pdf; Joseph Cirincione, “The Continuing Threat of Nuclear. War,” in Global Catastrophic Risks, ed. Nick Bostrom and Milan M. Ćirković (Oxford University Press,
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4GLOBAL CATASTROPHIC RISKS 2016The views expressed in this report are those of the authors. Their Authors:Owen Cotton-Barratt*ƒSebastian Farquhar*John Halstead*Stefan Schubert*Andrew Snyder-Beattieƒ* = The Global Priorities Projectƒ = The Future of Humanity Institute, University of OxfordGraphic design:Accomplice/Elinor Häggin association withGlobalChallengesFoundation
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5THE GLOBAL CHALLENGES FOUNDATION works to raise awareness of the Global Catastrophic Risks. Primarily focused on climate change, other en-vironmental degradation and politically motivated violence as well as how these threats are linked to poverty and rapid population growth. Against this background, the Foundation also works to both identify and stimulate the development of good proposals for a management model Œ a global gover-nance Œ able to decrease Œ and at best eliminate Œ these risks.THE GLOBAL PRIORITIES PROJECT -itise ways to do good. We achieve his both by advising decision-makers on of Humanity Institute, part of the University of Oxford.
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6Foreword 8Introduction 10Executive summary 12 1. An introduction to global catastrophic risks 202. What are the most important global catastrophic risks? 28 Catastrophic climate change 30Nuclear war 36Natural pandemics 42 Exogenous risks 46Emerging risks 52Other risks and unknown risks 64Our assessment of the risks 663. Risk factors and interactions between risks 72 Drivers of individual risks 74 Shared risk factors and interactions between risks 784. Do institutions collectively underinvest in global catastrophic risk? 82Market and political failures 84Which actors can help reduce global catastrophic risk? 885. What can the world do to reduce global catastrophic risk? 94 Endnotes 100Acknowledgements 107 Contact info 107 Contents
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8FOREWORDNearly four years ago when the Global Challenges Foundation was established, we decided on a direction with two parallel strategies. The ˜rst is increasing the knowledge about Global Catastrophic Risks (GCRs), which with our terminology means threats that can eliminate at least 10% of the global population. This knowl -edge is an important prerequisite for the Foundation™s second strategy: to encourage debates and proposals as to how we can e˚ectively and fairly reduce Œ and preferably eliminate Œ these catastrophic risks. This publication, the Foundation™s Annual Report for 2016, is the re -sult of a collaboration between the Foundation and the Future of Hu -manity Institute (FHI) and the Global Priorities Project at Oxford University in the U.K., which has now lasted for over two years. A big group of re -searchers at the FHI, commissioned by the Foundation, summarized where research, focused on charting some of the greatest global risks, cur -rently stands. In addition to describing the risks, their e˚ects and their likelihood of occurring, this year™s Annual Report takes one step further and try™s to show how di˚erent risks relate to one another, what can be done to combat the risks and who can and should do this. In addition to the risks involved in the Annual Report for 2016, the Foundation actively works with envi -ronmental degradation, weapons of mass destruction, population growth (that exacerbates several risks), and political violence which is behind many of the world™s current problems. Political violence comes in many forms. Various kinds of weapons of mass destruction represent poten -tially devastating weaponry. Further, political violence creates uncon -trolled migration and we receive repeated reminders that there is also ﬁdigital violenceﬂ in the form of cyber-attacks. Together, this takes up a signi˜cant amount of space on the political agenda, thus stealing atten -Dear Reader!
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9Global Catastrophic Risks 2016tion from other important risks. And above all, the defense against various forms of political violence requires a grotesquely large share of public resources. Each day, the world spends over SEK 40 billion on defence expenditure Œ money that would be needed to ˜ght poverty and prevent catastrophic risks. My personal opinion is that in order to drastically minimize GCRs we must develop a model where a major -ity of the world™s nations, with strong support from leading nations, can make binding decisions which can be enforced in an e˚ective and fair way. This would imply that individ -ual nations waive their sovereignty in favor of one or more organizations that have a mandate to decide on how to mitigate GCRs. Would this be possible? My counter question is whether there are any alternatives? To continue relying on multilateral negotiations increases the probability that decisions and actions are insu˛cient and executed too late. This means that the likeli -hood of GCRs continues to escalate. I hope that this publication can deepen the understanding of GCRs and that these insights provide a fertile ground for both debates and proposals on how we can develop a better way of managing and address -ing these risks. Stockholm, April 2016 Laszlo Szombatfalvy Founder of Global Challenges Foundation
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10This report addresses one of the most important issues of our age Œ global catastrophic risk. Over the last decades, behav -ioural psychology has taught us that, as a species, we are bad at assessing scope. Issues that a˚ect ten people do not intuitively seem ten times more important than those that a˚ect one person. Global catastrophic risks are one area where our scope insensitivi -ty might prove the most dangerous. These risks can™t just be treated as problem for the future, even though we might well expect them not to ma -terialise this year or the next. At the Future of Life Institute, my team and I have been calling for global leaders to address critical global risk issues including nuclear weapons, biotech -nology and arti˜cial intelligence. This builds on existing risk reduction work led by institutions such as the United Nations. Over the last centuries, humanity has achieved incredible things. New medical technologies save millions of lives every year. Agricultural science allows billions to be fed who might otherwise not exist. And we have begun to explore the very foundations of our universe itself Œ the beauty of which has inspired my own deep curiosity in cosmology. This technological power is an enormous force for good, but carries its own risks. Although consuming fossil fuels was critical in creating the thriving and wonderful civilization we live in today, we™ve come to learn that there are potentially catastroph -ic long-term consequences from climate change. Other technologies, more powerful than combustion en -gines, might also o˚er huge bene˜ts and carry unforeseen risks. If we fail to manage this risk well, we might be caught out by consequences that fol -Global catastrophic risks pose a pressing challenge INTRODUCTION
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11Max Tegmark Co-founder of the Future of Life Institute Professor of Physics at MIT low from the technology more rapidly than climate change has. As a global community, we need to win the race between the growing power of our technology and the wisdom with which we manage it. This requires a nuanced approach towards technological developments, acknowledging both that technol -ogy carries huge potential to make lives better and also that it carries some risks. Smart risk management means being realistic in weighing these factors against each other. This report o˚ers an excellent background to the underlying issues of global catastrophic risks, and is an outstand -ing starting point for policy-makers developing an interest in the area or researchers considering how their own work might be brought into the study of global catastrophic risks.
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