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13% chance of doomsday, claims maths expert

Posted on Friday, 25 November, 2016 | Comment icon 36 comments

Will our species see out the 21st century ? Image Credit: US Department of Energy
Dr Fergus Simpson maintains that humanity has a 13% chance of going extinct before the century is out.
In a new paper entitled 'Apocalypse Now? Reviving the Doomsday Argument', the University of Barcelona mathematician has calculated that, in any given year this century, there is a 1 in 500 (or 0.2%) chance that a doomsday event will cause the extinction of the human race.

"Irrespective of the aforementioned statistical inferences, it would be naive in the extreme to believe that the annual risk of global catastrophe is vanishingly small," Dr Simpson wrote.

"At a time when at least eight sovereign states are in possession of nuclear weapons, a head-in-the-sand approach appears both dangerous and irresponsible."

Dr Simpson's calculations are actually quite optimistic compared to some other studies, including that of British Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees who wrote in his book 'Our Final Hour' that there is as high as a 50% chance that we will be wiped out before the end of the century.

It wouldn't necessarily take a specific disaster to bring society to its knees either, as global warming, overpopulation and dwindling food supplies could in themselves prove devastating.

"Investigations towards the mitigation of various global risks ought to be pursued with urgency," said Dr Simpson. "We may not be able to evade the inevitable altogether, but as with our personal life expectancy, it is within our power to delay it."

Source: Independent | Comments (36)

Tags: Doomsday, Extinction

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #27 Posted by seeder on 26 January, 2017, 2:42
Comment icon #28 Posted by MWoo7 on 26 January, 2017, 3:00
ooooh mmm oh man this reading crap hmmm like the General talking in other posting, highest risk of war in 70 years, its a wonder he didn't elaborate more, being a General.  Well he did but your not going to see it. /sarcasm  , like Airplane , the movie. "suggested the possibility of U.S. military action, or even a naval blockade. Such action would risk an armed confrontation with China, an increasingly formidable nuclear-armed military power." Hmmm mmm just have to see, could be horn tooters.  Thanks for the post though.  Trust this more than whats on the local tele, bout good for weather's al... [More]
Comment icon #29 Posted by Doug1o29 on 26 January, 2017, 17:17
My intent was to point out the complexity of the problem.  Glad to see I succeeded. Doug
Comment icon #30 Posted by seeder on 26 January, 2017, 20:20
  Not entirely sure I understand you as what you say can be open to several interpretations
Comment icon #31 Posted by Doug1o29 on 26 January, 2017, 21:17
The original comment implied that religion was the primary, if not only, cause of high birth rates.  All I did was point out that many other variables also affect population size, a point on which we seem to agree. Doug
Comment icon #32 Posted by seeder on 27 January, 2017, 14:14
Comment icon #33 Posted by DieChecker on 3 February, 2017, 11:45
I don't know how old you are, but trust me that the "threatening" was a lot worse back in the 1970s. To many it wasn't a "if" the Soviets came over the borders into the rest of Europe, but "when", they were coming. Same with China/Communism spreading to the rest of Asia. It wasn't a if, but a when. People lived in FEAR, not in a state of "Meh...", like they do today.  We are not at the worse point in history regarding nuclear war. If anything today we have MAD keeping anyone from even thinking of the idea. North Korea for example understands that if they even used ONE, they'd not be a sovereig... [More]
Comment icon #34 Posted by DieChecker on 3 February, 2017, 11:48
The only thing to worry about is Ukraine. I can't see the US just letting Russia have the Ukraine. But, it does seem that Putin wants it. I really can't see nukes being used to defend a land grab. That's like using a shotgun to open a walnut. 
Comment icon #35 Posted by LV-426 on 3 February, 2017, 12:15
I think you're being a little optimistic to be honest. I take your point, that in the past there were more obvious, direct hostilities between certain nations. The world these days though is far more complex, and there are multiple flash points that could easily start a chain reaction, upon which every loon on the planet will suddenly be put into the spotlight.
Comment icon #36 Posted by DieChecker on 3 February, 2017, 12:26
There certainly are more flash points, but I believe the flashes are smaller and have less affect on anyone.  Look at what happened this week. The Iranians attacked a ship they thought was a US warship, but was actually Saudi. Who paid much attention to that? Not many. Sure the Sec of Def came out and said, "Iran, your on Notice", but really, for Joe on the Street, does he care? Nope. YET, look back to the 1970s and what started the Vietnam War, a ship being shot at by communists. People just aren't Triggered the way they were 40 years ago, they shrug it off, and without the support of the peo... [More]

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