The End of the World: The Science and Ethics of Human Extinction

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9780415184472: The End of the World: The Science and Ethics of Human Extinction
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Are we in imminent danger of extinction? Yes, we probably are, argues John Leslie in his chilling account of the dangers facing the human race as we approach the second millenium.
The End of the World is a sobering assessment of the many disasters that scientists have predicted and speculated on as leading to apocalypse. In the first comprehensive survey, potential catastrophes - ranging from deadly diseases to high-energy physics experiments - are explored to help us understand the risks.
One of the greatest threats facing humankind, however, is the insurmountable fact that we are a relatively young species, a risk which is at the heart of the 'Doomsday Argument'. This argument, if correct, makes the dangers we face more serious than we could have ever imagined. This more than anything makes the arrogance and ignorance of politicians, and indeed philosophers, so disturbing as they continue to ignore the manifest dangers facing future generations.

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While the concept of "oneness" with nature is foreign to most western cultures, groups such as the Hindus and the Hopi Indians have long comprehended their role in an ever-cycling universe and the inevitable coming of the end of the world. As the earth reaches 8.64 billion years--the length of the Hindu's "creation-and-destruction" cycle--Professor John Leslie of the University of Guelph in Canada thinks that the end, at least for this course of humanity, is near. Impending threats to our survival include nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare; ozone depletion; the greenhouse effect; disease; natural disasters; and even the potential for accidental production of a new Big Bang. And while trying to forestall an apocalypse would be futile, Leslie promises it will all end quickly.

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Nuclear war, holes in the ozone layer, disease, genetic engineering, asteroids and supernovas - any of these may bring human history to an end. But are we in imminent danger of extinction? John Leslie assesses the risks facing the human race and concludes: yes, we probably are. Leslie pays particular attention to the 'doomsday argument'. This argument, arising from the undeniable fact that we are a very young species, substantially increases the likelihood of our extinction.

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