Islands, nuclear winter, and trade disruption as an existential risk factor

This is a link post to our new long-read on nuclear winter and abrupt sunlight reducing scenarios.

Purpose: In this long-read we provide a summary and extended commentary on our recent paper: Island refuges for surviving nuclear winter and other abrupt sun-reducing catastrophes (available as a pre-print via the link). We demonstrate how this research could help direct efforts to reduce the risk from catastrophic sun-blocking scenarios and suggest some next steps to safeguard humanity from these types of existential threat using New Zealand as a case study. 

TLDR:

  • Abrupt sunlight reducing scenarios (ASRS) such as nuclear winter or volcanic super-eruption are plausible and could have serious consequences for climate and food production. 
  • It is often thought that some Southern Hemisphere islands might resist the more severe impacts of these winters. 
  • We find that some locations could likely produce enough food in a nuclear winter to keep feeding their populations, but food supply alone does not guarantee flourishing of technological society if trade is seriously disrupted.
  • The potential disruption to industry and society caused by serious trade collapse could be severe and cause deindustrialization of societies. 
  • It is problematic to assume that locations such as New Zealand and Australia might survive catastrophes such as nuclear winter with their institutions and technology intact – without major upgrades in their levels of resilience. 
  • This has implications for the future of humanity and human civilisation, given the existing assumptions about Southern Hemisphere islands. 
  • Many nations might be advised to pursue resilient foods to mitigate ASRS, but New Zealand and Australia might focus on resilience measures for preserving transport, energy, manufacturing, and industrial inputs in the absence of global trade. 

You can read the full long-read on the EA Forum by clicking here.

Author: Adapt Research

Adapt Research provides high quality evidence-based medical, technical and academic research, writing and analysis services to universities, government departments, and private firms. I am available for large and small research projects, peer review, and medical writing assignments of any size

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