Martin Rees, Our Final Hour, (Basic Books, 2003).
Sir Martin Rees is England's Astronomer Royal. The book is a good read; Sir Martin is a good writer. He lists many risks that could cause human extinction: asteroid impact, the gray goo problem of nanotech, run-away global warming, and many more. He rates our probability of surviving this century at 50%. (We think him pessimistic.) The same book is titled Our Final Century in an earlier publication.
Richard A. Posner, Catastrophe: Risk and Response, (Oxford University Press, 2004)
Posner's coverage of ethical and economic aspects is impressive and extensive, sometimes too extensive. Posner is a judge and a law professor. He struggles to apply the legal system and legal concepts to these issues, important work and a good start, but more is needed. What is needed most is implementation of his ideas, a problem external to the book.
Nick Bostrom, "Existential Risks: Analyzing Human Extinction Scenarios and Related Hazards
Journal of Evolution and Technology, Vol. 9, March 2002.
Bostrom is an excellent philosopher. We almost titled this SIG "Existential risk reduction" following Bostrom. However, we did not want to include in the definition, as he does, his risk of missing transhumanism. Also, "existential" sounded complex and too closely connoted existentialism. Bostrom is brilliant and fun but distracting if you want to focus on global risk. Read him to round out your expertise or have fun playing with ideas.
Adrian Kent, "A critical look at risk assessments for global catastrophes, Risk Analysis
24 (2004) P. 155-166 http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/hep-ph/pdf/0009/0009204.pdf
This paper discusses the mathematics of expected value (probability times cost) as applied to this type of problem. It considers the high expected loss resulting from low probability risks when the loss is very large.
Risk Evaluation Forum http://www.risk-evaluation-forum.org
Focuses on the risk of mini black holes at particle colliders. The Global Risk Reduction SIG coordinator is contact person. This is one of his other efforts.
Isaac Asimov, A Choice of Catastrophes: The Disasters That Threaten Our World
(Ballantine Books, Sept. 1981)
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