What is the likelihood of Doomsday — that day when humanity is nearly squished into extinction? That question is intriguing and has been approached in many ways as discussed in these blogs. Perhaps it could be more rationally approached with a probability equation like the famous Drake Equation for intelligent life potential in the Universe.
With that formula, astronomer Frank Drake attempted to estimate the likelihood of various critical to life factors occuring and then multiplied them together. This was intended to give an estimate of the number of radio broadcasting civilizations in our galaxy, the Milkyway, which the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) sought to find. Obviously every one of the factors was protean and the rates were speculative and there are certainly factors which were unknown but critical and others which are difficult even to know. However, by defining each of these factors and giving them reasonable center points and reasonable boundaries it is possible to make some logical conclusions and to set some limits on probibilities. This same type of formula and procedure could be used to define the humanities risk of Doomsday.
The term Doomsday-Equation has already been used several times but the one nearest to what I am trying to create was published in 1960 in Science magazine which suggested that the world’s human population would go to infinity on Friday 13th 2026. That was a playful bit of hyperbole by some quirky scientists and yet the actual population exceeded their projections for over two decades and is still going strong. That speculative theory was about population only and what I would like to propose is a formula which covers all of the reasonably important factors which will add tension to the problem of forcasting Doomsday. However, the Doomsday speculation must include the two factors which I consider critical to the long term health of humanity, human overpopulation and an overabundance of H-bombs.
This blog has discussed these Doomsday subjects many times but it hasn’t been possible yet to put an analytical analysis upon the subject. I just made some speculative guestimates such as that there was about a two to five percent chance of a major world war with the use of atomic bombs breaking out per year. That would rough out to a war of that type to be expected about three times per century given the current situation. That feels about right given the world tensions but it is obviously unknowable even after the facts as to how accurate the guess is in fact. In the last seventy years we did have several rough times even between just two H-bomb possessing powers and survived. Unfortunately, we now have about ten Superpowers each with the ability to trigger Doomsday. The Cuba Missle crisis was stated at about 50/50 by President Kennedy himself and he was one of the two people with his finger on a Doomsday button during that critical hour.
I have been involved with this subject since the late 1950s as an intentional outsider since I departed my job in the US Air Force as a bomber pilot but it has never been far from my mind. I am almost daily thinking about ways which might aleviate the Doomsday problem for humanity. So far it has been a grim and lonely subject to think about because most people, essentially everyone, instantly gives up on the subject as being intractable. The easiest and most doable thing for an individual is The EarthArk Project. It doesn’t solve or even challenge the problem but it does give humanity some hope of restoration to a pre Doomsday environment.
A background of problems for The Doomsday Equation
- WMDs – The Current progress defending against terrorism
- Lifehaven – War, Famine, Pestilence and Death.
- What are the tipping points for the world?
- Predicting the unknown unknowns of Doomsday
- Lifehaven – How bad are the 15 Homeland Security Disasters?
- Measuring disasters on a scale permits rational comparisons.
Oh, why worry? Just listen to a little soothing music.
The De Castro Sisters –Manana is soon enough for me.
Dr. Strangelove – Vera Lynn – We’ll Meet Again