Rising populism pushing politics to the fringe has Andrew Leigh believing humanity must take out an insurance policy to prevent the apocalypse and the end of the world.
Dubbed in his own words as a blend of apocalyptic movies such as The Matrix and 28 Days Later with a take on modern-day politics, Dr Leigh is attempting to highlight that the rising wave of populism within political discourse is fuelling greater chances of human catastrophe.
Set to be released later this week, What's the worst that could happen? Existential Risk and Extreme Politics, is the local Labor MP's analysis on issues such as climate change and nuclear arms race edging the world closer to pending doom.
The member for Fenner told The Canberra Times he believes these existential issues are now more certain because of the tidal wave of dangerous politics which has swept across countries like the United States, Brazil and Hungary.
"Anything we can do to make sure that humanity doesn't end is incredibly important," Dr Leigh said.
"That took me into looking at what are the main ways in which the world could end."
Dr Leigh noted pandemics, extreme weather and artificial intelligence topped the list of doomsday scenarios, and would be exacerbated if institutions such as governments were ineffective on mitigating risks.
The book, which was written in conjunction with Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, details that the risk of an existential threat occurring is a higher probability than being in a car crash.
That probability is then multiplied by the effect of politics which divides and creates a framework of antitrust within governments and institutions.
"What they need is calm heads, good institutions and international co-operation and it just so happen that's exactly what populism targets," he said.
"Populism fires people up, trashes institutions and undermines global collaboration."
While Donald Trump's presidency is a global example, Dr Leigh said the spreading of COVID-19 misinformation by politicians such as Craig Kelly under the guise of United Australia Party and the undermining of health policy by One Nation, were examples within Australia where populist politics were undermining the health of the country.
"I think it's critical we recognise the risks of populism and Australia, whether that is coming from One Nation, UAP or some other fringe group," he said.
"The way in which these organisations work is to turn up the political temperature by attacking experts and undermining global institutions."
Dr Leigh believes minimising existential threats should be at the forefront of policy and should be thought about like a home insurance policy, claiming harm minimisation is needed for issues which could have a huge detrimental impact on the world.
"I want us to take the same approach to humanity," he said.
"It's not probable that any of these risks will end the world but they would be disastrous if they came to bear. So we should put a little bit more energy into them just like we would buy a home insurance policy."
"The beneficiaries aren't just us and our kids but potentially millions of generations of humans to come." Dr Leigh will have an in-conversation event with ANU vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt on Monday evening discussing to his new book.
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