[ExI] libertarian (asteroid) defense
anders at aleph.se
Tue Mar 1 11:39:26 UTC 2011
Kelly Anderson wrote:
> (Sorry for being dense, what is a GCR? Galactic Cosmic Ray?)
Global Catastrophic Risk. Sorry, our inhouse terminology (see
> While the science points in the direction that climate fluctuation can
> occur faster than we previously thought likely, it still happens over
> a period of years or decades. Great climate change may lead to great
> suffering, but it is not going to be an extinction event.
When I used the term I was thinking of nuclear winters, impact winters
and supervolcanic winters. These happen much faster. If current climate
models are correct they can be *very* bad - *no* agriculture for several
years in practically all places (so far Tasmania seems to be the only
place that survives, but I would like to run a more fine-grained sim
since it could be surviving mainly due to mesh coarseness). While this
is not necessarily an extinction event we should expect at least several
gigadeaths as well as some pretty nasty conflicts over necessary resources.
Climate change is indeed a reshuffling of the cards, in itself fairly
neutral but on one hand breaking down structure (all the winery
infrastructure will be in the wrong place, and it takes money, time and
expertise to build it somewhere else) and on the other affecting people
differently depending on their resilience (the dirty secret of climate
impacts on society research: the developed world is fairly likely to
withstand even pretty big climate effects, while the undeveloped won't).
In fact, you can almost define being poor as "getting screwed when there
is a crisis" - radical change favors resilient systems, and generally
being well-off means being embedded in a resilient civilian
infrastructure while being poor means you have no reserves to use when
things go pearshaped. This is worth thinking about for us who like
radical, transformative change.
> If you can sell insurance against climate change, then I see no reason
> you couldn't sell insurance against mid sized asteroid strikes.
> Insuring against a global extinction event is silly since there would
> be nobody left to pay or collect, and nothing to do with the money
> after that point anyway. I suppose it could mean something if some
> part of humanity lives off world...
You can set up near miss gambles, and the pricing of these might give
you useful information.
Insurance systems can handle uncorrelated disasters well, but correlated
disasters are bad news. There was apparently a short period after
Katrina when the world's reinsurance system was so badly strained that
had a second Katrina-disaster happened it would have crashed globally -
think of the financial crisis but in insurance instead. This is why I am
a bit worried about even "mere" 1 km impacts. An Atlantic tsunami would
cause correlated insurance claims far in excess of Katrina, and the
industry would not be able to handle it. Life would go on, but quite
likely with a seriously crashed global economy for a long while.
Still, finance people are clever. I would love to have more of them
think seriously about financial vehicles that can deal with this and
other GCRs. There are already longevity bonds, helping insurance
companies trade on the "risk" that people live a lot longer. There
should be GCR-vehicles.
Future of Humanity Institute
James Martin 21st Century School
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