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Step right up and pick your doomsday — and then figure out what we could theoretically do, if we tried to avoid meeting that fate.
Walsh made use of his background reporting on threats like the SARS epidemic and climate change, and he talked with Space.com about the more cosmic challenges he tackles in his book. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Space - Book
Space.com: How did you come to write this book?
This book isn't really about, oh, the world is in great peril and we're all going to die, but rather, it's within our power and responsibility — for both people living on the planet now and also everyone who could live in the future — to do something about it.
Space - Disasters - Book
Space.com: How did you choose which disasters to include in the book?
Walsh: They were the ones that really just jumped out in terms [of being] the most threatening, but also they were ones I could examine in turn and tell a different part of the overall story through them. So something like asteroids: There's a reason why we make movies about that. There's something cinematic about the idea that something's coming from space and locking in on you, and it's going to destroy the world. But also, it showed our ability to actually use technology to protect ourselves from something that has erased life on this planet before.
Something - Volcanoes - Asteroids - Beings - Supervolcano
With something like volcanoes, because they've recurred much more often than asteroids, I could actually look at the past and see how that's impacted human beings before. There was a supervolcano called Toba that exploded about 74,000 years ago that really had a measurable impact on human beings of the time. ... I picked the ones I felt would fit into an overall narrative that I hope at the end gives you a...
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