There have been several posts on this Probaway blog about what to watch for as possible tipping points for the world slipping over into a Doomsday event.  

——  WMDs – The Current progress defending against terrorism   

——  Predicting the unknown unknowns of Doomsday 

——  How bad are the 15 Homeland Security Disasters?   

——  Measuring disasters on a scale permits rational comparisons. and many more.

Today, in an attempt to understand tipping points better, I attended a lecture on tipping points. It was focused on various economic factors affecting the consumption of consumer goods related to online purchases. These were simple mathematical models which are very limited in scope but are legitimate attempts to ferret out the primary factors which trigger human decision-making. The analysis was mathematically simple but probably as accurate as any computational model of human behavior is ever likely to achieve. What did I come away with? — The problem of tipping point precursors for my interests in predicting the Doomsday events is that the relevant factors are too complex and emotionally charged for any mathematical projection to be of much help. Also there are so many variables in the minds of the great number of people who can have an impact on these decisions that any prediction is very nebulous. Basically, what has saved humanity for the last sixty years has been the thought in the minds of the people responsible for the super-weapons that it would be too terrible to contemplate their actual use, so it is not considered. If it happens it’s game over, so why worry about it. It is similar to the morality question when — if you can have no effect on the outcome you have no moral obligations.

There is one major problem now arising in the real world and that is that because there are so many different individuals with limited responsibility for their actions who possess knowledge of WMDs that they might try to use the ambiguity of actual responsibility to use WMDs. The fault would fall on someone else. Of the hundreds of sovereign states and vastly larger numbers of organized groups there might arise some individual who will have the hope of getting away with provoking their enemies into fighting each other. This malefactor could watch for some naturally arising hostility between these other states and when that is at full tension the malefactor could in quick succession set off a series of conventional bombs and counter bombs at sensitive targets for each of these two states. Both of them would be tempted to believe that their obvious enemy was responsible and both would be tempted to launch an all out attack upon the other one. Both of them would be innocent of the provocative acts but both would become victims of the more massive war which arose between them. I once observed two cats growling at each other and a parrot perched in a tree above them started repeating the cat calls at them which triggered a cat fight.

It is possible that Doomsday could be triggered not by some true accident caused by simple honest miscalculations between superpowers but by some relatively small and relatively powerless group seeking some relatively small gain, performing some act which could trigger a massive retaliation with WMDs. The war of retaliation is caused by the two powers reacting to stresses intentionally created by misinformation of a third party.

Tipping points are usually thought of as a sudden reaction to a gradual build up of forces like a mouse trap suddenly snapping when a tiny bit too much pressure has been applied to the trigger. With so many stressors growing in the world, it seems likely that one of them is going to trip a trigger and when one trap is sprung it will affect some others and when several of those are sprung the effect is to set off every one of them which is cocked and ready to go. Perhaps, even potential traps which are not on alert will be quickly brought into operational status and the Doomsday will be even worse than a simple explosion of all the ready materials.

I have no special information and am only looking at the obvious and my perception is that the world is very healthy at the moment but it is headed for a catastrophe. The timing of the Doomsday event is any moment from right now to sometime in the not too distant future.  Actually the potential of H-bomb induced Doomsday has existed since about 1958. A guess for the risk would be about four percent per year but that’s a perfectly silly guess by a marginally crazy person. No one knows the risk beforehand and even after the events no one will know what was the risk. It was just greater than zero.

We need a back up plan for the Earth. We need an EarthArk. We need an EarthArk now.