Recovery from a global catastrophe



The probability that a global catastrophe could turn into an existential one.

Carl Shulman here says:

It’s been discussed repeatedly here on Less Wrong, and in many other places. The weight of expert opinion is on recovery, and I think the evidence is strong. Most resources are more accessible in ruined cities than they were in the ground, and more expensive fossil fuels can be substituted for by biomass, hydropower, efficiency, and so forth. It looks like there was a lot of slack in human development, e.g. animal and plant breeding is still delivering good returns after many centuries, humans have been adapting to civilization over the last thousands of years and would continue to become better adapted with a long period of low-fossil fuel near-industrial technology. And for many catastrophes knowledge from the previous civilization would be available to future generations.

Toby Ord discusses recovery from civilizational collapse in The Precipice. His assessment is that civilization could likely be re-established. Some factors he mentions are:

  • Throughout history, civilization has been established independently several times.
  • It is easier to extract resources from ruined cities, abandoned mines, etc., than starting over.
  • There would be evidence that civilization is possible (i.e. one would not have to come up with the idea of starting a civilization).
  • Knowledge to help rebuild would be available. (He does not go into details about what this would be.)






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