What world shattering disasters worry you?

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Which of the following catalysms are you most worried about?

Astral event (Asteroid, black hole, gamma rays, ect.)
25
13%
Nuclear War
27
14%
Global Warming
29
15%
Population Growth / Lack of resources
42
22%
Pandemic
24
13%
Geological Disaster (Earthquake, supervolcano, ect.)
12
6%
Financial Depression
22
12%
Other (Specify)
9
5%
 
Total votes: 190

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What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby Vahir » Sat Sep 29, 2012 9:38 pm UTC

Pick the three that scare you the most.

Where's a good underground bunker when you need it?

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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby Sheikh al-Majaneen » Sun Sep 30, 2012 1:59 am UTC

Yellowstone, Sampson Option.

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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby curtis95112 » Sun Sep 30, 2012 4:13 am UTC

I'd pick the heat death of the universe. The others we could manage or avert if we just pulled ourselves together.
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby Izawwlgood » Sun Sep 30, 2012 5:07 am UTC

I'm mostly concerned with our society regressing into strife and religious fear mongering.
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby Ptolom » Sun Sep 30, 2012 2:15 pm UTC

Three and four are probably mutually causative, so I only picked one. Viruses are scary.

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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby Dr. Diaphanous » Sun Sep 30, 2012 7:45 pm UTC

Nuclear War, Global Warming, Lack of resources

You missed out unfriendly technological singularity.

Do end of universe and heat death of universe count as Astral events?
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby ThirdParty » Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:00 am UTC

Political disaster. "Imagine a boot stamping on a human face, forever." Military technology at this point is sufficiently powerful that if a Taliban-esque government got control of the world, any rebellion could be easily suppressed and their ideology could be propagated indefinitely.

For my other choices I picked the astral event and geological disaster. These are the only things that could really wipe us out, rather than just slowing us down.

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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby idobox » Mon Oct 01, 2012 1:34 pm UTC

I believe in peak oil, and that a lot of trouble will happen when we start to have trouble finding oil and natural gas to run agricultural machines and make fertilizer, and food production plummets.
No Mad Max scenario, but a lot of fighting and starvation while we transition from oil fueled economy, something we should have started 20 years ago.
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby tms » Mon Oct 01, 2012 7:14 pm UTC

Worrying isn't good enough but I put population growth / lack of resources = consumerism on top. Then global warming. Finally nuclear war. While unlikely, there's no limit to the destruction even a one-sided attack could cause in a short (individual human perspective) time frame.
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby Vahir » Mon Oct 01, 2012 9:10 pm UTC

Dr. Diaphanous wrote:Nuclear War, Global Warming, Lack of resources

You missed out unfriendly technological singularity.

Do end of universe and heat death of universe count as Astral events?


Yes.

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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby omgryebread » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:52 pm UTC

Astral Event, Financial Depression, and Other.

Other for me is a political crisis: not so much nuclear war as a serious collapse in relations in some part of the world that may or may not lead to nuclear war. It could also lead to trade collapse or a conventional war, or drawn out hostilities.
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby EdgarJPublius » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:57 pm UTC

Population growth has been dropping for decades. I don't really see anything to worry about there.

Also, lack of resources? We've tapped into less than one third of one percent of the resources available just to this planet, let alone those in near-space which are accessible (if costly) with current technology
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby Sheikh al-Majaneen » Tue Oct 02, 2012 4:10 am UTC

omgryebread wrote:Astral Event, Financial Depression, and Other.

Other for me is a political crisis: not so much nuclear war as a serious collapse in relations in some part of the world that may or may not lead to nuclear war. It could also lead to trade collapse or a conventional war, or drawn out hostilities.

If things between Israel and Iran go sour, nuclear war is a very real possibility. Like, before the end of the year, and we wouldn't see blue skies again for at least a decade. Note that Israel has 300+ nuclear weapons, while the scenario discussed in the last link involves only a hundred.

Also, related to no more blue skies, everyone starves. For a lot of people, it's to death. This must have been what it felt like during the cold war in a neutral country.

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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby EdgarJPublius » Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:12 am UTC

100 nuclear weapons is ridiculously pessimistic for an India/Pakistan nuclear exchange. It's fantasy for a one sided Israel-Iran attack.

Israel's maximum second-strike capability is 64 warheads combined on their Dolphin class submarines, assuming all four are at sea and armed with a full complement of nuclear devices. In reality, only one or two of these submarines are deployed at any given time, and likely only carry a fraction of their total capacity in nuclear devices, with the larger balance in more practical conventional weapons.

Israels nuclear arsenal is more useful when it is disassembled and threatening western nations to be put back together and used against Iran, than it would be assembled and used in an actual strike against Iran.
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby Jorpho » Thu Oct 04, 2012 1:36 am UTC

All of the peak oil and global warming and resource shortages and such forth (maybe even the pandemic) are, I fear, likely to result in societal breakdown before they really, really become a problem.

That's what scares me. Sometimes I feel like everything out there we take for granted is precariously balanced on some horribly ramshackle contrivance held together mainly by the collective, desperate need to get along with everyone else, and that it could all come crashing down with astonishing rapidity before anyone can get a handle on how bad the situation is. Kind of like the end of "The Machine Stops" (sig).

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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby Ptolom » Thu Oct 04, 2012 7:03 pm UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:Population growth has been dropping for decades. I don't really see anything to worry about there.

Also, lack of resources? We've tapped into less than one third of one percent of the resources available just to this planet, let alone those in near-space which are accessible (if costly) with current technology


They are only useful if we can get to them before killing ourselves getting out those remaining 2/3.

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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby SlyReaper » Thu Oct 04, 2012 7:40 pm UTC

curtis95112 wrote:I'd pick the heat death of the universe. The others we could manage or avert if we just pulled ourselves together.

Tell that to the star that just exploded 10 light years away.
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby GodspeedYouAli » Thu Oct 04, 2012 7:44 pm UTC

Probably worldwide famine.

Or even worse, global warming. I love winter too much.


And yes, I don't entirely understand what the effects of global warming would entail aside from an increase in global temperature and less land, which I'm cool with. Always wanted a boathouse.
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby SlyReaper » Thu Oct 04, 2012 7:48 pm UTC

GodspeedYouAli wrote:Probably worldwide famine.

Or even worse, global warming. I love winter too much.


And yes, I don't entirely understand what the effects of global warming would entail aside from an increase in global temperature and less land, which I'm cool with. Always wanted a boathouse.

Depending on where you live, winters might actually get colder as a result of global warming, or might not change at all. It's not an even temperature rise, just an average temperature rise when you take every piece of data into account.
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby GodspeedYouAli » Thu Oct 04, 2012 7:55 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:
GodspeedYouAli wrote:Probably worldwide famine.

Or even worse, global warming. I love winter too much.


And yes, I don't entirely understand what the effects of global warming would entail aside from an increase in global temperature and less land, which I'm cool with. Always wanted a boathouse.

Depending on where you live, winters might actually get colder as a result of global warming, or might not change at all. It's not an even temperature rise, just an average temperature rise when you take every piece of data into account.

Man, they never really call things by what they are, do they? Haha.


Seriously though, which regions on the globe would get colder as a result of it?
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby Vahir » Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:04 pm UTC

Europe, for one. (What with the disappearance of the gulf stream).

This wikipedia article is very, very depressing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Far_future

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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby EdgarJPublius » Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:57 pm UTC

Ptolom wrote:
EdgarJPublius wrote:Population growth has been dropping for decades. I don't really see anything to worry about there.

Also, lack of resources? We've tapped into less than one third of one percent of the resources available just to this planet, let alone those in near-space which are accessible (if costly) with current technology


They are only useful if we can get to them before killing ourselves getting out those remaining 2/3.



Well sure, but that would be an economic collapse or some other disaster, not a lack of resources problem.
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby SlyReaper » Thu Oct 04, 2012 9:35 pm UTC

GodspeedYouAli wrote:
SlyReaper wrote:
GodspeedYouAli wrote:Probably worldwide famine.

Or even worse, global warming. I love winter too much.


And yes, I don't entirely understand what the effects of global warming would entail aside from an increase in global temperature and less land, which I'm cool with. Always wanted a boathouse.

Depending on where you live, winters might actually get colder as a result of global warming, or might not change at all. It's not an even temperature rise, just an average temperature rise when you take every piece of data into account.

Man, they never really call things by what they are, do they? Haha.


Seriously though, which regions on the globe would get colder as a result of it?

They have called it what it is - a warming trend on a global scale. There may be global warming, even if there's local cooling in some places. As Vahir said, the melting of Arctic ice is expected to have certain effects on the gulf stream, which means less warm water from the Gulf of Mexico will reach western Europe. So yeah, it might get a bit chilly around these parts.
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby You, sir, name? » Thu Oct 04, 2012 9:48 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:
GodspeedYouAli wrote:
SlyReaper wrote:
GodspeedYouAli wrote:Probably worldwide famine.

Or even worse, global warming. I love winter too much.


And yes, I don't entirely understand what the effects of global warming would entail aside from an increase in global temperature and less land, which I'm cool with. Always wanted a boathouse.

Depending on where you live, winters might actually get colder as a result of global warming, or might not change at all. It's not an even temperature rise, just an average temperature rise when you take every piece of data into account.

Man, they never really call things by what they are, do they? Haha.


Seriously though, which regions on the globe would get colder as a result of it?

They have called it what it is - a warming trend on a global scale. There may be global warming, even if there's local cooling in some places. As Vahir said, the melting of Arctic ice is expected to have certain effects on the gulf stream, which means less warm water from the Gulf of Mexico will reach western Europe. So yeah, it might get a bit chilly around these parts.


"Climate change" is usually the preferred term, launched as a reaction to people misinterpreting "global warming" as "local warming".
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby Enuja » Sun Oct 07, 2012 1:33 pm UTC

I chose Population Growth/Lack of Resources because I care about the other species on this planet, too, and they are the ones I'm most worried about. I should have chosen Global Warming as well, but I didn't see the "chose three" bit until I clicked. Silly me. Also, I don't see either of these as "world shattering" disasters: just the sad and nearly inevitable future. The world will still be here, and lots of life on it too, including an enormous amount of both human and non-human life. But the life that doesn't get along well with humans is going to have some serious hardships, and its diversity is going to go way down. And that really bothers me. I don't expect or worry about a massive movie-style doomsday, just tons of biological communities functioning poorly, and a lot of invasion, extirpation, and extinction.

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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby apricity » Sun Oct 07, 2012 10:50 pm UTC

Dr. Diaphanous wrote:Nuclear War, Global Warming, Lack of resources
Same, because those are actually entirely realistic to worry about, and they are also things that humans can actually do something to avoid. The rest are much harder if not impossible to avoid, and thus not worth worrying about in my mind (with the exception of financial depression, but that is not world-shattering to me).
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby Jorpho » Mon Oct 08, 2012 12:01 am UTC

Nuclear war seems like a remote possibility at the moment. I can imagine Iran doing something really, really stupid, but nothing like global thermonuclear mutually assured destruction like they used to talk about.

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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby folkhero » Mon Oct 08, 2012 7:16 am UTC

I"m surprised at how few votes pandemic is getting. With all the mass killings of the 20th century, and how terrible they were, the Spanish Flu dwarfs every one of them. Today we are more interconnected than ever. If the wrong mutation of a flu virus hits a major airport I think it's likely that we could see something, as bad or even worse than the Spanish Flu. Maybe there isn't as much concern because things like SARS and H1N1 didn't turn into world shaping pandemics (though H1N1 was about as widespread and deadly as a normal seasonal flu, and affect a younger demographic, the seasonal flu that year was mush smaller than usual). And AIDS, while terrible, has become treatable and it's much less widespread than some of the huge pandemics of history.

My great grandfather was a physician in 1918 and even the second hand stories I've heard from my family members that knew him are enough to make me worried. There was also the Steven Soderbergh movie Contagion that I thought was quite good, and from what I can tell, there isn't anything about it that's all that unrealistic.
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Mon Oct 08, 2012 7:33 am UTC

Nothing can compare to the existential terror I feel when confronted with the thought of the universe itself ending, so I'm going with heat death of the universe and nothing else.
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby EdgarJPublius » Mon Oct 08, 2012 10:17 am UTC

folkhero wrote:I"m surprised at how few votes pandemic is getting. With all the mass killings of the 20th century, and how terrible they were, the Spanish Flu dwarfs every one of them. Today we are more interconnected than ever. If the wrong mutation of a flu virus hits a major airport I think it's likely that we could see something, as bad or even worse than the Spanish Flu. Maybe there isn't as much concern because things like SARS and H1N1 didn't turn into world shaping pandemics (though H1N1 was about as widespread and deadly as a normal seasonal flu, and affect a younger demographic, the seasonal flu that year was mush smaller than usual). And AIDS, while terrible, has become treatable and it's much less widespread than some of the huge pandemics of history.

My great grandfather was a physician in 1918 and even the second hand stories I've heard from my family members that knew him are enough to make me worried. There was also the Steven Soderbergh movie Contagion that I thought was quite good, and from what I can tell, there isn't anything about it that's all that unrealistic.



Our understanding of pandemic disease has come leaps and bounds over the last ninety-odd years. That includes prevention and cure of the disease itself through improved hygiene and medicine, as well as a much better understanding of how pandemic diseases travel and spread, and how to mitigate that.
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby idobox » Mon Oct 08, 2012 11:21 am UTC

Also, the Spanish Flu was so deadly only because of malnutrition caused by the war. And despite being terrible, it was in no way world shattering. Even the black plague in medieval Europe and Asia, which killed about one third of the population, was not world shattering : people died, then survivors kept on with their life, and little to nothing changed in the way they were living.
So pandemics are possible, but technology and general good hygiene (at least in rich countries) make them less likely to be really devastating, but it wouldn't shatter the world. Unless we're talking zombie invasion.
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby Sheikh al-Majaneen » Mon Oct 08, 2012 2:01 pm UTC

I used to be terrified of a pandemic, but any strain of ebola that becomes popular is going to be significantly milder than those strains that kill everyone infected in small villages, and we don't have the faintest idea how many people actually catch H5N1, just the number of people who get really sick from it. Though it might really be that deadly.

Also, pandemic is inevitable. No use worrying about inevitable things you are powerless against.

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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby MichiK » Tue Oct 09, 2012 12:16 am UTC

Nuclear War, Global Warming, Population / Resources. Why?

Nuclear War: It's five minutes to midnight again on the Doomsday Clock and when I look at the latest developments in the Middle East, I'm somewhat worried. A few years ago everything looked like a significant reduction in the nuclear arsenal, but now it seems like proliferation time again. North Korea's test a few years ago showed impressively that you want to have some nukes if you want to be left alone. Remember the post-9/11 "axis of evil" propaganda which first included North Korea but then suddenly stopped?

Global Warming: This certainly will be a big issue in the next 50 years and beyond and it will get bigger and bigger the longer the governments of the world don't really care. I grew up only a few miles behind the dyke where we say "You already can see on wednesday who will visit you on the weekend because of the flat country". Of course I'm worried. Even more, if I look at Asia, where millions and millions of people life next to the water and where they don't have our sophisticated measures of shore protection.

Population / Resources: I only can strongly recommend reading "The limits to growth" to everyone who doesn't think that this is a problem to worry about.

Why not the others?

Astral event: Asteroids large enough to really bother us will be seen soon enough to take countermeasures - not a real threat. Black holes are nowhere near us to bother us in the next fantastillion of years. Gamma ray bursts? Well, this would be really bad, but what again was the probabilty for one to really hit us? 1 : 10^{some gigantillions]?

Pandemic: We had H5N1, H1N1 and EHEC lately. The media was panicking, nothing happened. Well, some spanish cucumber farmers are probably still mad about EHEC, I suppose. However, nosocomial infections and antibiotic resistances will get more interesting in the next few years.

Geological disaster: Not evident in this part of the world. But if something really big blows up, whatever? We couldn't stop that anyway.

Financial depression: Meh, what is this about? Today, money is just some huger and huger numbers in some computers and the "imaginary" part of the economy with credit default swaps and strange stuff like that is 10 times or so larger than the "real" economy with machines and resources. I think, it's just about time that the first one implodes. The current beast was unleashed 20 years ago and we have to restrain it and everything will be fine again for a few years. There were a lot of financial crises in the past and there will be a lot in the future and none of them was really a "world shattering disaster".

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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby EdgarJPublius » Tue Oct 09, 2012 1:37 am UTC

It's five minutes to midnight again on the Doomsday Clock


The doomsday clock has never been further than 17 minutes from midnight, and the closest it's ever been was 2 minutes in 1953, four years before the first successful test of an ICBM.

Also, six years before the first strategic missile unit would even be formed, in reaction to which (y'know, Mutually Assured Destruction becoming a thing that could actually happen), the Doomsday Clock was set back five minutes the next year (to seven minutes, the same time it showed when created, at a time when only one nation had ever successfully tested a nuclear device).


Basically, the doomsday clock is nothing but fear-mongering bullshit, the sort of trash that gives neo-luddites and other techno-cultural regressives fuel.


"the Limits of Growth" isn't much better. The Population isn't growing exponentially, but is in fact trending towards a replacement-level or lower population growth. Many developed nations are already there. At the same time, technology for utilizing and conserving resources is growing apace with other areas of technology.

"The Limits of Growth" is really just the Malthusian trap of the twentieth century. We are on the brink of a dozen or more technological and cultural revolutions that could break out of the trap, just as the industrial revolution lead to the break-out in the early 1800s, and the agrarian revolution lead to the break-out twelve thousand years ago.
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby Jorpho » Tue Oct 09, 2012 2:55 am UTC

MichiK wrote:North Korea's test a few years ago showed impressively that you want to have some nukes if you want to be left alone.
It did? I don't think it particularly impressed anyone.

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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby idobox » Tue Oct 09, 2012 2:13 pm UTC

EdgarJPublius wrote:"The Limits of Growth" is really just the Malthusian trap of the twentieth century. We are on the brink of a dozen or more technological and cultural revolutions that could break out of the trap, just as the industrial revolution lead to the break-out in the early 1800s, and the agrarian revolution lead to the break-out twelve thousand years ago.

We're betting on future technology to avoid a Malthusian catastrophe, and that's a very risky move, especially when our current technology is using fossil resources at a very fast rate. Without oil, natural gas and mined phosphates, the food production would collapse. And even if there are alternatives to these 3 resources, it will take time to rebuild the whole industry, and people will die of starvation if we don't act in advance. Famine riots happened just last year, it's not crazy fear mongering, the problem will arise, and will have devastating effects if we don't act before hand.
Also our economy needs growth. For the past 2 centuries, this has happened by increasing food production and population, and by colonizing the world, but eternal growth cannot happen.
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Garm
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby Garm » Tue Oct 09, 2012 5:06 pm UTC

I'm worried about an asteroid hitting Yellowstone.
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SlyReaper
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby SlyReaper » Tue Oct 09, 2012 5:41 pm UTC

I find it interesting how population growth gets the most votes. To my mind, so long as the average human contributes more than they consume, isn't population growth a good thing? Or in other words, the more people there are, the more minds that are available to tackle the problem of dwindling resources.
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby tms » Tue Oct 09, 2012 6:46 pm UTC

The situation now isn't exactly that the least educated consume the most resources, although it's not the reverse either.
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Re: What world shattering disasters worry you?

Postby Jorpho » Wed Oct 10, 2012 4:53 am UTC

SlyReaper wrote:Or in other words, the more people there are, the more minds that are available to tackle the problem of dwindling resources.
But there is a finite capacity for people to contribute to tackling the problem of dwindling resources. To put it another way, there's only so much room at the top of the heap, regardless of how large the heap gets.


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