[ExI] Global catastrophic risk report

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Mon May 2 05:38:38 UTC 2016

On Sun, May 1, 2016 at 10:33 AM, Anders Sandberg <anders at aleph.se> wrote:

> On 2016-05-01 12:10, Rafal Smigrodzki wrote:
> I came across the following:
> http://globalprioritiesproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Global-Catastrophic-Risk-Annual-Report-2016-FINAL.pdf
> ### It lists global warming (renamed "climate change") right at the top,
> even ahead of nuclear war. Really? This is so ridiculous it beggars
> imagination.
> Heh. I happen to know a fair bit about this report, since it was partially
> written by people in my office (GPP is half FHI). There is a degree of
> politics involved in what gets listed,

### This does seem to be the case.


> But if you think it is rational to have some preparation for big
> asteroids, then you should regard it as rational to have some preparation
> for heading off or handling big climate risk.

### Yes, absolutely but in mentioning climate risk the report is right for
the wrong reasons. Realistically, there is no plausible high-temperature
condition that could have a catastrophic impact (as defined in the report).
The methane belch or sulphide belch ideas have been bandied about but they
are completely implausible given Earth's recent history of warming episodes
well in excess of current conditions that failed to trigger such events.
The only plausible catastrophic risk is cooling due to e.g. a solar minimum
leading to a positive feedback and an ice age. But the report concentrates
on the story of carbon dioxide accumulation and warming.

Either way, a major nuclear war is, I think, orders of magnitude more
likely than an equivalent climate catastrophe. That's why I find the
prominent place given the climate story so jarring.

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