nuclear winter

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pages: 513 words: 152,381

The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity by Toby Ord

3D printing, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, availability heuristic, Columbian Exchange, computer vision, cosmological constant, cuban missile crisis, decarbonisation, defense in depth, delayed gratification, demographic transition, Doomsday Clock, Drosophila, effective altruism, Elon Musk, Ernest Rutherford, global pandemic, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, nuclear winter, p-value, Peter Singer: altruism, planetary scale, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supervolcano, survivorship bias, the scientific method, uranium enrichment

Some of these may be reduced through future research, while others may be impossible to resolve. Skeptics of the nuclear winter scenario often point to these remaining uncertainties, as they show that our current scientific understanding is compatible with a milder nuclear winter. But uncertainty cuts both ways. The effect of nuclear winter could also be more severe than the central estimates. We don’t have a principled reason for thinking that the uncertainty here makes things better.41 Since I am inclined to believe that the central nuclear winter scenario is not an existential catastrophe, the uncertainty actually makes things worse by leaving this possibility open. If a nuclear war were to cause an existential catastrophe, this would presumably be because the nuclear winter effect was substantially worse than expected, or because of other—as yet unknown—effects produced by such an unprecedented assault on the Earth.

But we may also face a breakdown in law and order at all scales, continuing hostilities, and a loss of infrastructure including transport, fuel, fertilizer and electricity. For all that, nuclear winter appears unlikely to lead to our extinction. No current researchers on nuclear winter are on record saying that it would and many have explicitly said that it is unlikely.38 Existential catastrophe via a global unrecoverable collapse of civilization also seems unlikely, especially if we consider somewhere like New Zealand (or the southeast of Australia) which is unlikely to be directly targeted and will avoid the worst effects of nuclear winter by being coastal. It is hard to see why they wouldn’t make it through with most of their technology (and institutions) intact.39 There are significant remaining uncertainties at all stages of our understanding of nuclear winter: 1. How many cities are hit with bombs? 2. How much smoke does this produce?

At that height it cannot be rained out, so a dark shroud of soot would spread around the world. This would block sunlight: chilling, darkening and drying the world. The world’s major crops would fail, and billions could face starvation in a nuclear winter. Nuclear winter was highly controversial at first, since there were many uncertainties remaining, and concerns that conclusions were being put forward before the science was ready. As the assumptions and models were improved over the years, the exact nature of the threat changed, but the basic mechanism stood the test of time.33 Our current best understanding comes from the work of Alan Robock and colleagues.34 While early work on nuclear winter was limited by primitive climate models, modern computers and interest in climate change have led to much more sophisticated techniques. Robock applied an ocean-atmosphere general circulation model and found an amount of cooling similar to early estimates, lasting about five times longer.


Active Measures by Thomas Rid

1960s counterculture, 4chan, active measures, anti-communist, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, call centre, Chelsea Manning, continuation of politics by other means, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, Donald Trump, East Village, Edward Snowden, en.wikipedia.org, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, guest worker program, Internet Archive, Jacob Appelbaum, John Markoff, Julian Assange, kremlinology, Mikhail Gorbachev, Norman Mailer, nuclear winter, peer-to-peer, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, zero day

In July 1985, when news of Alexandrov’s disappearance had just broken, two KGB defectors listed the nuclear winter tale as an example of disinformation in their newsletter on Soviet active measures. Stanislav Levchenko and Peter Deriabin, both experienced in disinformation, singled out Alexandrov as an agent of influence “chosen to exaggerate both the causes and effects of a nuclear winter for foreign policy purposes.”25 A more careful examination of the trajectory of the idea of nuclear winter, however, reveals its organic origin in the American climate-research community. What really lifted the theorem to worldwide success was not Soviet propaganda in the guise of research but several highly visible U.S. scientists with a knack for branding and publicity, most notably Carl Sagan. The Soviet attempt to hijack this debate largely failed. The nuclear winter theory emerged, evolved, and disappeared in the West.

The TTAPS study suggested that there was a “threshold” of nuclear detonations, which could be between five hundred and two thousand nuclear warheads. Once a nuclear attack surpassed this threshold, it would trigger global mayhem, thus ensuing the attacker’s own self-destruction. The Science piece used data and technical language. Nuclear winter wasn’t political science; these were hard, cold facts. Sagan also placed a less technical article about nuclear winter in Foreign Affairs. One month earlier, on November 23, the CIA sent a classified memo to the National Intelligence Council. The memo mentioned the nuclear winter theory with concern, referring to “a new analysis and conclusion which apparently throws all previous estimates on recovery out the window.”5 Recovering from a nuclear war might not be possible, the CIA concluded, and the climate effects would have strategically “profound implications.”

In the book, Tretyakov made an extraordinary claim: that the notion of nuclear winter was one of the KGB’s most successful disinformation operations. “I am not a scientist, nor did I ever meet Mr. Sagan or his coauthors,” Tretyakov wrote, introducing his revelation. But the former colonel had been well connected in Russian intelligence: “I did have several conversations with the former KGB official responsible for scientific propaganda during this time period,” Tretyakov said. “She told me repeatedly the KGB was responsible for creating the entire nuclear winter story to stop the Pershing missiles.” Such an operation would certainly fit the KGB’s established pattern of disinformation operations. Treyakov continued: “I don’t know if Mr. Sagan ever knew the KGB was behind his effort, but inside the KGB, the nuclear winter propaganda was considered the ultimate example of how the KGB had completely alarmed the West with science that no one in Moscow ever believed was true.”8 Tretyakov appeared credible.


pages: 469 words: 142,230

The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World by Oliver Morton

Albert Einstein, Asilomar, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, colonial rule, Colonization of Mars, Columbian Exchange, decarbonisation, demographic transition, Elon Musk, energy transition, Ernest Rutherford, germ theory of disease, Haber-Bosch Process, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Harrison: Longitude, John von Neumann, late capitalism, Louis Pasteur, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, Philip Mirowski, planetary scale, plutocrats, Plutocrats, renewable energy transition, Scramble for Africa, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, smart grid, South China Sea, Stewart Brand, Thomas Malthus

Returning to the willful blindness as to the climate effects of nuclear war, though, how was it that, eventually, the possibility of nuclear winter came to be discovered? The answer piles irony on irony. The catastrophic turn in the imagination that had been shaped by fears of a nuclear apocalypse was not restricted to novels, disaster movies and generalized dread. It moulded the course of science as well. Specific insights derived from studies of nuclear explosions led to a widened scientific appreciation of other ways in which the world might end. It was the search for possible examples of such natural catastrophes that eventually led to predictions of nuclear winter. In the first part of the twentieth century geology was ideologically and methodologically committed to ‘uniformitarian-ism’ – the belief that although the Earth’s features change, the processes by which those features come into being and pass away are constant.

The idea that climate science was a rat’s nest of left-wingers stretching their computer models to unreasonable lengths in order to try and subvert America’s national interests flourished in the minds of the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, among other places; a decade later it would be reused more or less unchanged in attacks on attempts to curb carbondioxide emissions. Sagan and Turco later claimed that fears of a nuclear winter were instrumental in ending the cold war. There is no strong evidence for this, and it is not a common view – indeed, it is quite easy to find histories of the cold war that make no mention of nuclear winter at all. In 1983, after a pre-publication briefing on the TTAPS paper, an arms-control expert told Sagan that ‘if you think that the mere prospect of the end of the world is sufficient to change thinking in Washington and Moscow you clearly haven’t spent much time in either of those places’.

That said, the idea may have contributed to a longer-term shift in attitudes. In the past few years the idea of aiming for a world with no nuclear weapons has gained increasing currency in policy circles, and it is possible to see the shadow of nuclear winter, and the metamilitary threat it poses to combatant and non-combatant countries alike, behind the impulse to change the basic terms of the nuclear debate. But that may be projection; the idea is rarely evoked specifically. When President Obama spoke about moving towards a post-nuclear age in a 2009 speech given in Prague he made no mention of nuclear winter; he did, though, make mention of global warming as one of the new threats to which the world must turn its attention. What of the second campaign to save the world which I earlier claimed had flowed from the same science as TTAPS?


pages: 428 words: 121,717

Warnings by Richard A. Clarke

active measures, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, anti-communist, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, Bernie Madoff, cognitive bias, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, data acquisition, discovery of penicillin, double helix, Elon Musk, failed state, financial thriller, fixed income, Flash crash, forensic accounting, friendly AI, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge worker, Maui Hawaii, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, money market fund, mouse model, Nate Silver, new economy, Nicholas Carr, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, phenotype, Ponzi scheme, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart grid, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Stuxnet, technological singularity, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Tunguska event, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce, Y2K

ROBOCK’S WARNING It is hard to know precisely what the political effects of the nuclear-winter theory were, but those who were the leaders of the U.S. and USSR at the time later admitted that it had helped prompt them to act. Ronald Reagan was the U.S. President at the time and was widely thought to be eager for a fight with the Soviet Union. Yet after reading about the nuclear-winter theory, Reagan met with his Soviet counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev, in Iceland and proposed the abolition of nuclear weapons. The Russian leader, who also had a growing concern about a nuclear winter, agreed in principle, but suggested that the two countries start by limiting the deployment of new weapons and then later reducing their stockpiles. In the years that followed, interest in the nuclear winter theory diminished. The Cold War ended peacefully.

Thousands more nuclear weapons were withdrawn from Western and Central Europe. Some scientists, reflecting on the nuclear winter theory, suggested that it had been exaggerated for political effect. The world moved on. Scientists began to focus on ozone depletion and the greenhouse-gas phenomenon, which came to be known as global warming and then climate change. Alan Robock remained concerned. In 2007, he recalculated the effects of a nuclear war, using vastly more sophisticated global climatic, atmospheric, and ocean data and simulations than had been available in the 1980s. He confirmed the nuclear winter theory. The effects of nuclear war had not been exaggerated in the slightest, but, in fact, were worse than originally predicted. A nuclear winter would require less soot ejected into the upper atmosphere, and the effects would be longer lasting than had earlier been thought to be the case.

Sagan responded that it was impossible fully to test the hypothesis, as science normally demanded, without having a nuclear war. Anti–nuclear weapons groups in Europe and the United States had been seeking a “nuclear freeze,” a ban on the creation of any additional nuclear weapons. The nuclear-winter theory gave these activists additional impetus, and their movement became a significant political force on both sides of the Atlantic. Sagan, along with TTAPS partner Richard Turco, reflected on their cause in another book, A Path Where No Man Thought: Nuclear Winter and the End of the Arms Race, arguing for further nuclear weapons reductions. In it, they recall the story of Cassandra as told in Aeschylus’s play Agamemnon: “Nobody paid attention. . . . They didn’t want to hear. . . . Today she would be dismissed as a prophet of doom and gloom . . . she can’t understand how it is that (her) predictions of catastrophe—some of which, if believed, could be prevented—are being ignored.”


Global Catastrophic Risks by Nick Bostrom, Milan M. Cirkovic

affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, anthropic principle, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, availability heuristic, Bill Joy: nanobots, Black Swan, carbon-based life, cognitive bias, complexity theory, computer age, coronavirus, corporate governance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, death of newspapers, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, distributed generation, Doomsday Clock, Drosophila, endogenous growth, Ernest Rutherford, failed state, feminist movement, framing effect, friendly AI, Georg Cantor, global pandemic, global village, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, Kevin Kelly, Kuiper Belt, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, P = NP, peak oil, phenotype, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, scientific worldview, Singularitarianism, social intelligence, South China Sea, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, Tunguska event, twin studies, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, War on Poverty, Westphalian system, Y2K

The scientists considered a nuclear exchange involving 100 Hiroshima-size bombs ( 1 5 kilotons) on cities in the subtropics, and found that: Smoke emissions of 100 low-yield urban explosions in a regional nuclear conflict would generate substantial global-scale climate anomalies, although not as large as the previous 'nuclear winter' scenarios for a full-scale war. H owever, indirect effect on 1 9 Turco, R.P., Toon, O.B., Ackerman, T.P., Pollack, J.B., and Sagan, C. (1983). Nuclear winter: global consequences of mutliple nuclear explosions. Science, 222, 1290. 20 Turco, R.P., Toon, O.B., Ackerman, T.P., Pollack, J . B . , and Sagan, C. ( 1990). Climate and smoke: an appraisal of nuclear winter. Science, 247, 166. 21 Ibid., p. 1 7 4. 22 Sagan, C. and Turco, R.P. ( 1 993). Nuclear winter in the Post-Cold War era. journal of Peace Research, 30(4), 369. 392 Global catastrophic risks surface land temperatures, precipitation rates, and growing season lengths would be likely to degrade agricultural productivity to an extent that historically has led to famines in Africa, India and Japan after the 1 784 Laki eruption or in the northeastern U nited States and Europe after the Tambora eruption of 1 8 1 5 .

However, it was also found that the maximum continental interior land cooling can reach 40° C, more than the 30-35 degrees estimate in the 1 980s, 'with subzero temperatures possible even in the summer'. 20 In a Science article in 1 990, the authors summarized: Should substantial urban areas or fuel stocks be exposed to nuclear ignition, severe environmental anomalies - possibly leading to more human casualties globally than a remote possibility, but a likely the direct effects of nuclear war - would be not just outcome.2 1 Carl Sagan and Richard Turco, two of the original scientists developing the nuclear winter analysis, concluded in 1993: Especially through the destruction o f global agriculture, nuclear winter might b e considerably worse than the short-term blast, radiation, fire, and fallout o f nuclear war. It would carry nuclear war to many nations that no one intended to attack, including the poorest and most vulnerable.22 In 2007, members of the original group of nuclear winter scientists collectively performed a new comprehensive quantitative assessment utilizing the latest computer and climate models. They concluded that even a small­ scale, regional nuclear war could kill as many people as died in all of World War I I and seriously disrupt the global climate for a decade or more, harming nearly everyone on Earth.

., 1 996a, 1 99Gb). 10.3 Volcanic winter Since Toba is a low-latitude volcano, dust and volatiles would have been injected efficiently into both Northern and Southern Hemispheres ( Rampino et al., 1988), although the season of the eruption is unknown. These estimated 208 Global catastropic risks aerosol optical effects are roughly equivalent in visible opacity to smoke-clouds (Turco et al., 1 990) , which is within the range used in nuclear-winter scenarios of massive emissions of soot emanating from burning urban and industrial areas in the aftermath of nuclear war. Although the climate conditions and duration of a nuclear winter have been much debated, simulations by Turco and others ( 1990) predicted that land temperatures in the 30°-70° N latitude zone could range from approximately soc to approximately 15°C colder than normal, with freezing events in mid­ latitudes during the first few months. At lower latitudes, model simulations suggest cooling of 10°C or more, with drastic decreases in precipitation in the first few months.


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Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space by Carl Sagan

Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, cosmological principle, dark matter, Dava Sobel, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, germ theory of disease, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Kuiper Belt, linked data, low earth orbit, nuclear winter, planetary scale, profit motive, scientific worldview, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, telepresence

It is a consequence of nuclear war that was somehow overlooked by the civil and military authorities of the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, France, and China when they decided to accumulate well over 60,000 nuclear weapons. Although it's hard to be certain about such things, a case can be made that nuclear Winter played a constructive role (there were other causes, of course) in convincing the nuclear-armed nations, especially the Soviet Union, of the futility of nuclear war. Nuclear winter was first calculated and named in 1982/83 by a group of five scientists, to which I'm proud to belong. This team was given the acronym TTAPS (for Richard P. Turco, (even B. Toon, Thomas Ackerman, James Pollack, and myself). Of the five TTAPS scientists, two were planetary scientists, and the other three had published many papers in planetary science, The earliest intimation of nuclear winter came during that same Mariner 9 mission to Mars, when there was a global dust storm and we were unable to see the surface of the planet; the infrared spectrometer on the spacecraft found the high atmosphere to be warmer and the surface colder than they ought to have been.

The climatological history of our planetary neighbor, an otherwise Earthlike planet on which the surface became hot enough to melt tin or lead, is worth considering—especially by those who say that the increasing greenhouse effect on Earth will be self-correcting, that we don't really have to worry about it, or (you can see this in the publications of some groups that call themselves conservative) that the greenhouse effect itself is a "hoax." (3) Nuclear winter is the predicted darkening and cooling of the Earth—mainly from fine smoke particles injected into the atmosphere from the burning of cities and petroleum facilities—that is predicted to follow a global thermonuclear war. A vigorous scientific debate ensued on just how serious nuclear winter might be. The various opinions have now converged. All three-dimensional general circulation computer models predict that the global temperatures resulting from a worldwide thermonuclear war would be colder than those in the Pleistocene ice ages.

A volcanic eruption in Taupo, New Zealand, in the year 177 cooled the climate of the Mediterranean, half a world away, and dropped fine particles onto the Greenland ice cap. The explosion of Mt. Mazama in Oregon (which left the caldera now called Crater Lake) in 4803 B.C. had climatic consequences throughout the northern hemisphere. Studies of volcanic effects on the climate were on the investigative path that eventually led to the discovery of nuclear winter. They provide important tests of our use of computer models to predict future climate change. Volcanic particles injected into the upper air are also an additional cause of thinning of the ozone layer. So a large volcanic explosion in some unfrequented and obscure part of the world can alter the environment on a global scale. Both in their origins and in their effects, volcanos remind us of how vulnerable we are to minor burps and sneezes in the Earth's internal metabolism, and how important it is for us to understand how this subterranean heat engine works.


Dinosaurs Rediscovered by Michael J. Benton

All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Bayesian statistics, biofilm, bioinformatics, David Attenborough, Ernest Rutherford, germ theory of disease, Isaac Newton, lateral thinking, North Sea oil, nuclear winter

One other consequence of the Alvarez model has had more traction, and that is the idea of nuclear winter. Three years after publication of the Alvarez paper, several climatologists began to speculate about the effects of all-out nuclear war. Richard P. Turco coined the term ‘nuclear winter’ in 1983 to describe the main outcome of mass bombing, which would be the lofting of ash into the upper atmosphere that would blot out the sun, leading to freezing conditions as the warming effect of sunlight was removed. Quickly the climatologists, modellers, and futurists saw the parallels with the Alvarez extinction model, and the assumptions are all now accepted, both for the impact at the end of the Cretaceous, and for the consequences of a similarly massive energy release from explosion of the Earth’s nuclear arsenals. Periodicity may have bitten the dust, but nuclear winter and impact killing of dinosaurs survived scrutiny.

They know next to nothing about how real animals evolve, live, and become extinct. But despite their ignorance, the geochemists feel that all you have to do is crank up some fancy machine and you’ve revolutionized science.’ Well, Bakker was wrong, as were many (perhaps most) other palaeontologists and geologists at the time. The impact really did happen, as we now know, based on hard evidence from field research, as we shall see. Periodicity and nuclear winter The idea of an asteroid impact 66 million years ago immediately spawned another, perhaps more startling consequence. If an impact happened once, why not many times? The suggestion was made in 1984 by David Raup and his colleague Jack Sepkoski, based on their preliminary analysis of the fossil record. They focused on the past 250 million years, and plotted a measure of extinction through time.

Periodicity may have bitten the dust, but nuclear winter and impact killing of dinosaurs survived scrutiny. Then the crater was found. The killer crater The impact theory, periodicity, and nuclear winter idea set scientists, and the public, talking, and in 1985 the BBC made a Horizon programme about the proposed end-Cretaceous asteroid impact. The journalists asked the rather obvious question: where was the crater, the smoking gun? At the time, the geologists could say little more than that the crater might well have been lost somehow – which wasn’t a hugely satisfactory answer. Even then, however, the trail of detective work was pointing to where the crater must be. Geologists had noticed that there were strangely perturbed rock units at the Cretaceous–Palaeogene boundary in rock sections throughout coastal areas in Mexico and along the Brazos River in Texas.


pages: 1,034 words: 241,773

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker

3D printing, access to a mobile phone, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, Anton Chekhov, Arthur Eddington, artificial general intelligence, availability heuristic, Ayatollah Khomeini, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, business cycle, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, clean water, clockwork universe, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, distributed generation, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, double helix, effective altruism, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, end world poverty, endogenous growth, energy transition, European colonialism, experimental subject, Exxon Valdez, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, first-past-the-post, Flynn Effect, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, frictionless, frictionless market, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, Hans Rosling, hedonic treadmill, helicopter parent, Hobbesian trap, humanitarian revolution, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, income inequality, income per capita, Indoor air pollution, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of writing, Jaron Lanier, Joan Didion, job automation, Johannes Kepler, John Snow's cholera map, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, knowledge economy, l'esprit de l'escalier, Laplace demon, life extension, long peace, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, Martin Wolf, mass incarceration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, Nathan Meyer Rothschild: antibiotics, Nelson Mandela, New Journalism, Norman Mailer, nuclear winter, obamacare, open economy, Paul Graham, peak oil, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, precision agriculture, prediction markets, purchasing power parity, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, Republic of Letters, Richard Feynman, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, Saturday Night Live, science of happiness, Scientific racism, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Simon Kuznets, Skype, smart grid, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, supervolcano, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, union organizing, universal basic income, University of East Anglia, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, War on Poverty, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, women in the workforce, working poor, World Values Survey, Y2K

Rosenberg, “When Reportage Turns to Cynicism,” New York Times, Nov. 14, 2016. 65. Bet on bioterror with Martin Rees: http://longbets.org/9/. 66. Reviews of nuclear weapons today: Evans, Ogilvie-White, & Thakur 2014; Federation of American Scientists (undated); Rhodes 2010; Scoblic 2010. 67. World’s nuclear stockpile: Kristensen & Norris 2016a; see also note 113 below. 68. Nuclear winter: Robock & Toon 2012; A. Robock & O. B. Toon, “Let’s End the Peril of a Nuclear Winter,” New York Times, Feb. 11, 2016. History of nuclear winter/autumn controversy: Morton 2015. 69. Doomsday Clock: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 2017. 70. Eugene Rabinowitch, quoted in Mueller 2010a, p. 26. 71. Doomsday Clock: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, “A Timeline of Conflict, Culture, and Change,” Nov. 13, 2013, http://thebulletin.org/multimedia/timeline-conflict-culture-and-change. 72.

Fewer states with fissile materials: “Sam Nunn Discusses Today’s Nuclear Risks,” Foreign Policy Association blogs, http://foreignpolicyblogs.com/2016/04/06/sam-nunn-discusses-todays-nuclear-risks/. 119. Disarmament without treaties: Kristensen & Norris 2016a; Mueller 2010a. 120. GRIT: Osgood 1962. 121. Small arsenal, no nuclear winter: A. Robock & O. B. Toon, “Let’s End the Peril of a Nuclear Winter,” New York Times, Feb. 11, 2016. The authors recommend that the United States reduce its arsenal to 1,000 warheads, but they don’t say whether this would rule out the possibility of nuclear winter. The number 200 comes from a presentation by Robock at MIT, April 2, 2016, “Climatic Consequences of Nuclear War,” http://futureoflife.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Alan_Robock_MIT_April2.pdf. 122. No hair trigger: Evans, Ogilvie-White, & Thakur 2014, p. 56. 123.

If India and Pakistan went to war and detonated a hundred of their weapons, twenty million people could be killed right away, and soot from the firestorms could spread through the atmosphere, devastate the ozone layer, and cool the planet for more than a decade, which in turn would slash food production and starve more than a billion people. An all-out exchange between the United States and Russia could cool the Earth by 8°C for years and create a nuclear winter (or at least autumn) that would starve even more.68 Whether or not nuclear war would (as is often asserted) destroy civilization, the species, or the planet, it would be horrific beyond imagining. Soon after atom bombs were dropped on Japan, and the United States and the Soviet Union embarked on a nuclear arms race, a new form of historical pessimism took root. In this Promethean narrative, humanity has wrested deadly knowledge from the gods, and, lacking the wisdom to use it responsibly, is doomed to annihilate itself.


The Techno-Human Condition by Braden R. Allenby, Daniel R. Sarewitz

airport security, augmented reality, carbon footprint, clean water, cognitive dissonance, coherent worldview, conceptual framework, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, decarbonisation, different worldview, facts on the ground, friendly fire, industrial cluster, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, land tenure, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, market fundamentalism, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, Peter Singer: altruism, planetary scale, prediction markets, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Silicon Valley, smart grid, source of truth, stem cell, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, Whole Earth Catalog

But when A Long, Transhuman Trip 11 Vishnu, in the Bhagavad Gita, first spoke those words, many centuries earlier, it was as a true god; when Oppenheimer did, he was a mere mortal in awe not of what God or Nature had visited upon us, but what we had built for ourselves-even as that creation equaled the destructive powers that humans had always attributed to their gods. We have since gotten used to, even blase about, the possibility of nuclear winter, in the way a two-year-old gets used to a loaded .357 magnum lying on the floor within easy reach. We are as gods? No, for we have created the power but not the mind. And as technological evolution continues to outpace the grasp of human intent, we have little time to waste. These are the questions of our time, and they cannot be engaged though flights into tradition. The more we look at transhumanism as it is currently teed up by proponents and antagonists, the more it reveals itself as something that almost approaches its opposite - a flight into tradition barely disguised by the language of high technology.

Moreover, these particular perturbations are not isolated phenomena but just one way to perceive the evolving behavior of interconnected global systems. A population of some 7 billion humans, each seeking a better life and thirsting for technologies used and perceived at the shop-floor level of complexity, ensures that our overall role in global systems will increase unless there is some sort of population crash. And be careful if you wish for this under your breath, for such a catastrophe, whether from nuclear winter, terrorism and response, ecosystem collapse, or some other source, would create havoc among all systems, human, natural, and built. 68 Chapter 4 Another topical example is provided by the current "crisis in biodiversity," as human activity causes extinction to increase dramatically.4 On the one hand, ecologists may be justifiably concerned about whether key ecosystems-the depleted wetlands surrounding New Orleans, for example-are able to fulfill the functions upon which our societies depend (protecting a city from hurricane surges, in this case).

This is not technology as economic value, or as guarantor of national security; this is technology as salvation, even as seen now by some transhumanists and feared (as damnation) by those who reject the trans human vision. Looked at in another light, this is truly technology as Vishnu, "destroyer of worlds," for the world that existed before rails, with its small local businesses, parochial cultures, charming fragmentation of time, small-scale capitalism, and quaint worldview of Edenic pastoralism-that world was destroyed as surely and as effectively as ever Vishnu wrought, or nuclear winter threatened. 17 Level III Technology 79 And just like the dinosaurs, those who were there were unaware of what was truly bearing down on them, and could not have imagined the world that came after. Not unlike us. This constellation of social, economic, cultural, ethical, theological, institutional, and policy patterns associated with a core technology is by no means unique to railroads. Indeed, railroads represent only one of what economic historians call "long waves" of innovation, with accompanying cultural, institutional, and economic changes, developing around fundamental technologies.


pages: 364 words: 101,193

Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet by Mark Lynas

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Climatic Research Unit, Deng Xiaoping, failed state, ice-free Arctic, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Live Aid, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, price stability, South China Sea, supervolcano

In addition, temperature swings were astonishingly rapid-several degrees in the space of a decade as the climate warmed and then cooled again. At one point, about 70,000 years ago, a huge supervolcano eruption in Indonesia blew thousands of cubic kilometres of dust and sulphur into the atmosphere, cutting off the Sun's heat and causing global temperatures to plummet. Humans were nearly wiped out in the ensuing ‘nuclear’ winter: the entire global human population crashed to somewhere between 15,000 and 40,000 individuals, a survival bottleneck which is still written in the genes of every human alive today. By implication, if six degrees of cooling was enough to nearly wipe us out in the past, might six degrees of warming have a similar effect in the future? That is the question this book seeks to answer. Back in the summer of 2005, as I began my journey into humanity's likely future, I felt like Dante at the gates of the Inferno-privileged to see what few others have laid eyes upon, but also deeply worried by the horrors that seemed to lie ahead.

Enormous fire-driven thunderstorm clouds-termed pyro-cumulonimbus-built up over the flames due to the intense convection and heat. No rain fell, but black hail pounded the ground 30 kilometres to the east. An F2-strength tornado touched down just to the west of the city's fringe. Smoke was thrown into the air with such explosive force that it penetrated the stratosphere and began to circulate the globe-cutting off some of the Sun's rays in a small-scale ‘nuclear winter’. When calm was restored, four people were dead and five hundred buildings reduced to ashes. Since politicians had refused to consider the future, the future had paid a visit to the politicians-in their own home town. Houston, we have a (hurricane) problem Houston, Texas: 5 August 2045, 9 p.m.: As the evening light fades, an oily swell has begun to rise in the Gulf of Mexico. A few fluffy clouds catch the dying rays of the Sun, but the sky looks almost too tranquil.

As the chemical engineer Gregory Ryskin writes, in a paper specifically addressing ‘kill mechanisms’ at the end-Permian, this methane ‘could destroy terrestrial life almost entirely’. A major oceanic methane eruption, he estimates, ‘would liberate energy equivalent to 108 megatonnes of TNT, around 10,000 times greater than the world's stockpile of nuclear weapons’. This global conflagration might even cause short-term cooling akin to a nuclear winter, before boosting global warming further with the CO2 produced by the combusted methane. (And any uncombusted methane would have an even more serious warming effect.) The methane killing agent may not have acted alone. As vegetation and animal carcasses rotted in the stagnant oceans, large quantities of hydrogen sulphide were building up in the depths. Evidence of this sulphurous ocean is still preserved in Permian rocks in eastern Greenland, where telltale pyrites are common amongst the black shales laid down at the time of the catastrophe.


pages: 193 words: 51,445

On the Future: Prospects for Humanity by Martin J. Rees

23andMe, 3D printing, air freight, Alfred Russel Wallace, Asilomar, autonomous vehicles, Benoit Mandelbrot, blockchain, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, decarbonisation, demographic transition, distributed ledger, double helix, effective altruism, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, global village, Hyperloop, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Johannes Kepler, John Conway, life extension, mandelbrot fractal, mass immigration, megacity, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, quantitative hedge fund, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart grid, speech recognition, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Stanislav Petrov, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stuxnet, supervolcano, technological singularity, the scientific method, Tunguska event, uranium enrichment, Walter Mischel, Yogi Berra

For my part, I would not have chosen to risk a one in three—or even a one in six—chance of a catastrophe that would have killed hundreds of millions and shattered the historic fabric of all European cities, even if the alternative were certain Soviet dominance of Western Europe. And, of course, the devastating consequences of thermonuclear war would have spread far beyond the countries that faced a direct threat, especially if a ‘nuclear winter’ were triggered. Nuclear annihilation still looms over us: the only consolation is that, thanks to arms control efforts between the superpowers, there are about five times fewer weapons than during the Cold War—Russia and the United States each have about seven thousand—and fewer are on ‘hair trigger’ alert. However, there are now nine nuclear powers, and a higher chance than ever before that smaller nuclear arsenals might be used regionally, or even by terrorists.

In his book Collapse,6 Jared Diamond describes how and why five different societies have decayed or encountered catastrophes and gives contrasting prognoses for some modern societies. But these events weren’t global; for instance, the Black Death didn’t reach Australia. But in our networked world, there would be nowhere to hide from the consequences of economic collapse, a pandemic, or a collapse in global food supplies. And there are other global threats; for instance, intense fires after a nuclear exchange could create a persistent ‘nuclear winter’—preventing, in worst-case scenarios, the growing of conventional crops for several years (as could also happen after an asteroid impact or a super-volcano eruption). In such a predicament it is collective intelligence that would be crucial. No single person fully understands the smartphone—a synthesis of several technologies. Indeed, if we were stranded after an ‘apocalypse’, as in extreme survival movies, even the basic technologies of the iron age and agriculture would be beyond almost all of us.

See also electricity grids; internet neutron stars, 162–63 New Horizons spacecraft, 142 Newton, Isaac, 165, 171, 187, 194, 195, 196–97, 205 normal science, Kuhnian, 205 nuclear deterrence, 19 nuclear energy, 53–57; based on twentieth-century physics, 64; for low-carbon energy generation, 48; prospects for fusion, 48, 54–55; public fear of radiation and, 53, 55; for spaceflight, 148 nuclear fusion: as energy source, 48, 54–55; in Sun and stars, 122, 123 nuclear weapons: Cold War and, 17–20; collapse in global food supplies and, 216; not necessarily an existential threat, 110; public engagement of atomic scientists and, 222; in response to cyberattack, 21 nuclear winter, 19, 216 Obama, Barack, 48 ocean acidification, 58 online courses, 98–99 On the Origin of Species (Darwin), 121, 196 Open University of U.K., 98 optimism: about life’s destiny, 227; about moral progress, 6; about technological fixes for climate change, 42; about technology, 5, 225–26; machines surpassing human capabilities and, 108; Wells’s mix of anxiety and, 14 organ transplants, 71–72 origin of life, 128–29, 135–36 Our Final Hour (Rees), 12–13 ozone depletion, 31–32 pale blue dot, 10, 120, 133, 164 Paley, William, 197–98 pandemics: advances in microbiology and, 72; air travel and, 109; as global threat, 216, 217; magnitude of fallout from, 76–77 paradigm shifts, 205 Parfit, Derek, 116–17 Paris climate conference of 2015: Mission Innovation of, 48; papal encyclical and, 35; protocols following on, 219; temperature goal of, 41; uncertain results of, 44, 57 particle accelerators: Large Hadron Collider, 206–7; speculation on risks of, 110–16, 118; teams working on big projects of, 205–6 Pauli, Wolfgang, 209 Peierls, Rudolf, 222 personal identity, 105 pessimism, 226–27 Petrov, Stanislav, 18 Pfizer, abandoning neurological drugs, 212 philosophers of science, 203–5 physical reality: aliens with different perception of, 160, 190; human-induced threats and, 118; limited power of human minds and, 9, 189–90, 194; observable universe and, 181; our constricted concept of, 184.


pages: 380 words: 104,841

The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us by Diane Ackerman

23andMe, 3D printing, additive manufacturing, airport security, Albert Einstein, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, carbon footprint, clean water, dark matter, dematerialisation, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Google Earth, Google Glasses, haute cuisine, Internet of things, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, Masdar, mass immigration, megacity, microbiome, nuclear winter, personalized medicine, phenotype, Ray Kurzweil, refrigerator car, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, skunkworks, Skype, stem cell, Stewart Brand, the High Line, theory of mind, urban planning, urban renewal, Whole Earth Catalog

When he does, a snowstorm opens up, with college students dashing between buildings, books clutched inside their parkas . . . WILD HEART, ANTHROPOCENE MIND Knee-deep in the blizzard of 1978, when wind-whipped sails of snow tacked across Lake Cayuga, and the streets looked like a toboggan run, I was a student in upstate New York. Despite the weather, classes met, and scientists with souls luminous as watch dials were talking about nuclear winter, the likely changes in Earth’s climate in the aftermath of a nuclear war: the sun white cotton in a perishable sky, dust clouds thickening over the Earth, plants forgetting how to green, summer beginning at twenty below zero, and then the seasons failing all living things. It seemed a possible scenario, since in Washington and Moscow, politicians were outdaring each other with playground bravado.

Only moments before, in geological time, we were speechless shadows on the savanna, foragers and hunters of small game. How had we become such a planetary threat? As the lectures and snow squalls ebbed, we students seemed small radiant forms in a vast white madness. A quarter of a century later, Nobel laureate Paul Crutzen (who discovered the hole in the ozone layer and first introduced the idea of nuclear winter) stepped onto the world stage again, arguing that we’ve become such powerful agents of planetary change that we need to rename the geological age in which we live. Elite scientists from many nations agreed, and a distinguished panel at the Geological Society of London (the official arbiter of the geologic time scale) began weighing the evidence and working to update the name of our epoch from its rocky designation, Holocene (“Recent Whole”), to one that recognizes, for the first time, our unparalleled dominion over the whole planet, Anthropocene—the Human Age.

., 299 geothermal warmth, 95 Germany, 72, 78, 83, 101, 124, 132, 298 solar panels in, 106–7 Gershenfeld, Neil, 202–3 gestures, 26–27 giraffes, 276 global consciousness, 18 global warming, 11, 38–42, 154, 307–8 agriculture and, 56 in Bangladesh, 51–53 and development of seas, 64–65 evidence of, 108 extreme weather and, 36–43, 314 fishermen and, 56–57 gardens affected by, 38–39 habitats rearranged by, 133–40 human rights and, 48 glowworms, 144 glucocorticoids, 283 golden eagles, 132 Golden Lion Tamarin Conservation Program, 123 golden toads, 162 Golding, William, 162 Google, 192, 210 Google Glass, 260–61 gophers, 115 gorgonian, 38 grains, 71 Grand Canyon, 126 granite, 58–59 GraphExeter, 184–85, 317 grasshoppers, 173–74 Grassy Key, 131 great apes, 202 great auks, 151 Great Depression, 108 Greece, 124 Green Apple concept car, 103 Green Belt Corridor, 124 greenhouses, 90 Greenland, 42 green mussels, 131 Green over Grey, 83 growing season, 42 Guam, 139, 157 Guam rail, 139 Guatemala, 88 Gulag Archipelago (Solzhenitsyn), 218 Gurdon, John, 150, 160 Gut Erlasee Solar Park, 106–7 Guthrie, Barton, 261 habitat loss, 154 Haiyan, Typhoon, 46 Hamilton, Clive, 314 Hansen, James, 314 Hansmeyer, Michael, 236 Harvard University, 235 Hastings, Battle of, 190 heart, 150, 239, 248, 249, 250–51, 281 heat, 41 heaters, 87 heat recycling, 95–108 Helm, Barbara, 114 Henri, Pascal, 84 herbs, 89 Hernandez, Isaias, 264–65 herons, 193–94 Heuchera plants, 80–81 High Line, 77 Hitler, Adolf, 273 hockey, 40 Holocene, 9 Homer, 262 Honda, 236 Hong Sun Hye, 102 horse chestnut trees, 153 Horse Island, 58 horses, 137–38, 140, 145–46 hostas, 125 Hudson River, 54–55 hulls, 91 human genome, 13 Human Genome Project, 270, 274, 282, 285, 289, 300 Human Microbiome Project, 289 human rights, global warming and, 48 humans: as eusocial, 288 geographic expansion of, 10 geography changed by, 11 history of, 71 orangutan genes shared by, 3 population growth of, 10 technological changes to bodies of, 13 tools used by, 7, 9 humans, environmental effects of: climate change, see global warming and possibility of nuclear winter, 8–9 hummingbirds, 126 hunter-gatherers, 71 Huntington’s disease, 271 Hurricane Irene, 57 Hurricane Katrina, 46 hurricanes, 31, 41, 43, 55 Hurricane Sandy, see Sandy, Hurricane hybrid cars, 100 Hyde Park, 142 hydroelectronic power, 100, 107 hydroponic gardening, 83, 89, 90 Icarus, 224 icebergs, 195–96, 197 Iceland, 77 ice packs, 41–42 iCub, 218–19 iGlasses, 261 igloos, 86 iguanas, 131 Ike Dike, 50 Iliad (Homer), 262 India, 88, 107, 132, 175 Indian mongoose, 132 Indonesia, 132, 313 induced pluripotent stem cells (IPS), 150–51, 160–63 industrial farming, 60 Industrial Revolution, 34, 106, 185–86, 232, 235, 267 Inheritors, The (Golding), 162 insects, 166 insulin pumps, 253 intelligence of plants, 205–7 International Union for Conservation of Nature, 313 Internet, 199–200, 235 Inuit, 86 invasive species, 132, 154 Iran, 147 Iraq War, 258 Ireland, 132 Irene, Hurricane, 57 irises, 125 iron fertilization, 53 Island of Dr.


pages: 956 words: 267,746

Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion ofSafety by Eric Schlosser

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, cuban missile crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Haight Ashbury, impulse control, interchangeable parts, Isaac Newton, life extension, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, packet switching, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Stanislav Petrov, Stewart Brand, too big to fail, uranium enrichment, William Langewiesche

Carl Sagan conjured an even worse environmental disaster: Sagan became concerned about the atmospheric effects of nuclear war in 1982, and it seems almost quaint today—as global warming looms as a pending threat—that a generation ago Americans worried that the world might get dangerously cold. But the threat of a nuclear winter never went away. And recent calculations suggest that the detonation of fifty atomic bombs in urban areas would produce enough black carbon smoke to cause another “Little Ice Age.” For the summation of Sagan’s work on the issue, see Carl Sagan and Richard Turco, A Path Where No Man Thought: Nuclear Winter and the End of the Arms Race (New York: Random House, 1990). For the latest findings on the global environmental impact of a nuclear war, see Alan Robock, “Nuclear Winter Is a Real and Present Danger,” Nature, vol. 473 (May 19, 2011). perhaps three quarters of a million people gathered in New York’s Central Park: The estimates of the crowd varied, from more than 550,000 to about 750,000.

He called for the abolition of nuclear weapons, offered a chilling description of what a single hydrogen bomb would do to New York City, and presented the latest scientific evidence on how nuclear detonations could harm the ozone layer of the earth’s atmosphere. Later that year the astronomer Carl Sagan conjured an even worse environmental disaster: nuclear winter. The vast amount of soot produced by burning cities would circle the earth after a nuclear exchange, block the sun, and precipitate a new ice age. Sagan warned that the effects of nuclear winter would make victory in a nuclear war impossible; a nation that launched a first strike would be committing suicide. On June 12, 1982, perhaps three quarters of a million people gathered in New York’s Central Park, demanding a different kind of freeze—a worldwide halt to the production of nuclear weapons.

Kennedy and the Politics of National Security,” Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 33, No. 4, December 2003, 801–26. Quester, George H. “Through the Nuclear Strategic Looking Glass, or Reflections off the Window of Vulnerability,” Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 31, No. 4, 1987, 725–37. Ralph, William W. “Improvised Destruction: Arnold, LeMay, and the Firebombing of Japan,” War in History, Vol. 13, No. 4, 2006, 495–522. Robock, Alan. “Nuclear Winter Is a Real and Present Danger,” Nature, Vol. 473, May 19, 2011, 275–76. Roman, Peter J. “Ike’s Hair-Trigger: U.S. Nuclear Predelegation, 1953–60,” Security Studies, Vol. 7, No. 4, 121–64. Rosenberg, David Alan. “American Atomic Strategy and the Hydrogen Bomb Decision,” Journal of American History, Vol. 66, No. 1, June 1979, 62–87. _____. “The Origins of Overkill: Nuclear Weapons and American Strategy 1945–1960,” International Security, Vol. 7, No. 4, 1983, 3–71. _____, and W.


pages: 719 words: 209,224

The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy by David Hoffman

active measures, anti-communist, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, crony capitalism, cuban missile crisis, failed state, joint-stock company, Kickstarter, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, Robert Hanssen: Double agent, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Silicon Valley, standardized shipping container, Stanislav Petrov, Thomas L Friedman, undersea cable, uranium enrichment, Vladimir Vetrov: Farewell Dossier, zero-sum game

Willens had fled the Soviet Union with his parents when he was eight years old and settled in Los Angeles, where he became a successful businessman. 8 See "Memorandum of Conversation," meeting with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Dec. 22, 1984, Camp David. http://www.margaretthatcher.org. 9 Gorbachev, interview, June 30, 2006. 10 In the Dec. 23, 1983, issue of Science, two articles by teams of scientists argued that a nuclear war would have devastating environmental and ecological effects on the globe. In January 1984, a Vatican working group issued a report describing nuclear winter. "Nuclear Winter: A Warning," Pontificiae Academiae Scientiarvm Docvmenta, 11, Jan. 23-25, 1984. Among the scientists who participated was Yevgeny Velikhov, who became a key adviser to Gorbachev. 11 Thatcher interview with John Cole, BBC, Dec. 17, 1984. 12 See www.margaretthatcher.org. 13 Memorandum of conversation, Dec. 22, 1984. 14 Gorbachev's maternal grandfather had become a supporter of the Bolsheviks because the family was given the land they worked on after the revolution.

He turns pale and his hair falls out from the radiation. He sees sickness, disease and lawlessness. When Robards urges a pregnant woman who survived the blast to have hope, she retorts, "Hope for what? We knew the score, we knew all about bombs and fallout, we knew this could happen for forty years and no one was interested! Tell me about hope!" The film highlighted many of the fears of the day about nuclear war. It called attention to nuclear winter--that after a nuclear blast, the climate would change and snow would fall in summer. In his diary, Reagan wrote: Columbus Day. In the morning at Camp D. I ran the tape of the movie ABC is running on the air November 20. It's called "The Day After." It has Lawrence, Kansas wiped out in a nuclear war with Russia. It is powerfully done, all $7 mil. worth. It's very effective & left me greatly depressed.

But Gorbachev acknowledged it was difficult for him, back then, to imagine what that would be. Even as he unfolded the paper with all the squares and dots in front of Thatcher, he had no idea how to reduce the nuclear arsenals. He wondered, "How could all of it be stopped?" Thatcher wasn't impressed with the Gorbachev diagram, but remembered he carried off the presentation with "a touch of theatre." Gorbachev also warned of the dangers of a "nuclear winter" that would follow a war with atomic bombs.10 But Thatcher said, "I was not much moved by all this." She responded with a heartfelt lecture on the virtues of nuclear deterrence: the weapons, she said, had kept the peace. This was one of her core beliefs. Thatcher was "eloquent and emotional," Gorbachev remembered. Thatcher also knew Gorbachev might give her a message for Reagan. She listened closely when he spoke about Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative.


pages: 351 words: 111,121

Between the Strokes of Night by Charles Sheffield

life extension, nuclear winter

That’s when I realized that there was another constraint to the kind of science fiction I wanted to write. The science ought to be consistent with what we believe to be true today. No swamps on Venus, no canals on Mars, no anti-gravity machines; but dinosaur extinction through meteorite impact, and braided rings around Saturn, and the Oort Cloud, and an Earth that might possibly be subject to global warming and nuclear winter. Now, in the past few years our view of the universe as a whole has changed radically. Fifteen years ago, a writer could be comfortable with one of three plausible choices: the universe was expanding, and the expansion would never slow down; or, second choice, the universe was expanding, but the expansion would proceed slower and slower, to produce a universe that was ultimately flat in a geometrical sense; or, the third alternative, the universe was expanding, but would eventually stop that expansion, reverse direction, and ultimately collapse back again in a “Big Crunch” fireball beyond which no information from our present universe could possibly survive.

Apart from the general location of the land masses, Earth bore no resemblance to the fabled planet described in the old records of Pentecost and the library records on the ship. And there was no chance that they would choose to live on Earth, even if it were to be colonized again in the near future. Pentecost was more beautiful in every way. They left the information service on all the time. It described a link between the old, fertile Earth of legend and the present wilderness. The post-nuclear winter had been the first cause of the trouble. It was far more influential as an agent of change than the Ice Age that now held Earth in a frozen grasp. Immediately after the thermonuclear explosions, temperatures below the thick clouds of radioactive dust dropped drastically. Plants and animals that fought for survival in the sunless gloom of the surface did so in a poisoned environment that forced rapid mutation or extinction.

The rodents grew in size to improve their heat retention, developed thick coats and hairy paws, and moved away from the equator to regions where there was no insect competition. Some of them were totally vegetarian, browsing on the sparse, chlorotic plant life that still grew in the dust-filtered twilight. They developed thick layers of blubber, for food storage and insulation. The other survivors became super-efficient predators, preying on their herbivorous relatives. As the nuclear winter slowly ended the insects moved north and south again, away from the tropics. But the mutated mice and woodchucks were ready for them. They had increased in size and ferocity, to become a match for any pre-civilization wolf; and now they wore thick coats of fur and protective fat that rendered impotent the fierce mandibles and poison stings. The insects were a new convenient source of protein.


pages: 244 words: 66,977

Subscribed: Why the Subscription Model Will Be Your Company's Future - and What to Do About It by Tien Tzuo, Gabe Weisert

3D printing, Airbnb, airport security, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, blockchain, Build a better mousetrap, business cycle, business intelligence, business process, call centre, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, connected car, death of newspapers, digital twin, double entry bookkeeping, Elon Musk, factory automation, fiat currency, Internet of things, inventory management, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Lean Startup, Lyft, manufacturing employment, minimum viable product, natural language processing, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, nuclear winter, pets.com, profit maximization, race to the bottom, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, smart meter, social graph, software as a service, spice trade, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, subscription business, Tim Cook: Apple, transport as a service, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Y2K, Zipcar

The other option was to double down on Creative Suite and turn Adobe’s core franchise into something that could embrace both worlds, which meant continuous innovation, digital services, and lower monthly costs in order to organically increase the user base. Mark Garrett’s pitch for Adobe’s shift to subscriptions during that November 2011 meeting was informed and methodical. The next day the stock tanked (though not as much as Adobe’s management feared it might). SOFTWARE’S NUCLEAR WINTER Today the technology industry is a $3 trillion juggernaut, growing at a healthy 4 percent clip. VC funding is at a decade high, with roughly $84 billion invested in 2017, a one hundred percent increase from 2007. And while those numbers are starting to approach the dizzying highs of the dot-com era, this time the vast majority of the investment volume is driven by the late-stage funding rounds of established companies with solid fundamentals.

There will always be ups and downs (crypto, anyone?), but technology is undoubtedly a growing, vibrant, and increasingly diverse industry. But it didn’t always used to be this way! Ten to fifteen years ago, Adobe wasn’t the only software company in the doldrums. Growth across the entire industry was flat or down—the 2001 crash wiped out a decade of gains, and there was talk of a “Software Nuclear Winter.” Multibillion-dollar companies like Siebel were being acquired or went out of business. Venture capitalists refused to fund new software start-ups. Tumbleweeds were rolling down Sand Hill Road (metaphorically, anyway). Wall Street declared that the industry had permanently matured and that firms should start paying out dividends like (gasp!) regular old utilities. Financial analysts argued that the software industry should be viewed as an area of “discretionary” spending that businesses would seek to minimize if the economy took another southward turn.


pages: 465 words: 124,074

Atomic Obsession: Nuclear Alarmism From Hiroshima to Al-Qaeda by John Mueller

airport security, Albert Einstein, Black Swan, Cass Sunstein, conceptual framework, cuban missile crisis, Doomsday Clock, energy security, F. W. de Klerk, failed state, long peace, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, oil shock, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, side project, uranium enrichment, William Langewiesche, Yom Kippur War

Depending on the extent of the attack, these effects could also have widespread and longer-term consequences, potentially leading to famine, epidemics, and societal disruptions or even breakdown. In addition, some scientists have controversially argued that the smoke and debris lofted into the atmosphere by an attack with thousands of large bombs might well block the sun’s rays for a considerable period of time, leading to a “nuclear winter” that would have devastating long-term consequences not only for the bombed country but for the world at large, or at least for the northern hemisphere.14 All-Out Thermonuclear War To begin to approach a condition that can credibly justify applying such extreme characterizations as societal annihilation, a full-out attack with hundreds, probably thousands, of thermonuclear bombs would be required.

In this extreme scenario, the study calculates—or, to use its word, speculates—that something like 20 to 55 million would likely perish in the lowest set of estimates, and between 155 and 165 million in the highest. And there would also be, needless to say, catastrophic negative societal aftereffects.16 The study concluded as well that under either attack scenario, there could be considerable ecological impact—including, potentially, a nuclear winter effect—that could conceivably be as devastating in the long run as the attacks themselves.17 Hiroshima and Nagasaki An examination of the destruction wreaked by the atomic bombs that were exploded by airburst over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the last days of World War II is particularly useful for present purposes. These are, of course, the only cases in which nuclear explosions have taken place on populated targets, and there is a considerable amount of information about both the short-term and long-term effects of the bombings.

See also overstatement alarm, 162 all-out thermonuclear war, 8–9 atomic theater, 69–70 blast, 5 “certainty,” ix–x contamination, 6 deterring potential attack, 143 direct radiation and nuclear bomb, 4 disadvantages to acquiring, 103 economic and organizational cost, 110–112 ego trip, 143 electromagnetic pulse, 4 enhancing appeal, 143–149 existence of, and security, 251n.26 fallout, radiation and “dirty bombs,” 5–7 groundburst Hiroshima-size device, 10–11 Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 9–10 historical impact, 236–237 horizontal proliferation, 73 hostility, 25–26 indirect and longer-term effects, 8 influence on history, xii lacking technological imperative, 104–105 military attacks, 147 military value, 108–110 overstatement, 27–28 overstating importance of existence, 23 proliferation, 237 sanctions, 145–147 spread within and to states, xii–xiii status effects, 147–149 status symbol, 105–108 taboo, 61–63 thermal pulse of heat and light, 5 threats, 144–145 United States and USSR freezing programs, 79 vertical proliferation, 73, 76 weapons designers, 167 weapons of mass destruction (WMD), 11–13 WMD and battlefield messiness, 14–15 nuclear weapons laboratories, 266–267n.43 nuclear weapon state, definition, 148–149 nuclear winter, nuclear attack, 8 Obama, President B., potential atomic bomb, x–xi obsession, ix, xiii, 237, 237 Office of Technology Assessment, sarin, 12 oil shocks, American politics and security, 139–140 Oklahoma City, truck bomb, 19 Olympics, China’s quest to host, 108 Omar, Mullah, Taliban leader, 211 On the Beach, nuclear fears, 57 Oppenheimer, J. Robert atomic bomb, 162 exaggeration of bomb capacity, 17–18 politically productive terror, 26 priestly exaggerations, 243n.2 world government, 74 “oppositional nationalist,” Hymans, 261n.2 Oren, Michael, 262n.20, 263n.27, 264n.24 organizational costs, nuclear weapons, 110–112 overstatement consequences of, 27–28 existence of nuclear weapons, 23 explanations for, 25–27 physical effects, 17–19 social and political effects, 19–22 Pakistan apprehensions about chaos, 108 conversations with scientists in, 203–205 criticism of Musharraf’s regime, 260n.24 economics of nuclear weapons, 111 fissile material, 169 nuclear arsenal and United States, 145 opposition of Taliban regime after 9/11, 225 troubles with Taliban, 167 United States and, 164 Paris, image of destruction, 24 partial test ban treaty of 1963, arms race, 75–77 Pasdaran, sanctions, 146 Payne, Keith, threat to use nuclear weapons, 109 “peacetime standards,” radiation, 6 Pearl Harbor, 193, 247n.23, 269–270n.23 Perle, Richard, 261n.4 physical effects, overstating, 17–19 plutonium dangers and difficulties, 168 implosion trigger on hydrogen bomb, 250n.17 Mahmood in Pakistan, 205 sensitivity, 174 terrorists, 265n.20, 269n.16 Podheretz, Norman, 261n.4 points of no return, cascades of proliferation, 91 policing wars, 257n.5 political advantage, existential bombast, 232 politicization, terror, 26 Pollack, Kenneth, The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq, 130 poor man’s nuclear weapon, “dirty bombs,” 13 Porter, Patrick, 224–225, 226 port security, Los Angeles/Long Beach, 141 postwar world, international relations, 52 Potsdam Declaration, 249n.4 Potter, William, points of no return, 20–21, 94–95 Powell, General Colin, nuclear options, 63 predictions, bombing, 195 probability, terrorists overcoming barriers, 187–189 proliferation cascadology, 89–95 China, 95–97 deterring war, 117–118 domination, 97–99 espy benefit, 257n.5 nuclear weapons, 237 pace, 103 reducing effective threat, 116–117 solving specific security problems, 118 value in, 115–118 proliferation fixation comparing costs, 141–142 foreign policy and economic costs, 137–141 human costs, 130–137 Iraq, 130–135 North Korea, 135–137 propaganda, stigmatizing Germans, 245n.26 propaganda video, Gadahn, 219 publications, 223, 244–245n.19 Putin, Vladimir, role in Russia, 137 Qaddafi, Colonel Muammar, Libya, 124–126, 154 race to demobilize, post-cold war, 84–85 radiation acceptable levels, 241–242n.10 background levels, 6–7 coping mechanisms of body, 7 Department of Homeland Security, 196–197 direct, and neutron bomb, 4 education about effects, 195–196 fear and anxiety, 196 “hormesis” hypothesis, 242n.12 nuclear explosions, 18 nuclear weapons, 5–7 Reagan, President Ronald building up U.S. military forces, 59–60 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) agreement, 80 neutron bomb, 81 Soviet joining family of nations, 51 terrorists and Libya, 125 Reiss, Mitchell, 117, 147, 257n.18 Revolutionary Guards, sanctions, 146 rhetoric, xii, 231 rhetoric of alarm atomic bomb and World War II, 55–56 nuclear fear declining again, 60–61 nuclear fear during classic cold war, 56–57 nuclear fear reviving in early 1980s, 58–60 nuclear fear subsiding in 1960s and 1970s, 57–58 Rhodes, Richard, 80, 252n.37 Rice, Condoleezza, 131, 230 Richardson, Louise, loose-nuke stories, 208, 209, 213 Ridge, Tom, nuclear worry, 163 risk, acceptable, of catastrophic events, 197–198 rogue state, 86, 95–97, 237 Rosecrance, Richard, nuclear dispersion, 91, 251n.26 Rosenberg, Julius and Ethel, atomic traitors, 49 Rove, Karl, weapons of mass destruction, 131 Rush–Bagot Agreement, formal arms control, 83 Russia fissile material, 169–170 fixation of Putin, 137 gas fatalities, 244n.16 “naughty child” effect, 108 North Korea support, 135, 136 safety devices, nuclear weapons, 100 Sageman, Marc, 220–221, 229 SALT I (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) of 1972, 77–78 SALT II of 1979, arms race, 78–79 “Samson Option,” Israel, 110 sanctions appeal of nuclear weapons, 145–147 Iraq, 134, 145, 147 North Korea, 136 sanitation, nuclear attack, 8 sarin, 12, 228 scaremongers, weapons laboratories, 266–267n.43 scenario, atomic terrorist’s task in most likely, 185 Schell, Jonathan, “The Fate of the Earth,” 60, 61 Schelling, Thomas deterrence by Iran, 154–155 energy production, 139 nuclear weapons, 61–62 Scheuer, Michael, 202, 209, 214, 230, 272n.27 Schultz, George, terrorists and Libya, 125 secrets, 49–50, 237 security American politics, 139–140 balance with accident prevention, 85 existence of nuclear weapons, 251n.26 homeland, and weapons of mass destruction, 140 Israeli anxieties about, 150–151 port, 140–141 security problems, solving, 118 September 11, 2001, plot envisioning as type of Hiroshima, 200–202 9/11 Commission, 161 terrorism probability, 192–193 World Trade Center, 22 Silberman–Robb Commission, 111–112 Simon, Steven, 20, 21 Six-Day War, nuclear threat, 48 size, al-Qaeda’s capacity, 220–221 sky-is-still-falling profession, Arkin, 92 Slaughter, Anne-Marie, 258n.1 sleep disorders, atomic obsession, xi, xiii, 239 sleeper cells, al-Qaeda, 222, 275–276n.37 smuggling, atomic devices, 177 society, 20, 22 Solingen, Etel, 113, 119–120, 122, 124, 125, 254n.8 South Africa, 110, 121–122, 138, 171 South Korea, 124, 138 Soviet-Chinese confrontation, 48, 250n.14 Soviet power, external expansion, 246n.15 Soviet Union Afghanistan, 109 Afghanistan invasion, 78–79 assumptions for Western Europe invasion, 35–36 back down in Cuban missile crisis, 248n.32 “cautious opportunism,” 246n.15 Chernobyl nuclear reactor meltdown, 7 danger for United States, 52 deterrence of United States and, 65–66 end of cold war, 50–51 end of expansionary threat, 250n.21 expansionary ideology, 50–51 first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, 77–78 hot line between capitals with U.S., 76–77 ideology, 33–35 Japanese and, intervention, 45–46 lessons of Korean War, 38 postwar contentment, 33–35 potential invasion of Europe, 35–38 supplies by United States, 37 triple-warhead missiles, 59 world war deterrence, 32 stability, proliferation, 99 Stalin, Joseph, 36, 47, 49–50 “Star Wars,” United States and USSR, 79 status appeal of nuclear weapons, 147–149 value of nuclear weapons as, 105–108, 237 Stenersen, Anne, 207, 214 sting operation, nuclear, 194 stolen bombs, loose nukes, 165–168 Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), 79–80, 253n.12 success, modest, of antiproliferation, 126–127 Sudan, death and destruction, 271n.10 suicide, Japanese civilians, 45 suicide pills, 85–86, 253n.26 suitcase bomb Fox Television’s 24 series, 167 possibility, 162 Soviet-made, 272n.35 stolen or illicit purchase, 165 Sunstein, Cass, case for fear, 197–198 “Superbomb,” nuclear weapon, 206 supermissile MX, Strategic Defense Initiative, 81 “supreme priority,” 129, 155–158 taboo, aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 61–63 Taiwan, 118, 124, 138 Taiwan Straits crises, nuclear threat, 48 Takeyh, Ray, invasion of Iran, 156 Taliban hosts to al-Qaeda, 224 leader Omar in Afghanistan, 211 opposition by Pakistan after 9/11, 225 Pakistan’s trouble with, 167 retaking Afghanistan and seizing power, 265n.12 Taubman, William, world war and Soviets, 32 Tauscher, Rep.


pages: 400 words: 121,708

1983: Reagan, Andropov, and a World on the Brink by Taylor Downing

active measures, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, cuban missile crisis, Donald Trump, Fall of the Berlin Wall, full employment, kremlinology, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, nuclear paranoia, nuclear winter, RAND corporation, Robert Hanssen: Double agent, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Stanislav Petrov, Vladimir Vetrov: Farewell Dossier, Yom Kippur War

And it climaxes with a night on which the Soviet nuclear arsenal was put on to maximum alert, when missiles were deployed to action stations in submarines and mobile launchers, when aircraft were put on stand-by and when silo commanders were preparing to launch dozens of missiles each one of which had hundreds of times the explosive yield of the Hiroshima bomb. If these missiles had been fired it would have prompted a nuclear exchange that would have destroyed much of North America, most of Asia, probably all of Europe. The fallout would have brought down a nuclear winter that would have covered Earth for years or decades to come. The death toll would have been counted in the hundreds of millions, dwarfing every conflict in human history. This is the story of the time when fingers really did hover over the nuclear button, when the world really was ‘a button push away from oblivion’. 1983: Reagan, Andropov, and a World on the Brink aims to create a new and accessible narrative about what President Reagan called the ‘really scary’ events of that year.

US commanders had long talked of blasting the Soviet Union back into the Stone Age. Tens of millions of Soviet men, women and children would have perished. Hundreds of millions more around the world would have lost their lives as a consequence of the nuclear radiation that would be scattered across continents, carried by winds and rain, and countless millions more as a result of the starvation and chaos that would follow in what was called the ‘nuclear winter’. It would not only have been the end of human civilisation but probably the end of most forms of life on Earth. Some people believe that only the cockroach and the scorpion would have survived. 16 Night On the evening of Wednesday, 9 November 1983, everything came to a head. In their bunker in Mons, NATO commanders reached the most dramatic phase of their war game: they received the message that their request to launch 350 nuclear weapons against targets across the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc had been given approval by their respective political leaderships.

Edgar 24 House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) 24 Howe, Sir Geoffrey 211, 218, 259, 270, 271, 272, 288 Hubbard, Carroll 149 human intelligence (HUMINT) operations 82 human rights issues 14, 48–9, 114, 270, 303, 306, 313, 314, 322 Hungary 42, 264 Hungarian Revolution 43–4 political reforms 328 HVA 128, 129, 130, 131, 133, 134, 135, 251–2, 253, 336 and Operation RYaN 85–6 hybrid warfare 342 Ikle, Fred 142 India, nuclear arsenal 343 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) 9, 12–13, 34, 53, 60, 194, 198, 239, 313 Intermediate Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty 320, 321–2, 333 verification processes 322 intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) 13 Iran 209 Iranian Revolution 29, 202 Tehran embassy hostage crisis 20, 29 Iran-Contra scandal 319–20 Iraq, US military incursions 342, 343 Irgun 203 Iron Curtain 23, 24, 332 Islamic fundamentalism 76, 202, 209, 323 Israel Israel Defence Forces (IDF) 203–4, 205, 206–7 Israeli Air Force 205 nuclear arsenal 343 Israeli-Palestinian conflict 202–9 Ivy League 82 exercise 59, 61–3, 97 Japan Hiroshima and Nagasaki 1–4, 93 listening stations 161–2, 183 Joan (MI6 case officer) 121–2, 291 John Birch Society 149 Johnson, Lyndon B. 26 Jones, General David 56 Jones, Nate 348–9 Kádár, János 43 Kalinin 159 Kalugin, Oleg 85, 240 Kamchatka peninsula 136, 138, 139–40, 155, 156, 157, 158, 159, 160, 168, 180, 183 Kardunov, Marshal Alexandr 163 Karelian Republic 40–2 Kazakhstan 5, 333, 334 KC-135 tanker aircraft 191 Kennedy, John F. 10, 11, 320 Kennedy, Robert 114 KGB 43, 45–7, 49, 338 and the Able Archer 83 exercise 250–1 Andropov as head of 35, 45, 46–7, 48, 69, 74, 80, 83, 106, 341 directorates 73 First Chief Directorate (FCD) (Foreign Intelligence) 73–4 foreign residencies 46, 81, 118–20, 122–5, 218, 227, 228, 277, 278, 279 intelligence successes 125–8, 134–5 moles within see Gordievsky, Oleg; Martynov, Valery; Vetrov, Captain Vladimir role 45–6, 70 see also Operation RYaN Kharbarovsk 161, 163, 164 Khomeini, Ayatollah 29, 202 Khrushchev, Nikita 9, 10, 42, 43, 45 Cuban missile crisis 11, 114 denounces Stalin 42 Kim Eui-dong 150, 152 Kirghizia 333 Kirkpatrick, Jeane 183 Kissinger, Henry 99, 114 Kline, Major John 56 Kohl, Helmut 319 Korean Air Lines (KAL) Flight 007 149–56, 157–88, 165 downing of 157–69 intelligence community’s verdict on 187 Soviet defence of action 181–2, 183–5, 186–7, 216 Soviet propaganda disaster 176–7, 180 US response 169–79, 187–8 Kosygin, Aleksei 68–9 Kremlinologists 37, 214 Kryuchkov, Vladimir Aleksandrovich 74, 75, 80, 127, 229, 255, 279, 281, 282, 333 Kuklinski, Colonel 110–11 Kulikov, Marshal Viktor 248 Kuntsevo Clinic 234–5, 236, 242, 250, 255, 275 Kurchatov, Igor 5 Kurile islands 136, 139, 155, 171, 187 labour camps 46 Lang, Admiral 137 Laos 29 Latvia 329 Launch Under Attack option 15, 60, 238–9 Leahy, Patrick 176 Lebanon 202–9, 220 Israeli bombardment of Beirut 205–7, 228 Israeli invasion of 203–4 Multinational Force 206, 207, 208, 209 UN peacekeepers 203 Lee Kuan Yew 259 LeMay, General Curtis 8 Libya 110, 310 limited nuclear war concept 10, 15, 55, 88, 343 Line X operation 123, 143, 144, 285 listening stations 163–4, 168, 170, 176, 183, 217, 227, 231, 267–8 lithium H-bomb 7–8 Lithuania 329 Lockheed 54 Lokot, Sergei 246–7 Los Angeles Olympic Games (1984) 268 Lubyanka 46, 284 M-1 Abrams Main Battle Tank 53 McDonald, Larry 149–50, 171 McFarlane, Robert ‘Bud’ 208–9, 262, 297, 320 and Able Archer exercise 231, 260, 261, 265–6 and SDI 99, 100 McNamara, Robert 12 malware 144–5 Manchuria 4, 330 Mao Zedong 44–5 Martynov, Valery 285–6 Marxism-Leninism 36, 45, 50, 65, 69, 71, 134 maskirovka 160, 227, 253 Massive Retaliation doctrine 8, 9, 10 Matlock, Jack 312 Mauroy, Pierre 37 Meese, Edwin 32, 169 MI6 (British Secret Intelligence Service) 110, 121, 122, 126, 281, 336 exfiltration of Oleg Gordievsky 286–92 MiG 204, 205 MiG-23 248 military-industrial complex 74, 303, 310 Minsk 138 Minuteman missiles 195 Misawa 162, 170, 171, 172 missile silos 13, 194, 195, 200, 239, 242–3 Mitterrand, François 143 Moldavia 333 Mondale, Walter 269 Mons 223–4, 225, 229, 250, 256 Moorestown 193 Morrow, Douglas 91 Moscow Olympics (1980) 30, 49, 268 Moscow summit (1988) 323–5 Mozambique 29 Mujahideen 76, 77, 110, 310, 323 multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) 12, 242, 244 Munich Olympic Games (1972) 203 Murmansk 126 Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) 12, 13, 15, 17, 63, 93, 97, 103, 114, 344 MX missiles 53, 98, 99 Nagasaki, bombing of (1945) 4, 93 Nagy, Imre 43 Nakasone, Yasuhiro 183 National Association of Evangelicals 66 National Command Authority 241 National Emergency Airborne Command Post (Boeing 747) 59, 61 National Intelligence Council 269 National Military Command Center 61, 91, 193 National Security Advisors 189, 309, 320 National Security Agency (NSA) 141, 156, 161, 187, 258, 299 expansion of 54–5 National Security Archive (NSA) 17, 348–9, 350 National Security Council 144, 145, 208, 209, 231 NATO 55, 82, 86, 88, 100, 124, 126, 127, 130, 131, 140, 318, 320 Abel Archer 83 exercise 222–56, 344 Allied Command Europe (ACE) 222 Autumn Forge 83 exercises 223 Current Intelligence Group 131 East German agent in 130–5 MC 161 document 132–3 Political Affairs Directorate 131 response to SDI 134 neo-Nazis 129 Nicaragua 29, 70, 319, 323 Contras 110, 319–20 Nicholson, Major Arthur 295–6 Nine Lives exercise 61, 63 9/11 241 1983–The Brink of Apocalypse (documentary) 346 Nitze, Paul 313 Nixon, Richard 32, 114, 298, 320 anti-ballistic missiles (ABM) Treaty 92 signs Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) 13 Watergate 14, 28, 74 NKVD 5 nomenklatura 70, 220 North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) 90–1, 145, 189, 190, 193 North Korea 4, 44 nuclear capability 343 North, Lieutenant-Colonel Oliver 320 Norway 126, 127 intelligence service 157 Norwegian Labour Party 127 nuclear accidents 190–2 Chernobyl nuclear disaster 310–11 nuclear arms race 6–9, 12–13 nuclear arsenal 200 Soviet 223 US 8 nuclear ‘football’ system 55–6, 240–1 Nuclear Freeze peace movement 96, 103 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty 13 nuclear war Counterforce strategy 10 Defense Readiness Condition (DEFCON) 204, 230 false alerts 189–201, 239 Launch Under Attack option 15, 60, 238–9 limited nuclear war 10, 15, 55, 88, 343 Massive Retaliation doctrine 8, 9, 10 Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) 12, 13, 15, 17, 63, 93, 97, 103, 114, 344 probable consequences 8, 60, 63, 68, 248–9 protocols for launching nuclear weapons 10, 15–16, 55–6, 62–3, 240–1 simulated nuclear attack 61–2 Withhold Options 60 nuclear war scare (1983) 344 Able Archer 83 exercise and 222–56, 344 CIA report on 339–40 Soviet arsenal on maximum alert 16, 240, 242, 243–9, 255, 257, 307 Soviet paranoia and miscalculation 16, 224, 227–9, 232–3, 239, 240, 242, 250–1, 254, 256, 258–61, 344 nuclear winter 16, 249 Nyerere, Julius 259 Obama, Barack 256, 343 observation satellites 90, 111, 194–5, 196, 248, 256 October War (1973) 204, 230 Odom, William 189 Office of Strategic Services (OSS) 107 Ogarkov, Marshal Nikolai 73, 183–4, 184, 198, 236, 241, 245, 250, 255 oil and gas pipelines 65, 143, 145, 285 Okinawa 138 Oko satellite network 194–5 O’Malley, General 173 ‘open labs’ proposal 304, 314 Operation Barbarossa 80–1, 247 Operation Chrome Dome 190–2 Operation RYaN 80, 81–7, 88, 105, 118, 124–5, 216, 217–18, 227, 228–9, 237, 251, 255, 257, 340 categories of intelligence 81–2 confirmation bias 81, 86 information processing 83–4 spurious reports 81, 84, 86, 124–5, 227–8, 250–1 Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States 210 Ossipovich, Major Gennady 162–3, 164–7, 168, 178, 184–5 Pakistan, nuclear arsenal 343 Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) 203–4, 205, 206 Palestinian-Israeli conflict 202–9 Palmerston, Lord 273 Palomares incident (1966) 191–2 Parr, Jerry 56–7 Partial Test Ban Treaty 13 peace movement 66, 95–7, 96, 103, 123–4, 237 Pelše, Arvids 214 Pentecostal Christians 59, 116 perestroika 311, 325, 329 Perroots, Lieutenant-General Leonard 253–5 Pershing II missiles 14, 53, 78, 79, 88, 94, 95, 123, 135, 216, 220, 239, 258, 270, 299, 309, 319, 321 Petropavlosk 138, 158 Petrov, Lieutenant-Colonel Stanislav 195–200, 239 Pfautz, Major General James 172–3 Phalangist militiamen 207 Philby, Kim 278, 292 PL-5 missiles 157 plutonium implosion bomb 4, 6 Podgorny, Nikolai 69 Poindexter, Admiral John 320 Poland 65, 94 political reforms 328 popular protests 42–3 Solidarity 65, 110, 111, 328 Polaris 13 Politburo 34, 47–8, 64, 70, 76, 78, 181, 214, 215, 236, 255, 264, 275, 312, 317, 319 Prague Spring 47 President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) 339, 349–50 protective missile system see Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) psychological operations (PSYOPS) 139–43, 147, 162, 182, 187, 310, 340 Putin, Vladimir 341 Pym, Francis 37 radiation sickness 3–4, 249 radioactive contamination 192 RAF Lakenheath 190 Ramstein Air Force Base 253 RAND Corporation 12 RC-135 spy planes 140–1, 156–7, 170, 178, 182 Reagan, Nancy 19, 25, 32, 66, 114, 302, 306 Reagan, Ronald 108 and Able Archer 83 exercise 231–2, 261, 262, 263, 265–6 anti-communism and anti-Soviet rhetoric 23, 24, 25, 26, 30–1, 51–2, 64–7, 77–8, 93, 94–5, 110, 114–15, 116, 177, 182, 216, 266 appearance and personality 21, 22, 33 approval ratings 28, 97, 265, 323 approves technological sabotage 144 attempted assassination of 56–8 background of 20–2 belief in personal diplomacy 51, 93–4, 268 ‘bombing Russia’ poor-taste joke 267–8 and Brezhnev 59 Cold War warrior 31, 267, 321 on the decision to launch nuclear weapons 15–16 demands Berlin Wall be pulled down 321 diary entries 64–5, 98, 99–100, 102, 116, 206, 262, 268, 294, 308 and the downing of KAL 007 169, 174, 177, 178, 179, 182, 188 economic policies 27–8, 31 elected President 15, 31–2 ‘evil empire’ rhetoric 66–7, 89, 117, 176, 182, 216, 324 film career 22, 25–6, 301 Geneva summit 297–9, 300–9, 305 Governor of California 27–8 ‘Great Communicator’ 268 and human rights issues 114, 270, 303, 306, 313, 314, 322 and invasion of Grenada 210, 211, 212 and Israeli-Palestinian conflict 202–9 leadership style 27 and Margaret Thatcher 211–12 meets Gordievsky 337, 337 Moscow summit 323–5 and nuclear policy 51, 58–9, 63–4, 91–3, 97–101, 103–4, 114, 261 political philosophy 22–3, 26 populism 19, 27, 33 president of Screen Actors Guild 24, 25 presidential inauguration 19–20, 21, 32–3 protocol for launching nuclear weapons 55–6, 62–3 re-election 265, 266–7, 269 Reykjavik summit 311, 312–18, 317 and SDI 98, 99–105, 117, 134, 298, 306, 313–14, 324 secret meeting with Soviet ambassador 115–17 signs INF Treaty 321 spouses see Reagan, Nancy; Wyman, Jane suggests rapprochement with Soviet Union 266–7, 268, 294 and total abolition of nuclear weapons 51, 93, 315, 318 visits Berlin 320–1 visits London 65 visits NORAD base 90, 91 war games, participation in 61–3, 62, 97, 262 Washington summit 321–3 Reagan Doctrine 110 Red Integrated Strategic Offensive Plan (RISOP) 55, 60 Red Scares 23, 24–5 Reed, Thomas 61, 62, 143–4 Reforger 83 exercise 223 Regan, Don 208 reunification of Germany 332 Rex 82 Alpha exercise 61, 63 Reykjavik summit 311, 312–18, 317 Rivet Joint operations 141, 162 Rogers, William 61 Romania 332 Romanov, Grigory 238, 270 Roosevelt, Franklin D. 27, 146 Rubin, Professor 213 Rupp, Rainer 128–34, 135, 251–3, 336 Russia 334 hybrid warfare capabilities 342 military exercises 342 Sabra and Shatila massacres (1982) 207 Sadat, Anwar 202 Sakhalin island 136, 160, 168, 171, 172, 173, 180, 183, 184 Sakharov, Andrei 48 Sandinistas 29 Saudi Arabia 208, 343 Scarlett, John 121, 125, 218, 259 Schmidt, Helmut 94 Schneider, Dr William 142 Scowcroft, Brent 327 Screen Actors Guild 24, 25 Sea of Okhotsk 136, 138, 156, 159, 162, 168, 180, 187, 299 Second World War 40–1, 107, 146, 255 end of 4 German invasion of Soviet Union 40, 80–1, 247 Serpukhov-15 194, 195–200 Severomorsk 245 Sharansky, Anatoly 49 Sharon, Ariel 203, 207 Shchelokov, Nikolai 88 Shemya 156, 157 Shevardnadze, Eduard 297, 309, 313, 320, 330 Shultz, George 37, 113–16, 117, 146–7, 208, 219, 262 and the downing of KAL 007 169, 174, 175, 176, 179, 185 and the Geneva summit 297, 303 on Gorbachev 295 and the Intermediate Nuclear Force (INF) Treaty 320 meets with Gromyko 185, 240, 296–7 meets with Shevardnadze 320 and the Reykjavik summit 313, 314, 315, 318 and SDI 100, 298 and the Soviet ‘peace offensive’ 309 signals intelligence (SIGINT) 82, 141, 170, 176, 183 Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP) 10, 11, 55, 56, 60, 62, 262 Six Day War (1967) 203 ‘snap-ons’ 161, 163, 164, 170 Snow, Jon 324 Sokol 164 Solidarity 65, 110, 111, 328 Solzhenitsyn, Alexander 48 Son Dong-hui 150, 155, 161, 166, 167 South Korea 138 South Korean Navy 137 US-South Korean Mutual Defense Treaty 149 Soviet Air Force 247–8 expansion of 138 Far East Air Defence Command 139, 158, 162, 163, 180–1 Soviet embassy, London 81, 118–20, 122, 218, 228, 279 Soviet embassy, Washington 81, 277, 278 Soviet Far East 136–40, 137, 149–88 Soviet missile systems intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) 9, 34, 194, 239 PL-5 missiles 157 SS-18 missiles 90 SS-19 missiles 242 SS-20 missiles 29, 53, 75, 75, 78, 94, 238, 244, 254, 299, 309, 314, 321 SS-N-8 missiles 246 SS-N-20 missiles 246 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) 161 Soviet Navy Northern Fleet 126, 140, 245, 246 Pacific Fleet 138 submarine fleet 245–7 Soviet Union anti-Jewish purges 46 centralised planning 6, 69 civil defence programme 30 communist orthodoxy 36–7 Congress of People’s Deputies 329 corruption and organised crime 87–8, 333 defence budget 30 dismantling of 329, 333 economic stagnation 37, 48, 50, 64–5, 69, 71, 111 Five Year Plans 39–40 German invasion of 40, 80–1, 247 Great Terror 36, 39–40 human rights issues 14, 48–9, 114, 270, 303, 306, 313, 314, 322 intelligence community see GRU; KGB; SVR invasion and occupation of Afghanistan 30, 76–7 and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 204–5 Kremlin nuclear paranoia 85, 86, 112, 125, 233, 238, 240 see also Able Archer 83 exercise; Operation RYaN Middle East policies 220 military strength and personnel 222–3 nuclear arsenal 223 nuclear programme 4–6, 8, 9, 12 office of head of state 35, 36 oil and gas pipelines 65, 143, 285 outrage over Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) launch 104–5, 106 political reforms 311–12, 329 post-Soviet problems 333 post-war reconstruction 41 reduced nuclear stockpile 333–4 reduction of Soviet forces in Europe 328, 333–4 Second World War 4, 40–1, 80–1, 247, 255 Sino-Soviet relations 44, 45, 220, 330 social conditions 69–70 support for global liberation struggles 29, 30, 52, 70, 94, 109, 301 suspected of influencing American presidential elections 269, 342 suspicion and fear of the West 14, 71–2, 73, 78, 80, 85, 240 technology gap 72, 73, 104, 120, 143, 144 The Soviet War Scare, 1983 (documentary) 346 Soyuz spacecraft 14 space weapons see Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) Speakes, Larry 169, 176 Sputnik 9, 194 SS-18 missiles 90 SS-19 missiles 242 SS-20 missiles 29, 53, 75, 75, 78, 94, 238, 244, 254, 299, 309, 314, 321 SS-N-8 missiles 246 SS-N-20 missiles 246 stagflation 28–9 Stalin, Joseph 5, 23, 24, 35, 146, 237, 329 anti-Jewish purges 47 death of 42 and the Great Terror 36, 39–40 ‘Star Wars’ see Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) Stasi 85, 128, 130, 133, 335 Stewart, Nina 349 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles 310 Stombaugh, Paul, Jr 284 Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) 13, 14, 94, 156 Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT II) 30, 77 Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) 94, 105, 270, 334 Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) 103 costs 102 Geneva summit and 298, 299, 304 Gorbachev’s hostility to 273, 298, 299, 304, 305, 306, 309, 313, 314, 315, 316, 319 ‘open labs’ proposal 304, 314 origins of 97–100 proposed limits on 313 public attitudes towards 102 Reagan’s enthusiasm for 98, 99–105, 117, 134, 298, 306, 313–14, 324 Soviet fears of 104–5, 106, 117, 216 ‘strip alert’ 248, 254 Su-24 248 submarines Delta class 138, 246 nuclear weapon-carrying submarines 13, 136, 140, 200, 246 Ohio class 54 Typhoon class 246 suicide bombers 208–9 Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) 223, 229 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) 140–1, 161 Suslov, Mikhail 45 SVR 285, 334 Symms, Steve 149 Syria 204, 205, 209, 220 Syrian Air Force 205 systems failures 192, 193, 200, 201, 239 T-72 tank 204 Tadzhikistan 333 Taliban 77, 323 Tass news agency 182 Tehran embassy hostage crisis (1979–81) 20, 29 telemetry intelligence (TELINT) 156 Teller, Edward 6–7, 97–8, 101 ter Woerds, Margreet 347 terrorism 108–9 Thatcher, Denis 272 Thatcher, Margaret 124, 134, 210, 211–12, 217, 218, 231, 259, 264, 293 and British–Soviet relations 270 and Gordievsky 337, 338 meets Gorbachev 272–4, 274 on nuclear deterrence 318–19 thermonuclear weapons 7–8, 45, 190–1 Thor missiles 13 Thule 192 Tiananmen Square massacre (1989) 330 Titan missiles 13 Titov, Gennadi 127 Tkachenko, Captain Viktor 243–4 Tolkachev, Adolf 283–4 Tomahawk Cruise missiles 53 Topaz see Rupp, Rainer Treholt, Arne 127–8 Trident missiles 54, 319 ‘Trinity’ atomic test 5 Tripoli 310 ‘Trojan horses’ 144–5 Trudeau, Pierre 271 Truman, Harry 6, 7, 107 Trump, Donald 31, 269, 342, 343 Tsygichko, Vitalii 239 Tupolev TU-22M ‘Backfire’ bomber 138, 247 United States budget deficit 55, 102 Ukraine 333, 334, 341 United Nations 185 Lebanese operations 203 peacekeeping force (UNIFIL) 203 Security Council 183 United States declining superpower role 342–3 defence budget 52, 66, 79, 342 intelligence community see Central Intelligence Agency (CIA); National Security Agency (NSA); Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 203–4 military rearmament 52–4, 116 military-industrial complex 74, 303, 310 nuclear arsenal 8 nuclear programme 6–8, 9, 12 peace movement 66, 96, 96, 103 Red Scares 23, 24–5 Second World War 107 Washington KGB residency 81, 277, 278 US Air Force Air Force Intelligence 172–3, 178 PSYOPS 140–1, 142 Strategic Air Command 8, 10, 58, 90–1, 156, 190–1, 193 US Marines 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, 212, 217 US missile systems anti-ballistic missiles (ABMs) 12, 13 Cruise missiles 53, 78, 88, 94, 95, 123, 135, 216, 220, 258, 270, 299, 309, 321 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) 12–13, 53, 198 Minuteman missiles 195 multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) 12 MX missiles 53, 98, 99 Pershing II missiles 14, 53, 78, 79, 88, 94, 95, 123, 135, 216, 220, 239, 258, 270, 299, 309, 319, 321 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles 310 submarine-launched ballistic missiles 13 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) 140–1 Trident missiles 54 Vanguard missiles 9 US Navy 142 expansion 54, 138 Pacific Fleet 138 PSYOPS 142 US presidential elections 1964 26 1976 28 1980 30–1 1984 265–9 2016 269, 342 suspected Soviet influence 269, 342 USS Coral Sea 137 USS Eisenhower 140 USS Enterprise 136–7 USS Midway 137, 139 USS New Jersey 208 Ustinov, Marshal Dmitri 34–5, 87, 180, 181, 198, 215, 236, 241, 242, 255 US-South Korean Mutual Defense Treaty 149 Uzbekistan 333 Vanguard missiles 9 Velikhov, Yevgeny 104 Velvet Revolution 332 Vessey, Admiral 262 Vetrov, Captain Vladimir 143 Vietnam war 27, 29 Vladivostok 138 Volk Field Air Base 192–3 Wakkanai 162, 168, 170, 172, 174 Warsaw Pact 43, 47, 55, 86, 88, 132, 222, 318 Washington summit (1987) 321–3 Watergate 14, 28, 74 Watkins, Admiral James D. 98–9, 139–40 Weinberger, Caspar 32, 52, 58, 100, 131, 179, 262, 296, 320 Weiss, Dr Gus 144, 145 West Germany 14, 128, 319 peace movement 95 Winter War (1939–40) 40 Withhold Options 60 Wolf, Markus 85, 86, 135, 335 Wright, Oliver 260 Wyman, Jane 22, 25 Yeltsin, Boris 329, 333, 338 Yesin, General-Colonel Ivan 245 Yom Kippur War (1973) 204, 230 Yugoslavia 44 Yurchenko, Vitaly 299–300 Zapad 17 exercise 342 Zeleny 139 zero-zero option 94–5, 315, 316, 318, 321, 321–2 Zil limousines 74, 111, 112, 236 Zionists 74, 202, 203 US lobby 204 Zubok, Vlad 348


pages: 1,373 words: 300,577

The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World by Daniel Yergin

"Robert Solow", addicted to oil, Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, Ayatollah Khomeini, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, borderless world, BRICs, business climate, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, cleantech, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, colonial rule, Colonization of Mars, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, data acquisition, decarbonisation, Deng Xiaoping, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, diversification, diversified portfolio, Elon Musk, energy security, energy transition, Exxon Valdez, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fear of failure, financial innovation, flex fuel, global supply chain, global village, high net worth, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, index fund, informal economy, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), James Watt: steam engine, John von Neumann, Kenneth Rogoff, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, Malacca Straits, market design, means of production, megacity, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mohammed Bouazizi, mutually assured destruction, new economy, Norman Macrae, North Sea oil, nuclear winter, off grid, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, peak oil, Piper Alpha, price mechanism, purchasing power parity, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Robert Metcalfe, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, smart grid, smart meter, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, Stuxnet, technology bubble, the built environment, The Nature of the Firm, the new new thing, trade route, transaction costs, unemployed young men, University of East Anglia, uranium enrichment, William Langewiesche, Yom Kippur War

The same year Time magazine was reporting, “Climatologists still disagree on whether earth’s long-range outlook is another Ice Age, which could bring mass starvation and fuel shortages, or a warming trend, which could melt the polar icecaps and flood coastal cities.”23 By the early 1980s, discussion about global cooling had taken a new form—the harsh “nuclear winter,” the extreme cooling that could be set off by a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. This would be the result of the vast smoke and dust clouds triggered by the atomic explosions, which would cut off sunlight and darken the earth, lead to “subfreezing temperatures” even in summer, and “pose a serious threat to human sur vivors.” The best-known proponent of the threat of nuclear winter was Carl Sagan, who as a young man had achieved fame among astronomers for identifying the extreme greenhouse atmosphere of Venus, and then went on to achieve much greater fame as host of the PBS television series Cosmos (and his much imitated refrain about “billions and billions of stars”).24 Notwithstanding the fear of nuclear winter, by the end of the 1970s and the early 1980s, a notable shift in the climate of climate change research was clear—from cooling to warming.

As the father of climate modeling, Syukuro Manabe said of his early research, “At that time, no one cared about global warming... Some people thought maybe an Ice Age is coming.” However, by the end of the 1970s, the weight had clearly shifted away from cooling, toward warming, except for the “nuclear winter.” In short, there was no obvious “consensus” either way that characterized the entire decade. 23 Newsweek, April 28, 1975; “What Is Happening to Our Climate,” National Geographic, November 1976, Time magazine, August 19, 1976. 24 R. P. Turco, O. B. Toon, T. P. Ackerman, J. B. Pollack, and Carl Sagan, “Nuclear Winter: Global Consequences of Multiple Nuclear Explosions,” Science 222, no. 4630 (1983), pp. 1283–92. 25 Hart and Victor, “Scientific Elites,” pp. 657–61 (“advertant”); Weart, The Discovery of Global Warming, p. 5 (Kennedy); Martin Campbell-Kelly and William Aspray, Computer: A History of the Information Machine (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2004), p. 79 (“considerable temerity”). 26 Norman Macrae, John von Neumann: The Scientific Genius Who Pioneered the Modern Computer, Game Theory, Nuclear Deterrence, and Much More (American Mathematical Society, 2008), pp. 5, 248 (“last words”). 27 Macrae, John von Neumann, pp. 52, 250, 266, 325, 369; Stanislaw M.

The Russian Rockefellers: The Saga of the Nobel Family and the Russian Oil Industry. Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1976. Transparency International. Global Corruption Report 2004. Tucker, William. Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Power Will Lead the Green Revolution and End America’s Energy Odyssey. Savage, Md.: Bartleby Press, 2008. Turco, R. P., O. B. Toon, T. P. Ackerman, J. B. Pollack, and Carl Sagan. “Nuclear Winter: Global Consequences of Multiple Nuclear Explosions.” Science 222, no. 4630 (1983). Tyndall, John. The Glaciers of the Alps. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1860. Ulam, Stanislaw M. Adventures of a Mathematician. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991. UK Energy Research Centre. Global Oil Depletion: An Assessment of the Evidence for a Near Term Peak in Global Oil Production. London (2009).


pages: 76 words: 16,007

Ant Farm and Other Desperate Situations by Simon Rich

nuclear winter, Stephen Hawking

I’m looking for a guy with really big muscles. You know, the kind of guy who can build me a fort and protect my children from forest beasts. SCRAWNY GUY: What forest beasts? We’re the last remaining species on the planet! WOMAN: I’m sorry. I’m just not attracted to you. SCRAWNY GUY: Listen, I have a unique genetic mutation that allows me to breathe radon gas like it was air! I’m the only person on earth who can survive the nuclear winter. If you don’t mate with me, all human life will die out! THE LAST MUSCULAR GUY ON EARTH: (coughing from the radon gas) Hey, baby. Nice ass. WOMAN: (Giggles.) SCRAWNY GUY: What’s happening? This is completely insane. THE LAST MUSCULAR GUY ON EARTH: (sweating) Let’s go to my fort, babe. (Cough.) I built it out of rocks, using my muscle arms. WOMAN: Whatever you say, lover. ———— when the “guess your weight” guy from the carnival got married —Darling, can I ask you a question?


pages: 409 words: 129,423

Mapping Mars: Science, Imagination and the Birth of a World by Oliver Morton

Colonization of Mars, computer age, double entry bookkeeping, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, Mercator projection, nuclear winter, planetary scale, RAND corporation, Richard Feynman, sexual politics, the scientific method, trade route, undersea cable, V2 rocket, Works Progress Administration

In 1976 Sagan, his student James Pollack, and other colleagues produced papers showing how the dust thrown into the Earth’s stratosphere by large volcanic eruptions could cool the home planet in a similar way. Such cooling was to be put forward in the early 1980s as the mechanism by which a large impact by an asteroid or comet—an event guaranteed to kick up a lot of dust—might have killed off the dinosaurs. This new mechanism for mass extinction led to Pollack and his colleagues being asked to model the sun-obscuring effects of nuclear war, and thus to the idea of “nuclear winter.” Having gone to Mars to look for signs of life, Sagan found intimations of planetary mortality. As the cooling planet-wide pall of dust started to ebb down the volcanoes’ flanks in late 1971, the television team began to pick out the outlines of other features: Depressions, in which there was more airborne dust to reflect sunlight back into space, started to stand out as bright blotches. By the middle of December a vast bright streak had become visible to the east of the three Tharsis volcanoes.

But at the same time, our technology has become capable of operating at planetary scales. Humankind had never really seen a planet-wide weather phenomenon before Mariner 9 sent back images of the great dust storm of 1971; within a decade or so, spurred on in part by those observations of Mars, researchers at Ames and elsewhere had shown that a similar atmospheric shroud might be brought about in days by means of a nuclear winter. Though we don’t have tools designed for terraforming, we do have many tools of the same general kind, even if they are abacuses to computers. We don’t know how to design complex ecosystems, or long-term life-support systems; but we know how to build spacecraft and hydrogen bombs and genetically engineered organisms and greenhouse gas factories. And we know that we can change a planet’s atmosphere and climate.

.), 81 Neptune, 214 Netlander, 287 Neukum, Gerhard, 138 New Mars, The (Hartmann/Raper), 130 New Scientist, 169, 174 Nilosyrtis Mensae, 104 Nirgal Vallis, 96, 167 Niven, Larry, 36, 213n Nix Olympica. See Olympus Mons Nixon, Richard, 60 Noachian period, 117, 138 Noachis Terra, 103, 117 Noctis Labyrinthus, 100–101, 135 Noguchi, Isamu, 297, 319n North Spot (Ascraeus Mons), 44, 46, 98–99 Nowell, Lisa, 176 nuclear weapons, 298 nuclear winter, 46 Nye, Bill, 36 Oberg, James, 304 Oceanus Borealis. See Mars (ocean) Olympus Mons, 44, 45–46, 47–48, 96, 99, 110, 115n, 137–38, 140, 146, 179 difficulties involved in representing, 135 “On the Origin of Hypotheses” (Gilbert), 71, 83 Ophir, 101 O’Sullivan, Timothy, 237 Our Mutual Friend (Dickens), 9 Out of the Cradle (Hartmann/Miller/Lee), 289 Oyama, Vance, 300 Pacific Edge (Robinson), 176 Paine, Thomas, 238, 260, 272 Panetta, Leon, 253–54 Pardee, Joseph Thomas, 190–91 Parker, Tim, 184–88, 200–206, 213, 228, 234, 298 Pavonis Mons, 98, 102 Penrose, Roger, 213n Pesek, Ludwig, 130, 319 Phlegra Montes, 123 Pieri, David, 164, 188 Pigwad (Planetary Interactive GIS-on-the Web Analyzable Database), 240 Pilcher, Carl, 67–68, 70 Pioneer Astronautics, 273 Pioneer mission, 61 “Pioneering the Space Frontier” (Paine), 246, 260 Place and Placelessness (Relph), 222–23 Planetary Explorer program, 65 Planetary Society, 30 Planetfest, 32, 35–36, 42 Planum Australe, 104, 105–6 Pohl, Frederik, 173–75, 178, 179 Pollack, James, 46, 100, 121, 158–60, 304 Poor, Kim, 92, 131 Poss, Richard, 132, 133 Poundstone, William, 100 Pournelle, Jerry, 178 Powell, John Wesley, 79, 148 Proctor, Richard, 14 Protonilus Mensae, 104, 186 Ptolemaus (crater), 2 Rainbow Mars (Niven), 213n Raine, Craig, 19 RAND Corporation, 23, 24 Rawlings, Pat, 32, 134, 290 Reagan, Ronald, 185 Red Mars (Robinson), 36, 108n, 177, 179, 186, 289, 319, 322 Red Planet (film), 290, 290n Red Planet (Hemlein), 178 “Red Star: The First Bolshevik Utopia, The” (Bogdanov), 178 Relph, Edward, 222–23 Return to Utopia (Rawlings), 32 Robinson, Kim Stanley, 36, 108n, 173–83, 205n, 213n, 257n, 281, 289, 308, 310–11, 319, 322, 323 Roddenberry, Gene, 264 Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare), 324–25 Royal Astronomical Society, 12 Royal Greenwich Observatory, 10–11 Sacks, Oliver, 19 Sagan, Carl, 30, 42, 46, 95, 96, 100, 108n, 158, 197, 227, 234, 240, 257, 268, 303, 304–5 San Juan Mountains (Colorado), 91 Sanchez, Anthony, 53, 55 Sand Dunes, Carson Desert, Nevada (O’Sullivan), 237 Sands of Mars, The (Clarke), 219, 303 Saturn, 131, 132, 133 Saturn V, 31, 316 Saunders, Steve, 188 Schama, Simon, 324n Schiaparelli, Giovanni, 15–16, 21, 44, 96, 100, 101n, 102 Schiaparelli (crater), 102–3 Schrödinger, Irwin, 301 Schmitt, Harrison, 57 Schubert, Frank, 275, 276 Schultz, Peter, 144–45, 150, 222 Science (journal), 68, 190, 210, 211, science fiction, 17, 36, 93, 135–36, 173–83, 289–90, 319–23 and Martian giganticism, 108n See also individual authors Scott, Dave, 112–16, 115n, 117, 150, 167–72, 324 Scott, Robert Falcon, 30 Scout missions, 287 Secchi, Father Angelo, 14, 155 Secchi Continent, 14 Secret of Life, The (McAuley), 271n Seed, David, 175 Service, Robert W., 141 Shakespeare, William, 324–25 Sharp, Bob, 24, 163, 164 Sheffield, Charles, 180 Shergotty meteorites, 139, 247 Shelley, Percy, 173 Shiner, Lewis, 289 Shirley, Donna, 61n Shoemaker, Gene, 84–92, 95, 148, 150, 162, 254, 324–25 Shultz, Peter, 254 “Significance of the Frontier in American History, The” (Turner), 263, 264 “Significance of the Martian Frontier, The” (Zubrin), 265 Silent Spring (Carson), 300 Simud Vallis, 96, 102 Sinai Planum, 101 Sleep, Norm, 122–23, 124, 313 Smith, Brad, 40, 42 Smith, David, 63–64, 65, 69–70 Smith, Peter, 69, 100, 233–34, 235, 236, 239, 239, 315n Smithsonian Air & Space Museum (Washington, D.C.), 322 SNC meteorites, 249 Snell, Willebrord, 25 Snyder, Gary, 180n Soderblom, Larry, 42, 166–67 Solis Lacus, 16 Solis Planum, 101, 102 South Spot (Arsia Mons), 44, 46, 98 Space Shuttle, 60–61 Space Task Group, 60 “Spell of the Yukon, The” (Service), 141 Sputnik, 85 Squyres, Steve, 119 Star Trek, 93 Stoker, Carol, 244, 246, 263, 276, 293 Storm, Bob, 196 Stranger in a Strange Land (Heinlein), 19, 156, 302n Strickland, Ed, 134n Sturgeon, Theodore, 319 Surface of Mars, The (Carr), 163 Syria Planum, 101 Syrtis Major Planum, 13, 14, 15, 103 See also Hourglass Sea Taber, Frank, 324–25 Tanaka, Kenneth, 112, 211, 240 Teapot Ess, 86 Tempe Terra, 186 Tennyson, Alfred Lord, 18, 48 Terra Meridiani, 102, 143, 203, 205–206, 232, 287 Terraforming: Engineering Planetary Environments (Fogg), 315 Tharsis, 15, 46, 98–101, 112, 145, 179 Titan, 316 Tithonium Chasma, 101 Tiu Vallis, 41–42, 96, 102 Tolkien, J.R.R., 309 TOPS probes, 61 “Transit of Earth” (Clarke), 319 Traveler’s Guide to the Solar System, The (Hartmann/Miller), 130–31, 136 See also Grand Tour, The Triton, 96, 214 true polar wander, 144–45 Truman, Harry, 264 Tucson Mafia, 196, 209 Turner, Frederick Jackson, 110–11, 263–64 Turner, J.M.W., 131, 132 Turrell, James, 73, 297 Tyrrhena Patera, 103 Tyrrhenian Sea, 15 “Under the Surface” (Brown), 153 Understanding Comics (McCloud), 116 United States Geological Survey (USGS), 40, 84, 88 Apollo missions, contribution to, 167 Gilbert building, 93, 94, 94n given Mars mapping role, 50 as link between Mars and the West, 85–88 Mars Digital Image Mosaic, 57 1:15,000,000 maps, 3–4 1:5,000,000 maps, 57 Pigwad, development of, 240 University of Washington Department of Nuclear Engineering, 254 Utopia Planitia, 2, 16, 104, 119–21 Valles Marineris, 46–47, 57, 101, 101n, 102, 121, 135, 143, 169 Grand Canyon, compared with, 146–48 influence on fictional landing sites, 289–90 “Value of Outrageous Geological Hypotheses, The” (Davis), 184 van Hoogstraten, Samuel, 49 Van Sant, Tom, 297 Vastitas Borealis, 97, 119 Venus, 81, 109n, 170, 214, 236n, 304 Verne, Jules, 295 Victoria, Queen, 58n Viking (missions), 2, 28, 39–40, 61, 184, 234n, 322 color cameras, 99–101, 228–30 crater pictures, 76 exobiology experiments, 301–2 landing sites, 227–28 picture archive, 193, 198, 234 replica lander, 322 success of, 61 Thomas Mutch Memorial Station, 322 “Viking Results—The Case for Man on Mars, The” (Clark), 243, 245 Vishniac, Wolf, 247, 300 von Braun, Wernher, 132, 260 Von Braun Planitia, 275 Voyage (Baxter), 289 Voyage to the Red Planet (Bisson), 289 Voyager, 214 Wagner, Richard, 267 Wallace, Alfred, 211–12 Wanderer Above the Sea of Mist (Friedrich), 134–25 Watchmen (Moore/Gibbons), 134–37 Watkins, Carleton, 235, 237 Watson, Ian, 174–75, 178, 179 Weinbaum, Stanley, 3 Wells, H.


pages: 556 words: 141,069

The Profiteers by Sally Denton

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, Boycotts of Israel, clean water, corporate governance, crony capitalism, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, energy security, Fall of the Berlin Wall, G4S, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Joan Didion, Kitchen Debate, laissez-faire capitalism, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, new economy, nuclear winter, profit motive, Robert Hanssen: Double agent, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, trickle-down economics, uranium enrichment, urban planning, WikiLeaks, wikimedia commons, William Langewiesche

“It would be a terrible mess, but it wouldn’t be unmanageable,” Reagan’s head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Louis Onorato Giuffrida, told ABC News about how America could survive a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. “I think they would eventually, yeah. As I say, the ants eventually build another anthill.” The brilliant Cornell University astronomer Carl Sagan entered what he saw as a grotesquely anti-intellectual debate on a subject that was undebatable. He penned a three-page hypothesis of the Doomsday Machine—as a 1967 Star Trek episode called it—that would result. Sagan’s 1983 article, “The Nuclear Winter,” a stark and terrifying warning, was published in Parade magazine, the Sunday newspaper supplement that reached an estimated 20 million readers. Using a model of a five-thousand-megaton nuclear exchange, Sagan wrote that land temperatures would drop to minus 25 degrees Celsius and stay below freezing for months, creating a climate catastrophe. “This would kill food crops and livestock, and lead to mass starvation among survivors who hadn’t already perished in the blast,” a later account described Sagan’s predictions.

Mello saw the plan to “freshen up our bombs and cut down the number of nuclear warheads,” as a former presidential science advisor put it, as a red herring. He thought America was walking “back down the limb we got ourselves out on with nuclear weapons.” Comparing the lab’s confidence in the nuclear deterrent to confidence in the tooth fairy, Mello wrote: “What with fallout, reactor meltdowns, and nuclear winter, nuclear ‘deterrence’ amounts to a suicide vest for humanity. . . . The labs are political heroin. As long as our politicos remain addicted to them, they won’t think straight.” Advocating for the nuclear mission to be minimized rather than maximized—to maintain existing facilities rather than expand them—Mello was up against an ever more potent force in Bechtel. The ubiquitous and long shadow of George Shultz would be unmistakable.

., 157 Moral Majority, 136 Morgan Guaranty Trust Company, 112 Mormans, 23, 29, 285–86 Morris, Edmund, 114–15 Morris, Roger, 37, 65, 167 Morrison and Knudsen, 30 Mossad, 178 Mossadegh, Mohammad, 65 Motorola facility, Tianjin, China, 208 Moyers, Bill, 81 Mumm, Cliff, 239, 242, 243 MX missile system, 162 Nagasaki bombing, Japan, 10, 68–69 Nation (magazine), 309 National Academy of Sciences, 70, 259 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), 206 National Business Advisory Council, 74 National Committee for a Free Asia, 75 National Environmental Policy Act, 270 National Ignition Facility (NIF), 265–66 National Industrial Conference Board, 87 nationalization policies, 65, 95, 96–97, 209 National Laboratory System, 256 see also Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Los Alamos National Laboratory function of, 157 government owned and contractor operated (GOCO) model of, 157, 258 privatization of management of, 10, 11, 251, 255, 256–60, 261, 263, 265–66, 270, 272, 290, 292 University of California management of, 10–11 National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), 253, 256, 257, 260, 263, 265, 266, 271, 282, 292, 294, 295 National Reactor Testing Station, Arco, Idaho, 10 National Research Council, 259 National Resources Defense Council, 265 National Security Act (1947), 64, 67 National Security Agency, 14, 79, 276 National Security Archive, 200, 302 National Security Council (NSC), 76, 132, 171, 190, 198 Natsios, Andrew, 233, 234, 238 natural gas industry, Bechtel’s projects in, 7, 86, 87, 205 natural gas pipeline projects, 101–02, 110–11, 240 Naval Intelligence Anti-Terrorism Unit, 184 Naval Ocean Surveillance Information Center (NOSIC), 177, 181 Netanyahu, Benjamin, 13, 299, 300 Nevada Test Site, Las Vegas, 256 new cities projects, 9, 122–23, 127 New Deal, 30, 118, 214 Newmont Mining Company, 122 New Right, 136 New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), 274–75, 280, 281–82, 283 Newsweek (magazine), 6, 11, 88, 143 New Yorker (magazine), 219–20, 235, 272 New York Times, 5, 20, 36, 43, 46, 75, 110, 111, 128, 140, 166, 173, 189, 191, 192, 195, 201, 225, 230, 233, 238, 239, 246, 251, 252, 265, 276, 279, 283, 300, 311 Nicaragua, 185, 187–88 Nidal, Abu, 170 Nies, Judith, 30, 122, 151, 207 Nixon, Richard arms control efforts of, 163 Bechtel contracts and, 90, 95, 100, 104, 105 China’s nationalization of ITT and, 97 CIA covert operations and, 95, 96, 97 energy policy of, 103 McCone’s relationship with, 78 Pacific Rim strategy of, 88, 89, 100 presidential run of, 89–90, 119 Shultz’s Cabinet posts with, 105, 109–11, 123, 143 Soviet policy of, 101–02, 110–11 Steve Jr. and, 87–88, 89, 90 Steve Sr. and, 75, 95, 101 Weinberger and, 119 Nixon Doctrine, 100 Nobel Peace Prize (2000), for Obama, 280, 281, 282 Norquist, Grover, 11 Norris, Stan, 163 North, Oliver, 139, 347n185 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), 68, 167, 229, 306 North Korea, 178, 274, 281 Northwestern Pacific Railroad, 23, 24 Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), 261 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, 158 nuclear power plants AEC’s policy on, 70–71 Bechtel’s construction of, 10, 68, 70–71, 79, 104 in China, 158 cleanup after accidents in, 10, 149–50, 152, 216 construction of first nuclear plant, 10 Davis as champion of, 153–55 decline in contracts for, 151, 153 DOE’s program for, 156–57 Nixon’s push for, 103 potential for catastrophe in, 120, 121 public opposition to, 71 Reagan’s s policy on, 153–54, 157–58 in South Korea, 10 Steve Jr.’s focus on safety of, 149–50 switch to coal from, 121–22 nuclear test ban treaty proposals, 70, 158, 274 nuclear weapons development and testing Bechtel’s involvement in, 70–71 Cold War arms race on, 69–70 DOE’s program for, 156–57 Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” speech (1953) on, 69 nuclear test ban proposals on, 70, 158, 274 opposition to, 72 nuclear weapons laboratories. See National Laboratory System nuclear weapons production facilities Bechtel as global leader in, 10 Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 67 Rocky Flats Plant, Colorado, 269 “Nuclear Winter, The” (Sagan), 164–65 Nunn, Sam, 215, 276, 284, 318 Oak Ridge, Tennessee, nuclear weapons plant, 67 Obama, Barack New START treaty proposal of, 281–82, 283 Nobel Peace Prize (2000) for, 280, 281, 282 nuclear facilities modernization and, 272, 279, 281–82 nuclear-free world doctrine of, 274–76, 279, 283 nuclear material safeguards promoted by, 280–81 Pollard affair and, 13, 298–300, 301, 303 Prague speech (2009) on disarmament by, 274–75, 279, 280 Shultz on disarmament policies of, 278–79 Occidental Petroleum, 94, 101, 155 Office of Management and Budget (OMB), 109, 114, 116, 119, 247, 264 Office of Strategic Services (OSS), 8, 55, 56, 59, 64, 132 Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), 240–41, 243 oil industry Bechtel’s Middle Eastern projects and, 58, 59, 60, 62 Dad Bechtel’s move into, 26 in Iran, 65, 96, 168 in Libya, 94, 96 Mideast crisis (1970s) in, 103 Reagan’s policy in Iraq and, 172 in Saudi Arabia, 60–61, 62, 85, 96 Steve Sr. and, 48–49, 58, 59, 60, 62, 63, 124 US financial inducements to, 59 oil refinery construction projects, 26, 48–49, 50, 53, 58, 62, 96, 122, 134, 191, 201, 202, 225, 305 O’Konski, Alvin, 72 O’Leary, Hazel, 260 Olmert, Ehud, 299 Olympics (1992), 208 Oppenheimer, J.


The End of the Cold War: 1985-1991 by Robert Service

active measures, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, cuban missile crisis, Deng Xiaoping, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Kickstarter, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Neil Kinnock, Norman Mailer, nuclear winter, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Silicon Valley, The Chicago School, Vladimir Vetrov: Farewell Dossier

Soviet Intentions 1965–1985, vol. 2: Soviet Post-Cold War Testimonial Evidence: interview of H. C. Iklé, 11 December 1991, p. 78. 31. P. J. Crutzen and J. W. Birks, ‘The Atmosphere after a Nuclear War: Twilight at Noon’, Ambio, nos. 2–3 (1982), pp. 115–25. 32. L. Gouré, ‘“Nuclear Winter” in Soviet Mirrors’, Strategic Review, 3 September 1985, p. 22. 33. C. Sagan, ‘Nuclear War and Climatic Catastrophe: Some Policy Implications’, Foreign Affairs, no. 2 (Winter 1983–1984), pp. 259–60 and 291. 34. C. Sagan to E. Teller, 23 February 1984: Edward Teller Papers (HIA), box 283, folder: Carl Sagan. 35. Pravda, 23 March 1980, p. 4. 36. Gouré, ‘“Nuclear Winter” in Soviet Mirrors’, p. 25. 37. A. L. Adamishin Papers (HIA), box 1: Diaries 1987, 27 February 1987. 38. Yu. V. Andropov to the Central Committee, 21 February 1979, pp. 1–2: Dmitri A. Volkogonov Papers (HIA), reel 18. 39.

It would make no difference if only a few such detonations took place. Sagan asked why, if Reagan genuinely wanted peace, he gave 10,000 times greater financial support to the Defense Department than to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.33 When Edward Teller poured scorn on him as a ‘propagandizer’ who did not know what he was talking about, Sagan wrote a letter deploring that Teller himself had written that ‘nuclear winter’ was the only possible outcome of a war involving nuclear ballistic missiles; he objected to Teller’s readiness to engage in personalized polemics.34 Sagan’s article was manna from heaven for Soviet leaders and propagandists. Already in March 1980 an appeal had gone from 654 American scientists to Presidents Carter and Brezhnev. The title was ‘Danger – Nuclear War’, the call was for a ban on all nuclear weapons.

72 Though Gorbachëv denied that the USSR was sending aid to the strikers, he carefully added ‘as far as I am aware’.73 He anyway promised that there would be no further subsidy. (He kept his word: when Soviet trade union leaders asked permission to send a million rubles to the strikers, the Politburo turned them down.)74 He adduced the New York Times to warn that any war with atomic bombs would create ‘nuclear winter’.75 He expressed alarm about people in Washington like Weinberger and Perle.76 His coup de théâtre occurred when he took a top-secret General Staff map from his briefcase with coloured arrows marking the Soviet missile targets in the United Kingdom. Thatcher did not know whether to take him seriously. After a long pause, Gorbachëv said: ‘Mrs Prime Minister, it’s necessary to finish with all this, and the sooner the better.’


pages: 314 words: 86,795

The Comedy Film Nerds Guide to Movies by Graham Elwood, Chris Mancini

blood diamonds, Bob Geldof, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, nuclear winter, Wall-E

I related to this because I feel like those of us who are podcasting are on the forefront of something, and maybe twenty to thirty years from now a film will be made about a bunch of frustrated comics in LA talking into laptop microphones in garages, closets, and above 7-11’s, and it is this point in history that will be referred to as how podcasting changed everything. Or society will have collapsed and this book will be used in a fire to light up the sunless sky in a nuclear winter. Either way we will have an impact on the future. One of the reasons why in the last ten years there has been such an explosion of remarkable docs is the changing technology. Thirty to forty years ago a filmmaker had to take 16mm film cameras and expensive, bulky sound equipment out in the field to document something or someone. The processing of the film stock and everything else made the cost of a doc not that much less than a narrative with far less profit.

It uses the Underdog Template to full advantage, but scores huge points for not treating sports like some titanic struggle of men. Instead, it points out that because these guys have spent their entire lives playing a kids game, they’re essentially giant kids themselves—and in doing so the film demonstrates just how important chemistry is in sports. Rather than treating every fastball like a nuclear winter, it showed the players partying and acting stupid—precisely what 90 percent of us would do if we were young and rich. It lends vicariousness to the film that makes it eminently watchable . . . as the cable companies have discovered. If Major League came close to capturing a Major League clubhouse, White Men Can’t Jump absolutely NAILED life on the Venice Beach basketball courts. When I first moved to California I made a trip to Venice Beach.


pages: 269 words: 78,468

Kill Your Friends by John Niven

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Etonian, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, Kickstarter, nuclear winter, sensible shoes, Stephen Hawking

Copies of Music Week are scattered all over the floor, all opened at the album charts where we’ve been scanning the producers’ names for ideas. Waters thinks hard. Or rather he makes the expression he imagines humans use when thinking—furrowed brow, gaze focused somewhere in the mid-distance—while whatever goes on in his mind goes on. I picture the inside of his head as a sleeping donkey, a 747 exploding on the tarmac, a nuclear winter. “How about…” I say sitting forward, picking up his Amex, scooping some powder towards me, pausing dramatically as Waters looks up hopefully, “…Guy Stevens?” I wait a few seconds while his brain turns, as swift as a container of near-set concrete tipping over. There’s the vaguest light somewhere in his eyes, the tiniest hint that something like a mind lives and functions in there. “You know,” I say helpfully, “he produced London Calling.

♦ I drive through Stratford and Leytonstone—cancerous high streets choked up with Pound Smasher! shops and Alabama Fried Chicken dives—and take the M25 South. I come along a flyover and, for a moment, the Saab is suspended so high in the air that it feels like you are in a video game. On my right, stretching back towards Docklands and the City, and on my left, oozing out into Kent, is the nuclear winter of east London—hundreds of square miles of power stations and freight yards, pylons, construction sites and chemical plants, motorway and flyover, ring road and tunnel, endless miles of red tail lights, yellow headlights and sodium street lights. The air outside the blue-tinted windows of the car is smoke, dust and dirt. Out in that air, in grids and blocks, the lights are coming on in houses.


pages: 70 words: 22,172

How We'll Live on Mars (TED Books) by Stephen Petranek

California gold rush, Colonization of Mars, Elon Musk, Hyperloop, Jeff Bezos, low earth orbit, Mars Rover, nuclear winter, out of africa, Richard Feynman, trade route

If an asteroid with a lot of ammonia could be steered into a collision course with Mars, the resulting impact would do at least two things: create heat to help warm Mars and raise the level of greenhouse gases. The impact alone of a large asteroid on the planet’s surface could raise the temperature of Mars by 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Unfortunately, there could also be disastrous results: an asteroid colliding with Mars could create a nuclear winter scenario, throwing up so much debris into the atmosphere that the planet would actually cool before it warms, thus greatly postponing the time frame for terraforming. Furthermore, ammonia is caustic, and a large amount of it in the atmosphere could create worse conditions for humans than would more carbon dioxide. Ultimately, though, the sun’s rays should break down the ammonia into hydrogen and nitrogen.


pages: 398 words: 100,679

The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World From Scratch by Lewis Dartnell

agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, clean water, Dava Sobel, decarbonisation, discovery of penicillin, Dmitri Mendeleev, global village, Haber-Bosch Process, invention of movable type, invention of radio, invention of writing, iterative process, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, lone genius, low earth orbit, mass immigration, nuclear winter, off grid, Richard Feynman, technology bubble, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, trade route

The enormous volumes of dust and ash injected into the atmosphere reduced the amount of sunlight reaching the ground, causing a decades-long nuclear winter, the collapse of agriculture, and global famine. Or the event was entirely beyond human control. A rocky asteroid, only around a mile across, slammed into the Earth and fatally changed atmospheric conditions. People within a few hundred kilometers of ground zero were dispatched in an instant by the blast wave of intense heat and pressure, and from that point on most of the rest of humanity was living on borrowed time. It didn’t really matter which nation was struck: the rock and dust hurled up high into the atmosphere—as well as the smoke produced by widespread fires ignited by the heat blast—dispersed on the winds to smother the entire planet. As in a nuclear winter, global temperatures dropped enough to cause worldwide crop failures and massive famine.


pages: 343 words: 101,563

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells

"Robert Solow", agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Asian financial crisis, augmented reality, basic income, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, cognitive bias, computer age, correlation does not imply causation, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, decarbonisation, Donald Trump, effective altruism, Elon Musk, endowment effect, energy transition, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, failed state, fiat currency, global pandemic, global supply chain, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, Joan Didion, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labor-force participation, life extension, longitudinal study, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, megacity, megastructure, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, nuclear winter, Pearl River Delta, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, postindustrial economy, quantitative easing, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sam Altman, Silicon Valley, Skype, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, the built environment, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, universal basic income, University of East Anglia, Whole Earth Catalog, William Langewiesche, Y Combinator

Few feel like gods in the face of warming, but that the totality of climate change should make us feel so passive—that is another of its delusions. In folklore and comic books and church pews and movie theaters, stories about the fate of the earth often perversely counsel passivity in their audiences, and perhaps it should not surprise us that the threat of climate change is no different. By the end of the Cold War, the prospect of nuclear winter had clouded every corner of our pop culture and psychology, a pervasive nightmare that the human experiment might be brought to an end by two jousting sets of proud, rivalrous tacticians, just a few sets of twitchy hands hovering over the planet’s self-destruct buttons. The threat of climate change is more dramatic still, and ultimately more democratic, with responsibility shared by each of us even as we shiver in fear of it; and yet we have processed that threat only in parts, typically not concretely or explicitly, displacing certain anxieties and inventing others, choosing to ignore the bleakest features of our possible future and letting our political fatalism and technological faith blur, as though we’d gone cross-eyed, into a remarkably familiar consumer fantasy: that someone else will fix the problem for us, at no cost.

Mad Max: Fury Road unfurls like a global-warming panorama, a scrolling saga of a world made desert, but its political crisis comes, in fact, from an oil shortage. The protagonist of The Last Man on Earth is made that way by a sweeping virus, the family of A Quiet Place is hushed by giant insect predators lurking in the wilderness, and the central cataclysm of the “Apocalypse” season of American Horror Story is a throwback—a nuclear winter. In the many zombie apocalypses of this era of ecological anxiety, the zombies are invariably rendered as an alien force, not an endemic one. That is, not as us. What does it mean to be entertained by a fictional apocalypse as we stare down the possibility of a real one? One job of pop culture is always to serve stories that distract even as they appear to engage—to deliver sublimation and diversion.


Who Rules the World? by Noam Chomsky

"Robert Solow", Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, corporate governance, corporate personhood, cuban missile crisis, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, Edward Snowden, en.wikipedia.org, facts on the ground, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, liberation theology, Malacca Straits, Martin Wolf, Mikhail Gorbachev, Monroe Doctrine, Nelson Mandela, nuclear winter, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, one-state solution, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, precariat, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, Stanislav Petrov, structural adjustment programs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trade route, union organizing, uranium enrichment, wage slave, WikiLeaks, working-age population

Business interests don’t want it, and they’re overwhelmingly powerful in determining policy, so you get a big gap between opinion and policy on lots of issues, including this one. So that’s what the future historian—if there is one—would see. He might also read today’s scientific journals. Just about every one you open has a more dire prediction than the last. The other issue is nuclear war. It’s been known for a long time that if there were to be a first strike by a major power, even with no retaliation, it would probably destroy civilization just because of the nuclear-winter consequences that would follow. You can read about it in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; it’s well understood. So the danger has always been a lot worse than we thought it was. We’ve recently passed the fiftieth anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was a very close call, and not the only time either. In some ways, however, the worst aspect of these grim events is that their lessons haven’t been learned.

Both sides are practicing rapid mobilization and redeployment of forces to the Russia-NATO border, and “both believe a war is no longer unthinkable.”21 If that is so, both sides are beyond insanity, since a war might well destroy everything. It has been recognized for decades that a first strike by a major power might destroy the attacker, even without retaliation, simply from the effects of nuclear winter. But that is today’s world. And not just today’s—that is what we have been living with for seventy years. The reasoning throughout is remarkable. As we have seen, security for the population is typically not a leading concern of policymakers. That has been true from the earliest days of the nuclear age, when in the centers of policy formation there were no efforts—apparently not even expressed thoughts—to eliminate the one serious potential threat to the United States, as might have been possible.


pages: 387 words: 105,250

The Caryatids by Bruce Sterling

carbon footprint, clean water, failed state, impulse control, negative equity, new economy, nuclear winter, semantic web, sexual politics, social software, starchitect, stem cell, supervolcano, urban renewal, Whole Earth Review

Seventy-four thousand years, Freddy.” Freddy looked down and slowly quoted from his notepad. “ ‘The massive eruption of a supervolcano would be a planetary catastrophe. It would create years of freezing temperatures as volcanic dust and ash obscured the warmth of the sun. The sky will darken, black rain will fall, and the Earth will be plunged into the equivalent of a nuclear winter.’ ” Guillermo’s face went sour. “Okay, that is total baloney. ‘Nuclear winter,’ that sounds extremely corny to me.” “That’s because this source material is eighty years old. Geologists know a whole lot about supervolcanoes. Nobody else in the world wants to think about supervolcanoes.” Buffy was losing her temper. “But this is so totally unbelievable! The sky already darkened! The black rain already fell on us! We already have a climate crisis, we have one going on right now!


pages: 194 words: 36,223

Smart and Gets Things Done: Joel Spolsky's Concise Guide to Finding the Best Technical Talent by Joel Spolsky

Build a better mousetrap, David Heinemeier Hansson, knowledge worker, linear programming, nuclear winter, Ruby on Rails, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, sorting algorithm, Superbowl ad, the scientific method, type inference, unpaid internship

A new corps of Internet consultants sprung up, hiring 22-year old college grads who knew how to use FrontPage. They earned about $40 an hour, but could be billed out at $250 an hour. The article purported to explain that if you just pay enough, offer well-lit offices, and gave people massages, you shouldn’t have any problem hiring. Shortly after I wrote that article, though, the first Internet bubble burst, and we had something of a nuclear winter in the tech industry. Tons of programmers, developers, web designers, and producers were dumped unceremoniously on the street, many of whom didn’t realize that $60,000 was not really a realistic starting salary for college graduates who had majored in 1. Normally I would put the URL here so you could look it up. But that old article I wrote in my youth is just ridiculous, so, while it’s still on the Web, you’ll have to find it for yourself, which I don’t recommend.


You're a Horrible Person, but I Like You: The Believer Book of Advice by The Believer

Burning Man, haute cuisine, Kickstarter, Mahatma Gandhi, nuclear winter, Saturday Night Live

Yes, you could topple the capitalist system, oust the Pope, end the use of drift nets in the tuna fishing industry, or install Sharia law and a Taliban-style government, but so what? What plastics has to offer is the possibility of replacing organic life with a material that won’t shrink, fade, or biodegrade, available in all colors, shapes, and sizes, and resistant to global warming, environmental degradation, and nuclear winter. Gotta love that. Harold … Dear Harold: If Jews and Muslims were born of the same tribes of Jacob or Isaac or Ronny or whoever killed Jesus, then why are they still fighting today? Also, I can’t get my potato latkes to come out tender on the inside and crispy on the outside like my mother can. Is it something I’m doing wrong with the flour? Ben Siegel Williamsville, NY Oy, Benny, Benny, Benny, It’s not the flour.


pages: 452 words: 126,310

The Case for Space: How the Revolution in Spaceflight Opens Up a Future of Limitless Possibility by Robert Zubrin

Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, battle of ideas, Charles Lindbergh, Colonization of Mars, complexity theory, cosmic microwave background, cosmological principle, discovery of DNA, double helix, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, flex fuel, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, gravity well, if you build it, they will come, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Kuiper Belt, low earth orbit, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, more computing power than Apollo, Naomi Klein, nuclear winter, off grid, out of africa, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, place-making, Pluto: dwarf planet, private space industry, rising living standards, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, telerobotics, Thomas Malthus, transcontinental railway, uranium enrichment

For example, the kilometer-wide, two-hundred-meter-deep crater in northern Arizona visited by many tourists today is the scar left by the impact of a 150-meter-diameter asteroid that hit the Earth fifty thousand years ago with a force of about 840 megatons (eighty-four thousand Nagasaki bombs), releasing roughly the same explosive power as would have been detonated had an all-out nuclear war occurred between NATO and the Warsaw Pact at the most heavily armed phase of their balance of terror. The impact probably wiped out much of the life in the American Southwest and raised enough dust to throw the entire world into a “nuclear winter” deep freeze for several years. But the 150-meter rock that hit Arizona was still a small asteroid. There are others out there with masses thousands, even millions of times as great. Sometimes they hit too. Table 11.1 provides a rough guide to how much force is released when that happens and the estimated frequency of such events. TABLE 11.1. DESTRUCTIVE FORCE OF ASTEROID IMPACTS (See plate 16.)

Then the asteroid slammed into the Earth itself, shooting vast amounts of ejecta into space, which later reentered at hypersonic speed and heated the entire atmosphere to incandescence. The glowing sky set fire to forests everywhere. Any life that could not find a hiding place underground or underwater was killed. The burning only lasted a few days, but afterward the dust released by the impact and consequent smoky fires caused intense, planetwide lethal acid rain and sent the Earth into years or decades of a dust-shrouded deep nuclear winter. Eventually the dust rained out, allowing the blessed sunlight to warm the Earth again, except that the impact and the fires had put a massive amount of carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere, which the sparse vegetation of the post-holocaust world could do little to clean up. As a result, a powerful greenhouse effect was created, rapidly driving the Earth into an intolerable hothouse that may have lasted for centuries.


pages: 194 words: 49,310

Clock of the Long Now by Stewart Brand

Albert Einstein, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Colonization of Mars, complexity theory, Danny Hillis, Eratosthenes, Extropian, fault tolerance, George Santayana, Internet Archive, Jaron Lanier, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, life extension, longitudinal study, low earth orbit, Metcalfe’s law, Mitch Kapor, nuclear winter, pensions crisis, phenotype, Ray Kurzweil, Robert Metcalfe, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, Thomas Malthus, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog

He would use an unreliable but accurate timer (solar alignment) to adjust an inaccurate but reliable timer (pendulum), creating a phase-locked loop. A Huygens (swinging) pendulum or torsional (rotating) pendulum would keep the Clock close to accurate, and then a pulse of focused sunlight at exact solar noon would adjust the Clock precisely on any day there was sun. In the event of prolonged cloudiness from volcanic eruptions, nuclear winters, or large meteor impacts, the Clock’s pendulum could keep close-enough time for a few years until the Sun came out again. A second major innovation emerged from analyzing the calculation options. Electronic calculation (as in digital clocks and watches) would be hopelessly invisible and difficult to maintain. The gears used universally in mechanical clocks wear down over time and offer only approximately correct ratios.


pages: 225 words: 54,010

A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright

Albert Einstein, Atahualpa, Bretton Woods, British Empire, clean water, Columbian Exchange, cuban missile crisis, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Haber-Bosch Process, Hernando de Soto, invention of agriculture, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, land reform, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, nuclear winter, out of africa, Parkinson's law, Ronald Reagan, Thomas Malthus, urban sprawl

Ronald Wright, Stolen Continents: Conquest and Resistance In the Americas (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1992), p. 5. 7. American Cold Warriors of the last century used to threaten to “bomb the Soviets back into the Stone Age.” Whether the Russians uttered the same threat, I don’t know. But it was certainly a credible one. Even if a nuclear “exchange” (as the euphemism went) failed to extinguish all higher forms of life, it would have ended civilization worldwide. No crops worth eating would grow in a nuclear winter. 8. See Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (New York: Free Press, 1992). 9. Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism, 1711; Thomas Henry Huxley, On Elementary Instruction in Physiology, 1877. 10. Quoted in Robert J. Wenke, Patterns in Prehistory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980), p. 79. 11. William Shakespeare, Hamlet, act 2, scene 2. 12. Ibid., As You Like It, act 4, scene 1. 13.


pages: 184 words: 54,833

Why Orwell Matters by Christopher Hitchens

anti-communist, British Empire, colonial rule, deindustrialization, Etonian, hiring and firing, land reform, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Norman Mailer, nuclear winter, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, sensible shoes

While those who drown a truth’s empiric part In dithyramb or dogma turn frenetic; — Than whom no writer could be less poetic He left this lesson for all verse, all art. ROBERT CONQUEST: ‘GEORGE ORWELL’ (1969) The stanzas above were written in a glacial time, and refer back to a period of almost polar frigidity — the ‘midnight of the century’ reviewed through the optic of the Cold War, with the additional prospect of a ‘nuclear winter’ never remote enough to be dismissed. Yet the chilliness of the opening is at once redeemed by a friendly gleam, and this gleam is renewed through the subsequent glow of friendship until it suffuses the closing lines with something almost like fire. It’s an open question as to whether or not integrity and honesty are cold or hot virtues, and England can be a dank place in which to locate the question.


pages: 523 words: 143,639

Red November: Inside the Secret U.S.-Soviet Submarine War by W. Craig Reed

Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, cable laying ship, centre right, cuban missile crisis, en.wikipedia.org, nuclear winter, operation paperclip, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, undersea cable, upwardly mobile

—CAPTAIN FIRST RANK, RETIRED, ALEKSEI DUBIVKO ALTHOUGH PRESIDENT KENNEDY AND DEFENSE SECRETARY McNamara retained suspicions that the four Foxtrot submarines that converged on Cuba in October 1962 might be carrying nuclear torpedoes, the truth was not revealed to the world until 1995, more than three years after the Soviet Union collapsed. Not until then did we learn that the Soviets shipped 161 nuclear warheads to Cuba. Ninety of those were tactical, which would have killed tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers had Kennedy given the order to invade. I spent my entire adulthood believing that President Kennedy saved the world from nuclear winter during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Certainly, he and the members of ExComm were instrumental in forcing Khrushchev to back down at a crucial time during the brewing conflict, but the other heroes of this undeclared war were the commanders of the four Foxtrot submarines. Each had the opportunity, when faced with disaster, to pull the trigger and start a war. Each could have taken a dozen or more American ships with them into the smoldering center of a mushroom cloud, and each could have propelled the world toward a devastating October that would have changed the course of human history.

Each could have taken a dozen or more American ships with them into the smoldering center of a mushroom cloud, and each could have propelled the world toward a devastating October that would have changed the course of human history. However, each made the right decision in the end, and those of us who survived that time owe them our gratitude and perhaps our lives. The events that transpired in the fall of 1962 brought the world to the edge of nuclear winter not once, but at least a half-dozen times. The Cuban Missile Crisis, perhaps better stated the Cuban Submarine Crisis, spurred the creation of the Moscow–Washington hotline to ensure immediate, direct communications between the superpowers in the event of future potential conflicts. Although critics claim that Kennedy’s actions prior to the crisis—particularly those related to the Bay of Pigs incident—likely caused the escalation in the first place, most agree that the outcome propelled the United States to a more confident stance as an international superpower.


pages: 200 words: 60,314

Beer Money: A Memoir of Privilege and Loss by Frances Stroh

cognitive dissonance, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Golden Gate Park, Kickstarter, new economy, nuclear winter, post-work, South of Market, San Francisco, urban renewal

The eyes were open and black, the body the size of a small cat. The fur rippled rhythmically, and I wondered if it might still be alive, but Caitlin’s sweater was rippling, too. Everything with texture was alive. I imagined thousands of rats all around us, rambling through sewer pipes or thrashing their tails inside little holes in the ground. I’d read a book once about the apocalypse that said only rats and cockroaches would survive a nuclear winter. They’d proliferate and take over the earth for millions of years until new species evolved. Even now, I thought I could feel things crawling on me. I scratched my arms up and down until I’d begun to produce welts. A door slammed from somewhere inside the plant, and the sound ricocheted off the buildings in the silence. We all looked at one another. Had it been the wind? Anything could happen in here, and no one outside would know.


pages: 194 words: 59,336

The Simple Path to Wealth: Your Road Map to Financial Independence and a Rich, Free Life by J L Collins

"side hustle", asset allocation, Bernie Madoff, buy and hold, compound rate of return, diversification, financial independence, full employment, German hyperinflation, index fund, money market fund, nuclear winter, passive income, payday loans, risk tolerance, Vanguard fund, yield curve

As we’ll discuss in Chapter 19, the tax deferral and any company match contributions make these plans attractive even with subpar fund choices and high fees. 3. What if Vanguard gets nuked? OK, let’s be clear. If the world had ended on December 21, 2012 as the Mayan Calendar suggested it might, everything you had invested in Vanguard (or elsewhere) would have gone up in smoke. But, of course, that didn’t happen. If a giant meteor slams into Earth setting the world on fire followed by a nuclear winter, your investments are toast. If space aliens arrive and enslave us all—unless you bought human feedlot futures—it’s gonna mess up your portfolio. But unlikely and beyond our control, not to mention the scope of this book. That said, lesser disasters can and do happen. Vanguard is based in Malvern, Pennsylvania. What if, God forbid, Malvern is nuked in a terrorist attack? What about a cyber attack?


pages: 446 words: 578

The end of history and the last man by Francis Fukuyama

affirmative action, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Bonfire of the Vanities, business cycle, centre right, cuban missile crisis, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, European colonialism, Exxon Valdez, F. W. de Klerk, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, Gini coefficient, Gunnar Myrdal, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, Isaac Newton, Joan Didion, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, kremlinology, land reform, liberal world order, liberation theology, life extension, linear programming, long peace, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, New Journalism, nuclear winter, old-boy network, open economy, post-industrial society, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Socratic dialogue, strikebreaker, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, zero-sum game

Our deepest thinkers have concluded that there is no such thing as History—that is, a meaningful order to the broad sweep of human events. Our own experience has taught us, seemingly, that the future is more likely than not to contain new and unimagined evils, from fanatical dictatorships and bloody genocides to the banalization of life through modern consumerism, and that unprecedented disasters await us from nuclear winter to global warming. The pessimism of the twentieth century stands in sharp contrast to the optimism of the previous one. Though Europe began the nineteenth century convulsed by war and revolution, it was by and large a century of peace and unprecedented increases in material well-being. There were two broad grounds for optimism. The first was the belief that modern science would improve human life by conquering disease and poverty.

But is it possible to destroy modern natural science itself, to release us from the grip that the scientific method has held over our lives, and return mankind as a whole permanently to a pre-scientific level of civilization?4 Let us take the case of a global war involving weapons of mass destruction. Since Hiroshima we have envisioned this as a nuclear war, but it could now be the result of some new and terrible biological or chemical agent. Assuming that such a war does not trigger nuclear winter or some other natural process that makes the earth completely uninhabitable by man, we must assume that the conflict will destroy much of the population, power, and wealth of the belligerents, and perhaps of their major allies, with devastating consequences for neutral onlookers as well. There may be major environmental consequences that would make the military catastrophe merge with an ecological one.


pages: 234 words: 63,149

Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World by Ian Bremmer

airport security, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, blood diamonds, Bretton Woods, BRICs, capital controls, clean water, creative destruction, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, energy security, European colonialism, failed state, global rebalancing, global supply chain, income inequality, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Julian Assange, Kickstarter, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Nelson Mandela, Nixon shock, nuclear winter, Parag Khanna, purchasing power parity, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, smart grid, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, Stuxnet, trade route, uranium enrichment, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, Yom Kippur War

VICTORY AND FRAGMENTATION After more than four decades of confrontation and bloody proxy wars across the developing world, the collapse of European and Soviet communism and the end of the Cold War appeared to usher in an era of American dominance. U.S. politicians championed a new form of manifest destiny, one in which an exceptional, ascendant superpower would inspire followers on every continent to remake the world in America’s image. Russia, heart of the Soviet empire, was invited to expand the G7 to a G8 to ensure that Moscow did not lurch back toward communism or turn to military rule. The Wall fell, and fears of nuclear winter gave way to a promising spring. But Cold War victory restored neither international harmony nor American preeminence. Instead, it simply speeded the rise of a new generation of increasingly self-confident emerging-market countries, each with its own values and vulnerabilities. From the ashes of the Soviet Union itself came fifteen new states. Some (the Baltic states, Ukraine, and Georgia) turned toward Europe.


pages: 244 words: 69,183

Squid Empire: The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods by Danna Staaf

3D printing, colonial rule, Kickstarter, nuclear winter, Skype, wikimedia commons

Scientists calculate that the crater-producing meteor must have been at least six miles in diameter, which means it could have comfortably contained Mount Everest (if the great peak had existed back then—since India was still an island, Everest had not yet protruded from the planet). The impact had impacts both short- and long-term on every habitat—except the deep sea. Earth’s surface was cooked for a few minutes by the reentry heat of particles that had been thrown out into space. Gases released into the atmosphere caused an “impact winter” in subsequent years (like the nuclear winter hypothesized by science fiction writers of the mid-1900s), as well as acid rain that dramatically changed the surface chemistry of the oceans.8 Obviously, if you happened to live at the end of the Cretaceous, you got a pretty raw deal. But the question that remains is how changes like these led to the specific changes we see in the fossil record. Why did some groups of animals disappear altogether, while others emerged relatively unscathed?


Survival of the Friendliest: Understanding Our Origins and Rediscovering Our Common Humanity by Brian Hare, Vanessa Woods

Cass Sunstein, cognitive bias, desegregation, Donald Trump, drone strike, income inequality, Jane Jacobs, Law of Accelerating Returns, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, Milgram experiment, Nelson Mandela, New Urbanism, nuclear winter, out of africa, phenotype, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), self-driving car, smart cities, social intelligence, Stanford marshmallow experiment, stem cell, Steven Pinker, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, theory of mind, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, white flight, zero-sum game

Outside on the balcony, she saw her grandfather red in the face, shouting at Khrushchev. “I had never seen Granddad so angry.” Eisenhower stormed into the room, snatched the toys from his grandchildren, and stormed out. Those were the first, frightening days of nuclear weapons. Bombs were being built that were a thousand times more powerful than the atom bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. People built bomb shelters in their backyards and stockpiled food for a nuclear winter. Mary found out later that on the balcony, in full view of the children playing with their new toys, Khrushchev had pulled Eisenhower close and whispered, “I’ll see your grandchildren buried.” Mary cried and begged for the doll back, and her grandfather, being a soft touch, gave it to her. But Mary always harbored an antipathy for Khrushchev, the man who had made her grandfather so furious.


pages: 741 words: 179,454

Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk by Satyajit Das

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, Andy Kessler, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, carried interest, Celtic Tiger, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, discrete time, diversification, diversified portfolio, Doomsday Clock, Edward Thorp, Emanuel Derman, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, Everybody Ought to Be Rich, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial independence, financial innovation, financial thriller, fixed income, full employment, global reserve currency, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, high net worth, Hyman Minsky, index fund, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, job automation, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Meriwether, joint-stock company, Jones Act, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, Kevin Kelly, laissez-faire capitalism, load shedding, locking in a profit, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, margin call, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, mega-rich, merger arbitrage, Mikhail Gorbachev, Milgram experiment, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, mutually assured destruction, Myron Scholes, Naomi Klein, negative equity, NetJets, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, Nixon shock, Northern Rock, nuclear winter, oil shock, Own Your Own Home, Paul Samuelson, pets.com, Philip Mirowski, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, price stability, profit maximization, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, regulatory arbitrage, rent control, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, Right to Buy, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Satyajit Das, savings glut, shareholder value, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, special economic zone, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, survivorship bias, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the market place, the medium is the message, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Nature of the Firm, the new new thing, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, value at risk, Yogi Berra, zero-coupon bond, zero-sum game

Some 65 million years ago, the impact of an asteroid in Mexico, equivalent to an explosion of 100 million tons of TNT, created the Chicxulub crater, 120 miles (180 kilometers) in diameter. 300,000 years later (an eye blink in geological time), a second much larger celestial object, named Shiva, the Indian God of destruction, hit India with a force estimated at 100 times that of the Chicxulub asteroid, creating a 310-mile (500-kilometre) crater. Debris ejected into the atmosphere shut out the sun, creating a nuclear winter that prevented photosynthesis by plants, slowly starving most life and leading to the extinction of millions of species, including dinosaurs. Something similar had happened to the global economy. A lack of money slowly caused normal economic activity to stop. Money was the oil lubricating the economy. Now the oil was leaking out via a large crack, and the moving parts were seizing up. In Indian mythology, Brahma is the creator of the world.

See Jack Welch Never Never, 67 new austerity, 357 New Century Financial, 195, 202 New Scientist, 363 New York as a financial center, 78-79 FiDi (Financial District), 80 New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), 80 New York Times, The, 120, 196 Ayn Rand, 297 Michael Milken, 152 newspapers, 89-91 Nicholson, Eddy, 134 Nietszche, Frederich, 300 NINJA borrowers, 70 Nintendo DS, 40 NIVA (no income verified assets) loans, 182 Nixon, Richard M., 31, 104, 342 Nobel prize in Economics, 104 Black and Scholes, 122 nolo contendere (no contest), 150 normal distributions, 126 Norris, Stephen, 154 North Korea, 24 Northern Rock, 200, 205 Norway, 221 Noyer, Christian, 228 nuclear war, 34 nuclear winter, 339 O O’Neal, Stan, 178, 201, 291, 315, 319, 330 O’Neill, Eugene, 46 O’Neill, Jim, 90 O’Rourke, P.J., 293 Obama, Barack, 215, 325, 342, 358, 362 objective truths, 130 objects d’art, 176 Och, Daniel, 318 Och-Ziff Capital Management, 318 Oddsson, David, 275, 279 off-balance sheets, 190, 288 off-market interest, 224 oil, 57 banks, 57 petro-dollars, 82 rise in prices, 334, 337-338 Old Lane Partners, 319 Olso, Mancur, 294 Once in a Lifetime, 46 One Market, One God, 129 one-touch, 211 Onex Group, 156 Onion, The, 341, 361 opacity, 61 Oppenheimer, Robert, 339 options, 182, 209 Orange County, collapse of, 283 Organisation, The, 296 originate and hide, 270 originate-to-distribute models, 68 Orman, Suze, 92-93 Orwell, George, 365 Orzag, Peter, 358 Osgood, Charles, 353 Other People’s Money, 21, 40, 64 over-collateralization, 169 overcapitalization, 54 oversight, 290 Oversight Panel Report, 340 Oxley, Michael G., 154 P PAC (planned amortization class) bonds, 178 Pacioli, Luca, 285 Packard, Vance, 43 Paille, Antoine, 228 Paine, Thomas, 36 PaineWebber, 201 Pakistan, 22 Palin, Sarah, 95 Pandit, Vikram, 290, 319, 346 panic, markets, 340-341 paper losses, 203 paper money, 27-28.


pages: 611 words: 188,732

Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley (As Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom) by Adam Fisher

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Bob Noyce, Brownian motion, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Byte Shop, cognitive dissonance, disintermediation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Elon Musk, frictionless, glass ceiling, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, hypertext link, index card, informal economy, information retrieval, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, Jeff Rulifson, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, life extension, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, new economy, nuclear winter, PageRank, Paul Buchheit, paypal mafia, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pez dispenser, popular electronics, random walk, risk tolerance, Robert Metcalfe, rolodex, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, social graph, social web, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, telerobotics, The Hackers Conference, the new new thing, Tim Cook: Apple, tulip mania, V2 rocket, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, Y Combinator

Aaron Sittig: You’d go to dinner at a restaurant and you’d get amazing service, and so you’d strike up a conversation with the server and find out that they were like an unemployed physics PhD who had just gotten a degree from Stanford. It was really rough. Everyone was just scraping by. Sean Parker: It went from being the center of the universe and all these bright-eyed, bushy-tailed people showing up from all over the country and reading Wired magazine cover stories about all of the young people who were emigrating to Silicon Valley to seek their fortune—to nuclear winter. Only the cockroaches survive, and you’re one of the cockroaches. Mark Pincus: San Francisco was a shell of a city, and all these people had come in and they left and all these companies had collapsed. It was very drastic. Po Bronson: All this money was gone and then there were investor lawsuits and then there wasn’t even the money to fund the investor lawsuits; it just all kind of became barren.

A good lead is a job, an interview, a date, an apartment, a house, a couch… And so Reid and I started saying, “Wow, this people web could actually generate something more valuable than Google, because you’re in this very, very highly vetted community that has some affinity to each other, and everyone is there for a reason, so you have trust.” The signal-to-noise ratio could be be very high. We called it Web 2.0, but nobody wanted to hear about it, because this was in the nuclear winter of the consumer internet. Sean Parker: So during the period between 2000 and 2004, kind of leading up to Facebook, there is this feeling that everything that there was to be done with the internet has already been done. The absolute bottom is probably around 2002. PayPal goes public in 2002, and it’s the only consumer internet IPO. So there’s this weird interim period where there’s a total of only six companies funded or something like that.


Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages by Carlota Pérez

agricultural Revolution, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bob Noyce, Bretton Woods, business cycle, capital controls, commoditize, Corn Laws, creative destruction, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, distributed generation, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, full employment, Hyman Minsky, informal economy, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, late capitalism, market fundamentalism, new economy, nuclear winter, offshore financial centre, post-industrial society, profit motive, railway mania, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, South Sea Bubble, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, tulip mania, Upton Sinclair, Washington Consensus

The impact in Europe was delayed, but then accelerated by the consequences of the terrorist acts of September 11th, 2001. For entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and investors riding the eternally rising wave of capital gains in NASDAQ, the shock was severe. No explanation could be satisfying. A year later a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley said to The Financial Times that 2001 had been like a ‘nuclear winter’.181 Yet, just looking at the behavior of the index, as shown in Figure 11.1, should have been enough to warn of impending disaster. Chris Freeman was one of many economists arguing the inevitable outcome in his paper on ‘A Hard Landing for the “New Economy”’, 182 though he was one of the very few connecting the likely collapse with technical and institutional change issues. The Economist, as it did in the 1840s,183 ran several articles from the late 1990s predicting the inevitable fall;184 Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, popularized the expression ‘irratio- 180. 181. 182. 183. 184.


pages: 270 words: 79,068

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz

Airbnb, Ben Horowitz, business intelligence, cloud computing, financial independence, Google Glasses, hiring and firing, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, new economy, nuclear winter, Peter Thiel, Productivity paradox, random walk, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs

I felt that Bill was telling me, although I was walking around trying to get the deal done, that I was already dead and that I did not know it. It was a very hard thing for him to say and only the best of friends will muster the courage to break news that horrible. It was an even harder thing for me to hear. He told me so that I could emotionally prepare myself and financially prepare the company for the inevitable funeral. The odds of landing a company-saving deal during the technology industry’s nuclear winter were close to nil. Chances were, I was dead. I never built that contingency plan. Through the seemingly impossible Loudcloud series C and IPO processes, I learned one important lesson: Startup CEOs should not play the odds. When you are building a company, you must believe there is an answer and you cannot pay attention to your odds of finding it. You just have to find it. It matters not whether your chances are nine in ten or one in a thousand; your task is the same.


pages: 247 words: 74,612

For the Love of Money: A Memoir by Sam Polk

carried interest, Credit Default Swap, fixed income, hiring and firing, Northern Rock, nuclear winter, Rosa Parks

I’d sneak out three or four times a day to smoke cigarettes in the park. While my performance was weak, there were small victories. I didn’t miss another day of work. I worked out every single morning, ate salads instead of burgers. I talked to Linda or went to a meeting almost every day. Amidst the devastation of my life, I collected these small achievements. They felt important, somehow—the first green shoots after a nuclear winter. I was, for once, more focused on taking care of myself than on fitting in or impressing people. But it was more than that. Over the past few years, every story I’d told about myself—Sam the wrestler, Sam the Columbia student, Sam the Internet entrepreneur—had been smashed. Now, stripped of the one person I loved, my Wall Street story falling apart, I began to understand that those narratives didn’t define me.


pages: 302 words: 74,350

I Hate the Internet: A Novel by Jarett Kobek

Anne Wojcicki, Burning Man, disruptive innovation, East Village, Edward Snowden, Golden Gate Park, Google bus, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, immigration reform, indoor plumbing, informal economy, Jeff Bezos, liberation theology, Mark Zuckerberg, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Norman Mailer, nuclear winter, packet switching, PageRank, Peter Thiel, quantitative easing, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, technological singularity, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, union organizing, V2 rocket, Vernor Vinge, wage slave, Whole Earth Catalog

Typically, these adults were UNIX systems administrators, network engineers, and Ruby developers who’d been rendered functionally illiterate by their collegiate computer science programs. When Baby was writing Annie Zero, he needed a conceptual space for the French Neo-Maoists to stage battles against the entrenched social order. Because Baby was realistic about the future, he couldn’t conceive of a world in which these battles happened in any traditional context. So he invented the Megaverse. In Annie Zero, after global warming and an accidental nuclear winter, all the world’s citizens live out their lives in the Megaverse. The Megaverse was a significantly upgraded version of an old online multiplayer roleplaying game called Ultima Online. When the tattered shreds of the world government modded Ultima Online into the Megaverse, there were many notable enhancements, including wetware interfaces for biological needs like fucking, eating and shitting.


pages: 589 words: 197,971

A Fiery Peace in a Cold War: Bernard Schriever and the Ultimate Weapon by Neil Sheehan

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Charles Lindbergh, cuban missile crisis, double helix, European colonialism, John von Neumann, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Norman Macrae, nuclear winter, operation paperclip, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, undersea cable, uranium enrichment

LeMay, however, as he wrote to Twining, was going to fuse a lot of his monster bombs for ground or near-ground bursts to be certain of crushing underground bunkers and so-called hardened targets, such as concrete revetments with thick overhead cover used to protect aircraft. These ground-level bursts would hurl massive amounts of irradiated soil and the pulverized remains of masonry and concrete structures high into the upper atmosphere. The clouds of poisoned soil and debris would spread as they were carried around the earth by the upper atmospheric winds. One result would be a nuclear winter, a catastrophic change in climate of unknown duration, with frigid temperatures at the height of summer, because the dirt in the upper atmosphere would block out the sun’s rays. Agriculture, on which human beings depend for sustenance, would become impossible. Most animal and bird life would be extinguished because the plants, shrubs, and trees on which so many of these creatures depend would also die from the cold and lack of sunlight, without which plants cannot perform the photosynthesis process that nourishes them.

But the generals had the ability to act on their own. That alternative had to exist in case the president was incapacitated or beyond reach. Knowing the characters of LeMay and Power, one can again conclude that had an order to launch not been quickly forthcoming from the White House, they would not have waited. They would have turned everything loose and, in their ignorance of atmospheric radioactive fallout, nuclear winter, and the other doomsday aftereffects of nuclear war, destroyed the entire Northern Hemisphere. The recollection of a Russian officer who served in Cuba was that, if attacked, he and his comrades would have given LeMay and Power their opportunity. In October 1962, Viktor Yesin, who subsequently rose to colonel general and chief of staff of the Soviet Union’s Strategic Rocket Forces, was an engineer lieutenant with an R-12 missile regiment stationed near Calabazar de Sagua, about 160 miles east of Havana.


pages: 263 words: 81,542

Drinking in America: Our Secret History by Susan Cheever

British Empire, George Santayana, Howard Zinn, nuclear winter, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, trade route, white picket fence

“The Russians were coming!” yelled Forrestal until the police came and took him away. Truman fired Forrestal and Forrestal killed himself, jumping from his sixteenth-floor room at Bethesda Naval Hospital. What had Forrestal known? What if he had information that had been denied to the public? If the Russians weren’t about to land, they were armed to begin a catastrophic war that would lead to the end of the world. Nuclear winter was unavoidable. McCarthy’s license to attack, maim, and hurt the innocent began a politics of reaction to threats, which is very much a feature of our modern world. Since September 11, 2001, we have been living with the same kind of fear that characterized the 1950s. They were fighting a war on the terror of communism; we are fighting a war on the terror of jihad. “Political repression and threats to liberty neither began nor ended with Joseph McCarthy,” Haynes Johnson writes.


pages: 280 words: 83,299

Empty Planet: The Shock of Global Population Decline by Darrell Bricker, John Ibbitson

affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Berlin Wall, BRICs, British Empire, Columbian Exchange, commoditize, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, en.wikipedia.org, full employment, gender pay gap, ghettoisation, glass ceiling, global reserve currency, Gunnar Myrdal, Hans Rosling, Hernando de Soto, illegal immigration, income inequality, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Snow's cholera map, Kibera, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, New Urbanism, nuclear winter, off grid, offshore financial centre, out of africa, Potemkin village, purchasing power parity, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, transcontinental railway, upwardly mobile, urban planning, working-age population, young professional, zero-sum game

There were only a few thousand humans left, maybe fewer, clinging to the shores of southern Africa, on the brink of oblivion.5 The catastrophic eruption of Mount Toba in Sumatra 70,000-odd years ago—there’s been nothing its equal since—spewed 2,800 cubic kilometers of ash into the atmosphere, spreading from the Arabian Sea in the west to the South China Sea in the east, and giving the earth the equivalent of six years of nuclear winter. Toba “is considered by some scientists to be the most catastrophic event the human species has ever endured.” 6Homo sapiens was already in trouble; although we had mastered tools and fire during our 130,000-year history to that point, the earth was in a cooling cycle that had wiped out much of the food supply. Now Toba made things much, much worse. We foraged for tubers and harvested shellfish in the last inhabitable African enclaves.


pages: 296 words: 78,112

Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency by Joshua Green

4chan, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Ayatollah Khomeini, Bernie Sanders, business climate, centre right, Charles Lindbergh, coherent worldview, collateralized debt obligation, conceptual framework, corporate raider, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, Donald Trump, Fractional reserve banking, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Gordon Gekko, guest worker program, illegal immigration, immigration reform, liberation theology, low skilled workers, Nate Silver, Nelson Mandela, nuclear winter, obamacare, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Thiel, quantitative hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, speech recognition, urban planning

But it soon became clear that the Breitbart News video was misleadingly edited—that Sherrod’s point, as the full tape makes clear, had been the opposite of what was portrayed. Fox News, which aggressively promoted the Sherrod video, banned Andrew Breitbart as an on-air guest. By then, Bannon was actively involved in the site and its business. When the Sherrod story blew up, he was out raising money to expand and relaunch Breitbart News. With the negative publicity, and the taint of racism, he suddenly encountered “nuclear winter.” And yet Breitbart himself was immune to shame—or at least, to being shamed—and had no compunction about launching vicious personal attacks. Upon learning of Senator Ted Kennedy’s death, Breitbart tweeted that Kennedy was a “villain,” a “prick,” and a “duplicitous bastard,” adding: “I’m more than willing to go off decorum to ensure THIS MAN is not beatified.” The ostracizing of Breitbart News didn’t last long.


pages: 280 words: 82,355

Extreme Teams: Why Pixar, Netflix, AirBnB, and Other Cutting-Edge Companies Succeed Where Most Fail by Robert Bruce Shaw, James Foster, Brilliance Audio

Airbnb, augmented reality, call centre, cloud computing, deliberate practice, Elon Musk, future of work, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Jony Ive, loose coupling, meta analysis, meta-analysis, nuclear winter, Paul Graham, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, performance metric, Peter Thiel, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, Steve Jobs, Tony Hsieh

Aug 31, 2015 22See Geoff Colvin, (New York: Portfolio, 2008). 23Andre Agassi, (New York: Vintage, 2010). 24See the group’s website, www.workaholics-anonymous.org/. 25Xiao-Ping Chen, “Company Culture and Values Are the Lifelines of Alibaba: An Interview with Jack Ma, Founder and Executive,” Executive Perspectives, August 2013, www.iacmr.org/V2/Publications/CMI/LP021101_EN.pdf. 26Graham describes the best founders as being cockroach like—in that they will survive anything, including a nuclear winter, while others perish. See Airbnb, “Conversation with Paul Graham,” YouTube. www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrWavoJsEks. 27“Innovation lessons from Pixar: An interview with Oscar-winning director Brad Bird,” McKinsey Quarterly Hayagreeva Rao, Robert Sutton, and Allen P. Webb. April 2008. 28Anthony Lane, “The Fun Factory: Life at Pixar,” New Yorker, May 16, 2011. Jon Michaud, “Animated by Perfectionism,” New Yorker, May 16, 2011.


pages: 282 words: 92,998

Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It by Richard A. Clarke, Robert Knake

barriers to entry, complexity theory, data acquisition, Just-in-time delivery, MITM: man-in-the-middle, nuclear winter, packet switching, RAND corporation, Robert Hanssen: Double agent, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, smart grid, South China Sea, Steve Jobs, trade route, undersea cable, Y2K, zero day

Thus, there was near certainty that by one side’s using nuclear weapons, it was inviting some degree of its own nuclear destruction. What would happen after a massive exchange of nuclear weapons was subject to debate, but few doubted that the two nuclear combatants would have inflicted on each other a level of damage unparalleled in human history. Many believed a large-scale exchange would trigger a “nuclear winter” that could cause the end of all human life. Almost all experts believed that a large-scale exchange by the two superpowers would cause what were termed “prompt deaths” in the scores of millions. (Kahn dryly noted, “No one wants to be the first to kill a hundred million people.”) Any use of nuclear weapons, it was feared, could escalate unpredictably into large-scale use. That fear has deterred the United States and the Soviet Union from using their nuclear weapons for over six decades to date.


pages: 304 words: 88,773

The Ghost Map: A Street, an Epidemic and the Hidden Power of Urban Networks. by Steven Johnson

call centre, clean water, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, Dean Kamen, digital map, double helix, edge city, germ theory of disease, global pandemic, Google Earth, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, John Snow's cholera map, lone genius, Louis Pasteur, mass immigration, megacity, mutually assured destruction, New Urbanism, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, peak oil, side project, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, trade route, unbiased observer, working poor

The great cities of the world would start to look like giant bull’s-eyes: millions of potential casualties conveniently stacked up in easily demolished high-rises. One such attack would probably not impede the metropolitan migration—after all, Hiroshima and Nagasaki didn’t stop Tokyo from becoming the world’s largest city. But several detonations might well tip the balance. Turn our metropolitan centers into genuine nuclear targets and you risk a whole other kind of “nuclear winter”: a season of mass exodus unrivaled in human history. It would be bad news, in other words. And this bad news is likely to arrive courtesy of a walk-on part on the world-historical stage, somebody driving a rigged SUV into Soho and pulling the trigger. There are 20,000 nuclear weapons in the world capable of inflicting this level of damage. That we know about. On a planet of more than 6 billion people, there have to be thousands and thousands of lost souls ready and willing to detonate one of those weapons in a crowded urban center.


pages: 302 words: 90,215

Experience on Demand: What Virtual Reality Is, How It Works, and What It Can Do by Jeremy Bailenson

Apple II, augmented reality, computer vision, deliberate practice, experimental subject, game design, Google Glasses, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), iterative process, Jaron Lanier, low earth orbit, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, nuclear winter, Oculus Rift, randomized controlled trial, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, telepresence, too big to fail

“At first,” he told me, “I was like, ‘Oh man, this sucks!’ It was all geometric block buildings. The interface was hard to control. I got stuck in a wall because of bad collision detection. It was nothing at all like what I’d thought.” But the potential was there. And after considering how quickly computers were advancing, he figured that by 2000 it would be in good shape. Then came what Skip describes as the “nuclear winter” of VR, the post-hype Dark Ages of the late ’90s, in which VR all but disappeared from the public imagination while researchers like Skip experimented in the cloisters of universities and corporate labs. At that point, Skip was using VR to treat Alzheimer’s patients by doing innovative research in virtual object manipulation and developing training scenarios for kids with ADHD. He was also messing around with more consumer-based uses—some of the VR applications that are today touted as novel were being tried by Skip in those early years.


pages: 320 words: 90,526

Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America by Alissa Quart

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, business intelligence, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, East Village, Elon Musk, full employment, future of work, gig economy, glass ceiling, haute couture, income inequality, Jaron Lanier, job automation, late capitalism, Lyft, minimum wage unemployment, moral panic, new economy, nuclear winter, obamacare, Ponzi scheme, post-work, precariat, price mechanism, rent control, ride hailing / ride sharing, school choice, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, surplus humans, TaskRabbit, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, union organizing, universal basic income, upwardly mobile, wages for housework, women in the workforce, working poor

Even though automated tax preparation may one day make doing your taxes cheaper, it’s also ultimately another bit of code that reprograms America’s middle class out of existence. I’m reminded of the Ray Bradbury short story “There Will Come Soft Rains,” about a computer-controlled house on a morning in 2026. No living residents remain in this rich and empty home after an unspecified catastrophe, perhaps a nuclear winter, but programmed toasters and robotic house cleaners still tend to the daily chores for a nonexistent family. (The story made quite an impression on me as a preteen.) However, this potential reprogramming of the middle class partially out of existence doesn’t seem to bother everyone. “We see the robot as a tool for automation,” Anthony Melanson, the marketing doyen of the TUGs maker Aethon, told me.


pages: 315 words: 92,151

Ten Billion Tomorrows: How Science Fiction Technology Became Reality and Shapes the Future by Brian Clegg

Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Brownian motion, call centre, Carrington event, combinatorial explosion, don't be evil, Ernest Rutherford, experimental subject, game design, gravity well, hive mind, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, silicon-based life, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Turing test

(And it has even crept into modern disaster movies in the form of The Day After Tomorrow.) We know that humanity has nearly been wiped out several times in the past as ice has crept down over the continents, and another ice age has presented a credible threat, whether as a natural resumption of the current ice age (we are just in a period of interglacial warming at the moment) or some kind of nuclear winter. But now, of course, the big chill has largely been replaced by global warming. So common is science fiction with a climate change theme at the moment, particularly for the young adult market, that it has been given a subcategory of its own, known as cli-fi. There is plenty to work on as a result of the dire warnings of the climate scientists. Take sea-level rise. If the entire Greenland ice sheet were to melt and end up in the ocean, it would raise sea levels by 23 feet.


pages: 269 words: 91,325

The Allotment Chef: Home-Grown Recipes and Seasonal Stories by Paul Merrett

carbon footprint, food miles, Google Earth, nuclear winter, sensible shoes

The allotments themselves are fascinating: some are beautifully laid out with rows of cabbages, beetroot, onions, potatoes; others appear to be totally neglected. Unfortunately, our plot is in the latter category. It is completely overgrown with brambles and something called cooch (or couch) grass, which I realise I shall have to find out about because Keith seems to feel its effect on growing is only marginally better than a nuclear winter. There is, however, a strip down the centre of our plot that has been cleared and covered with a plastic sheet. Keith tells us this was done the previous year by three Lithuanian students. I am not sure why this small strip among the forest of brambles and weeds was cleared or why the clearers were Lithuanian, but it does seem obvious that the reason we have been offered a plot at all is because it is not a plot at all.


pages: 337 words: 103,273

The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring on the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World by Paul Gilding

airport security, Albert Einstein, Bob Geldof, BRICs, carbon footprint, clean water, cleantech, Climategate, commoditize, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, decarbonisation, energy security, Exxon Valdez, failed state, fear of failure, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Joseph Schumpeter, market fundamentalism, mass immigration, Naomi Klein, Nelson Mandela, new economy, nuclear winter, oil shock, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, purchasing power parity, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, union organizing, University of East Anglia

It provided a deep and direct understanding of the idea of intergenerational impact and that we humans could easily and irreversibly affect the entire planetary system. I think some people today still struggle to believe we really have the power to damage the earth’s environment as a whole. Sure, we could destroy a river here and a forest there, but the planet is so big, surely we couldn’t wreck it all? The prospects of a nuclear winter—a sudden global cooling triggered by a massive nuclear holocaust coating the planet with fine dust particles—showed that in fact, yes, we could, and with just a few buttons and phone calls. It was a sobering time. We had learned to understand the implications of Rachel Carson’s comment that we had “now acquired a fateful power to destroy nature.” Motivated by this threat to my children’s future, I was by 1985 still serving in the military but spending my personal time active in waterborne protests conducted by an activist group, the Sydney Peace Squadron, on Sydney Harbour against visits by nuclear-armed warships from the United States and the United Kingdom.


pages: 314 words: 101,452

Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis

barriers to entry, Bonfire of the Vanities, business cycle, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, corporate raider, financial independence, financial innovation, fixed income, Home mortgage interest deduction, interest rate swap, Irwin Jacobs, John Meriwether, London Interbank Offered Rate, margin call, mortgage tax deduction, nuclear winter, Ponzi scheme, The Predators' Ball, yield curve

Friday, October 16, 1987: Day Five The first hurricane in a hundred years hit London squarely early in the morning. Huge trees snapped, power lines fell, and windows shattered from about 2:00 A.M. until dawn. Commuting into work was positively eerie. The streets were empty, and shops normally open were boarded shut. A crowd huddled beneath the awning of Victoria Station, going nowhere The trains did not run. It looked like an ABC miniseries on nuclear winter or perhaps a scene from The Tempest. Caliban could not have chosen a better day to roar. It was a bad day for 170 people in our office. People struggled over fallen trees, treacherous roads, and water hazards to make their way into work only to find, at the end of the steeplechase, no job. Others suffered slow torture, waiting literally in the dark for hours before they learned of their unemployment.


pages: 347 words: 97,721

Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines by Thomas H. Davenport, Julia Kirby

AI winter, Andy Kessler, artificial general intelligence, asset allocation, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, business intelligence, business process, call centre, carbon-based life, Clayton Christensen, clockwork universe, commoditize, conceptual framework, dark matter, David Brooks, deliberate practice, deskilling, digital map, disruptive innovation, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, estate planning, fixed income, follow your passion, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Freestyle chess, game design, general-purpose programming language, global pandemic, Google Glasses, Hans Lippershey, haute cuisine, income inequality, index fund, industrial robot, information retrieval, intermodal, Internet of things, inventory management, Isaac Newton, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joi Ito, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, lifelogging, longitudinal study, loss aversion, Mark Zuckerberg, Narrative Science, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, performance metric, Peter Thiel, precariat, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, social intelligence, speech recognition, spinning jenny, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supply-chain management, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Works Progress Administration, Zipcar

As we’ll see, there will remain plenty of opportunities to work with smart machines that don’t yet have it all. Ode to AI Spring For the sellers of smart machines, if we may slightly paraphrase Gerard Manley Hopkins, nothing is so beautiful as AI spring. The observation that artificial intelligence has its seasons of enthusiasm and also (in AI winter) of despair has become commonplace; by most accounts, the term “AI winter” was first coined as an allusion to nuclear winter, a level of devastation that seemed analogous when a slew of AI-related companies that had been founded in the 1970s all went bust in the early 1980s. By later in that same decade, a thaw was beginning. (In 1988, for example, Time magazine had AI back on its cover with an in-depth story called “Putting Knowledge to Work.”) Since then, the seasons of hype have come and gone. But the reality is that there has never been an actual regression in the technology.


pages: 334 words: 100,201

Origin Story: A Big History of Everything by David Christian

Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, butterfly effect, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cepheid variable, colonial rule, Colonization of Mars, Columbian Exchange, complexity theory, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, creative destruction, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, demographic transition, double helix, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Ernest Rutherford, European colonialism, Francisco Pizarro, Haber-Bosch Process, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Marshall McLuhan, microbiome, nuclear winter, planetary scale, rising living standards, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, trade route, Yogi Berra

At sea, a tsunami formed a wall of water that crashed down on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico and killed fish and dinosaurs hundreds of kilometers away. In the Hell Creek Formation, in Montana and Wyoming, you can find fossils of fish whose gills are full of glass from the asteroid impact.22 Farther away, the immediate impacts were less extreme. But within weeks, the whole biosphere had changed. Soot blocked sunlight, creating what we might describe today as a nuclear winter. Nitric acid rained from the sky, killing most of the organisms it touched. The surface of Earth would have been in total darkness for a year or two, shutting down photosynthesis, life’s lifeline to the sun. When the dust thinned, and light began to return through the haze, Earth warmed fast, because the atmosphere now contained a lot more carbon dioxide and methane. A few years after the impact, the wretched survivors could start photosynthesizing and breathing again, but they did so in a hot greenhouse world.


pages: 296 words: 94,948

Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny by Nile Rodgers

Bob Geldof, delayed gratification, East Village, haute couture, Live Aid, nuclear winter, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, Stephen Hawking, the High Line, urban renewal

I became accustomed to hearing myself talk on TV and radio, and would even go to DJ booths and shout out to the crowd on the dance floor. Though Chic rarely played clubs (which couldn’t accommodate a band of our size), clubs all around the country welcomed us with open arms as guests. This was not just limited to the hip clubs of New York, where new ones seemed to open nightly; club life was spreading around the world like nuclear winter. Our music was crossing over into every sector of society. We played in places that didn’t usually have live black acts. One town we played in hadn’t had a public pop concert (black or white) since Elvis had caused a riot two decades earlier. Chic not only played there, we got a police escort. I couldn’t believe how almost everywhere I went, once people found out I was the guy from Chic, they’d treat me like a rock star.


pages: 734 words: 244,010

The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution by Richard Dawkins

agricultural Revolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, complexity theory, delayed gratification, double helix, Drosophila, Haight Ashbury, invention of writing, lateral thinking, Louis Pasteur, mass immigration, nuclear winter, out of africa, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, Steven Pinker, the High Line, urban sprawl

The noise of the impact, thundering round the planet at a thousand kilometres per hour, probably deafened every living creature not burned by the blast, suffocated by the wind-shock, drowned by the 150-metre tsunami that raced around the literally boiling sea, or pulverised by an earthquake a thousand times more violent than the largest ever dealt by the San Andreas fault. And that was just the immediate cataclysm. Then there was the aftermath -- the global forest fires, the smoke and dust and ash which blotted out the sun in a two-year nuclear winter that lolled off most the plants and stopped dead the world's food chains. No wonder all the dinosaurs, with the notable exception of the birds, perished -- and not just the dinosaurs, but about half of all other species too, particularly the marine ones.* The wonder is that any life at all survives these cataclysmic visitations. By the way, the one that ended the Cretaceous and the dinosaurs is not the biggest -- that honour falls to the mass extinction that marks the end of the Permian, about a quarter of a billion years ago, in which some 95 per cent of all species went extinct.

Evidently, since we exist, our ancestors survived the Permian extinction, and later the Cretaceous extinction. Both catastrophes, and the others that have also occurred, must have been extremely unpleasant for them, and they survived by the skin of their teeth, possibly deaf and blind but just capable of reproducing, otherwise we wouldn't be here. Perhaps they were hibernating at the time, and didn't wake up until after the nuclear winter that is thought to follow such catastrophes. And then, in the fullness of evolutionary time, they reaped the benefits. In the case of the Cretaceous survivors, there were now no dinosaurs to eat them, no dinosaurs to compete with them. You might think there was a down side: no dinosaurs for them to eat. But few mammals were large enough, and few dinosaurs small enough, to make that much of a loss.


pages: 482 words: 106,041

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

British Empire, carbon-based life, conceptual framework, coronavirus, invention of radio, nuclear winter, optical character recognition, out of africa, Ray Kurzweil, the High Line, trade route, uranium enrichment, William Langewiesche

A petrochemical plant wouldn’t go that long, because there’s not as much to burn. But imagine a runaway reaction with burning plants throwing up clouds of stuff like hydrogen cyanide. There would be a massive poisoning of the air in the Texas-Louisiana chemical alley. Follow the trade winds and see what happens.” All those particulates in the atmosphere, he imagines, could create a mini chemical nuclear winter. “They would also release chlorinated compounds like dioxins and furans from burning plastics. And you’d get lead, chromium, and mercury attached to the soot. Europe and North America, with the biggest concentrations of refineries and chemical plants, would be the most contaminated. But the clouds would disperse through the world. The next generation of plants and animals, the ones that didn’t die, might need to mutate in ways that could impact evolution.”


pages: 354 words: 105,322

The Road to Ruin: The Global Elites' Secret Plan for the Next Financial Crisis by James Rickards

"Robert Solow", Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bayesian statistics, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, Bonfire of the Vanities, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, butterfly effect, buy and hold, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, cellular automata, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, complexity theory, Corn Laws, corporate governance, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, cuban missile crisis, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, disintermediation, distributed ledger, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial repression, fixed income, Flash crash, floating exchange rates, forward guidance, Fractional reserve banking, G4S, George Akerlof, global reserve currency, high net worth, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, jitney, John Meriwether, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labor-force participation, large denomination, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market bubble, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, money market fund, mutually assured destruction, Myron Scholes, Naomi Klein, nuclear winter, obamacare, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, Peace of Westphalia, Pierre-Simon Laplace, plutocrats, Plutocrats, prediction markets, price anchoring, price stability, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, random walk, reserve currency, RFID, risk-adjusted returns, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, stocks for the long run, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, transfer pricing, value at risk, Washington Consensus, Westphalian system

The novel’s plot turns on the fact that if the ice-nine is released from the vials, and put in contact with a large body of water, the entire water supply on earth—rivers, lakes, and oceans—would eventually become frozen solid and all life on earth would cease. This was a doomsday scenario appropriate to the times in which Vonnegut wrote. Cat’s Cradle was published just after the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the real world came dangerously close to nuclear annihilation, what scientists later called nuclear winter. Ice-nine is a fine way to describe the power elite response to the next financial crisis. Instead of reliquefying the world, elites will freeze it. The system will be locked down. Of course, ice-nine will be described as temporary the same way President Nixon described the suspension of dollar-to-gold convertibility in 1971 as temporary. Gold convertibility at a fixed parity was never restored.


Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy

fear of failure, low earth orbit, nuclear winter, South China Sea, trade route

"As you know, and to the disappointment of the entire world, the ongoing arms negotiations in Vienna have made no significant progress for over a year, with each side blaming the other for the lack of it. "It is well known by peace-loving people the world over that the Soviet Union has never wished for war, and that only a madman would even consider nuclear war a viable policy option in our modem world of overkill, fallout, and 'nuclear winter.' " "Damn," muttered AP bureau chief Patrick Flynn. The Soviets scarcely acknowledged "nuclear winter" and had never mentioned the concept in so formal a setting. His antennae were already twitching at whatever there was in the wind. "The time has come for substantive reductions in strategic arms. We have made numerous, serious, sincere proposals for real arms reductions, and despite this the United States has proceeded with the development and deployment of its destabilizing, openly offensive weapons: the MX first-strike missile, so cynically called the 'Peacekeeper'; the advanced Trident D-5 first-strike sea-launched ballistic missile; two separate varieties of cruise missiles whose characteristics conspire to make arms control verification almost totally impossible; and of course, the so-called Strategic Defense Initiative, which will take offensive strategic weapons into space.


pages: 423 words: 115,336

This Is Only a Test: How Washington D.C. Prepared for Nuclear War by David F. Krugler

Berlin Wall, City Beautiful movement, colonial rule, cuban missile crisis, desegregation, Frank Gehry, full employment, glass ceiling, index card, nuclear winter, RAND corporation, Silicon Valley, urban planning, Victor Gruen, white flight, Works Progress Administration

Civil Defense Stalled,” WP, September 12, 1952; Engineer Commissioner memorandum, December 4, 1952, box 228, folder 4102, RG 351, BOC; DCD, Information Bulletin, September 29, 1952, Office of Civil Defense Memoranda Orders, Washingtoniana. “Public Apathy Still Cripples Defense Plans,” WS, June 8, 1951. Robert Jay Lifton, “Imagining the Real: Beyond the Nuclear ‘End,’ ” in Lester Grinspoon, ed., The Long Darkness: Psychological and Moral Perspectives on Nuclear Winter (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1986), 79–99. Lewis Mumford, “Social Effects,” Air Affairs (March 1947): 370–82. Søren Kierkegaard, “The Sickness Unto Death,” in Robert Bretall, ed., A Kierkegaard Anthology (New York: Modern Library, n.d.), 344. Paul Boyer, By the Bomb’s Early Light: American Thought and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age (New York: Pantheon Books, 1985), 293.


Super Thinking: The Big Book of Mental Models by Gabriel Weinberg, Lauren McCann

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, anti-pattern, Anton Chekhov, autonomous vehicles, bank run, barriers to entry, Bayesian statistics, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, business process, butterfly effect, Cal Newport, Clayton Christensen, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Attenborough, delayed gratification, deliberate practice, discounted cash flows, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Edward Snowden, effective altruism, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, fear of failure, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, framing effect, friendly fire, fundamental attribution error, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, housing crisis, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, illegal immigration, income inequality, information asymmetry, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John Nash: game theory, lateral thinking, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, Lyft, mail merge, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Metcalfe’s law, Milgram experiment, minimum viable product, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, nuclear winter, offshore financial centre, p-value, Parkinson's law, Paul Graham, peak oil, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, placebo effect, Potemkin village, prediction markets, premature optimization, price anchoring, principal–agent problem, publication bias, recommendation engine, remote working, replication crisis, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, school choice, Schrödinger's Cat, selection bias, Shai Danziger, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, survivorship bias, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, uber lyft, ultimatum game, uranium enrichment, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto, wikimedia commons

Or think about how many species depend on coral reefs for their survival: when the reef disappears, so do most of the organisms that rely on it. It’s not all bad, though; these are natural laws that can be used for good or bad. The nuclear critical mass can be used for relatively safe, essentially unlimited nuclear energy, or the nuclear critical mass could be the delivery mechanism of a catastrophic nuclear winter. In any case, these mental models are playing an increasing role in society as we get more and more connected. As technologies and ideas spread, you will be better prepared for them if you can spot and analyze these models—how S curves unfold, where tipping points occur, how network effects are utilized. And if you are trying to gain mainstream adoption and long-term inertia for a new idea or technology, you will want to understand how these models directly relate to your strategy.


pages: 424 words: 122,350

Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea, and Human Life by George Monbiot

Chance favours the prepared mind, cognitive dissonance, en.wikipedia.org, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, land reform, Nelson Mandela, nuclear winter, offshore financial centre, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, place-making, social intelligence, trade route

Another document published by the wildlife trust stated that cattle were to be kept on the grassy part of the reserve ‘until there is an average sward height of 10cm’.3 The trust revealed that ‘to maximize the impact of the cattle, the grassland was strip-grazed’. This apparently, is how nature should best be protected in what this organization calls its ‘flagship’ reserve.4 It is by these means that, at great expense, it sustains the ambience of a nuclear winter. So why is this happening? The answer is like the Ouroboros, the snake swallowing its own tail. When you have followed it all the way round you find yourself back where you started. The stated purpose of this brutal management regime is to maintain the heath and bare bog it contains ‘in favourable conservation status’ (it is failing dismally, but let us put that to one side for now). The plan points out that ‘the site is artificial, having been created as the result of human activity following the removal of trees during the manufacture of lead’.


pages: 366 words: 123,151

The Routes of Man: How Roads Are Changing the World and the Way We Live Today by Ted Conover

airport security, Atahualpa, carbon footprint, Deng Xiaoping, East Village, financial independence, Google Earth, mass immigration, megacity, mutually assured destruction, New Urbanism, nuclear winter, off grid, Ronald Reagan, transatlantic slave trade, urban planning, urban renewal

Cormac McCarthy’s harrowing novel The Road takes the dystopic premise of those films and subtracts sunshine and mirth and cars that still run. And it adds starvation, depravity, plenty of corpses, and the terror felt by a dying parent and an orphan-to-be. In The Road, highways become the setting for everything that still happens in the world, which means the wanderings of forlorn survivors of nuclear winter, people trying to scratch out a survival from the wreckage of houses, boats, and cars in a new dark age. Some of the pavement is scorched and buckled; some is covered with slush and ice; none of it, the protagonists find, is easy to traverse with a loaded grocery cart full of one’s worldly belongings. The road is the largest remaining artifact of the pre-apocalyptic world, the source of all food and all danger, the only place to be.


pages: 461 words: 125,845

This Machine Kills Secrets: Julian Assange, the Cypherpunks, and Their Fight to Empower Whistleblowers by Andy Greenberg

Apple II, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Burning Man, Chelsea Manning, computerized markets, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, domain-specific language, drone strike, en.wikipedia.org, fault tolerance, hive mind, Jacob Appelbaum, Julian Assange, Mahatma Gandhi, Mitch Kapor, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Mohammed Bouazizi, nuclear winter, offshore financial centre, pattern recognition, profit motive, Ralph Nader, Richard Stallman, Robert Hanssen: Double agent, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, social graph, statistical model, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, undersea cable, Vernor Vinge, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, We are the 99%, WikiLeaks, X Prize, Zimmermann PGP

Jon Karlung, the gray-stubbled and blue-eyed founder of the Internet service provider Bahnhof, leads me into a tunnel cut into the hill, past a pair of twenty-inch-thick steel doors, and into the White Mountain Data Center, a digital bunker first built as a Cold War nuclear shelter and now converted into one of the world’s most secure places to store information. We walk past two backup power generators originally designed for German submarines, a hydroponic garden, and a network operations center housed in the room that would have been used to run Sweden’s civil defense in the event of a nuclear winter. In a cave full of servers cooled by roaring fans, a glass-walled conference room hangs above the racked computers, embedded in the ceiling rock with thirteen-foot steel bolts. Climbing up a set of stairs, through a tiny door that forces the tall Swede to stoop and bend, and past a wall of gallon-size lead batteries, we arrive at our destination in a messy storage room. On a cluttered IKEA shelf sit the two elongated pizza-box-shaped objects that Karlung has brought me here to see: a pair of Dell servers.


pages: 1,477 words: 311,310

The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict From 1500 to 2000 by Paul Kennedy

agricultural Revolution, airline deregulation, anti-communist, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, cuban missile crisis, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, European colonialism, floating exchange rates, full employment, German hyperinflation, imperial preference, industrial robot, joint-stock company, laissez-faire capitalism, long peace, means of production, Monroe Doctrine, mutually assured destruction, night-watchman state, North Sea oil, nuclear winter, oil shock, open economy, Peace of Westphalia, Potemkin village, price mechanism, price stability, RAND corporation, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, spice trade, spinning jenny, stakhanovite, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, University of East Anglia, upwardly mobile, zero-sum game

Among Japanese businessmen and politicians there is considerable opposition to increasing public spending (which, as mentioned above, is much lower in Japan than in any of the other OECD countries): to them, a doubling or trebling of defense expenditures must be paid for by either adding to the large public-sector deficit or raising taxes—and both are acutely disliked. Besides, it is argued, a large army and navy did not bring Japan “security,” whether of the military or the economic sort, in the 1930s; and it is difficult to see at present how an increase in defense spending could prevent a possible cutoff of Arab oil—which is a far greater danger to Japan strategically than, say, the hypothetical nuclear winter, and explains Tokyo’s desperate efforts to “lie low and say nothing” whenever there is a crisis in the Middle East. Is it not better, then, for Japan to abjure the use of force and to resolve all international disputes peacefully, as a cosmopolitan “trading state” should? Since modern war is so costly and is usually counterproductive, the Japanese feel that there is a lot of merit in their zenhoi heiwa gaiko (“omnidirectional peaceful diplomacy”).

For all the debate about “windows of opportunity” and the possibilities of one side or the other having a “first-strike capability,” it is clear that neither Washington nor Moscow possesses any guarantee that it could obliterate its rival without the likelihood of also suffering devastation; and the coming of a “Star Wars” technology will not significantly alter that fact. In particular, the possession by each side of a great number of submarine-launched ballistic missiles, located in underwater craft which are difficult to detect,177 makes it inconceivable for either side to assume that it could knock out its enemy’s nuclear-weapons capacity all at once. This fact, more than—or at least as much as—fears of a “nuclear winter” will stay the hand of decision-makers, unless they are dragged down by some accidentally induced escalation. It therefore follows that each side is locked into a nuclear stalemate from which it cannot retreat—it being practically impossible either to disinvent nuclear technology or for one (or both) superpowers to give up possession of the weapons—and from which it cannot gain real advantage—since each power’s new system is countered or imitated by the other, and since it is too risky actually to use the weapons themselves.


pages: 542 words: 132,010

The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain by Daniel Gardner

Atul Gawande, availability heuristic, Black Swan, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, Doomsday Clock, feminist movement, haute couture, hindsight bias, illegal immigration, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), lateral thinking, mandatory minimum, medical residency, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, placebo effect, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, social intelligence, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, Tunguska event, uranium enrichment, Y2K, young professional

On June 30, 1908, an asteroid estimated to be 60 meters wide exploded five miles above Tunguska, a remote region in Siberia, smashing flat some 1,200 square miles of forest. Bigger asteroids get really scary. At a little more than a half mile across, an asteroid could dig a crater 9 miles wide, spark a fireball that appears twenty-five times larger than the sun, shake the surrounding region with a 7.8 earthquake, and possibly hurl enough dust into the atmosphere to create a “nuclear winter.” Civilization may or may not survive such a collision, but at least the species would. Not so the next weight class. A chunk of rock 6 miles across would add humans and most other terrestrial creatures to the list of species that once existed. This is what did in the dinosaurs. Fortunately, there aren’t many giant rocks whizzing around space. In a paper prepared for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, astronomer Clark Chapman estimated that the chance of humanity being surprised by a doomsday rock in the next century is one in a million.


pages: 420 words: 130,714

Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist by Richard Dawkins

agricultural Revolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Boris Johnson, David Attenborough, Donald Trump, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Fellow of the Royal Society, Google Earth, John Harrison: Longitude, Kickstarter, lone genius, Mahatma Gandhi, mental accounting, Necker cube, nuclear winter, out of africa, p-value, phenotype, place-making, placebo effect, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, twin studies

The circumstantial evidence is now strong that a huge meteorite or comet struck the Yucatán peninsula some sixty-six million years ago. The mass of this object (as large as a substantial mountain) and its velocity (perhaps 40,000 miles per hour) would on impact have generated energy equivalent, according to plausible estimates, to several billion Hiroshima bombs exploding together. The scorching temperature and prodigious blast of that initial impact would have been followed by a prolonged ‘nuclear winter’, lasting perhaps a decade. Together these events killed all the non-bird dinosaurs, plus pterosaurs, ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, ammonites, most fish and many other creatures. Fortunately for us a few mammals survived, perhaps protected because they were hibernating in their equivalent of underground bunkers. A catastrophe on the same scale will threaten again. Nobody knows when, for they strike at random.


pages: 409 words: 138,088

Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth by Andrew Smith

British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, Charles Lindbergh, cuban missile crisis, full employment, game design, Haight Ashbury, Jeff Bezos, low earth orbit, Mark Shuttleworth, Mars Rover, Marshall McLuhan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Naomi Klein, Norman Mailer, nuclear winter, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, pensions crisis, Ronald Reagan

“ – or they have big holes in the ground; and they show that the last four major extinctions were caused by impacts and we also have super volcanoes around the planet Earth – you know there’s a lot of volcanic activity all over the solar system, there’s hundreds of volcanoes on Venus and some on Mars and the Moon has a bunch – there’s no active volcanism on the Moon right now, but it had a lot of old volcanism on it and right in the United States there’s three potential super volcanoes; Long Valley Caldera and the big crater there, that Los Alamos sits on top of, and Yellowstone … theoretically Yellowstone goes off every 600,000 years, and it was 640,000 years ago that it last went off, and when it did that, it put two and a half metres of ash in Nebraska, 1,200 kilometres away, so if you get a super volcano it causes the same thing that impacts cause … nuclear winters, wiping out life – ” And from here I pretty much lose it, just registering odd phrases. “ – and the last one, Toba in Sumatra, put 2,800 cubic kilometres of ash in the stratosphere and wiped out – ” “ – I mean, that’s why we all have the same DNA pretty much, because Earth’s population went down to several thousand people and that’s not me talking, this is scientific evidence – ” “ – the statistics right now for impacts are 1 in 5,000 chances that in the next hundred years we’ll get an impact that’ll wipe out civilization – ” “ – the chances of a super volcano occurring, which are independent events, are 1 in 500 in the next hundred years, so if you take those two together, the chances of a civilization-ending event occurring in the next hundred years is 1 in 455.”


Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert

index card, Nelson Mandela, nuclear winter, Socratic dialogue, telemarketer

To be losing David right after the failure of my marriage, and right after the terrorizing of my city, and right during the worst ugliness of divorce (a life experience my friend Brian has compared to “having a really bad car accident every single day for about two years”) . . . well, this was simply too much. David and I continued to have our bouts of fun and compatibility during the days, but at night, in his bed, I became the only survivor of a nuclear winter as he visibly retreated from me, more every day, as though I were infectious. I came to fear nighttime like it was a torturer’s cellar. I would lie there beside David’s beautiful, inaccessible sleeping body and I would spin into a panic of loneliness and meticulously detailed suicidal thoughts. Every part of my body pained me. I felt like I was some kind of primitive springloaded machine, placed under far more tension than it had ever been built to sustain, about to blast apart at great danger to anyone standing nearby.


pages: 519 words: 136,708

Vertical: The City From Satellites to Bunkers by Stephen Graham

1960s counterculture, Berlin Wall, Boris Johnson, Buckminster Fuller, Buy land – they’re not making it any more, Chelsea Manning, Commodity Super-Cycle, creative destruction, deindustrialization, digital map, drone strike, Edward Glaeser, Edward Snowden, energy security, Frank Gehry, ghettoisation, Google Earth, Gunnar Myrdal, high net worth, housing crisis, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, Indoor air pollution, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jane Jacobs, late capitalism, low earth orbit, mass immigration, means of production, megacity, megastructure, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, planetary scale, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-industrial society, Project Plowshare, rent control, Richard Florida, Right to Buy, Ronald Reagan, Skype, South China Sea, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, trickle-down economics, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, white flight, WikiLeaks, William Langewiesche

In March 2015, state censors took Chai Jing’s remarkable film on the subject – tellingly titled Under the Dome – off the Internet in China after it had drawn hundreds of millions of viewers and galvanised huge pressures on the government.33 Pollution crises sometimes interrupt apparently inexorable logics of urban warming. In a particularly prolonged smog event in February 2014, Chinese scientists warned that the smog blanketing the Beijing region was becoming so bad that its effects were starting to resemble those of a nuclear winter, creating a city almost ‘uninhabitable for human beings’. Densities of suspended particles hit concentrations over twenty times maximum limits recommended by the World Health Organization. Photosynthesis rates in agricultural crops in the greenhouse-based systems within Beijing’s hinterland were halved.34 In Hong Kong, meanwhile, authorities made a move in the year 2000 to tempt the Walt Disney Corporation to build a theme park there.


pages: 459 words: 138,689

Slowdown: The End of the Great Acceleration―and Why It’s Good for the Planet, the Economy, and Our Lives by Danny Dorling, Kirsten McClure

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, clean water, creative destruction, credit crunch, Donald Trump, drone strike, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Flynn Effect, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, global supply chain, Google Glasses, Henri Poincaré, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, jimmy wales, John Harrison: Longitude, Kickstarter, low earth orbit, Mark Zuckerberg, market clearing, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, means of production, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mortgage debt, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, Ponzi scheme, price stability, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, QWERTY keyboard, random walk, rent control, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, sexual politics, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, structural adjustment programs, the built environment, Tim Cook: Apple, transatlantic slave trade, trickle-down economics, very high income, wealth creators, wikimedia commons, working poor

Consider how we had no idea two hundred years ago that an invisible by-product of the burning of coal, carbon dioxide, would stay in the air for so long and not be quickly reabsorbed, with such a huge and toxic effect. Inevitably there will be something else we are doing today that will also have terrible repercussions of which we have as yet no conception at all. We are only animals, after all. As one well-known thinker once put it, it’s a wonder humans can even feed themselves.9 We once feared nuclear winter, and the coming of the next “natural” ice age. A few years ago, I made a list of many calamities that have been the focus of our fears over the past century. My favorite was the “killer bees” invasion once prophesied to sweep across California. As a child I heard stories about bees that came straight from the movies. The 1974 film Killer Bees, which starred Edward Albert and Kate Jackson, was quickly followed by Swarm in 1978, and in 2011 we were alarmed by 1313: Giant Killer Bees!


pages: 462 words: 150,129

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley

"Robert Solow", 23andMe, agricultural Revolution, air freight, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, Corn Laws, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Glaeser, en.wikipedia.org, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, falling living standards, feminist movement, financial innovation, Flynn Effect, food miles, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hans Rosling, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, hedonic treadmill, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, income per capita, Indoor air pollution, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, invisible hand, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kula ring, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, Northern Rock, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, packet switching, patent troll, Pax Mongolica, Peter Thiel, phenotype, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Productivity paradox, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Silicon Valley, spice trade, spinning jenny, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supervolcano, technological singularity, Thales and the olive presses, Thales of Miletus, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transaction costs, ultimatum game, upwardly mobile, urban sprawl, Vernor Vinge, Vilfredo Pareto, wage slave, working poor, working-age population, Y2K, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

If, on the other hand, you say catastrophe is imminent, you may expect a McArthur genius award or even the Nobel Peace Prize. The bookshops are groaning under ziggurats of pessimism. The airwaves are crammed with doom. In my own adult lifetime, I have listened to implacable predictions of growing poverty, coming famines, expanding deserts, imminent plagues, impending water wars, inevitable oil exhaustion, mineral shortages, falling sperm counts, thinning ozone, acidifying rain, nuclear winters, mad-cow epidemics, Y2K computer bugs, killer bees, sex-change fish, global warming, ocean acidification and even asteroid impacts that would presently bring this happy interlude to a terrible end. I cannot recall a time when one or other of these scares was not solemnly espoused by sober, distinguished and serious elites and hysterically echoed by the media. I cannot recall a time when I was not being urged by somebody that the world could only survive if it abandoned the foolish goal of economic growth.


pages: 565 words: 151,129

The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism by Jeremy Rifkin

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, active measures, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, big-box store, bioinformatics, bitcoin, business process, Chris Urmson, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, Community Supported Agriculture, Computer Numeric Control, computer vision, crowdsourcing, demographic transition, distributed generation, en.wikipedia.org, Frederick Winslow Taylor, global supply chain, global village, Hacker Ethic, industrial robot, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, longitudinal study, Mahatma Gandhi, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, mass immigration, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, natural language processing, new economy, New Urbanism, nuclear winter, Occupy movement, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, personalized medicine, phenotype, planetary scale, price discrimination, profit motive, QR code, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Stallman, risk/return, Ronald Coase, search inside the book, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social web, software as a service, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, the built environment, The Nature of the Firm, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, transaction costs, urban planning, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks, working poor, zero-sum game, Zipcar

In a sober editorial on “The End of the Free Lunch,” it takes umbrage at what it regards as a faulty assumption that if social media sites can aggregate millions of users by providing them with free content, advertisers will be anxious to target ads on the medium, in the hope of capturing a percentage of the “long tail.” But what if the users aren’t listening, aren’t watching, and are looking to their peers for product recommendations and validation? The Economist concludes that “the number of companies that can be sustained by revenues from internet advertising turns out to be much smaller than many people thought, and Silicon Valley seems to be entering another ‘nuclear winter.’”89 Advertising revenues are beginning to reflect the pessimism. Internet advertising accounted for $36.6 billion in 2012, while, as mentioned, total U.S. advertising revenue came in at $153 billion, bringing the Internet share of the U.S. advertising market to only around 24 percent.90 The growth in Internet advertising spending, however, appears to be slowing, indicating that the early euphoria about corporate advertising paying the bill for all the free content given away on profit-driven social media sites has softened.


pages: 459 words: 144,009

Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis by Jared Diamond

anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, Berlin Wall, British Empire, California gold rush, clean water, correlation coefficient, cuban missile crisis, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Gini coefficient, illegal immigration, interchangeable parts, invention of writing, Jeff Bezos, medical malpractice, mutually assured destruction, Nelson Mandela, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, post-work, purchasing power parity, rising living standards, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, The Spirit Level, traffic fines, transcontinental railway, women in the workforce, World Values Survey

Even if bomb explosions themselves were confined to India and Pakistan, the atmospheric effects of detonating hundreds of nuclear devices would be felt worldwide, because smoke, soot, and dust from fireballs would block most sunlight for several weeks, creating winter-like conditions of steeply falling temperatures globally, interruption of plant photosynthesis, destruction of much plant and animal life, global crop failures, and widespread starvation. A worst-case scenario is termed “nuclear winter”: i.e., the deaths of most humans due not only to starvation but also to cold, disease, and radiation. The only two uses of nuclear weapons to date were the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs. Ever since then, fear of large-scale nuclear war has formed the backdrop of my life. While the end of the Cold War after 1990 initially reduced grounds for that fear, subsequent developments have increased the risk again.


pages: 498 words: 145,708

Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole by Benjamin R. Barber

addicted to oil, AltaVista, American ideology, Berlin Wall, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, business cycle, Celebration, Florida, collective bargaining, creative destruction, David Brooks, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, G4S, game design, George Gilder, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hernando de Soto, illegal immigration, informal economy, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, late capitalism, liberal capitalism, Marc Andreessen, McJob, microcredit, Naomi Klein, new economy, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, nuclear winter, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, pattern recognition, presumed consent, profit motive, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, spice trade, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, the market place, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, X Prize

Griffith creating United Artists in 1919.21 In its first half-century, this studio made such celebrated films as Wuthering Heights, Stagecoach, Spellbound, The Apartment, Arthur Miller’s The Misfits, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Network, Apocalypse Now, and way before Brokeback Mountain, the New York man-boy hustler movie Midnight Cowboy. These were all films that helped define Hollywood filmmaking at its best in terms of excellence and entertainment but also with respect to the breaking of taboos and the assuming of a social agenda. Other studios made risky political films such as the nuclear-winter nightmare On the Beach (five survivors contemplate the aftermath of nuclear war) and sardonic black Armageddon comedies like Peter Sellers’s Dr. Strangelove (directed by Stanley Kubrick). A handful of bankable stars including Robert Redford and Warren Beatty used the fame and fortune they acquired from acting to develop film projects that pressed Hollywood’s tolerance for politically and culturally transgressive films—notably, Warren Beatty’s Reds (a semidocumentary narrative history of early Communism) and his more recent satire on congressional hypocrisy called Bulworth.


pages: 501 words: 145,943

If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities by Benjamin R. Barber

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Legislative Exchange Council, Berlin Wall, bike sharing scheme, borderless world, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, British Empire, car-free, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, Celebration, Florida, clean water, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, desegregation, Detroit bankruptcy, digital Maoism, disintermediation, edge city, Edward Glaeser, Edward Snowden, Etonian, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, George Gilder, ghettoisation, global pandemic, global village, Hernando de Soto, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, income inequality, informal economy, information retrieval, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, London Interbank Offered Rate, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, megacity, microcredit, Mikhail Gorbachev, mortgage debt, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, Norman Mailer, nuclear winter, obamacare, Occupy movement, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Peace of Westphalia, Pearl River Delta, peer-to-peer, planetary scale, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RFID, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart meter, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Telecommunications Act of 1996, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tobin tax, Tony Hsieh, trade route, UNCLOS, UNCLOS, unpaid internship, urban sprawl, War on Poverty, zero-sum game

With or without Interpol, the greatest nightmare cities like Tokyo, Mumbai, New York, São Paulo, and London face in securing themselves against terrorism—with consequences no nation qua nation will directly face—is a downtown bomb strike by a terrorist group. It is too easy to imagine a cell securing a loose nuke or dirty bomb (clad in fissionable radioactive material) and importing it on one of those ubiquitous container ships that enter ports around the world, mostly uninspected. The second half of the twentieth century was marked by the unthinkable peril of nuclear winter, a thermonuclear exchange among state superpowers devoted to “mutual assured destruction”—the so-called MAD strategy of threatening reciprocal annihilation in order to deter conflict altogether. The first half of the twenty-first century will be marked by the “lesser” peril of a singular random act by a terrorist madman, a peril that may however seem even more horrific to urban dwellers. It is more than frightening to witness individual strikes with everyday weaponry—like the one in which two London extremists ran down and then slaughtered a British soldier in mid-afternoon London in May 2013.


pages: 653 words: 155,847

Energy: A Human History by Richard Rhodes

Albert Einstein, animal electricity, California gold rush, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, Copley Medal, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, demographic transition, Dmitri Mendeleev, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, energy transition, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, flex fuel, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, new economy, nuclear winter, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Ralph Nader, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, selection bias, Simon Kuznets, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, Vanguard fund, working poor, young professional

“Dose-Effect Relationships and Estimation of the Carcinogenic Effects of Low Doses of Ionizing Radiation.” Académie des Sciences [Academy of Sciences]—Académie nationale de Médecine [National Academy of Medicine], 2005 (online). Ausubel, Jesse H. “The Liberation of the Environment.” Daedalus 125, no. 3 (1996): 1–17. Ausubel, Jesse H., and H. Dale Langford, ed. Technological Trajectories and the Human Environment. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997. Badash, Lawrence. A Nuclear Winter’s Tale: Science and Politics in the 1980s. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009. Baekeland, Leo H. “The Synthesis, Constitution, and Uses of Bakelite.” Industrial and Engineering Chemistry 1 (1909): 149–61. Bagwell, Philip S. The Transport Revolution from 1770. London: B. T. Batsford, 1974. Bailey, Michael R., and John P. Glithero. The Engineering and History of Rocket: A Survey Report. York, UK: National Railway Museum, 2001.


Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health by Laurie Garrett

accounting loophole / creative accounting, airport security, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, biofilm, clean water, collective bargaining, desegregation, discovery of DNA, discovery of penicillin, Drosophila, employer provided health coverage, Fall of the Berlin Wall, germ theory of disease, global pandemic, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, Induced demand, John Snow's cholera map, Jones Act, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, mass incarceration, Maui Hawaii, means of production, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mouse model, Nelson Mandela, new economy, nuclear winter, phenotype, profit motive, Project Plowshare, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Right to Buy, Ronald Reagan, sexual politics, Silicon Valley, stem cell, the scientific method, urban decay, urban renewal, War on Poverty, working poor, Works Progress Administration, yellow journalism

Henderson stuck to historical ground, outlining the destruction and terror produced by outbreaks of smallpox and anthrax during the latter half of the twentieth century. He kept the academic litany remarkably dry, given the horror he was describing. And he concluded his remarks with an observation that stood in stark contrast to the almost nonchalant tone of his previous comments: “The specter of biological weapons is every bit as grim as that of nuclear winter,” a reference to the theory that use of nuclear weapons would sink the world into an ice age that would obliterate nearly every life-form on earth. Osterholm wasn’t satisfied. He pushed his mentor for more. And he got it six months later at an enormous public meeting in Atlanta. D. A. Henderson decided that the time had come to speak his mind in the manner Osterholm had urged. It was, frankly, hard to imagine the tall, barrel-chested baritone ever doing otherwise.

In 1982, based on the meager and flawed information at its disposal, the World Health Organization estimated that a thermonuclear exchange between the United States and USSR would directly and indirectly—via radiation, epidemics, and starvation—kill two billion people. That estimate was adjusted upward in the later 1980s when a group of astronomers, physicists, atmospheric researchers, and vulcanologists set forth the nuclear winter hypothesis. In their scenario, blasts involving bombs in excess of 100 kilotons would trigger an Ice Age few species would survive. 218. In 1961 Mahoney’s successor, Dr. Leona Baumgartner, stated her position on the nuclear fallout question and how it affected New Yorkers: “Widespread realization of the potential hazards of ionizing radiation grew out of atomic bomb development. While some persons and groups tried to arouse public interest and concern in problems of fallout, there were those persons and groups who tried to minimize such dangers.


pages: 574 words: 164,509

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom

agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, anthropic principle, anti-communist, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Bayesian statistics, bioinformatics, brain emulation, cloud computing, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, cosmological constant, dark matter, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, delayed gratification, demographic transition, different worldview, Donald Knuth, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, endogenous growth, epigenetics, fear of failure, Flash crash, Flynn Effect, friendly AI, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, information retrieval, interchangeable parts, iterative process, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, longitudinal study, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Netflix Prize, new economy, Norbert Wiener, NP-complete, nuclear winter, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, performance metric, phenotype, prediction markets, price stability, principal–agent problem, race to the bottom, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, reversible computing, social graph, speech recognition, Stanislav Petrov, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Nature of the Firm, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, Turing machine, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, World Values Survey, zero-sum game

It appears that a war would probably have fallen short of causing human extinction, even if it had been fought with the combined arsenals held by all the nuclear powers at the height of the Cold War, though it would have ruined civilization and caused unimaginable death and suffering (Gaddis 1982; Parrington 1997). But bigger stockpiles might be accumulated in future arms races, or even deadlier weapons might be invented, or our models of the impacts of a nuclear Armageddon (particularly of the severity of the consequent nuclear winter) might be wrong. 13. This approach could fit the category of a direct-specification rule-based control method. 14. The situation is essentially the same if the solution criterion specifies a goodness measure rather than a sharp cutoff for what counts as a solution. 15. An advocate for the oracle approach could insist that there is at least a possibility that the user would spot the flaw in the proffered solution—recognize that it fails to match the user’s intent even while satisfying the formally specified success criteria.


pages: 684 words: 188,584

The Age of Radiance: The Epic Rise and Dramatic Fall of the Atomic Era by Craig Nelson

Albert Einstein, Brownian motion, Charles Lindbergh, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, continuation of politics by other means, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, Doomsday Clock, El Camino Real, Ernest Rutherford, failed state, Henri Poincaré, hive mind, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Louis Pasteur, low earth orbit, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, music of the spheres, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, Project Plowshare, Ralph Nader, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Skype, Stuxnet, technoutopianism, too big to fail, uranium enrichment, William Langewiesche, éminence grise

With sidewalks, roads, and building foundations sprouting in flora, every town in the Zone, like a clock of civilization running backward, is reverting to forest, becoming Soviet ruins like Cambodia’s Angkor Wat or Guatemala’s Tikal. But KEEP OFF THE GRASS has a whole new meaning here; after the massive decontamination effort of the liquidators, “it’s safe where we are,” Sergei Saversky, deputy chief of zone management, explained to a recent group of tourists. “Just don’t walk where you’re not supposed to.” With the wilderness, comes the wild creatures. Contrary to expectations of nuclear winter and atomic desert, after the evacuation of ever-hungry people with their eternal agricultural war against predators, the Zone of Alienation’s 1,660 square miles became a wildlife sanctuary teeming with cormorants, cranes, herons, and sixty-six different species of mammals—bears, wild boar, wolves, red deer, roe deer, beavers, river otter, foxes, lynx, thousands of elk, and a surfeit of barsuk, the badger of central Europe.


pages: 775 words: 208,604

The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality From the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century by Walter Scheidel

agricultural Revolution, assortative mating, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, collective bargaining, colonial rule, Columbian Exchange, conceptual framework, corporate governance, cosmological principle, crony capitalism, dark matter, declining real wages, demographic transition, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, fixed income, Francisco Pizarro, full employment, Gini coefficient, global pandemic, hiring and firing, income inequality, John Markoff, knowledge worker, land reform, land tenure, low skilled workers, means of production, mega-rich, Network effects, nuclear winter, offshore financial centre, plutocrats, Plutocrats, race to the bottom, recommendation engine, rent control, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, Simon Kuznets, The Future of Employment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, universal basic income, very high income, working-age population, zero-sum game

It would represent an extreme version of systems collapse, exceeding in severity even the dramatic fall of early civilizations discussed in chapter 9. Although contemporary science fiction accounts of a postapocalyptic world sometimes envision high degrees of inequality between those in control of scarce vital resources and deprived majorities, the experience of the thoroughly impoverished and less stratified postcollapse communities of premodern history might be a better guide to conditions in a future “nuclear winter.” But this is unlikely to happen. Although nuclear proliferation may change the rules of the game in regional theaters, the same existential risks that have prevented nuclear war between major powers since the 1950s continue to apply. Moreover, the mere existence of stockpiles of nuclear weapons makes it less likely that core regions such as the United States or China will get massively involved even in conventional warfare and serves to displace conflict into global peripheries, which in turn lowers the odds of severe damage to the world’s major economies.16 Weapons technology is only part of the story.


pages: 717 words: 196,908

The Idea of Decline in Western History by Arthur Herman

agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, British Empire, David Attenborough, European colonialism, George Santayana, ghettoisation, hiring and firing, Joan Didion, laissez-faire capitalism, late capitalism, lateral thinking, liberal capitalism, mass immigration, means of production, Menlo Park, Nelson Mandela, Norman Mailer, nuclear winter, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post scarcity, profit motive, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, upwardly mobile

To these heirs of Nietzsche, Heidegger, and the Frankfurt School, normative Western science, even Western man himself, turns out to be the root of the problem rather than the solution. APOCALYPSE AND THE NEW GREEN ORDER Earth is threatened by destruction on a world-wide scale, and only if we all work together can we defeat the forces of evil: drought and flooding, ultraviolet radiation and smog, cancer and famine, all brought on by the three horsemen of the apocalypse—the greenhouse effect, ozone depletion, and nuclear winter. —David Fisher, Fire and Ice , 1990 The notion of civilization rests on a firm rejection of the apocalyptic view of history. Enlightenment thinkers believed that the apocalyptic prophet, like the religious fanatic, was the enemy of humane civilized values; both were willing to wreck ordinary working institutions for the sake of a personal, and therefore unverifiable, vision of God’s purposes.


pages: 773 words: 220,140

A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz

Berlin Wall, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fear of failure, invisible hand, Kickstarter, moral panic, nuclear winter, Own Your Own Home, Socratic dialogue

Sometimes he checked into backpacker hostels and partied in a German accent. And he never missed a single sunrise or sunset. One afternoon we watched a dark orange sun bleed into the horizon. "This is one of those sunsets made glorious by the pollution of a congested city. Someone has to say it and it might as well be me--Nature's own work pales in comparison. The same goes for mass destruction. One day we'll all be basking in the glow of a nuclear winter and God, won't it be heaven on the eyes!" In addition to heroin smuggling and prostitution, the democratic cooperative of crime's main trade was gambling on Thai boxing matches, the national sport. Terry would take me along when he bribed the boxers to take a dive. I remember thinking about his legacy in Australia, how he had been obsessed with fighting corruption in sport, and I was impressed with the way he now shat all over it like this.


pages: 468 words: 233,091

Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days by Jessica Livingston

8-hour work day, affirmative action, AltaVista, Apple II, Brewster Kahle, business cycle, business process, Byte Shop, Danny Hillis, David Heinemeier Hansson, don't be evil, fear of failure, financial independence, Firefox, full text search, game design, Googley, HyperCard, illegal immigration, Internet Archive, Jeff Bezos, Joi Ito, Justin.tv, Larry Wall, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, nuclear winter, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Richard Feynman, Robert Metcalfe, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Sand Hill Road, side project, Silicon Valley, slashdot, social software, software patent, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, stealth mode startup, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, web application, Y Combinator

There was a huge dropoff; the consulting market completely disappeared. Joel Spolsky 347 The consulting market is the derivative of every other market. When a company is growing, they will hire a few consultants to help them grow a little bit more rapidly. When they’re shrinking, they’ll instantly fire all consultants. If the market is even going down by 0.002 percent instead of growing—which it did, because there was a sort of dot-com nuclear winter—then the first people to go will be the consultants. So the consulting business completely collapsed, and every company in that space more or less collapsed. The ones that remained— Razorfish, Scient, Viant, whatever—all sort of conglomerated into one company with about 120 people, and that was it. Livingston: Were you and your cofounder working out of your apartment at this point? Spolsky: We never wanted to do that.


pages: 1,087 words: 325,295

Anathem by Neal Stephenson

anthropic principle, cellular automata, Danny Hillis, double helix, interchangeable parts, nuclear winter, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, pattern recognition, phenotype, selection bias, Stewart Brand, trade route

One was a quartz prism, bigger than my head, held in the grip of a muscular Saunt carved out of marble, and pointed south. Without any explanation from me, Cord saw how sunlight entering into one face of the prism was bounced downwards through a hole in the roof to shine on some metallic construct within. “This I’ve heard of,” she said, “it synchronizes the clock every day at noon, right?” “Unless it’s cloudy,” I said. “But even during a nuclear winter, when it can be cloudy for a hundred years, the clock doesn’t get too far out of whack.” “What’s this thing?” she asked, pointing to a dome of glass about the size of my fist, aimed straight up. It was mounted at the top of a pedestal of carven stone that rose to about the same height as the prism-holding statue. “It’s got to be some kind of a telescope, because I see the slot where you put in the photomnemonic tablet,” she said, and poked at an opening in the pedestal, just beneath the lens.


pages: 1,234 words: 356,472

Pandora's Star by Peter F. Hamilton

carbon-based life, clean water, corporate governance, Magellanic Cloud, megacity, nuclear winter, plutocrats, Plutocrats, random walk, rolodex, Rubik’s Cube, stem cell, the scientific method, trade route, urban sprawl

They were thick and black, blotting out the sky as they unleashed monsoon-like downpours several times an hour. So heavy was the unnatural rain that rivulets formed across the force field, carrying away the water to the saturated ground beyond. Whole tides of mud were slithering around the protected, sacrosanct valley. The motile regarded the new weather intently, with one thought starting to dominate its mind: Nuclear winter. .... Paula Myo took the express from Paris direct to Wessex. She had a long wait in the CST planetary station there; the train to Huxley’s Haven only ran once a day. It was dark outside when she eventually went to platform 87B, which was situated in a small annex at the end of the terminal. The train she found standing there was made up from four single deck carriages being pulled by a steam engine that could have come straight out of a museum.