Enfrentando riesgos catastróficos

A un año del tsunami del Océano Índico, ¿cuáles son las lecciones? La mayor es que fue el tipo de desastre al que quienes diseñan las políticas prestan poca atención, uno que tiene una probabilidad muy baja o desconocida de ocurrir, pero que provoca enormes pérdidas si es que ocurre. Con todo lo grandes que fueron las pérdidas de vidas humanas, el sufrimiento físico y emocional de los sobrevivientes y el daño a la propiedad causado por el tsunami, otros desastres de baja (pero no insignificante) o desconocida probabilidad pudieron haber infligido pérdidas incluso mayores.

Por ejemplo, el asteroide que explotó sobre Siberia en 1908 con la fuerza de una bomba de hidrógeno podría haber matado millones de personas si hubiera explotado sobre una gran ciudad, y eso que tenía sólo unos 60 metros de diámetro. Uno mucho más grande (entre los miles de asteroides peligrosamente grandes que se encuentran en órbitas que intersectan la de la Tierra) podría golpear nuestro planeta y causar la total extinción de la raza humana, a través de una combinación de ondas expansivas, incendios, tsunamis y bloqueo de la luz solar, independientemente del punto donde cayese.

Otros riesgos catastróficos pueden ser las epidemias naturales (la influenza española de 1918-1919 mató entre 20 y 40 millones de personas), ataques terroristas nucleares o biológicos, ciertos tipos de accidentes de laboratorio, y un calentamiento global abrupto. La probabilidad de que ocurran catástrofes, intencionales o no, resultantes de la actividad humana parece estar en aumento debido a la rapidez y dirección de los avances tecnológicos.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/BljWlNw/es;
  1. Patrick Kovarik/Getty Images

    The Summit of Climate Hopes

    Presidents, prime ministers, and policymakers gather in Paris today for the One Planet Summit. But with no senior US representative attending, is the 2015 Paris climate agreement still viable?

  2. Trump greets his supporters The Washington Post/Getty Images

    Populist Plutocracy and the Future of America

    • In the first year of his presidency, Donald Trump has consistently sold out the blue-collar, socially conservative whites who brought him to power, while pursuing policies to enrich his fellow plutocrats. 

    • Sooner or later, Trump's core supporters will wake up to this fact, so it is worth asking how far he might go to keep them on his side.
  3. Agents are bidding on at the auction of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi' Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

    The Man Who Didn’t Save the World

    A Saudi prince has been revealed to be the buyer of Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi," for which he spent $450.3 million. Had he given the money to the poor, as the subject of the painting instructed another rich man, he could have restored eyesight to nine million people, or enabled 13 million families to grow 50% more food.

  4.  An inside view of the 'AknRobotics' Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    Two Myths About Automation

    While many people believe that technological progress and job destruction are accelerating dramatically, there is no evidence of either trend. In reality, total factor productivity, the best summary measure of the pace of technical change, has been stagnating since 2005 in the US and across the advanced-country world.

  5. A student shows a combo pictures of three dictators, Austrian born Hitler, Castro and Stalin with Viktor Orban Attila Kisbenedek/Getty Images

    The Hungarian Government’s Failed Campaign of Lies

    The Hungarian government has released the results of its "national consultation" on what it calls the "Soros Plan" to flood the country with Muslim migrants and refugees. But no such plan exists, only a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign to help a corrupt administration deflect attention from its failure to fulfill Hungarians’ aspirations.

  6. Project Syndicate

    DEBATE: Should the Eurozone Impose Fiscal Union?

    French President Emmanuel Macron wants European leaders to appoint a eurozone finance minister as a way to ensure the single currency's long-term viability. But would it work, and, more fundamentally, is it necessary?

  7. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now