Re: Nuclear war is not an existential threat

From: justin corwin (
Date: Tue Sep 27 2005 - 14:55:43 MDT

On 9/27/05, Eliezer S. Yudkowsky <> wrote:
> How bad does a virus need to be to have the same effect on the world
> economy as a nuclear exchange?

The Black Death depopulated parts of the whole world, ranging from 30%
of the population in Venice(who were forewarned of the plague and took
complex(for the time) precautions) to 90% in poor areas of China.

It was either caused by Yersinia pestis or B Anthracis.

The previously cited Effects of a Nuclear War has a "Case 4" in which
full nuclear exchange is estimated to have 35-70 percent mortality in
the US, and 20-40 percent in then Soviet Russia.

This is over an area significantly smaller than the maps for Black
Death infection I have seen presented, although hard data is hard to
come by.

at he argues
for a potential of close to 50% global depopulation including
afteraffects of a full nuclear exchange, I have no real way of
evaluating that, but it puts in roughly in parity.

There are no figures for economic damage caused by a extremely
virulent biological agent which I can compare, but mortality figures
give some idea of how bad both scenarios are.

Something like the Black Death could potentially cripple the world
economy, if the losses were pervasive enough. One thing viruses don't
have which nuclear exchanges do, is loss of capital. Industrial
Capacity(in a technological and physical sense) would be largely

Justin Corwin

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