this type of Existential Risk evaluation see:
http://qz.com/386637/meet-the-people-trying-to-prevent-humanity-from-destroying-itself/

… a timeline that showed the likelihood, according to each FHI researcher, that the human race would go extinct in the next 100 years. They asked me not to publish it. (Most said the chances were quite low, but one person put it at 40%.)
….
And when what you’re worried about is human extinction, the bar for what counts as a catastrophe is high—brutally high. Take, for example, global warming. “Climate change could constitute an existential risk if it’s worse than we expect and there’s a feedback loop that causes temperatures to rise by 20°C,” Snyder-Beattie says. (We’re currently heading for a rise of between 2-4°C.)



More information about Extreme Climate from CSER can be found at:
http://cser.org/emerging-risks-from-technology/extreme-tail-climate-risks/

See also:
http://www.ted.com/talks/martin_rees_asks_is_this_our_final_century?language=en
http://www.csap.cam.ac.uk/news/article-time-ditch-2-degree-warming-goal/
http://www.nature.com/news/climate-policy-ditch-the-2-c-warming-goal-1.16018
http://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/Existential-risk-and-existential-hope.pdf

An example of evaluating the risks associated with AI development can be found in the following linked video by Prof Stuart Russell: Long-term Control Benefit (dis-benefit) of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Intelligence (UC Berkeley) (which tries to address Elon Musk's concern but could also be applied to climate change or other existential risks).  AAAI now recommends inclusions of ethical impacts on science (because AI is making progress)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYQrNfSmQ0M&list=PLcBS5tXy2Dy6t2jNX4VVOP49_vKoGOcBP


Furthermore, Dr Toby Ord indicates that Existential Risk this century is substantial as included below:
Dr Toby Ord: "Will we cause our own extinction? Natural versus Anthropogenic Extinction Risks" (Prof at Oxford University): Across the board accumulation of risk of Anthropogenic human extinction; need to put bounds of what these cumulative risks are this century.  Natural (asteroid, volcanoes (nuclear winter effect of both volcanoes & impacts) or super volcanoes, seismic; replacement by a superior species to humans), but anthropogenic risks are more likely.  Homo Sapiens Sapiens have been around for 200,000 yrs or 2,000 centuries to calculate risks use Laplace to calculate Bayesian risks (use Jeffreys prior) which gives a Natural Risk of 1 in 4002 (0.02% per century).  Alternately a mass extinction would give a 0.0001% risk (assuming natural risks are not increasing with time, except for natural pandemics whose risks are likely increasing with time at the moment).  Electro-magnetic pulse knocking out communications & consequently infrastructure.  Replacement of homo sapiens sapiens by a genetically superior race.
Anthropogenic risks (not enough data for Bayesian calculations, & p-value does not clarify what is the upper bound).  We need to have both an upper & a lower bound.

Examples: Nuclear winter, engineered pandemics, Artificial Intelligence (general super intelligence, difficult to align AI values with human goal).  Martin Rees estimates a 50% chance of human extinction by 2100; GCR estimate is 20% by 2100, Stern report estimates 10% by 2100.
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2015, 12:26:46 AM »
For my next post in this Anthropogenic Existential Risk thread, I provide a series of linked references as examples of the diverse type of evaluations that are being performed to both evaluate such existential risks and what can be done to mitigate such risks/threats to human existence:

The following linked reference provides another example of the evaluation of global catastrophic risk associated with food supply:

Baum, Seth D., David C. Denkenberger, Joshua M. Pearce, Alan Robock, and Richelle Winkler (June 2015), Resilience to global food supply catastrophes. Environment, Systems, and Decisions, DOI 10.1007/s10669-015-9549-2.

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10669-015-9549-2

Abstract: "Many global catastrophic risks threaten major disruption to global food supplies, including nuclear wars, volcanic eruptions, asteroid and comet impacts, and plant disease outbreaks. This paper discusses options for increasing the resilience of food supplies to these risks. In contrast to local catastrophes, global food supply catastrophes cannot be addressed via food aid from external locations. Three options for food supply resilience are identified: food stockpiles, agriculture, and foods produced from alternative (non-sunlight) energy sources including biomass and fossil fuels. Each of these three options has certain advantages and disadvantages. Stockpiles are versatile but expensive. Agriculture is efficient but less viable in certain catastrophe scenarios. Alternative foods are inexpensive pre-catastrophe but need to be scaled up post-catastrophe and may face issues of social acceptability. The optimal portfolio of food options will typically include some of each and will additionally vary by location as regions vary in population and access to food input resources. Furthermore, if the catastrophe shuts down transportation, then resilience requires local self-sufficiency in food. Food supply resilience requires not just the food itself, but also the accompanying systems of food production and distribution. Overall, increasing food supply resilience can play an important role in global catastrophic risk reduction. However, it is unwise to attempt maximizing food supply resilience, because doing so comes at the expense of other important objectives, including catastrophe prevention. Taking all these issues into account, the paper proposes a research agenda for analysis of specific food supply resilience decisions."

The next linked reference provides an example of the evaluation of global risks & resiliance associated with difficult to quantify catastrophic threats:

Baum, Seth D. (June 2015), Risk and resilience for unknown, unquantifiable, systemic, and unlikely/catastrophic threats. Environment, Systems, and Decisions, , DOI 10.1007/s10669-015-9551-8.

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10669-015-9551-8

Abstract: "Risk and resilience are important paradigms for analyzing and guiding decisions about uncertain threats. Resilience has sometimes been favored for threats that are unknown, unquantifiable, systemic, and unlikely/catastrophic. This paper addresses the suitability of each paradigm for such threats, finding that they are comparably suitable. Threats are rarely completely unknown or unquantifiable; what limited information is typically available enables the use of both paradigms. Either paradigm can in practice mishandle systemic or unlikely/catastrophic threats, but this is inadequate implementation of the paradigms, not inadequacy of the paradigms themselves. Three examples are described: (a) Venice in the Black Death plague, (b) artificial intelligence (AI), and (c) extraterrestrials. The Venice example suggests effectiveness for each paradigm for certain unknown, unquantifiable, systemic, and unlikely/catastrophic threats. The AI and extraterrestrials examples suggest how increasing resilience may be less effective, and reducing threat probability may be more effective, for certain threats that are significantly unknown, unquantifiable, and unlikely/catastrophic."

The next linked reference provides an example of how to evaluate the risks of far future global threats:

Baum, Seth D. (2015), The far future argument for confronting catastrophic threats to humanity: Practical significance and alternatives. Futures, DOI 10.1016/j.futures.2015.03.001.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016328715000312

Abstract: "Sufficiently large catastrophes can affect human civilization into the far future: thousands, millions, or billions of years from now, or even longer. The far future argument says that people should confront catastrophic threats to humanity in order to improve the far future trajectory of human civilization. However, many people are not motivated to help the far future. They are concerned only with the near future, or only with themselves and their communities. This paper assesses the extent to which practical actions to confront catastrophic threats require support for the far future argument and proposes two alternative means of motivating actions. First, many catastrophes could occur in the near future; actions to confront them have near-future benefits. Second, many actions have co-benefits unrelated to catastrophes, and can be mainstreamed into established activities. Most actions, covering most of the total threat, can be motivated with one or both of these alternatives. However, some catastrophe-confronting actions can only be justified with reference to the far future. Attention to the far future can also sometimes inspire additional action. Confronting catastrophic threats best succeeds when it considers the specific practical actions to confront the threats and the various motivations people may have to take these actions."
The next linked reference provides an example of evaluating the somewhat familiar threats associated with a nuclear winter:

Baum, Seth D. (2015), Confronting the threat of nuclear winter. Futures, DOI 10.1016/j.futures.2015.03.004.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016328715000403

Abstract: "Large-scale nuclear war sends large quantities of smoke into the stratosphere, causing severe global environmental effects including surface temperature declines and increased ultraviolet radiation. The temperature decline and the full set of environmental effects are known as nuclear winter. This paper surveys the range of actions that can confront the threat of nuclear winter, both now and in the future. Nuclear winter can be confronted by reducing the probability of nuclear war, reducing the environmental severity of nuclear winter, increasing humanity's resilience to nuclear winter, and through indirect interventions that enhance these other interventions. While some people may be able to help more than others, many people—perhaps everyone across the world—can make a difference. Likewise, the different opportunities available to different people suggests personalized evaluations of nuclear winter, and of catastrophic threats more generally, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach."

The next linked reference discusses the concept of employing isolated refuges to reduce the risk of human extinction:

Baum, Seth D., David C. Denkenberger, and Jacob Haqq-Misra. Isolated refuges for surviving global catastrophes. Futures, forthcoming, DOI 10.1016/j.futures.2015.03.009.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016328715000464

Abstract: "A variety of global catastrophes threaten the survival of human civilization. For many of these catastrophes, isolated refuges could keep some people alive and enable them to rebuild civilization in the post-catastrophe world. This paper examines the potential importance of refuges and what it would take to make them succeed. The successful refuge will have a variety of qualities, including isolation from catastrophes and self-sufficiency. These qualities can be achieved through a variety of specific design features. We introduce the concept of surface-independence as the gold standard for refuge excellence: refuges isolated from Earth's surface will offer maximum protection against both the catastrophe itself and potentially harmful post-catastrophe populations. However, surface-independence introduces significant design challenges. We present several challenges and evaluate possible solutions. Self-sufficiency in food provision can be greatly enhanced via chemical food synthesis. The rejection of waste heat from subterranean refuges can be enhanced via building piping networks and locating refuges near running groundwater or in ice. The high cost of extraterrestrial refuges can be offset by integrating refuges into space missions with scientific, political, or commercial goals. Overall, refuges show much promise for protecting civilization against global catastrophes and thus warrant serious consideration."


“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2015, 03:24:18 AM »
For those interested in the details of existential risk, the first link/reference leads to a handbook on such potential global catastrophes:

Baum, Seth D. and Anthony M. Barrett. The most extreme risks: Global catastrophes. In Vicki Bier (editor), The Gower Handbook of Extreme Risk. Farnham, UK: Gower, forthcoming.

The second linked reference elaborates on the risk of mass human starvation following a global catastrophe:

Denkenberger, David C. and Joshua M. Pearce. (2015), Feeding everyone: Solving the food crisis in event of global catastrophes that kill crops or obscure the sun. Futures, DOI 10.1016/j.futures.2014.11.008.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016328714001931

Abstract: "Mass human starvation is currently likely if global agricultural production is dramatically reduced for several years following a global catastrophe, e.g. super volcanic eruption, asteroid or comet impact, nuclear winter, abrupt climate change, super weed, extirpating crop pathogen, super bacterium, or super crop pest. This study summarizes the severity and probabilities of such scenarios, and provides an order of magnitude technical analysis comparing caloric requirements of all humans for 5 years with conversion of existing vegetation and fossil fuels to edible food. Here we present mechanisms for global-scale conversion including natural gas-digesting bacteria, extracting food from leaves, and conversion of fiber by enzymes, mushroom or bacteria growth, or a two-step process involving partial decomposition of fiber by fungi and/or bacteria and feeding them to animals such as beetles, ruminants (cattle, sheep, etc.), rats and chickens. We perform an analysis to determine the ramp rates for each option and the results show that careful planning and global cooperation could maintain humanity and the bulk of biodiversity."

The third linked reference addresses the challenge of deterring nuclear winter:

Baum, Seth D., 2015. Winter-safe deterrence: The risk of nuclear winter and its challenge to deterrence. Contemporary Security Policy, vol. 36, no. 1 (April), pages 123-148, DOI 10.1080/13523260.2015.1012346.

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13523260.2015.1012346#.VZnYKaPn9Ms

Abstract: "A new line of nuclear winter research shows that even small, regional nuclear wars could have catastrophic global consequences. However, major disarmament to avoid nuclear winter goes against the reasons nuclear weapon states have for keeping their weapons in the first place, in particular deterrence. To reconcile these conflicting aims, this paper develops the concept of winter-safe deterrence, defined as military force capable of meeting the deterrence goals of today's nuclear weapon states without risking catastrophic nuclear winter. This paper analyses nuclear winter risk, finding a winter-safe limit of about 50 nuclear weapons total worldwide. This paper then evaluates a variety of candidate weapons for winter-safe deterrence. Non-contagious biological weapons (such as anthrax or ricin), neutron bombs detonated at altitude, and nuclear electromagnetic weapons show the most promise. Each weapon has downsides, and the paper's analysis is only tentative, but winter-safe deterrence does appear both feasible and desirable given the urgency of nuclear winter risk."

The fourth linked reference evaluates the existential risks associated with the use of new technologies such as geoengineering and AI:

Baum, Seth D., 2014. The great downside dilemma for risky emerging technologies. Physica Scripta, vol. 89, no. 12 (December), article 128004, DOI 10.1088/0031-8949/89/12/128004.

http://iopscience.iop.org/1402-4896/89/12/128004/

Abstract: "Some emerging technologies promise to significantly improve the human condition, but come with a risk of failure so catastrophic that human civilization may not survive. This article discusses the great downside dilemma posed by the decision of whether or not to use these technologies. The dilemma is: use the technology, and risk the downside of catastrophic failure, or do not use the technology, and suffer through life without it. Historical precedents include the first nuclear weapon test and messaging to extraterrestrial intelligence. Contemporary examples include stratospheric geoengineering, a technology under development in response to global warming, and artificial general intelligence, a technology that could even take over the world. How the dilemma should be resolved depends on the details of each technology's downside risk and on what the human condition would otherwise be. Meanwhile, other technologies do not pose this dilemma, including sustainable design technologies, nuclear fusion power, and space colonization. Decisions on all of these technologies should be made with the long-term interests of human civilization in mind. This paper is part of a series of papers based on presentations at the Emerging Technologies and the Future of Humanity event held at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences on 17 March 2014."

The fifth linked reference addresses the combined risks of global environmental threats and threats to human civilization:

Baum, Seth D. and Itsuki C. Handoh, 2014. Integrating the planetary boundaries and global catastrophic risk paradigms. Ecological Economics, vol. 107 (November), pages 13-21, DOI 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2014.07.024.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800914002262

Abstract: "Planetary boundaries (PBs) and global catastrophic risk (GCR) have emerged in recent years as important paradigms for understanding and addressing global threats to humanity and the environment. This article compares the PBs and GCR paradigms and integrates them into a unified PBs-GCR conceptual framework, which we call Boundary Risk for Humanity and Nature (BRIHN). PBs emphasizes global environmental threats, whereas GCR emphasizes threats to human civilization. Both paradigms rate their global threats as top priorities for humanity but lack precision on key aspects of the impacts of the threats. Our integrated BRIHN framework combines elements from both paradigms' treatments of uncertainty and impacts. The BRIHN framework offers PBs a means of handling human impacts and offers GCR a theoretically precise definition of global catastrophe. The BRIHN framework also offers a concise stage for telling a stylized version of the story of humanity and nature co-evolving from the distant past to the present to multiple possible futures. The BRIHN framework is illustrated using the case of disruptions to the global phosphorus biogeochemical cycle."


“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2015, 03:35:36 AM »
The following linked article (and associated images) discusses the risk of the depletion of nonrenewable natural resources (NNRs) contributing to the potential collapse of the global socio-economic system (sometime after 2050):
Christopher Clugston (2015), "POPULATION, IMMIGRATION, AND THE GLOBAL FUTURE - Humanity vs. Nature—Winner Take All!", Free Inquiry, vol 35 issue 4.

https://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php/articles/7497


Extract: " Ladies and Gentlemen: In this corner, we have Homo sapiens, the ingenious species that currently dominates Earth’s planetary ecosystem and that, owing to its ever-increasing utilization of finite and non-replenishing nonrenewable natural resources (NNRs), has increased extraordinarily both its population level and material living standards since the inception of its industrial revolution.
And in this corner, we have Nature, impartial keeper of the natural order, the inviolable laws governing the biogeochemical processes and phenomena that enable all of existence, including human existence.



Humanity’s fate was sealed during the eighteenth century with the advent of industrialism; the NNR genie had been released from the bottle and could not be put back. We remained oblivious to our fate throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by misconstruing our windfall of temporary NNR abundance as permanent NNR sufficiency.

Should currently declining global prosperity growth trajectories persist going forward, both global economic output and global material living standards will peak and enter terminal decline prior to mid-century.

Were we truly the wise species that the name Homo sapiens implies, we would understand that our recent era of vigorously increasing global prosperity27 was enabled by temporarily abundant and affordable supplies of finite and non-replenishing NNRs, most of which are now becoming increasingly scarce and expensive.
….
We would also understand that our persistent global economic malaise, increasing global political instability, and escalating global social unrest are merely symptoms and manifestations of faltering global prosperity, which is a consequence of ever-increasing global NNR scarcity.
We could then refrain from wasting additional time and resources pursuing irrelevant economic, political, and social “fixes” to our geologically based predicament. Rather, we could focus our energies on optimizing our species’ inevitable transition to a sustainable lifestyle paradigm.28
Regrettably, because it is inconceivable to us that continuously decreasing NNR quality (Nature) will ultimately triumph over human ingenuity, we will fail to acknowledge these inconvenient truths. We will not, therefore, mitigate voluntarily our unsustainable natural resource utilization behavior, much less eliminate it entirely.
Rather, we will intensify our exploitation of fossil fuels, metals, and nonmetallic minerals in order to perpetuate our industrial lifestyle paradigm for as long as possible, unravel as described above, and bring about our global societal collapse—almost certainly by the year 2050.29
Paradoxically, the more vigorously we strive to perpetuate our unsustainable industrialized way of life through ever-increasing NNR utilization, the more quickly and thoroughly we will deplete Earth’s remaining NNR and RNR reserves, thereby hastening and exacerbating our global societal collapse."


Caption for first Attachment: "Figure 1. 1800–2008 U.S. NNR utilization and GDP"

Caption for second Attachment: "Table 1. Annual global NNR production (metric tons unless otherwise specified"

Caption for third attachment: "Figure 2. Historical global prosperity growth trajectories"


Caption for fourth attachment: "Figure 3. Projected global prosperity growth trajectories"

See also: Beyond Agnostic Secular Humanism:

http://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php/articles/category/freeinquiry
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2015, 03:40:37 AM »
With continuing population growth the first linked article discusses the conflict between what is acceptable socio-economically and what is physically possible:

Richard Heinberg (2015), "POPULATION, IMMIGRATION, AND THE GLOBAL FUTURE - Two Realities", Free Inquiry, vol 35 issue 4

https://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php/articles/7498

Extract: "Our contemporary world is host to two coexisting but fundamentally different—and, in at least one crucial respect, contradictory—realities. One of these might be termed political reality, though it extends far beyond formal politics and pervades conventional economic thinking. It is the bounded universe of what is acceptable in public economic-social-political discourse. The other is physical reality: that is to say, what exists in terms of energy and materials and what is possible given the laws of thermodynamics.
For decades, these two realities have developed along separate lines. They overlap from time to time: politicians and economists use data tied to measurable physical parameters, while physical scientists often frame their research and findings in socially meaningful ways. But in intent and effect, the two realities diverge to an ever-greater extent.
The issue at which they differ to the point of outright contradiction is economic growth. And climate change forces the question."

The second linked article discusses the population trends:

http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20150602/GZ04/150609933

Extract: "Every day, 210,000 new people are added to the planet. The total is projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050.
Overpopulation is a far-reaching crisis. More humans make more pollution, more erosion, more destruction of forests, more extinction of wildlife, more depletion of natural resources, more intrusion onto cropland, more toxic waste, more poverty, more slums, more immigration conflicts — and more burning of fossil fuels, which spurs global warming that causes hurricanes, floods, droughts, twisters, wildfires, tropical diseases and other ills.
Oddly, scientists and leaders rarely mention population peril. Maybe they don’t want to affront people by implying that they should bear fewer children, or affront the huge Catholic Church, which teaches that birth control is sinful.
Population problems of many sorts are outlined in the latest Free Inquiry magazine. Some examples:
•  “About half of the world’s tropical forests have been cleared already. The United Nations estimates that 18 million acres of forest are lost every year.”
•  “The rate of plant and animal extinction is about 1,000 times higher than the natural rate . ... Other species ... are going extinct at the highest rate since the extinction that wiped out most dinosaurs 65 million years ago.”
•  “For most of Earth’s recent history, our atmosphere has contained about 275 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Today, we are at 400 ppm and climbing, a level that essentially locks in significant climate change ... . The increase of CO2 in the oceans is... the highest it has been in about 20 million years.”
•  “About 90 percent of the ocean’s population of large fish has been wiped out by overfishing and other human activity.”
•  “The Global Footprint Network ... estimates that we are overusing our renewable resource base by about 50 percent. By 2050, it estimates that we will need two Earths (which we don’t have) to sustain us for the long haul.”
Why don’t world leaders pay greater attention to this profound threat? International population control agencies exist, but rarely sound alarms.
Some of the problem lies in Third World lands where women have few rights and bear large numbers of children. As women gain more equality, their birthrates drop. The magazine concludes that the best approach lies in “elevating the status of women around the world and providing family planning services and education.”
We hope the world community sees the growing menace and pursues that cure."
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2015, 08:10:34 PM »
The linked reference (and associated image) discusses the likelihood that geoengineering may be implemented (which represents an existential risk):

Suvi Huttunen, Emmi Skytén & Mikael Hildén (November 25, 2014), "Emerging policy perspectives on geoengineering: An international comparison", The Anthropocene Review, doi: 10.1177/2053019614557958

http://anr.sagepub.com/content/2/1/14.abstract
or
http://anr.sagepub.com/content/2/1/14.full.pdf+html
Abstract: "Geoengineering evokes fears and hopes among the general public, media and scientists. Policy-makers thus face the dilemma of how to respond to this deeply controversial issue. In this paper we examine a wide variety of policy documents from different countries, international organizations and NGOs to gain insights into how geoengineering is perceived at the policy level. We use qualitative content analysis in order to determine specific aspects of framing of geoengineering: concerns and hopes to indicate risk perceptions and action proposals to account for directions in policy development. The policy documents contain a large variety of concerns, hopes and action proposals. Technical and risk-related issues dominate the concerns; the hopes express a wish for new solutions to climate change; and the action proposals emphasize the need for more research. Furthermore, there were clear differences between Anglo-American and German documents, indicating that international policy development on geoengineering will be a difficult task."
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2015, 10:07:39 PM »
While many in this forum focus on the reductions in coal use in China and the developed world, the following linked reference demonstrates that in the rest of the world coal use is experiencing a renaissance.  Unless the developed world helps the developing world how to avoid locking-in their current comment to coal; then the world may continue on an extreme RCP 8.5 pathway, with dire consequences to society.

Jan Christoph Steckel, et al (2015), "Drivers for the renaissance of coal", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, , DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1422722112



http://phys.org/news/2015-07-coal-renaissance-bad-news-greenhouse.html


Abstract: "Coal was central to the industrial revolution, but in the 20th century it increasingly was superseded by oil and gas. However, in recent years coal again has become the predominant source of global carbon emissions. We show that this trend of rapidly increasing coal-based emissions is not restricted to a few individual countries such as China. Rather, we are witnessing a global renaissance of coal majorly driven by poor, fast-growing countries that increasingly rely on coal to satisfy their growing energy demand. The low price of coal relative to gas and oil has played an important role in accelerating coal consumption since the end of the 1990s. In this article, we show that in the increasingly integrated global coal market the availability of a domestic coal resource does not have a statistically significant impact on the use of coal and related emissions. These findings have important implications for climate change mitigation: If future economic growth of poor countries is fueled mainly by coal, ambitious mitigation targets very likely will become infeasible. Building new coal power plant capacities will lead to lock-in effects for the next few decades. If that lock-in is to be avoided, international climate policy must find ways to offer viable alternatives to coal for developing countries."
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2015, 07:02:06 PM »
The linked article discusses other extreme climate change risks including potential methane releases from the Arctic Sea floor:


http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a36228/ballad-of-the-sad-climatologists-0815/

Extract: "The incident was small, but Jason Box doesn't want to talk about it.

On impulse, he sent out a tweet.
"If even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere, we're f'd."

First, the dirty secret of climate science and government climate policies is that they're all based on probabilities, which means that the effects of standard CO2 targets like an 80 percent reduction by 2050 are based on the middle of the probability curve. Box had ventured to the darker possibilities on the curve's tail, where few scientists and zero politicians are willing to go."
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2015, 06:11:17 AM »
Could this thread be better located in the 'Consequences'-section?
A quantity relates to a quantum like camel's back relates to camel's _______ ? (back, vertebra, vertebral tendon, spinal disc, paralysis)

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2015, 05:08:11 PM »
Could this thread be better located in the 'Consequences'-section?

As this thread is mostly about scientifically quantifying the probability of existential events (as the consequence of ending human existence on Earth is well understood), I think that this thread should stay in this Science folder.

Best,
ASLR
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2015, 05:21:46 PM »
It's part of a series and contains plenty of links to scientific research, and so I think it can stay here in this category.
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2015, 06:00:05 PM »
The linked large pdf document discusses twelve global existential threats which are: Extreme Climate Change; Nuclear War; Global Pandemic; Ecological Catastrophe; Global System Collapse; Major Asteroid; Super-volcano; Synthetic Biology; Nanotechnology; AI; Unknown Consequences; and Future Bad Global Governance.  As the extract below states, this information is not provided to depress people but rather to inspire action:

Global Challenges Foundation (2015), "Global Challenges – 12 Risks that threaten human civilization", Oxford

http://globalchallenges.org/wp-content/uploads/12-Risks-with-infinite-impact-full-report-1.pdf

Extract: "With such a focus it may surprise some readers to find that the report’s essential aim is to inspire action and dialogue as well as an increased use of the methodologies used for risk assessment. The real focus is not on the almost unimaginable impacts of the risks the report outlines. Its fundamental purpose is to encourage global collaboration and to use this new category of risk as a driver for innovation.

The idea that we face a number of global challenges threatening the very basis of our civilisation at the beginning of the 21st century is well accepted in the scientific community, and is studied at a number of leading universities.  However, there is still no coordinated approach to address this group of challenges and turn them into opportunities."

See also:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_catastrophic_risk
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2015, 06:18:30 PM »
Up until this year many experts in existential risk downgraded the risks of climate change compared to other such existential risks as nuclear war, etc.  However, the linked UK government report (see also the following The Guardian article), indicates that at least the UK government is willing to admit publically that governments must now look at the fat-tailed risk portion of the climate change PDF profile.  One particular risk that the UK government discusses is the risk of a climate change induced "failed state" (much like Afghanistan fueled 911); which, brings to my mind most prominently Bangladesh, which in my opinion could fail relatively quickly due to a few years of alternating floods (Ganges & Brahmaputra Rivers) and droughts, due to (ENSO related) fluctuations of the monsoons.  Bangladesh is critically situated next to the nearly failed states of Myanmar, Nepal (see Maoist guerrillas)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unified_Communist_Party_of_Nepal_(Maoist)

and several adjoining nearly failed states in India (also Maoist guerrillas, see the attached image):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Party_of_India_(Maoist)
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/13/world/asia/13maoists.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Such a development could entangle Communist China, Pakistan and India:

http://www.csap.cam.ac.uk/projects/climate-change-risk-assessment/
http://www.csap.cam.ac.uk/media/uploads/files/1/climate-change--a-risk-assessment-policy-brief-v3.pdf

Extract: "This report argues that the risks of climate change should be assessed in the same way as risks to national security, financial stability, or public health. That means we should concentrate especially on understanding what is the worst that could happen, and how likely that might be."

See also:
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/13/climate-change-threat-serious-as-nuclear-war-uk-minister
Extract: "Climate change threat must be taken as seriously as nuclear war – UK minister
In foreword to Foreign Office report, Baroness Joyce Anelay highlights holistic risks of global warming, including food security, terrorism and lethal heat levels

“The risks of state failure could rise significantly, affecting many countries simultaneously, and even threatening those that are currently considered developed and stable,” says the report. “The expansion of ungoverned territories would in turn increase the risks of terrorism.”
The report also assesses the systemic risk to global food supply, saying that rising extreme weather events could mean shocks to global food prices previously expected once a century could come every 30 years. “A plausible worst-case scenario could produce unprecedented price spikes on the global market, with a trebling of the prices of the worst-affected grains,” the report concludes.
The greatest risks are tipping points, the report finds, where the climate shifts rapidly into a new, dangerous phase state. But the report also states that political leadership, technology and investment patterns can also change abruptly too.
The report concludes: “The risks of climate change may be greater than is commonly realised, but so is our capacity to confront them. An honest assessment of risk is no reason for fatalism.”"
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2015, 08:54:08 PM »
The linked article indicates that corporate risk managers take Existential Risks seriously:

http://www.strategic-risk-global.com/risks-and-rewards-of-artificial-intelligence/1414744.article
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2015, 04:12:27 PM »
I note from the following links about the potential threats from using AI for warfare, that essentially no one is surprised to see that governments (who theoretically are created to protect us all) are the most likely catalyst to start such an AI arms race.  And as our current socio-economic system underpins our global governmental systems, we should not be surprised to realize that the actual greatest threat from AI comes from our own potential inability to regulate ourselves:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1196915/hawking-and-wozniak-warn-over-killer-robots

Extract: "A group of top tech leaders, including British scientist Stephen Hawking and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, on Tuesday issued a stern warning against the development of so-called killer robots.
Autonomous weapons, which use artificial intelligence (AI) to select targets without human intervention, have been described as “the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms,” wrote around 1,000 technology chiefs in an open letter.
“The key question for humanity today is whether to start a global AI arms race or to prevent it from starting,” they wrote.
“If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable,” the letter continued."


See also:
http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/stephen-hawking-fields-questions-artificial-intelligence-32714324

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/elon-musk-stephen-hawking-save-world-killer-robots/story?id=32711666

Extract: "Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking are among the leaders from the science and technology worlds calling for a ban on autonomous weapons, warning that weapons with a mind of their own "would not be beneficial for humanity."
Along with 1,000 other signatories, Musk and Hawking signed their names to an open letter that will be presented this week at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Buenos Aires, Argentina. "
Autonomous weapons are defined by the group as artillery that can "search for and eliminate people meeting certain pre-defined criteria, but do not include cruise missiles or remotely piloted drones for which humans make all targeting decisions."
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2015, 07:35:52 PM »
The linked web article is about climate change as an existential risk:

http://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2015/08/scientists-heighten-concerns-about-global-extinctions/
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #16 on: August 13, 2015, 11:39:40 PM »
The linked reference studies past mass extinctions of vertebrates and concludes that climate change is a significant reasons for such mass extinctions and that geographic range does not necessary confer species resilience against extinction.  This is not good news for mankind subjected to anthropogenic climate change:

Alexander M. Dunhill & Matthew A. Wills (2015), "Geographic range did not confer resilience to extinction in terrestrial vertebrates at the end-Triassic crisis", Nature Communications, Volume: 6, Article number: 7980, doi:10.1038/ncomms8980


http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2015/150811/ncomms8980/full/ncomms8980.html


Abstract: "Rates of extinction vary greatly through geological time, with losses particularly concentrated in mass extinctions. Species duration at other times varies greatly, but the reasons for this are unclear. Geographical range correlates with lineage duration amongst marine invertebrates, but it is less clear how far this generality extends to other groups in other habitats. It is also unclear whether a wide geographical distribution makes groups more likely to survive mass extinctions. Here we test for extinction selectivity amongst terrestrial vertebrates across the end-Triassic event. We demonstrate that terrestrial vertebrate clades with larger geographical ranges were more resilient to extinction than those with smaller ranges throughout the Triassic and Jurassic. However, this relationship weakened with increasing proximity to the end-Triassic mass extinction, breaking down altogether across the event itself. We demonstrate that these findings are not a function of sampling biases; a perennial issue in studies of this kind."
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #17 on: September 03, 2015, 10:26:23 PM »
The linked article argues that much of the existential risks associated with AI can readily be mitigated by embracing human adaption to cyborg technology (which is a point that I make in the thread on "Adapting to the Anthropocene":

http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/fuller20150904

Extract: "Nowadays, of course, matters have been complicated by the prospect of human and machine identities merging together. This goes beyond simply implanting silicon chips in one’s brain. Rather, it involves the complex migration and enhancement of human selves in cyberspace. (Sherry Turkle has been the premier ethnographer of this process in children.) That such developments are even possible points to a prospect that Bostrom refuses to consider, namely, that to be ‘human’ is to be only contingently located in the body of Homo sapiens. The name of our species – Homo sapiens – already gives away the game, because our distinguishing feature (so claimed Linnaeus) had nothing to do with our physical morphology but with the character of our minds. And might not such a ‘sapient’ mind better exist somewhere other than in the upright ape from which we have descended?
The prospects for transhumanism hang on the answer to this question. Aubrey de Grey’s indefinite life extension project is about Homo sapiens in its normal biological form. In contrast, Ray Kurzweil’s ‘singularity’ talk of uploading our consciousness into indefinitely powerful computers suggests a complete abandonment of the ordinary human body. The lesson taught by Langdon Winner’s historical account is that our primary existential risk does not come from alien annihilation but from what social psychologists call ‘adaptive preference formation’.
In other words, we come to want the sort of world that we think is most likely, simply because that offers us the greatest sense of security. Thus, the history of technology is full of cases in which humans have radically changed their lives to adjust to an innovation whose benefits they reckon outweigh the costs, even when both remain fundamentally incalculable. Success in the face such ‘existential risk’ is then largely a matter of whether people – perhaps of the following generation – have made the value shifts necessary to see the changes as positive overall. But of course, it does not follow that those who fail to survive the transition or have acquired their values before this transition would draw a similar conclusion."
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2015, 01:08:00 PM »
Given the linked article that UK scientists are applying for permission to directly edit human genes in embryos, can you imagine what scientists in China are already doing, and how far can we be from a genetic engineering arms race?

http://www.natureworldreport.com/2015/09/scientists-are-looking-to-edit-human-genes-in-embryos/

Extract: "Scientists in the United Kingdom are looking to delve into a new frontier: the direct editing of human genes in embryos. If the scientists are granted permission, it will mark the first time that a national regulatory body has granted such a request. Given the potentially incendiary nature of the request, however, it’s not a guarantee that permission will be granted."
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #19 on: September 25, 2015, 06:59:27 PM »
The linked article indicates that China's recent advances in advanced weaponry (particularly anti-satellite technology) increases the risk of armed conflict on Earth, thus increasing the existential risk to mankind:

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/policy-budget/warfare/2015/09/17/analysis-rand-says-us-facing-tough-fight-china/72304540/

Extract: "A new RAND report challenges the US military to rethink a war with China. The report examines US and Chinese military capabilities in 10 operational areas, producing a “scorecard” for each, from four years: 1996, 2003, 2010, and 2017. Each of the scorecards evaluates capabilities in the context of geography and distance, each of the scorecards evaluates capabilities in the context of two scenarios: a Taiwan invasion and a Spratly Islands campaign. These scenarios center on locations that lie roughly 160 km and 940 km, respectively, from the Chinese coastline.
The 430-page report, U.S.-China Military Scorecard: Forces, Geography, and the Evolving Balance of Power, 1997-2017, was written by 14 scholars, including RAND’s wargaming whiz David Shlapak; modeling and simulation specialist Jeff Hagen; Kyle Brady, formerly with Lawrence Livermore; and operations researcher Michael Nixon.
This report is about muscle and machines, not about policy and political issues. This is an objective ‘where the rubber meets the road’ analysis that looks at China’s capabilities at clobbering US air bases in the region, sinking US aircraft carriers with new anti-ship ballistic missiles, and turning American spy and communication satellites into space junk.
The scorecard format with analysis gives the reader a sports-like feel for how bad things can go for the US military in a conflict with China. The 10 scorecards each address relative US and Chinese capabilities in a specific operational areas: air (1-4), maritime (5-6), space, cyber, and nuclear (7-10)."

See also:
http://www.sldinfo.com/the-next-round-of-the-military-competition-considering-non-nuclear-strategic-technologies/
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

sidd

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #20 on: September 26, 2015, 09:14:04 AM »
Rand is a direct beneficiary of jingoism, adept at fanning flames. Anything by them, going back to the sixties, is quite instructive if you keep in mind "Qui bono?"

As is this article. McD-D, Lockmart, GenDyn,GE, Halliburton.... their saliva dripping is almost audible

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #21 on: September 26, 2015, 04:29:47 PM »
Rand is a direct beneficiary of jingoism, adept at fanning flames. Anything by them, going back to the sixties, is quite instructive if you keep in mind "Qui bono?"

As is this article. McD-D, Lockmart, GenDyn,GE, Halliburton.... their saliva dripping is almost audible


sidd,

The RAND Corp. may benefit from fear mongering; however, more level-headed news outlets like the following Scientific American article are warning of the increasing risk of space-based war:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-we-on-the-cusp-of-war-mdash-in-space/

Extract: "The world's most worrisome military flash point is arguably not in the Taiwan Strait, the Korean peninsula, Iran, Israel, Kashmir or Ukraine. In fact, it cannot be located on any globe. The contested territory? The no-man's-land of Earth's orbit, where a conflict is unfolding that is an arms race in all but name."

Best, ASLR
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #22 on: October 28, 2015, 06:34:02 PM »
It has been repeatedly pointed out that climate change will increase human refuges in the coming decades; which will not only put more pressure on the receiving nations and the international community at large; but which will also dramatically increase international terrorism.  To me it is clear that this increase in international distress will strengthen the hands of the various international intelligence communities (currently dominated by US intelligence agencies).  The first linked article presents discussion about the current plan to reshape the US intelligence community to hopefully better address the increasing risks.

The second link article presents an open access de-classified analysis of a Dec 22 1963 article in the Washington Post written by ex-President Harry S. Truman criticizing the covert operations conducted under the direction of the then CIA Director Allen Dulles.  In that article Truman indicated that the then CIA set policy beyond the normal control of the rest of the federal government.

The third & fourth links discuss David Talbot's new book; which provides evidence that during the Cold War the US intelligence community (& particularly the CIA its then Director Allen Dulles) repeatedly ran covert operations beyond democratic oversight thus effectively establishing shadow policy.

It is my concern here that with the increasing importance of information & with climate change increasingly creating international distress; that the associated increasing power of the various international intelligence communities will themselves create an existential risk by helping to create future policy states that will lock the world into Big Brother like survival of the fittest type behavior that would paralyze our ability to effectively address the collapsing environment:

The first link discusses current efforts to reshape the US intelligence community (focused on the CIA) to better address international terrorism:

https://www.stratfor.com/weekly/reshaping-modern-intelligence-community

Extract: "It is true that, as with most organizations, the intelligence community's problem-solving structure could partly be explained by history. Figures from the World War II-era Office of Strategic Services were incorporated into the newly formed Directorate of Operations, bringing with them the experience of and capabilities to conduct covert action; the bureaucratic empire building of J. Edgar Hoover kept the CIA on a tight leash whenever the FBI's interest were implicated; and so on. But the history itself could also be explained by the ideas it represented, for that's what history often is: Institutions and individuals working out the ideas they come to take for granted. In the intelligence community, these ideas were manifested in the form of several antinomies:
1.   The division between the public and private sectors.
2.   The separation between the domestic and the international.
3.   The different rules we apply to law enforcement and intelligence operations.
4.   The different reliance we place on secret and open sources.
5.   The distinction between intelligence collection and analysis.
6.   The different roles of the intelligence producer and consumer.
And although these antinomies enabled the U.S. intelligence services to successfully navigate the challenges of the Cold War, they also directly led to the failures of 9/11 and Iraq.
A New Organization for a New Threat
While some critics have described the reforms announced in March as mere bureaucratic reshuffling, they are in fact an effort to overcome the difficulties imposed by these antinomies as we confront a new international reality.
The key reform is the creation of "mission centers," each led by an assistant director, that are not linked to any particular directorate. These centers will be organized around regions, such as Africa or East Asia, and functions or threats, like counterterrorism or WMD. Indeed, it is telling that the current National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) is the model for the new mission centers, because global market state terror is a phenomenon that most challenges the six sets of ideas listed above. Market state terrorists outsource their activities, merging the private and public spheres; they operate across borders, unconfined by any particular territory, blurring the lines between the domestic and the international; they commit crimes to further their political goals, often depending on criminal activity for their operations; their groups are difficult to penetrate but advertise themselves relentlessly in the media, including social media; the threat they pose requires close collaboration between intelligence producers and consumers who confront it, because typical intelligence customers can't be relied upon to ask for information in such novel and unpredictable circumstances; and they cannot be defeated if analysts remain in the dark about the sources of their information and if collectors are not constrained to gather information that is useful to analysts.
The Directorate of Intelligence (which will be renamed the Directorate of Analysis) and the National Clandestine Service (which will revert to its old name, the Directorate for Operations) will mainly function as talent pools, recruiting and training personnel to be deployed in the mission centers. Each center will have a team of analysts and operators working side by side and responsibility for espionage, analysis and covert action within its assigned mission area.
In addition to trying to enhance collaboration and achieve greater structural coherence, another important objective of the reorganization is to create accountability through the assistant directors. Currently, there is no single person the CIA director can call upon to summarize threats, future trends and current operations in any particular area outside the NCTC and counterintelligence."


The following linked pdf addresses Harry Truman's December 22, 1963 article on Covert CIA Operations:

http://media.nara.gov/dc-metro/rg-263/6922330/Box-7-89-4/263-a1-27-box-7-89-4.pdf

The following two linked articles address David Talbot's new book about how during the Cold War the US intelligence community acted independently of democratic controls:

http://www.motherjones.com/media/2015/10/book-review-devils-chessboard-david-talbot

Extract: ""What follows," David Talbot boasts in the prologue to his new book The Devil's Chessboard, "is an espionage adventure that is far more action-packed and momentous than any spy tale with which readers are familiar." Talbot, the founder of Salon.com and author of the Kennedy clan study Brothers, doesn't deal in subtlety in his biography of Allen Dulles, the CIA director under presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, the younger brother of Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, and the architect of a secretive national security apparatus that functioned as essentially an autonomous branch of government. Talbot offers a portrait of a black-and-white Cold War-era world full of spy games and nuclear brinkmanship, in which everyone is either a good guy or a bad guy. Dulles—who deceived American elected leaders and overthrew foreign ones, who backed ex-Nazis and thwarted left-leaning democrats—falls firmly in the latter camp."

https://consortiumnews.com/2015/10/27/checkmate-on-the-devils-chessboard/

Extract: "Since the end of World War II, what some call the “deep state” has taken hold of the American Republic, stripping the citizens of meaningful control over national security issues, with CIA Director Allen Dulles playing a key early role, according to David Talbot’s new biography …"
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2016, 03:47:28 PM »
Per the linked articles: (a) Climate cause catastrophes will be the biggest threat to the global economy in 2016; and (b) the next big threat to the Western Hemisphere is diseases spread by insects, often due to expanded habitats associated with climate change.  For many years policymakers have given climate change low priorities while they dealt with other problems, but now the chickens are coming home to roost.  By 2050 such threats could approach existential concern.

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jan/14/climate-change-disaster-is-biggest-threat-to-global-economy-in-2016-say-experts

Extract: "A catastrophe caused by climate change is seen as the biggest potential threat to the global economy in 2016, according to a survey of 750 experts conducted by the World Economic Forum."

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/01/13/diseases-proliferate-mosquitoes-becoming-public-enemy-no-1/78755284/

Extract: "Diseases spread by insects "are the next big threat to the Western Hemisphere, including the U.S.," said Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston."
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
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Shared Humanity

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #24 on: January 16, 2016, 06:06:19 PM »
I will go on record to say that at least 6 billion people are confronting Anthropogenic Existential Risk. You could argue for several hundred million more or less either way but whose counting when the numbers get that small. ;)  I still don't believe the species is facing this risk.

The hundreds of millions who make it through this winnowing will be experiencing an unrecognizably different way of life.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2016, 06:12:34 PM by Shared Humanity »

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #25 on: January 17, 2016, 05:28:08 PM »
I will go on record to say that at least 6 billion people are confronting Anthropogenic Existential Risk. You could argue for several hundred million more or less either way but whose counting when the numbers get that small. ;)  I still don't believe the species is facing this risk.

The hundreds of millions who make it through this winnowing will be experiencing an unrecognizably different way of life.


I concur, and I put some information on what those surviving the winnowing process can expect in the "Adapting to the Anthropocene" thread at the following link:

http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,1308.100.html
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #26 on: January 19, 2016, 07:25:46 PM »
The linked article provides Stephen Hawking's opinion that humans need to be very careful over the next 100 years if we are to control existential risk:

http://mashable.com/2016/01/19/stephen-hawking-end-of-the-world/#JmMhEJ9A3PqS

Extract: "Humans have to be "very careful" over the next 100 years in the face of threats stemming from progress in science and technology, physicist Stephen Hawking said.
The 74-year-old Cambridge professor made the comments in an interview with the Radio Times in response to a question about whether the world would end naturally or be destroyed by humans."
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #27 on: January 23, 2016, 08:20:51 PM »
The linked article (see link to the author's pdf) cites the probability that the main reason that we have not found advanced aliens yet is that advance alien life is subject to existential risk associated with biology habitability (including climate change):

Chopra A. & Lineweaver CH. (January 2016), "The Case for a Gaian Bottleneck: The Biology of Habitability", Astrobiology, 16(1):7-22; doi:10.1089/ast.2015.1387

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/ast.2015.1387

http://adi.life/pubs/ChopraLineweaver2016.pdf


Abstract: "The prerequisites and ingredients for life seem to be abundantly available in the Universe. However, the Universe does not seem to be teeming with life. The most common explanation for this is a low probability for the emergence of life (an emergence bottleneck), notionally due to the intricacies of the molecular recipe. Here, we present an alternative Gaian bottleneck explanation: If life emerges on a planet, it only rarely evolves quickly enough to regulate greenhouse gases and albedo, thereby maintaining surface temperatures compatible with liquid water and habitability. Such a Gaian bottleneck suggests that (i) extinction is the cosmic default for most life that has ever emerged on the surfaces of wet rocky planets in the Universe and (ii) rocky planets need to be inhabited to remain habitable. In the Gaian bottleneck model, the maintenance of planetary habitability is a property more associated with an unusually rapid evolution of biological regulation of surface volatiles than with the luminosity and distance to the host star."
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #28 on: January 26, 2016, 07:58:02 PM »
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, announce that it is 3 minutes until midnight:

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/doomsday-clock-time-adjusted-show-close-apocalypse/story?id=36524149

Extract: "Last year, scientists announced the clock moved from "five minutes to midnight" to "three minutes to midnight" due to climate change and "extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity" by the modernization of nuclear weapon arsenals.
This year's time considered tensions between the United States and Russia and the recent North Korean nuclear test, the Bulletin said …"

See also:
http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/still-three-minutes-to-midnight

Extract: "This year, we’ve decided not to move the clock either forward or backward. It will remain set at 11:57—three minutes to midnight. The fact that the clock’s hands aren’t moving isn’t good news. It’s an expression of grave concern about how the global situation remains largely the same. The last time the clock was this close to midnight was in 1983—the height of the Cold War."
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #29 on: May 01, 2016, 05:32:56 PM »
The linked article discusses the high probability coming climate shock to our food system:

https://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/food-system-shock-climate-changes-greatest-threat-to-civilization

Extract: "The greatest threat of climate change to civilization over the next 40 years is likely to be climate change-amplified extreme droughts and floods hitting multiple major global grain-producing "breadbaskets" simultaneously. A "Food System Shock" report issued in 2015 by insurance giant Lloyds of London outlined a plausible extreme shock to global food production that could cause rioting, terrorist attacks, civil war, mass starvation and severe losses to the global economy. Their scenario, which Lloyds gave uncomfortably high odds of occurring--significantly higher than 0.5% per year, which works out to at least an 18% chance of occurrence in the next 40 years--goes like this:

A strong El Niño event develops in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Severe drought typical of El Niño hits India, eastern and southeastern Australia and Southeast Asia, causing the following crop losses (note that wheat, rice and corn make up over 50% of all agricultural production world-wide):

India (world's #1 rice and #7 wheat exporter): wheat -11%, rice -18%
Vietnam (world's #2 rice exporter): rice -20%
Australia (world's #3 wheat exporter): wheat -50%
Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines: rice -6% to -10%

Historic flooding hits Mississippi and Missouri rivers, reducing production of corn in the U.S. by 27%, soybeans by 19% and wheat by 7%. Nepal, Bangladesh, northeastern India and Pakistan see large crop losses due to torrential rainfall, flooding and landslides, with Pakistan losing 10% of their wheat crop."
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

Shared Humanity

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #30 on: May 01, 2016, 09:19:35 PM »
"Let them eat cake."   :o

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #31 on: June 18, 2016, 06:15:25 PM »
The linked essay by Naomi Klein addresses the "violence of othering in a warming world".  In my opinion the violent streak in human nature to promote suffering in others in changing circumstances represents an existential risk as global warming continues.  The attached image shows the very tight correlation between US drone strikes and the 200 mm aridity line in North Africa & the Middle East, where outward expansion of this line due to global warming represents a line of suffering for local inhabitants that radical organizations take advantage of to promote violence that resulting in reactionary drone strikes.  In the extreme extension of this line of violence breeds violence cause and effect, with increasing world terrorist activity the US GOP led congress might declare war on selected "terrorist organizations" (e.g. ISIS/ISIL/IS, etc.), which would grant them the power of military law to deal with whomever they wish in a violent "othering" fashion that could rapidly escalate into violence around the world:

Naomi Klein (June 2016), "Let Them Drown - The Violence of Othering in a Warming World", London Review of Books, Vol. 38 No. 11 · 2, pages 11-14


http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n11/naomi-klein/let-them-drown

Extract associate with attached image: "When you map the targets of Western drone strikes onto the region, you see that ‘many of these attacks – from South Waziristan through northern Yemen, Somalia, Mali, Iraq, Gaza and Libya – are directly on or close to the 200 mm aridity line.’ The red dots on the map above represent some of the areas where strikes have been concentrated. To me this is the most striking attempt yet to visualise the brutal landscape of the climate crisis."

Edit: I am particularly concerned about the expansion of the 200 mm aridity line into the Indian Subcontinent with its large concentration of agriculturally dependent populations.
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

TerryM

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #32 on: June 18, 2016, 09:57:24 PM »
ASLR


This is probably not the correct thread for the following, however. I'd like to ask for your worst case scenario for sea level rise within a 20 to 40 year timeframe.
The region I'm focusing on is the Maya Riviera in the Yucatan Peninsula. A friend is in the planning stage for a very small, very upscale, off-grid community, & had asked if 20 m elevation would be adequate. I'd replied that ~80 m of sea level rise should be expected eventually, but that I had no idea of the timeline.
He has some interesting solar & bio-methane ideas that might work, if he stays above high tides & storm surge. ;>)


Thanks
Terry

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #33 on: June 19, 2016, 01:48:39 AM »
I'd like to ask for your worst case scenario for sea level rise within a 20 to 40 year timeframe.
The region I'm focusing on is the Maya Riviera in the Yucatan Peninsula. A friend is in the planning stage for a very small, very upscale, off-grid community, & had asked if 20 m elevation would be adequate. I'd replied that ~80 m of sea level rise should be expected eventually, but that I had no idea of the timeline.


Terry,

The worse projection that I have seen for global SLR in the next 20 to 40 years is no more than 3m, as cited by the non-scientist NOAA administrator in the linked article:

http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2016/04/12/405089.htm

Storm surge is typically less than 7m, and allow 1m for tides and 1.5m for wave run-up, gives a worse case of roughly 12.5m +/- 1m (to allow to regional uncertainties) by 2060.  So in that timeframe 20m above mean sea level should be fine (unless the local socio-economic system breaks down in Mexico under such an extreme scenario).

Best,
ASLR
« Last Edit: June 19, 2016, 03:00:57 AM by AbruptSLR »
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #34 on: June 19, 2016, 02:41:36 AM »
   \\\terry .. other factors can comr into play sooner . A small rise in SL affects river outflow and then river management may force flooding further and further upstream , Here in Northern Ireland we had flooding which affected local roads for weeks and I live above 50m and over 100 km from the sea ! The problem was flood management exaccerbated by the rising sea level already . Yucatan much more prone to flooding I would guess .
                        Be C .
be the cause of only good
and love all beings as you should
and the 'God' of all Creation
will .. through you .. transform all nations :)

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #35 on: June 19, 2016, 04:20:06 AM »
Thank you both very much. I'll pass on the information & hope that his project gets off the ground.
Terry

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #36 on: June 19, 2016, 01:05:59 PM »
Hi Terry,
Does "very upscale" mean spending much time and money on bathroom tiles etc or on growing a large perennial food and medicinal forest with as much biodiversity included as possible?

If bathroom tiles are what is important then I interpret the project as some of the rich who understand the impacts of CO2 are  willing to put their continued minuscule comforts above the lives of everyone and every living plant and animal.

TerryM

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #37 on: June 19, 2016, 07:55:21 PM »
OSu
Unfortunately I believe the ornate tile adoring crowd is his target demographic.
That said, it's the 1% who have by far the largest carbon footprint. A 10% reduction in their excessive consumption could be the equivalent of an 80% reduction from a member of the rapidly shrinking American middle class, or it might equate to all the energy used by a fairly substantial number of the poor in Africa.
Although it may not serve our sense of justice, even a very modest reduction by the most egregious consumers might do more for the planet than draconian measures taken by say a village in Bangladesh.
In a perfect world everyone would share the burden equally. We don't live in a perfect world.
Terry

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #38 on: July 16, 2016, 04:22:53 PM »
An overview article on extinction risks that declines to consider the role of climate change and of overshoot:

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/07/here-s-how-world-could-end-and-what-we-can-do-about-it

Extract: "Scholars who ponder such things think a self-induced catastrophe such as nuclear war or a bioengineered pandemic is most likely to do us in. However, a number of other extreme natural hazards—including threats from space and geologic upheavals here on Earth—could still derail life as we know it, unraveling advanced civilization, wiping out billions of people, or potentially even exterminating our species.

Yet there’s been surprisingly little research on the subject, says Anders Sandberg, a catastrophe researcher at the University of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute in the United Kingdom. Last he checked, “there are more papers about dung beetle reproduction than human extinction,” he says. “We might have our priorities slightly wrong.”

Our only hope of surviving them is a fallback plan. And the bottom line in that plan is food.
At least two scientists have already sketched out a blueprint. In their 2015 book Feeding Everyone No Matter What, David Denkenberger and Joshua Pearce propose several ways to feed billions of people without the help of the sun."
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #39 on: September 11, 2016, 08:37:04 PM »
The two linked articles discuss existential risks to our modern civilization, citing a worse than  50-50 percent chance that we will not experience a socio-economic collapse before 2100:

http://thebulletin.org/how-likely-existential-catastrophe9866

Extract: "In the past few decades, the number of existential risk scenarios has risen, and it will likely rise even more this century. Consider that only 72 years ago, prior to the first atomic bomb exploding in the New Mexico desert, Homo sapiens faced only a handful of existential risks—all of them natural—including asteroid and comet impacts, supervolcanic eruptions, and global pandemics. Today the situation is quite different: Anthropogenic risks such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and nuclear weapons now haunt our species. In addition, a swarm of emerging risks hover on the horizon: an engineered pandemic, a war involving nanotech weapons, self-replicating nanobots, geoengineering, and artificial superintelligence. If this trend continues into the future, we should expect even more existential risk scenarios before the 22nd century.

The increasing number of risk scenarios suggests that the overall probability of disaster may have risen as well. The more landmines placed in a field, the more likely one is to step in the wrong place. According to the best estimates available, the probability of a doomsday catastrophe has indeed increased over the same period of time. For example, an informal survey of 19 experts conducted by the Future of Humanity Institute in 2008 yielded a 19 percent chance of human extinction this century. And Sir Martin Rees, co-founder of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at Cambridge University, argues that civilization has no better than a 50-50 chance of making it through the 21st century intact. These estimates are far higher than the probability of doom brought about by any natural phenomenon before the Atomic Age."


Also, the second linked article discusses how the US Director of National Intelligence cites climate change as underlying coming unpredictable instability:

https://climateandsecurity.org/2016/09/09/intelligence-director-on-climate-as-underlying-meta-driver-of-unpredictable-instability/

Extract: "Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, recently addressed the 2016 INSA & AFCEA Intelligence & National Security Summit. He spoke specifically to national intelligence during a time of transition between administrations, and how looking out at potential future failures and collapses over the coming decades, climate change will be “an underlying meta-driver of unpredictable instability.”"
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #40 on: September 28, 2016, 12:46:38 AM »
In order to reduce existential risk, Elon Musk believes that we could have a one million person colony on Mars by 2060:

http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/elon-musk-makes-his-case-colonizing-mars-n655641

Extract: "If everything goes according to plan, Musk has said the first human mission could launch as early as 2024.

See also:

http://qz.com/793646/elon-musk-lays-out-his-vision-for-colonizing-mars-with-spacex-rocketry/

Extract: "“There’s a lot of people in the private sector who are interested in helping fund a base on Mars, and perhaps there will be interest on the government sector side to do that,” he said. “Ultimately, this is going to be a huge public-private partnership, and that’s how the United States was established, and many other countries around the world.”"
« Last Edit: September 28, 2016, 12:56:52 AM by AbruptSLR »
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AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #41 on: October 05, 2016, 05:00:43 PM »
The linked reference concludes that: "Our finding highlights that heat-susceptible symbionts can be the “Achilles’ heel” of symbiont-dependent organisms under climate change conditions."  When extended to include not only insects, but other animals and vegetation such heat-susceptible symbionts likely poses an existential risk if we continue warming at a rate that the symbionts cannot adapt to:


Yoshitomo Kikuchi, Akiyo Tada, Dmitry L. Musolin, Nobuhiro Hari, Takahiro Hosokawa, Kenji Fujisaki & Takema Fukatsu (4 October 2016), "Collapse of Insect Gut Symbiosis under Simulated Climate Change", mBio vol. 7 no. 5 e01578-16; , doi: 10.1128/mBio.01578-16

http://mbio.asm.org/content/7/5/e01578-16

Abstract: "Global warming impacts diverse organisms not only directly but also indirectly via other organisms with which they interact. Recently, the possibility that elevated temperatures resulting from global warming may substantially affect biodiversity through disrupting mutualistic/parasitic associations has been highlighted. Here we report an experimental demonstration that global warming can affect a pest insect via suppression of its obligate bacterial symbiont. The southern green stinkbug Nezara viridula depends on a specific gut bacterium for its normal growth and survival. When the insects were reared inside or outside a simulated warming incubator wherein temperature was controlled at 2.5°C higher than outside, the insects reared in the incubator exhibited severe fitness defects (i.e., retarded growth, reduced size, yellowish body color, etc.) and significant reduction of symbiont population, particularly in the midsummer season, whereas the insects reared outside did not. Rearing at 30°C or 32.5°C resulted in similar defective phenotypes of the insects, whereas no adult insects emerged at 35°C. Notably, experimental symbiont suppression by an antibiotic treatment also induced similar defective phenotypes of the insects, indicating that the host’s defective phenotypes are attributable not to the heat stress itself but to the suppression of the symbiont population induced by elevated temperature. These results strongly suggest that high temperature in the midsummer season negatively affects the insects not directly but indirectly via the heat-vulnerable obligate bacterial symbiont, which highlights the practical relevance of mutualism collapse in this warming world.
IMPORTANCE Climate change is among the biggest environmental issues in the contemporary world, and its impact on the biodiversity and ecosystem is not only of scientific interest but also of practical concern for the general public. On the basis of our laboratory data obtained under strictly controlled environmental conditions and our simulated warming data obtained in seminatural settings (elevated 2.5°C above the normal temperature), we demonstrate here that Nezara viridula, the notorious stinkbug pest, suffers serious fitness defects in the summer season under the simulated warming conditions, wherein high temperature acts on the insect not directly but indirectly via suppression of its obligate gut bacterium. Our finding highlights that heat-susceptible symbionts can be the “Achilles’ heel” of symbiont-dependent organisms under climate change conditions."
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

sidd

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #42 on: October 05, 2016, 08:33:27 PM »
The article on climate change effects on insect symibionts is very disturbing, for we are all colonies of symbionts. Could it be that a similar process is one cause of bee decline ?

Aporia_filia

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #43 on: October 07, 2016, 01:48:56 PM »
This answer is only based in observational years of bee-keeping. Everybody knows how harm can pesticides be. So let not take them into account now.
Last year we lost half of our beehives during winter. It was the hottest winter ever felt around here and the bees didn't stop completely, as they used to do, for about a couple of months.
It was more or less the same story for other bee-keepers in the area, usually with worse percentages.
We had a veterinary inspection looking for the cause. The results showed a very strong varroa attack. Varroa is a kind of bee-tick. It feeds on the bee larvae, mainly, causing lots of development disorders.
This is what is happening to ticks: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/28/tick-populations-booming-due-to-climate-change

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/oct/07/tick-bites-that-trigger-severe-meat-allergy-on-rise-around-the-world

So, yeah, this shows another way "the possibility that elevated temperatures resulting from global warming may substantially affect biodiversity through disrupting mutualistic/parasitic associations"

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #44 on: October 17, 2016, 05:08:42 PM »
As sad as it seems, understanding the climate effects of a regional nuclear war is now part of risk management:

Francesco S.R. Pausata, Jenny Lindvall, Annica M. L. Ekman & Gunilla Svensson (15 October 2016), "Climate effects of a hypothetical regional nuclear war: Sensitivity to emission duration and particle composition", Earth's Future, DOI: 10.1002/2016EF000415


http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2016EF000415/abstract

Abstract: "Here we use a coupled atmospheric-ocean-aerosol model to investigate the plume development and climate effects of the smoke generated by fires following a regional nuclear war between emerging third-world nuclear powers. We simulate a standard scenario where 5 Tg of black carbon (BC) is emitted over 1 day in the upper troposphere-lower stratosphere. However, it is likely that the emissions from the fires ignited by bomb detonations include a substantial amount of particulate organic matter (POM) and that they last more than 1 day. We therefore test the sensitivity of the aerosol plume and climate system to the BC/ POM ratio (1:3, 1:9) and to the emission length (1 day, 1 week, 1 month). We find that in general, an emission length of 1 month substantially reduces the cooling compared to the 1-day case, whereas taking into account POM emissions notably increases the cooling and the reduction of precipitation associated with the nuclear war during the first year following the detonation. Accounting for POM emissions increases the particle size in the short-emission-length scenarios (1 day/1 week), reducing the residence time of the injected particle. While the initial cooling is more intense when including POM emission, the long-lasting effects, while still large, may be less extreme compared to the BC-only case. Our study highlights that the emission altitude reached by the plume is sensitive to both the particle type emitted by the fires and the emission duration. Consequently, the climate effects of a nuclear war are strongly dependent on these parameters."
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TerryM

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #45 on: October 20, 2016, 07:49:43 PM »
Does POM = "Particulate Organic Material", or "Piece Of Meat", when a populated area is targeted?

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #46 on: October 21, 2016, 09:37:59 PM »
The linked article is entitled: “Ecological recession”: Researchers say biodiversity loss has hit critical threshold across the globe".  The article references both Newbold et. al. 2016 and Steffen et. al. (2015); both of which indicate that we are already exceeding some planetary boundaries, and will soon exceed others.  Thus we are living on borrowed time (see images):

https://news.mongabay.com/2016/07/ecological-recession-researchers-ring-the-alarm-as-biodiversity-loss-hits-critical-threshold-across-the-globe/

Extract: "An international team of researchers has concluded that biodiversity loss has become so severe and widespread that it could affect Earth’s ability to sustain human life.

- The researchers examined 2.38 million records of 39,123 terrestrial species collected at 18,659 sites around the world to model the impacts on biodiversity of land use and other pressures from human activities that cause habitat loss.

- They then estimated down to about the one-square-kilometer level the extent to which those pressures have caused changes in local biodiversity, as well as the spatial patterns of those changes.

- They found that, across nearly 60 percent of Earth’s land surface, biodiversity has declined beyond “safe” levels as defined by the planetary boundaries concept, which seeks to quantify the environmental limits within which human society can be considered sustainable.


See also:
Newbold, T., Hudson, L. N., Arnell, A. P., Contu, S., De Palma, A., Ferrier, S., … & Burton, V. J. (2016). Has land use pushed terrestrial biodiversity beyond the planetary boundary? A global assessment. Science, 353(6296), 288-291. doi:10.1126/science.aaf2201

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/353/6296/288

Abstract
Land use and related pressures have reduced local terrestrial biodiversity, but it is unclear how the magnitude of change relates to the recently proposed planetary boundary (“safe limit”). We estimate that land use and related pressures have already reduced local biodiversity intactness—the average proportion of natural biodiversity remaining in local ecosystems—beyond its recently proposed planetary boundary across 58.1% of the world’s land surface, where 71.4% of the human population live. Biodiversity intactness within most biomes (especially grassland biomes), most biodiversity hotspots, and even some wilderness areas is inferred to be beyond the boundary. Such widespread transgression of safe limits suggests that biodiversity loss, if unchecked, will undermine efforts toward long-term sustainable development.

&

Steffen, W., Richardson, K., Rockström, J., Cornell, S. E., Fetzer, I., Bennett, E. M., … & Folke, C. (2015). Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet. Science, 347(6223). doi:10.1126/science.1259855

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/347/6223/1259855

Structured Abstract
INTRODUCTION
There is an urgent need for a new paradigm that integrates the continued development of human societies and the maintenance of the Earth system (ES) in a resilient and accommodating state. The planetary boundary (PB) framework contributes to such a paradigm by providing a science-based analysis of the risk that human perturbations will destabilize the ES at the planetary scale. Here, the scientific underpinnings of the PB framework are updated and strengthened.

RATIONALE
The relatively stable, 11,700-year-long Holocene epoch is the only state of the ES that we know for certain can support contemporary human societies. There is increasing evidence that human activities are affecting ES functioning to a degree that threatens the resilience of the ES—its ability to persist in a Holocene-like state in the face of increasing human pressures and shocks. The PB framework is based on critical processes that regulate ES functioning. By combining improved scientific understanding of ES functioning with the precautionary principle, the PB framework identifies levels of anthropogenic perturbations below which the risk of destabilization of the ES is likely to remain low—a “safe operating space” for global societal development. A zone of uncertainty for each PB highlights the area of increasing risk. The current level of anthropogenic impact on the ES, and thus the risk to the stability of the ES, is assessed by comparison with the proposed PB (see the figure).

RESULTS
Three of the PBs (climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion, and ocean acidification) remain essentially unchanged from the earlier analysis. Regional-level boundaries as well as globally aggregated PBs have now been developed for biosphere integrity (earlier “biodiversity loss”), biogeochemical flows, land-system change, and freshwater use. At present, only one regional boundary (south Asian monsoon) can be established for atmospheric aerosol loading. Although we cannot identify a single PB for novel entities (here defined as new substances, new forms of existing substances, and modified life forms that have the potential for unwanted geophysical and/or biological effects), they are included in the PB framework, given their potential to change the state of the ES. Two of the PBs—climate change and biosphere integrity—are recognized as “core” PBs based on their fundamental importance for the ES. The climate system is a manifestation of the amount, distribution, and net balance of energy at Earth’s surface; the biosphere regulates material and energy flows in the ES and increases its resilience to abrupt and gradual change. Anthropogenic perturbation levels of four of the ES processes/features (climate change, biosphere integrity, biogeochemical flows, and land-system change) exceed the proposed PB (see the figure).

CONCLUSIONS
PBs are scientifically based levels of human perturbation of the ES beyond which ES functioning may be substantially altered. Transgression of the PBs thus creates substantial risk of destabilizing the Holocene state of the ES in which modern societies have evolved. The PB framework does not dictate how societies should develop. These are political decisions that must include consideration of the human dimensions, including equity, not incorporated in the PB framework. Nevertheless, by identifying a safe operating space for humanity on Earth, the PB framework can make a valuable contribution to decision-makers in charting desirable courses for societal development.
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #47 on: October 24, 2016, 04:47:33 PM »
The linked article is entitled: "Elon Musk is about to test the 'trickiest' part of his Mars spaceship — a giant, potentially explosive black orb".  It conveys how concerned Musk is about setting-up an off Earth sustainable colony, due to the existential risks the Earth faces:

http://www.businessinsider.com/spacex-carbon-fiber-fuel-tank-ocean-ship-test-2016-10

Extract: "Less than a month ago, Elon Musk shared his audacious plan to launch a million people to Mars and beyond, all in hopes of backing up humanity for when some future apocalyptic calamity dooms Earth."
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #48 on: October 27, 2016, 09:41:04 PM »
The linked article is entitled: "Burning fossil fuels poses existential threat to Earth".  In this regard people would do well to realize that the Paris Pact does essentially nothing to keep oil & gas in the ground; but instead it encourages cheaper sustainable energy sources.  However, if the cheaper sustainable energy source drive down the price of fossil fuels, then certainly consumers will increase their energy consumption using a mix of sustainable and fossil fuel energy sources; which represents an existential threat to human life on Earth.

http://phys.org/news/2016-10-fossil-fuels-poses-existential-threat.html

Extract: "How significant a factor is our energy use when it comes to the health of our planet?

Falkowski: It's extremely important. It's actually probably one of the most existential threats to us over the coming decades. The issue isn't just political. Climate change has been called out as a potential strategic threat to national security by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Climate change cannot be mitigated without a change in energy use."
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson

AbruptSLR

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Re: Anthropogenic Existential Risk
« Reply #49 on: November 19, 2016, 05:37:15 PM »
The linked article is entitled: "Humanity only has around 1,000 years left on Earth, Stephen Hawking predicts".  While this news has been circulating for some time now, it merits being included in this thread.  If climate change, global pandemics, nuclear war and overshoot aren't enough you can add the development of "… autonomous weapons that can fire on targets without human intervention" to your list of concerns:

http://www.sciencealert.com/humanity-only-has-around-1-000-years-left-on-earth-stephen-hawking-predicts

Extract: "Physicist Stephen Hawking has warned humanity that we probably only have about 1,000 years left on Earth, and the only thing that could save us from certain extinction is setting up colonies elsewhere in the Solar System.

"[W]e must ... continue to go into space for the future of humanity," Hawking said in a lecture at the University of Cambridge this week. "I don’t think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet.""

As Heather Saul from The Independent reports, Hawking has estimated that self-sustaining human colonies on Mars are not going to be a viable option for another 100 years or so, which means we need to be "very careful" in the coming decades.

Without even taking into account the potentially devastating effects of climate change, global pandemics brought on by antibiotic resistance, and nuclear capabilities of warring nations, we could soon be sparring with the kinds of enemies we’re not even close to knowing how to deal with.

Late last year, Hawking added his name to a coalition of more than 20,000 researchers and experts, including Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, and Noam Chomsky, calling for a ban on anyone developing autonomous weapons that can fire on targets without human intervention."

See also:

http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2016/1117/Why-Stephen-Hawking-says-we-have-1-000-years-to-find-a-new-home

Extract: ""Although the chance of a disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next 1,000 or 10,000 years," Hawking said in the speech. "By that time we should have spread out into space, and to other stars, so a disaster on Earth would not mean the end of the human race.""
« Last Edit: November 19, 2016, 07:56:35 PM by AbruptSLR »
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson