应付灾难性风险

印度洋大海啸发生一年来,我们得到了哪些教训呢?最大的教训是,这是一种决策者极少予以关注的灾害,它的发生可能性非常低或者无以知晓。但是,如果确实发生就将产生巨大损失。死亡人数极高,幸存者的身体和情感苦难以及由大海啸所带来的财产损失也十分巨大。甚至,其他可能性低(但并非可以忽略)的或者不得而知的的灾难可能会造成更大的损失。

例如,1908年在西伯利亚上空爆炸的小行星具有一颗氢弹的威力,如果在一座大城市上空爆炸,就有可能杀死数以百万计的人口。但是,那个小行星的直径只不过是200英尺。一个体积更为巨大的小行星(数以千计的尺寸大得危险的小行星的轨道与地球交叉)可能撞击地球,并且无论在哪里撞击都能够通过冲击波、大火、大海啸以及阻挡阳光造成人类灭亡。

其他灾难性风险包括天然流行病(1918年到1919年的西班牙流感夺去大约2000万到4000万人的生命),恐怖分子发动核子或者生物攻击,某些种类的实验室事故以及突发的全球温室效应。由于技术进步的迅猛和方向,由人类有意或者无意活动引起的灾难可能性看起来在增加。

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