Why the 2016 Election Might Actually Be the Literal End of the World
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Why the 2016 Election Might Actually Be the Literal End of the World

And what we can do about it.

8
Why the 2016 Election Might Actually Be the Literal End of the World
steve-lovelace.com

A few months back, author Robinson Meyer argued in his Atlantic article "Human Extinction isn't that Unlikely," that nuclear catastrophes, global pandemics, and climate change pose a much greater threat to Earth’s human population than we tend to think. He compares the risk of dying in any of these seemingly far-fetched ways to the risk of dying in a car accident: “At life-long scales, one in 120 Americans die in an accident. The risk of human extinction due to climate change—or an accidental nuclear war—is much higher than that.” Over the course of a year, the risk of human extinction is only one percent. However, over the course of a century there is a nearly 10 percent chance of Earth’s human population becoming extinct, according to the Global Challenges Foundation.

This extinction could come in any number of different forms. An example:

In 1995, Russian systems mistook a Norwegian weather rocket for a potential nuclear attack. Russian President Boris Yeltsin retrieved launch codes and had the nuclear suitcase open in front of him. Thankfully, Russian leaders decided the incident was a false alarm.

The point of this anecdote is: Earth’s nuclear arsenal is in the hands of flawed, often hot-headed human beings, and human extinction may come about as a result of human error. It may come in the form of nuclear holocaust; it may come in the form of governmental failure to take the threat of climate change seriously— a failure which could result in massive, “continent-sized superstorms by the end of the century”; it may come in the form of humans infecting humans with a population-decimating virus— as in the time of the Black Plague (which wiped out 10 percent of Earth’s population) or the “Great Plague of Justinian” (which saw around 15 percent killed).

It also could be completely out of our control. An asteroid hitting our planet or giant volcanic eruptions could produce enough airborne sediment to plunge the Earth into an artificial winter, killing off much of our food supply. Meyer summarizes Global Priorities Project director, Sebastian Farquhar, as saying:

…civilization could generally increase its resilience if it developed technology to rapidly accelerate food production. If technical society had the power to ramp-up less sunlight-dependent food sources, especially, there would be a “lower chance that a particulate winter [from a volcano or nuclear war] would have catastrophic consequences.”

So, while human extinction may come about as a result of human error—an important point to consider as electing our next president means choosing the next person we hand the nuclear codes over to-- the survival of the human race will almost certainly be the result of human innovation.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
the beatles
Wikipedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have been listening to The Beatles. Every year, my mom would appropriately blast “Birthday” on anyone’s birthday. I knew all of the words to “Back In The U.S.S.R” by the time I was 5 (Even though I had no idea what or where the U.S.S.R was). I grew up with John, Paul, George, and Ringo instead Justin, JC, Joey, Chris and Lance (I had to google N*SYNC to remember their names). The highlight of my short life was Paul McCartney in concert twice. I’m not someone to “fangirl” but those days I fangirled hard. The music of The Beatles has gotten me through everything. Their songs have brought me more joy, peace, and comfort. I can listen to them in any situation and find what I need. Here are the best lyrics from The Beatles for every and any occasion.

Keep Reading...Show less
Being Invisible The Best Super Power

The best superpower ever? Being invisible of course. Imagine just being able to go from seen to unseen on a dime. Who wouldn't want to have the opportunity to be invisible? Superman and Batman have nothing on being invisible with their superhero abilities. Here are some things that you could do while being invisible, because being invisible can benefit your social life too.

Keep Reading...Show less
Featured

19 Lessons I'll Never Forget from Growing Up In a Small Town

There have been many lessons learned.

82144
houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee
nappy.co

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

169079
college students waiting in a long line in the hallway
StableDiffusion

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments