Human extinction risks: people more likely to die in an extinction event than a car crash

April 2016GLOBAL CATACLYSMSNuclear war. Climate change. Pandemics that kill tens of millions. These are the most viable threats to globally organized civilization. They’re the stuff of nightmares and blockbusters—but unlike sea monsters or zombie viruses, they’re real, part of the calculus that political leaders consider everyday. And according to a new report from the U.K.-based Global Challenges Foundation, they’re much more likely than we might think.
In its annual report on “global catastrophic risk,” the nonprofit debuted a startling statistic: Across the span of their lives, the average American is more than five times likelier to die during a human-extinction event than in a car crash. Partly that’s because the average person will probably not die in an automobile accident. Every year, one in 9,395 people die in a crash; that translates to about a 0.01 percent chance per year. But that chance compounds over the course of a lifetime. At life-long scales, one in 120 Americans die in an accident. The Stern Review, the U.K. government’s premier report on the economics of climate change, estimated a 0.1 percent risk of human extinction every year. That may sound low, but it also adds up when extrapolated to century-scale. The Global Challenges Foundation estimates a 9.5 percent chance of human extinction within the next hundred years.
And that number probably underestimates the risk of dying in any global cataclysm. The Stern Review, whose math suggests the 9.5-percent number, only calculated the danger of species-wide extinction. The Global Challenges Foundation’s report is concerned with all events that would wipe out more than 10 percent of Earth’s human population. “We don’t expect any of the events that we describe to happen in any 10-year period. They might—but, on balance, they probably won’t,” Sebastian Farquhar, the director of the Global Priorities Project, told me. “But there’s lots of events that we think are unlikely that we still prepare for.”
For instance, most people demand working airbags in their cars and they strap in their seat-belts whenever they go for a drive, he said. We may know that the risk of an accident on any individual car ride is low, but we still believe that it makes sense to reduce possible harm. So what kind of human-level extinction events are these? The report holds catastrophic climate change and nuclear war far above the rest, and for good reason. On the latter front, it cites multiple occasions when the world stood on the brink of atomic annihilation. While most of these occurred during the Cold War, another took place during the 1990s, the most peaceful decade in recent memory: 

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Other risks won’t stem from technological hubris. Any year, there’s always some chance of a super-volcano erupting or an asteroid careening into the planet. Both would of course devastate the areas around ground zero—but they would also kick up dust into the atmosphere, blocking sunlight and sending global temperatures plunging. (Most climate scientists agree that the same phenomenon would follow any major nuclear exchange.)
Yet natural pandemics may pose the most serious risks of all. In fact, in the past two millennia, the only two events that experts can certify as global catastrophes of this scale were plagues. The Black Death of the 1340s felled more than 10 percent of the world population. Eight centuries prior, another epidemic of the Yersinia pestis bacterium—the “Great Plague of Justinian” in 541 and 542—killed between 25 and 33 million people, or between 13 and 17 percent of the global population at that time.
No event approached these totals in the 20th century. The twin wars did not come close: About 1 percent of the global population perished in the Great War, about 3 percent in World War II. Only the Spanish flu epidemic of the late 1910s, which killed between 2.5 and 5 percent of the world’s people, approached the medieval plagues. Farquhar said there’s some evidence that the First World War and Spanish influenza were the same catastrophic global event—but even then, the death toll only came to about 6 percent of humanity.
The report briefly explores other possible risks: a genetically engineered pandemic, geo-engineering gone awry, an all-seeing artificial intelligence. Unlike nuclear war or global warming, though, the report clarifies that these remain mostly notional threats, even as it cautions:

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So what’s the societal version of an airbag and seatbelt? Farquhar conceded that many existential risks were best handled by policies catered to the specific issue, like reducing stockpiles of warheads or cutting greenhouse-gas emissions. But 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.”
He also thought many problems could be helped if democratic institutions had some kind of ombudsman or committee to represent the interests of future generations. (This strikes me as a distinctly European proposal—in the United States, the national politics of a “representative of future generations” would be thrown off by the abortion debate and unborn personhood, I think.) The report was a joint project of the Centre for Effective Altruism in London and the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford. –Atlantic

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Posted in Black Swan Event, Celebrities and the Apocalypse, Civilizations unraveling, Dark Ages, Disaster-related suicides, Disease outbreak, Earth Changes, Earth Watch, Ecology overturn, Environmental Threat, Extinction Threat, Extreme Weather Event, Fireballs, Meteor or Asteroid, Human behavioral change after disaster, Infrastructure collapse, New weapons of war, Prophecies referenced, Radiation leak or contamination, Time - Event Acceleration | 10 Comments

Earthquake in Japan dries up centuries-old Kumamoto water source

April 2016MINAMI-ASO, Kumamoto Prefecture (JAPAN) — For hundreds of years, the sacred Shioisha spring here has provided water for drinking and irrigation in this village in the shadow of Mount Aso. But the fountainhead, which gushed about five tons of spring water a minute, has dried up since the magnitude-7.3 earthquake struck the prefecture early on April 16. Its disappearance has local residents baffled. “I was absolutely flabbergasted to hear that Shioisha spring has dried up. It turns my world upside down,” said 95-year-old Natsuko Goto, who was taking shelter at an elementary school after the earthquake. “What will happen now?”
Shioisha spring is located on the premises of Shioijinja shrine. According to Sachio Hirose, the 63-year-old parish representative, there are many fountainhead springs in Minami-Aso, which has been dubbed “the village where water is born.” However, Shioisha spring is the one that has been worshiped by local residents as the sacred spring where the “god of water” dwells. Its abundant waters have been a blessing for local rice farmers.
Every year, the planting of rice seedlings starts at the beginning of May in Minami-Aso, but at the moment, there is no water to irrigate the rice paddies, casting a dark shadow over the village and its agricultural production. “The headspring had been gushing water out for the past centuries and sustaining people’s livelihoods,” Hirose said. “I can’t believe this is happening in my lifetime.” –Asahi


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7.0 magnitude earthquake strikes Vanuatu – the fifth 7.0+ magnitude quake this year

Vanuatu 7
April 2016 VANUATU A large earthquake has hit near Vanuatu, but initial fears that it could generate large tsunami waves appear to have passed. The quake was 10km deep and hit shortly after 7.30am, NZ time. It had a preliminary magnitude of 7.3, but that had since been revised to 7.0. By 9.30am NZ time the Center had updated its information to say the tsunami threat had mostly passed.
The quake was centered about 95km southeast of the town of Santo, USGS said. A spokesman at Vanuatu’s Bauerfield International Airport in Port Vila said the quake did not feel major. “It was just a small one,” he said. The quake had not disrupted flights and the spokesman said he was not aware of any damage. Friday’s quake was the fifth this year measuring magnitude 7 or more. Only about 15 strike the planet on average every year. The biggest quakes were in Ecuador, on April 16, and Sumatra a month earlier. Both measured magnitude 7.8. More than 650 people died in the Ecuador quake. –Stuff

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N. Sulawesi volcano spews lava 2 kilometers

Mt Karng
April 2016 INDONESIA North Sulawesi’s Mount Karangetang, which erupted on Wednesday, has continued to emit ash into the sky on Thursday. The volcano, located in Siau Tagulandang Biaro (Sitaro) Islands regency, North Sulawesi, sent hot lava as far as 2 kilometers from its crater when it erupted around 5 p.m. local time on Wednesday. “Mt. Karangetang has erupted again. There had been no volcanic activity in the last few days before it erupted on Wednesday afternoon,” said Abed Anthoni, a resident of Bebali sub-district, East Siau district.
He said East Siau residents did not consider yesterday’s eruption to be out of the ordinary, but remained alert in carrying out their daily activities. “I told my wife and our children that we have to anticipate the potential for greater eruptions,” Abed said. Sitaro Disaster Mitigation Agency ( BPBD ) head Bob Chalton Wuaten said the lava from Mt. Karangetang started flowing at around 5 p.m. on Wednesday. “It went toward the Kahetang River, around 2,000 meters from the crater. The new dome on its peak collapsed during the eruption, causing the hot lava flow,” he said.
Bob added that Mt. Karangetang’s volcanic alert status remained at Level 2, indicating the need for caution, despite Wednesday’s eruption. “We call on all residents in Boro, Tararone subdistrict, East Siau district, to stay alert because the potential for the volcano to spew pyroclastic clouds is still huge. The peak of Mt. Karangetang cannot be monitored visually because it is still shrouded with thick ash plumes,” said Bob. –Jakarta Post
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Sapientia: The 40 Principles of Wisdom by Alvin Conway

Sapientia Book B
Life Sapientia by Alvin Conway
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Is Snake River Plain’s volcano a bigger threat to America than Yellowstone?

Snake River
April 2016 IDAHO – For those that thought Yellowstone super-volcano was one of the biggest natural threats to the USA, think again. Eruptions at Snake River Plain in Idaho were “significantly larger” than geologists had previously thought. Scientists from the University of Leicester discovered there were a staggering 12 massive eruptions over the course of four million years, beginning 12 million years ago.
The massive eruptions helped to form the 100 kilometer-wide Snake River Basin, with one of the most powerful eruptions occurring 8.1 million years ago. The eruption’s volume exceeded 1,900 km3 and created a 1.3km thick caldera. Furthermore, the Snake River Plain is situated on the Yellowstone Hotspot track, a region which spans from Nevada, through Oregon and Idaho and then to Wyoming where Yellowstone Volcano is located.
Dr Tom Knott from the University of Leicester, said: “While it is well-know that Yellowstone has erupted catastrophically in recent times perhaps less widely appreciated is that these were just the latest in a protracted history of numerous catastrophic super-eruptions that have burned a track along the Snake River eastwards from Oregon to Yellowstone from 16 Ma to present.
“The size and magnitude of this newly defined eruption is as large, if not larger, than better known eruptions at Yellowstone, and it is just the first in an emerging record of newly discovered super-eruptions during a period of intense magmatic activity between eight and 12 million years ago.” –Express
Several volcanic rift zones traverse the Snake River Plain. Volcanic rift zones are weak areas where the earth’s crust has been stretched and thinned and fissures have developed. Magma under pressure follows these fissures to the surface.
The most extensive system of fissures on the Snake River Plain is called the Great Rift, which passes through Craters of the Moon. This volcanic rift zone is 60 miles long and from 1.5 to five miles wide. At Craters of the Moon it is characterized by short surface cracks, more than 25 cinder cones, and is the point of origin of over 60 lava flows. Geologists believe that the formation of the Great Rift is related to Basin and Range type faulting.
Eruptions at Craters of the Moon
Most of the lava flows exposed at Craters of the Moon erupted between 2,000 and 15,000 years ago. These flows were deposited during eight eruptive periods, each separated by periods of relative calm. This cycle of eruptions interspersed with periods of calm is associated with the buildup of pressure as magma accumulates beneath the surface. Strain increases until the resistance of the earth’s crust is overcome, magma rises to the surface, and an eruption takes place. As soon as the magmatic pressure dissipates, the eruption ceases until the pressure can build once more.
What Does the Future Hold?
If what geologists tell us proves to be true, it is likely that there will be another eruption at Craters of the Moon. By studying the flows that make up the Craters of the Moon lava field, geologists have been able to determine an eruptive pattern that indicates the area is merely in a stage of dormancy. They believe that past eruptions conform to a predictable time schedule and that the eruptive cycle will begin again within the next 1,000 years. –NPS

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Posted in Black Swan Event, Civilizations unraveling, Dormant fault activation, Earth Changes, Earth Watch, Earthquake Omens?, Extinction Threat, High-risk potential hazard zone, Magma Plume activity, Potential Earthchange hotspot, Prophecies referenced, Seismic tremors, Signs of Magnetic Field weakening, Time - Event Acceleration, Volcano unrest, Volcano Watch | 9 Comments

Strong 6.0 magnitude earthquake rocks Mexico’s Southern Coast

Mexico 6 Quake
April 2016MEXICO A magnitude-6.0 earthquake rocked Mexico’s southern coast on Wednesday, but no injuries or damage were reported, the National Seismology Service said. “After monitoring all of the state, no effects have been detected so far from the earthquake that occurred a few minutes ago,” the Chiapas state emergency management office said in a Twitter post. The epicenter of the earthquake, which hit at 7:51 a.m., was in the Pacific about 122 kilometers (nearly 76 miles) southwest of Huixtla, a town in Chiapas, and at a depth of 20 kilometers (12.4 miles).
The inspection protocol for natural disasters has been activated, the emergency management office said. Mexico, one of the countries with the highest levels of seismic activity in the world, sits on the North American tectonic plate and is surrounded by three other plates in the Pacific: the Rivera microplate, at the mouth of the Gulf of California; the Pacific plate; and the Cocos plate.
The Cocos tectonic plate stretches from Colima state south and has the potential to cause the most damage since it affects Mexico City, which has a population of 20 million and was constructed over what was once Lake Texcoco. In September 2015, Mexico City’s government activated the Seismic Warning System to mark the 30th anniversary of the temblor that devastated the capital. The magnitude-8.1 earthquake that hit Mexico City on Sept. 19, 1985, was the most destructive to ever hit Mexico, killing some 10,000 people, injuring more than 40,000 others and leaving 80,000 people homeless. –LAHT

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New Zealand’s White Island volcano erupts for the first time in three years

White Island Volcano
April 2016 NEW ZEALAND – The Bay of Plenty’s volcanic White Island has erupted, depositing ash on the island’s crater floor. GeoNet volcanologist Agnes Mazot said the minor eruption happened between 9.30 and 11pm on Wednesday night. By 11pm the seismic activity had returned to normal. Mazot said this was the first time the volcano had blown since 2013. GeoNet scientists had noticed a reduction in water levels of the volcano’s Crater Lake during the past couple of weeks so they were aware something was going on. However, these type of eruptions were unpredictable, she said. –Stuff
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