By Willard Wells

Any formulation for predicting human survival will invite controversy. This booklet presents a distinct research of the probabilities of human survivability within the brief and long-term. It develops a formulation for survival in response to 4 separate measures.

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Additional resources for Apocalypse When?: Calculating How Long the Human Race Will Survive (Springer Praxis Books Popular Science)

Sample text

Applying the product rule gives …4; 2† ˆ 1=6  1=6 ˆ 1=36: Likewise, any other combination has the probability 1/36. So the probability of rolling 6 with the pair of dice is …1; 5† OR …2; 4† OR …3; 3† . . …5; 1†: Finally, invoke the sum rule and replace each OR with a plus sign to get the probability of rolling a 6 with a pair of dice: Prob…6† ˆ …1; 5† ‡ …2; 4† ‡ …3; 3† ‡ …4; 2† ‡ …5; 1† ˆ 5=36: # # # We can apply these same rules to a survivability problem. Suppose that an entity is either type A, B, or C, with probabilities Pa , Pb , and Pc .

Any formula for human survival will surely con¯ict with somebody's worldview, thereby inviting controversy. It is critical, therefore, that the reasoning be as thorough and credible as possible. We shall proceed cautiously with many examples using four very di€erent approaches or viewpoints. All four converge on approximately the same formula. Four approaches may seem excessive, but the math is vague Introduction 7 in some places (fuzzy, as mathematicians often say), and the strengths of one argument compensate weaknesses in another.

Every time the population doubles, so does our risk. Unless the population plummets soon, a near-extinction event will likely occur during the lifetime of today's infants. The collapse of civilization will be almost as deadly as extinction. However, for those who do survive, the aftermath will be a very safe time. Sparse population will protect outlying villages from epidemics. The biosphere will recover from human degradation, although perhaps with a changed climate and extinction of many species.

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