I believe that if we destroy mankind, as we now can, this outcome will be much worse than most people think. Compare three outcomes:
(2) A nuclear war that kills 99% of the world’s existing population.
(3) A nuclear war that kills 100%.
(2) would be worse than (1), and (3) would be worse than (2). Which is the greater of these two differences? Most people believe that the greater difference is between (1) and (2). I believe that the difference between (2) and (3) is very much greater. … The Earth will remain habitable for at least another billion years. Civilization began only a few thousand years ago. If we do not destroy mankind, these few thousand years may be only a tiny fraction of the whole of civilized human history. The difference between (2) and (3) may thus be the difference between this tiny fraction and all of the rest of this history. If we compare this possible history to a day, what has occurred so far is only a fraction of a second.
Derek Parfit, Reasons and Persons:pp. 453-454