Magnitude outweighs – there’s a difference between existential and non-existential threats
Matheny ‘7 (Jason G Matheny, Prof of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, “Reducing the Risk of Human Extinction,” Risk Analysis Volume 27 Number 5, Oct. 15 2007, http://www.upmc-biosecurity.org/website/resources/publications/2007_orig-articles/2007-10-15-reducingrisk.html, TDA)
Even if extinction events are improbable, the expected values of countermeasures could be large, as they include the value of all future lives. This introduces a discontinuity between the CEA of extinction and nonextinction risks. Even though the risk to any existing individual of dying in a car crash is much greater than the risk of dying in an asteroid impact, asteroids pose a much greater risk to the existence of future generations (we are not likely to crash all our cars at once) (Chapman, 2004 ). The "death-toll" of an extinction-level asteroid impact is the population of Earth, plus all the descendents of that population who would otherwise have existed if not for the impact. There is thus a discontinuity between risks that threaten 99% of humanity and those that threaten 100%.
A single asteroid collision is capable of doing more damage than all nuclear weapons in existence combined. Kunich 97 (Lieutenant Colonel John C., Staff Judge Advocate, 50th Space Wing, Falcon Air Force Base, Colorado, Air Force Law Review, 41 A.F. L. Rev. 119, accessed through Lexis, NB)
If you were standing on Kosrae Island off the New Guinea coast on February 1, 1994, you would have seen a blast in the sky as bright as the Sun. This was caused by a small meteor entering Earth's atmosphere at 15 kilometers per second (roughly 33,500 miles per hour). Fortunately for you and everyone else nearby, the meteor exploded at high altitude, over a sparsely populated region; the blast had the force of 11 kilotons of TNT. n1 This was not your first near-death experience. On March 23, 1989, an asteroid about 800 meters in diameter narrowly missed the Earth (by about 6 hours' difference in relative position). If this asteroid had struck the Earth, the impact would have released energy equivalent to about 40,000 megatons of TNT, or 2,000 standard-size hydrogen bombs. n2 On an even larger scale, on December 8, 1992, a large asteroid named Toutatis missed hitting this planet by only two lunar distances. This was a very lucky day for everyone on Earth, because Toutatis is nearly 4 kilometers in diameter. n3 If it had hit us, the force of the collision would have generated more energy than all the nuclear weapons in existence combined-approximately 9 million megatons of TNT.
Scenario: Ice Age
A massive asteroid impact has empirically caused an ice age
Science Daily 07(Extraterrestrial Impact Likely Source Of Sudden Ice Age Extinctions, ScienceDaily (Sep. 25, 2007), http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070924172959.htm, G.L)
In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the international team lays out its theory that the mass extinctions in North America were caused by one or more extraterrestrial objects – comets or meteorites – that exploded over the Earth or slammed into it, triggering catastrophic climate change. The scientists believe that evidence for these extraterrestrial impacts is hidden in a dark layer of dirt sometimes called a black mat. Found in more than 50 sites around North America, this puzzling slice of geological history is a mere three centimeters deep and filled with carbon, which lends the layer its dark color. This black mat has been found in archaeological digs in Canada and California, Arizona and South Carolina – even in a research site in Belgium. The formation of this layer dates back 12,900 years and coincides with the abrupt cooling of the Younger Dryas period, sometimes called the “Big Freeze.” This coincidence intrigued the researchers, led by Richard Firestone of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who thought that the black mat might be related to the mass extinctions. So the researchers studied black mat sediment samples from 10 archaeological sites dating back to the Clovis people, the first human inhabitants of the New World. Researchers conducted geochemical analysis of the samples to determine their makeup and also ran carbon dating tests to determine the age of the
samples. Directly beneath the black mat, researchers found high concentrations of magnetic grains containing iridium, charcoal, soot, carbon spherules, glass-like carbon containing nanodiamonds and fullerenes packed with extraterrestrial helium – all of which are evidence for an extraterrestrial impact and the raging wildfires that might have followed. Schultz, professor of geological sciences at Brown and an impact specialist, said the most provocative evidence for an extraterrestrial impact was the discovery of nanodiamonds, microscopic bits of diamond formed only from the kind of intense pressure you’d get from a comet or meteorite slamming into the Earth. “We don’t have a smoking gun for our theory, but we sure have a lot of shell casings,” Schultz said. “Taken together, the markers found in the samples offer intriguing evidence that North America had a major impact event about 12,900 years ago.” Schultz admits that there is little decisive evidence about the actual details about the impact and its effects. Scientists suspect that a carbon-rich asteroid or comets were the culprits. The objects would have exploded over North America or slammed into it, or both, shattering and melting ice sheets, sparking extreme wildfires, and fueling hurricane-force winds – all of which could have contributed to changes in climate that led to the cooling of the Younger Dryas period. “Our theory isn’t a slam dunk,” Schultz said. “We need to study a lot more sediments to get a lot more evidence. But what is sobering about this theory of ours is that this impact would be so recent. Not so long ago, something may have fallen from the sky and profoundly changed our climate and our culture.” The U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation funded the work.
An ice age would incite mass migrations that’d culminate in violence. As a deterrence some countries would declare wars; and others would run scarce of resources because of overpopulation.
Bingel in 7
(Dr. Ferit, Middle East Technical University of Marine Sciences, May 25 Ice Age Possible for Scandinavia?; behav.org)
Within recent months, the Pentagon has released a study about the climate changing and the effect it would have on the world. An abrupt temperature change would come eventually and it would be inevitable. The study was based on information from 8200 years ago when the earth went through the same change. A sudden cooling of the earth appeared after a long, extended heat wave. At this time, the Gulf Stream collapsed. Because of this past data, the study suggests the fate of Europe. Although there is no way to make sure that the information can be used to foresee what will happen to the present day, the study does suggest some startling possibilities. The collapse of the Stream would be more visible in northern Europe for the first five years. The annual rainfall would decrease by 30%, causing a severe drought. An increase in wind would cause the temperature to drop about six degrees. Snow would remain on the ground, making Scandinavia in a constant winter phase. The cold would stretch onto the latter months making the summer cooler then before. Humans could neither develop agriculture or permanant settlements and in turn would move southward onto other parts of Europe, being pushed by the colder, unstable temperature from home. As the population moves, fights and even battles would break out within the mass migration. Resources within other countries would decline because of the sudden increase in population within their own country. In defense, some countries would declare war. Not only would a climatic change move the population, but the fish, wildlife, water and energy consumption all would be effected. By the end of the decade, Europe's weather would be more of a mirror image of Siberia's or northern Canada's then what it looked like in the past. Unfortunately, the duration of this process could take decades and even centuries.