May 21, 2003
Will Human Race Cause Its Own Extinction?

Writing in Slate in response to Bill McKibben's book Enough, which is about the dangers of biotechnology, robotics, and nanotechnology, Jim Holt trots out a particularly lame argument about why we have little to worry about.

Accordingly, the Princeton physicist J. Richard Gott III has calculated that we can be 95 percent confident that the human species in its present form will be around for at least another 5,100 years but not more than 7.8 million years. (This, by the way, would give us a total longevity very similar to other mammal species, which on average go extinct 2 million years after they appear.)

To be meaningful a model has to be built on realistic assumptions. A model about species extinction has to consider environmental changes. The extinction of a species is far more likely to happen if the environment that the species evolved to live in suddenly goes thru radically changes. Well, news flash of the obvious: Humans are causing rapid changes in their own environment and will continue to do so.

Humans are major agents of changes in their own environment. Many of those human-caused changes have been beneficial for human survival. Human life expectancy for the world as a whole has risen dramatically over the last couple of centuries while the human population has reached levels never before seen in the history of the species. There are even technologies under development that promise to literally halt and reverse aging and this writer is a big supporter of the accelerated development of rejuvenation technologies. But the whole point of McKibben's argument is that humans are developing technologies that could be used to create threats to the continued existence of the human species.

An argument about historical longevity of mammalian species ought at the very least take into consideration that humans are causing the death of large numbers of other species (mammalian and otherwise). Many species now face much greater threats to their continued existence than they have in the past for the simple reason that humans have developed powerful abilities to change the environment and to cause the death of other species. Humans also have developed and continue to develop various abilities to cause the death of fellow members of their species. Of course humans have also demonstrated the willingness to use those abilities. Well, the features of human nature that are the source of that willingness are not going away (unless we do genetic engineering to change human nature - which probably will happen). At the same time, the ability of humans to cause the death of fellow humans looks set to increase quite dramatically as a wide array of technologies advance.

Let us take nanotechnology as an example. Nanotech assemblers are held out to eventually provide us with the ability to build anything cheaply and easily. Well, the ability to build anything includes the ability to build nuclear weapons. It may also include the ability to create new species that can out-compete existing species. There are recent historical precedents for how that could play out. Humans in the last couple of hundred years have moved species from various parts of the globe to other locales where they have never existed before. Introduced predator species in Australia, Hawaii, and other locales are killing existing species that have no evolved defenses for dealing with those predators. Some species are being completely wiped out by human-introduced species. It is not unreasonable to think there is a chance that some humans could manage to create a life form that has the potential to so change the environment of the globe as to cause the extinction of the human race as well.

The basic question that any debate about the future dangers of technology has to answer is whether the net effect of likely technological advances in the 21st century will favor the offensive or the defensive. Optimists assume that the kinds of dangers generated by technological advances be offset by even greater abilities to create systems to protect us from these dangers. But that assumption can not be proven and there are very plausible arguments against it.

Barring a natural disaster or total collapse of industrial civiliation humans are going to become so much more powerful in this century and will become so much more capable of changing their own environment that any argument about the risk of humanity's extinction that is built from historical data of average species longevity is hopelessly naive. Arguments from historical data have embedded in them the assumption of a low probability that in any time period there will be a huge change in the environment of a species. But that assumption does not hold for humans in the next 100 years. We will gain many new capabilities to affect our environment. We do not know whether we will use those abilities wisely enough to avoid our own extinction. It would be unwise hubris to assume that we will.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2003 May 21 10:37 AM  Dangers Tech General


Comments
Kelly Parks said at May 22, 2003 4:53 PM:

I was bothered about your line (and your italic vehemence): "Humans are causing rapid changes in their own environment and will continue to do so."

First, humans as a species have already survived huge climate fluctuations (see "A Brain for All Seasons: Human Evolution and Abrupt Climate Change"
by William H. Calvin) so although the current global warming may cause dislocations and economic hardship it doesn't represent a danger of human extinction.

Second, the scientific evidence of global warming has finaly reached an acceptable level so it is fair to say that, yes, the climate is getting warmer. However there is no where near enough evidence to answer the *entirely separate* question: "Is humanity causing global warming?" Alternate explanations include long term variations in the solar magnetic field and the unaccounted for cooling effect of aerosol pollutants. I'm not saying we're not causing global warming. I'm saying nobody knows for sure yet if we are or not.

Randall Parker said at May 22, 2003 5:26 PM:

Kelly,

I am not at all worried that global warming could cause the extinction of the human species. I think that is exceedingly unlikely.

I'm saying that the types of technologies that McKibben is concerned about are technologies that could change our environment so much that we'd be wiped out. The nanotech goo scenario is one way. The development of artificial intelligence that would take over is another way. A third way would be the development of a pathogen that could kill all humans.

I perhaps should have worded it "Humans are causing rapid changes in their own environment and will eventually have the ability to do so on a much larger scale with far less effort.".

Technology makes it easier to do things. With more technology comes the ability to do more things easily. There are specific capabilities coming in the future that will allow humans to be much greater threats to each other.

John said at November 16, 2003 8:25 PM:

Homo sapiens are horrible creatures. We think only for ourselves and as a result destroy everything and everyone around us. The extinction of the human race in my opinion would be necessary for the survival of other organisms. And in the end, insects and other small creatures not wipped out by our weapsons and future weapsons of mass-destruction will previal and life shall further more evolve.

Fred said at December 1, 2003 12:53 PM:

"Homo sapiens are horrible creatures. We think only for ourselves and as a result destroy everything and everyone around us."

This is true of just about every species on earth. All species are focused on one goal, perpetuation.

Any argument based in biology is meaningless. Humanity has long since transcended the developmental limitations of evolution.

At this very moment, there are enough weapons of mass destruction in existence to kill everyone, if they were used effectively. It is only by our collective will that we survive.

When it is possible, by dint of advancing technology, to cook up a weapon of global destruction, whether it's a bomb, or a pathogen, or a poison, or something as yet undreamt of, on a desktop, it will be impossible for global will alone to stop it from being released.

In order to prevent that hypothetical future technology from destroying humanity, then one or both of two things must happen:

1> Every human on Earth decides not to pursue technologies that can lead to this situation.

2> Every human on Earth decides not to use these technologies, even by accident.

There is also a combined possibility:

3> Some human agency ensures, without fail, that only those people who will not use the technology (either by accident, or by design) are allowed access to it.

Considering our abysmal record when it comes to avoiding and/or regulating dangerous technologies, I consider it only a matter of time before a weapon of global destruction is released.

I pray that it doesn't happen during my lifetime, or that of my children; I have no hope that it will be forestalled beyond a few generations at most.

If you want to talk about this topic further, feel free to email me. I don't plan on checking this board again.

xasino said at December 3, 2003 12:25 PM:

the modern world is an avalanche in progress. we cant stop it. well,we could,but we wont,until its too late,or just before its too late. and its not our fault really either.the men of the enlightenment,and early industrial revolution had no idea of the implications of what they were starting.they started a toxic,dirty machine that has too much momentum to be stopped. what are we supposed to do? make it illegal to drive an automobile,illegal to buy gasoline,or illegal to throw trash away? can you see just in these paltry examples how unstoppable it is? and it seems that todays superrich,and superpowerful are too intoxicated by the lifestyle that this huge polluting machine affords them,to stop it before its too late. and anyone else who tries is villified,and/or eliminated. all we can do is try and make ourselves better,and help those around us. lets be realistic. we are destroying the world. at the expense of being redundant,western civilization is a massive polluting machine that no one can turn off. just being a clean-up person at a big grocery store,seeing the magnitude of wanton wastefulness reminds me everyday how disgusting this situation is. knowing that the collapse is inevitable,i for one am going to plummet with the avalanche smiling. whats the point in feeling bad about it? some humans will survive.maybe they'll do it better.

Leon said at April 28, 2004 6:55 AM:

People concerned with the natural world and protecting the environment need to act. The task of changing people's minds, habits, and culture might seem overwhelming, but I asure you it is not impossible. The same people who live wastefully would live "cleaner" lives if they truly understood the impact of their actions. It is the duty of all concerned with "saving the planet" to educate the masses. And even if the earth goes down in flames I know I tried, I did my part. The tough question, "Is the natural world worth saving?"

Travis said at August 7, 2004 9:20 AM:

I think in a way money will be the cause if humanity does destroy itself because money makes most people greedy and greed makes people do things they wouldnt normally do for example and yes i know it is fiction but i just finished reading michael crichtons novel (Prey) and what made it more creepy apart from being an excellent read was the fact that people r doing research on Nanotechnology which is scary because all it takes is one greedy person to not think about the potential risk and the human race has signed its own death warrant.

whether or not that is how the human race ceases to exist which i hope it doesnt because it would be nice to think that someday human beings will be enlightened and at peace with each other the world over if it does happen there are many ways it could i just broached the michael crichton book because i had just finished reading it and if no one reads this message at least i wrote it and got a little something off my chest and after all im just one more human being on the planet with an opinion.

Travis Battig said at May 10, 2005 5:43 PM:

Perhaps one of these doomsday scenarios will come to pass, I don't know. However, I do not believe that nanotech is a significant doomsday threat. We are all nanotech machines. Nature has been playing around with nanotech for billions of years. If it was doable, wouldn't nature have found a way to create the grey goo a long time ago? I think think the greatest threat is and will continue to be nuclear unless someone finds another way to unleash large amounts of energy with a small device.

Speaking of out there sci-fi stuff doomsday weapons how about:

1) Cold fusion bomb.
2) Antimatter bomb - assuming somone finds an easy way to collect or create antimatter.
3) Device to destroy or put out a star.
4) Stable black hole creator - there goes the earth.
5) Create a wormhole connected to a star or black hole.
6) Reality Disjunction Bomb - create a connection to an alternate reality at a star or black hole

Robert Lea Cook said at June 3, 2005 5:30 PM:

Just thought that I would comment on the comment made earlier about humans being horrible??... this is a realy LONG essay type email, so if anyone realy is interested in my ponderings on the subject, i suggest a cup of tea/coffee and (please) some patience with me?! lol. ok- i did warn ya!
Are we realy horrible? Can ANYBODY truthfully make this claim? Firstly, lets look at some of the wonderful things that humans are responsible for...art, performing arts including- ballet, opera, drama? How about music and the ability to create something expressive through the use of inanimate objects (such as a piano?). Or, on a more practical level lets look at science...many people think that science has done nothing but bring more and more destruction and rape to the planet as we have progressed. There is some truth in this, but let us not forget that without the technology we now have, species such as the Panda would be completely doomed to extinction.
You could argue that, well, humans are the cause of their diminishing numbers. This is true as so far as it goes...our population growth over the centuries has spelt destruction of the panda's natural enviroment to feed our growing economies. For all I know, pandas are also killed for meat? BUT let us also consider that the gestation period of a panda is quite a long time, and that as a species, they are extremely picky about mating. Surely what it all boils down to in this debate about "are humans horrible?" is wht side of the fence one sits on: are we humans products of nature which designed us to be this creative at both destruction and creation, or are we unnatural demons- freaks of nature which mother nature forgot to make plans for?
Let me put it this way to clarify the issue. We have the potential to destroy this earth- we could totally wipe out all life on the surface of this planet in...less than a lifetime? is we wished to. Nuclear capability, hyper-polution (im talking about polluting the atmosphere 80% more than we do at the present time- which we could easily do if we wanted). We could purposefully destroy the planet if we were so inclined. But we are not. True, we are slowly destroying everything- and I for one believe that we need to slow down and do some serious damage control (something we are belatedly and slowly doing). But the way I see it, IF we did destroy the planet and ourselves, then I would see it as a natural thing. Yes, a NATURAL thing.
Obviously, I would prefer that the human race survive and continue on, and on, and on, etc. And this would, in turn, mean that we would have to achieve a level of balance suitable to both ourselves and to the planet. BUT, if in the event that we did destroy ourselves and the earth's species, why see it as a "HORRIBLE" thing?
Nature designed us, and nature allowed us to evolve with brains capable of enabling us to do all that we can, and this includes the ability to manipulate nature in order to survive. If we had not been designed with this ability, our numbers would have stayed periously low- perhaps near extinction levels. Everybody accepts that as humans, we are extremely weak. Where would we be if we could not create and manipulate fire? Or fashion cutting inplements, or create metals? or domesticate animals and learn agriculture, or develop medicines???? Where would we be? We would probably be dead- from natural disasters or through other natural (and stronger) predators. Without our brains which have enabled us to prosper and grow (and yes, become more destructive to the planet) we would not even be human- we would be some species of ape-men; stuck in an evolutionary rut without even the consiousness to realise that we were so vulnerable.
No, I THANK mother nature that She created humans with the kind of minds that we have. If we cannot learn from our mistakes and learn to curb our destructive behaviours, then who knows- maybe we will destoy ourselves and other species, as we are doing now. BUT do not confuse horrible ACTIONS with BEING horrible. I can say that a person is ACTING like an idiot, but that does not make him/her an idiot... as I say, I do not believe that humans are horrible- for if I truly thought that, I would in effect be calling Mother nature horrible. Our evolutionary design is no mistake.
Some series of natural events brought about the extinction of the dinosaurs, it is believed. A comet? Meteors? The big freeze? ???????? IF, and that is a big IF, we destroyed ourselves and other species on the planet, who is to say that this is not mother nature using us to reshape the planet, in the same way that shifting landmasses and climate change did millions of years ago? If you realy want to ponder something, ponder whether we humans are setting the earth up for another shift in the dominant species game? If we killed ourselves off, surely another creation would take over from us? Let us not be so arrogant to suppose that we could beat nature and destroy EVERY living thing in, on and under the earth, seas and air!! Life does indeed find a way, and I see our species as part of mother nature, even as we harp on and on about being the pillagers, rapers and destoyers of the planet earth.
For all any one of us knows, our species might well encounter some form of stone wall, where- through our own actions, the world's population plummets back down to a reasonable number with reasonable levels of technology??? But I have diverged...
I will stop droning on and on now (yes- he is actually gonna shut up finally!!!)... but I want to post this main and final thought to ponder over:
Though it would certainly benefit the earth (as we know it now) and ourselves to learn
better responsibility for the home we live in, are we so unatural from the other species of life on this planet? If rats were given the evolutionary advantage necessary to become the dominant species of life on this earth, they would be. They would destroy other species in order to be dominant- and one cannot use the "oh well, they would find some kind of natural balance," argument. This argument is rubbish because in order to become the dominant species (and there is always one) they would need to surpass us- and they would therefore need to be capable of even more inventiveness (and ergo destructiveness) than us. As it is, WE have been given this great evolutionary advantage- our brains and minds (the opposable thumb is pretty good too), and therefore we are simply doing what nature programmed us to do- to use them and to dominate. And if we destoy ourselves and other life forms too, then that too is simply nature working through us??? [having said that, I do not want to test this theory and have us kill ourselves off, so let's all remember to turn off the lights when we are not using them!].
We are part of the web and I believe that we are part of the plan. The only reason we put ourselves down so much as say that we are a horrible species is because our advanced brains and minds allow us this...it is called the power of doubt- when we can compare ourselves to other creatures and analyse our behaviour and the roads we have trodden against theirs. It is a powerful thing- this power of doubt; we can use it to analyse and change our views and modify our behaviours- for good or for bad. But let's not use it to put ourselves down and call ourselves horrible...we are as natural as they come!
Yours,
Rob

lunny said at December 27, 2005 4:40 PM:

The human race is pathetic and greedy. We do nothing but take from the earth and polute it. Ill be glad when we are all gone and the earth can get back to it's once pristine condition. Just as we evolve so fast, we die just as fast. Stupid humans. :)

John Smith said at January 14, 2006 4:58 PM:

Nanotechnology, complex A.I.'s, robot soldiers, etc. won't be touched on for awhile. I think nanotechnology will be slowly introduced sometime around 2040. Nanotechnology is a very scary thing. What if it gets in the wrong hands? What is it's used for military? Before nanotechnology is used however, it will be severely limited on what it can do. I don't think our governments would want nanotechnology to instantly destroy us just like that. As for A.I.'s, I don't think any sophisticated super-human A.I. can be developed. It would several, several years, tons of money, and in the end, it could just take over the world. We should be really worried about nanotech implants. Governments and military leaders wanting to create the ultimate supersoldier. They put a bunch of combat and killing implants in the thing, and it could just take over the world. What I think will happen in the future is that a race of superhumans created by us (funny) will massively reproduce, exceeding us. They will be stronger, faster, smarter, and better. They will be the ones in charge of the world, and will see to destroy every regular human on Earth. They will then take over Earth from there.

stephen said at February 13, 2006 3:13 PM:

i am worried that the world well come to its end in my life time. iam 18 years of age and i wan t to do lots of stuff before i go
like vist other countrys and just do as much as possible when i reach 30 i ll settle down and live my life.

out of intrest when do you think the world will end.

Randall Parker said at February 13, 2006 4:16 PM:

Stephen,

We certainly aren't going to wipe out ourselves in the next 20 years. Beyond that I can't tell.

BABY DOLL said at March 16, 2006 7:12 AM:

I THINK YOU ARE ALL GAY PEOPLE WITH NOTHING BUT MEN TO PLEASE YOURSELVES WITH. YOU NEED TO GET OUT AND AT LEAST GO TO SOME GAY CLUBS BECAUSE YOUR ALL GAYSSSSS!!!

Me said at August 21, 2006 4:20 PM:

Of coure the human race will end.
We're to dam dumb to try to save the only planet we can live on.
Like they're gunna find another place to move to to keep the race going when we totally fuck this rock.
Dadadadadadadadadadadadada

nick said at October 27, 2006 3:33 AM:

this situation is dire right now the human race is fighting towards extinction, im 16 and pardon my french but this shit is going down weather we like it or not. But right now this madness can be stopped, it can be stopped in 20 years but the masses CANNOT know it will cause panic and chaos it will cause faster destruction one person has to shut the wrecking ball which is humanity down it has to stop the corrupt governments, bring in a one child policy FOR THE WORLD, have to dismantle oil companies, take down car manufacturers and end the burning of fossil fuels, Bill Gates has enough money to do this, as does any billionare. I plan to stop this stupidity and i will fight to save the race headed for extinction this is why:

For the first time, a living organism can consciously do something to halt a mass extinction. Perhaps most important, for the first time a living creature can gaze out across the species of the earth and say: this is beautiful. I care. I will not let it go.
: Rick Gore National Geographic (June 1989)

Girl with a brain said at November 26, 2006 7:44 AM:

Of course this is a doomed planet, at least mankind is doomed. Maybe the other life forms (many which ar facing extinction because of man) will manage to exist because we are gone. Man seems to be an experiment gone very wrong. Instilling humans with free will has unfortunately also instilled greed, evil and stupidity. Take a look at the comment posted by Baby Doll on March 16, 2006 for an example of a human's inferior intelligence. There have been evolved, superior thinking people that have walked among us through the centuries, but most of the time their messages have not hit the target. Most of mankind is too dumbed down and void of sensibilities. It's as if this is a "Twilight Zone" episode...Beings with higher intellects gazing at us from another world and commenting about what a failure and joke we Earthlings really are. We were literally given a Garden of Eden and within a relatively short ammount of time in this great cosmos, have destroyed it. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we consume have all been polluted and poisoned by our own choices. Humans do not deserve a second chance, most of them are not worth it! I admire the ones that are attempting to rectify the damage by supporting sustainable energy and farming, and wildlife preservation, but alas the majority of people are ignorant, stupid, selfish undeserving creatures. Just place them behind the wheel of a gas guzzling vehicle with a cel phone in their hand and they are content as pigs in shit, which happens to be where they belong! The World and Universe will be better off without their kind.

nothing matters unless you make it said at January 17, 2007 8:10 PM:

if the human race on planet earth is totally extinguished (for whatever reason) and there is no other species capable of knowing or caring, did humans ever exist in the first place?

S.D. said at January 24, 2007 9:22 PM:

-everyone made great comment... but the important thing we all have to know is that, we don't understand anything yet!
-everyone thinks that we can predict our future through the history, experiences, and technology... but it's all wrong. listen, if "thing" like organism can evolve, and adapt to the enviroment, then the enviroment itself, or the (mother) earth can evolve and adapt to us also! because we are all created by the same small substance (then build up) which we gived it a name: "Atom".
-even if our technology can tell us what's going to happen, still, it's not OUR decision to make it happen...
-what I mean is, at the beginning of our history, there's not much of natural disaster happened(or it's just not recorded on the history). 'till now, we have the valley or tonados, we hear tsunamis, etc.... our natural disaster increased as our technology becomes more mordern (advanced?)...yes, we all know why there's more disasters now than before(so I don't have to type it...)
-we adapt to all these disasters, or prepared for them, and the "earth" might also adapt to our "technology". we evolve... the "earth" evolve also(like the global warming)
-so we can't really predict any future from this point, because we still don't understand anything yet, we don't understand how the "universe" works... or is there other organism other than us living somewhere else in other space....etc.....
-and recently, I was just thinking about that, we might be inside a black hole already... you know how a black hole sucks everything in and no returns, right? t and we don't know when the "universe" started, or the first black hole started, it might already sucked in majority of "everything", and we might be IN a black hole, and planets kept "living" inside the black hole.....(it's might be somekind of space transporter...)
-anyway, getting off the topic.....and yes, I did read everyone's comments
1

JEFF said at January 21, 2008 5:57 PM:

WE ARE ALL SO FUCKED AND IM GLAD...DEATH THE THE HUMAN RACE

fen2u said at February 22, 2008 7:29 AM:

I read the posts with great relish. Essentially I am a botanist and have always had a keen interest in all fauna and flora. Of course I take the pragmatist line..life is pretty barbaric from the standpoint of the natural world - I seriously doubt a spider debates the fate of anything caught in its web and if it did so im guessing they would start to have serious problems surviving fairly quickly. I think many of the posts appear to look for an over complicated reason as to humanities demise.But thoroughly enjoyed the read. Here is my take - Dont quote me I am not an expert lol.

Most likely overcrowding, lack of food, disease and an intrinsic lack of understanding on our own impact as a species on the world that actually provides the only known environment for us to survive will probably be our own boring demise. Not dramatic, no meteorite fallout, no nuclear fallout or global devastation of this nature , although i accept the reality is we could not actually discount these possibilities.

The truth is at a lower level it can be argued that we can adjust or tweak our envirnoment but with such a lack of understanding at even a basic level we can often do more harm than good. Remember how they looked at oil leaks across the oceans - oh yes we need this and that to sort, but in truth they have pretty much learnt that the natural action of the ecosystem can and does turn the situation around way quicker and with far less reaching consequences as a whole.

My point is simple - we will outstrip our resources - population growth will only add to that of course - projected approx 9 billion by 2050 so how on earth will we meet this growing need for energy and food. It is possible of course new technologies will assist us as mankind has had many beneficial impacts on itself - longevity, but a huge one in my view. In truth however its simply a cycle....and there will be very little we can do about it. Will it cause our extinction-highly unlikely I would assume. We are the most adaptable species on the planet and have shown a remarkable resolve for survival beyond the species of others and we are likely to keep doing so. The numbers of course of those surviving will probably at some point change dramatically. In real terms this is what is needed anyhow, its just a case of when and by what means. Our own? or another intrinsic natural force.

An approx copeable population is circa 3 billion - as we are at 6.5 billion est - like who will decide who lives and who does not- no one will. The population see-saw will tilt and most likely hit more harshly in third world countries first but depending on the nature of the cause it could be the highly technically dependent that go first.Many in the third world have had to adapt to harsh environments but survive nonetheless, many die too. But trust me you lose our electricity, our water, our oil our heat resources, money a strong likelihood we the "technically savvy" will be hardest hit. They often know how to survive without these things, to us they are essentials and do not possess the innate survival skills that would be needed to adapt quickly enough for the most part.

It is not a question of if or how but when. The cause and reason are pretty much immaterial - the conditions for such a population to increase and survive will diminish and the impact will be felt more harshly.

Yet we do retain the ability as the most novel of species to be the first to ever be able to determine in part our own future survival. Space travel and colonisation is a distinct if costly and dangerous venture. Will we however be able to adapt and sort out the issues on our home planet before going possibly wrecking others of that I am not sure. If we can I am sure we will give it a good go lol..hopefully we will learn before it becomes too great an issue but my pragmatism suggests otherwise. We will learn only when as a species we are required too. Until then we will blithely plumment on a course towards an unenviable end. Think happy thoughts though, most mammalian species I am informed can get almost 2 million years before going extinct..on average lol

We have the luxury of scientists able to furnish us with projected outcomes or realities but in truth once a huge natural disaster hits it will be the harsh reality and hands-on approach that will be needed.We will be too busy surviving to invest time energy and resources in debating the issues. The possible disruption to technological advancement is huge and if hit hard enough and quick enough we could as a species find ourselves thrown back many years but that would only stall us not make us extinct and in time we may catch up if in fact we took that route again.

The planet is the warmest in over a million years apparently. This may be natural or not but in truth is likely to contine to rise no matter what we do. If you look at the projections of what such small temperatures variations cause the impacts are supposedly huge from 1-6 degrees which even to me are not huge rises on the face of it.

So yes we face an uphill struggle for sure. It is unlikely we will resolve until it is too late as the decisions to do so are at present worse than the projected realities. Population I think will be the strongest factor that will be hardest to control and have the biggest impact as it feeds everything else - fuel, carbon emissions,food gathering, other species pushed out due to lack of room and all such other problems that no one nation is even willing to address properly.

..so i shall bid you a fond farewell and return to grab a sandwich and a cup of tea and work on my spacetravel thesis lol.All donations gladly accepted. Oh and well i could be all wrong in what I say but hey its lunchtime and im just putting in my little view.

Fen

princess dingdonbabashapalapa said at April 22, 2008 11:28 AM:

i think that humans will end becoming to corupt and kill eachother way before the world ends

Mark said at June 7, 2008 8:58 PM:

Since no lay person knows what he’s talking about anyway, opinions of those whose sources say the complete opposite are to be completely respected. The world’s top scientists should be locked up in a town hall meeting until they give extremely detailed answers rather than sound bites below.

Some computer models predict a 50% chance of at least a four degree increase in temperature by the end of the century. More conservative models have already failed the test of predicting today’s current temperatures. National Geographic predicts five degrees is enough for the end of civilization and six degrees is enough for outright extinction, both of which are at the tail end of the realistic range of temperature increases. A five degree increase is just as likely as a mere two degree increase. So what if the time line is off somewhat? We are just one degree away from the hottest temperatures in a million years. Australia’s rice crop, that fed twenty million people daily, has been completely wiped out by drought.

The development of technology has the potential to enable ultra-terrorism. Expected advances and dispersion of biotechnology could enable terrorists to kill one million people per attack by the year 2020. If man survives global warming and civilization continues then advances in biotechnology, nanotechnology, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence will insure the future reads like a science fiction novel. Artificial intelligence will eventually become a monster and sooner rather than later if quantum computing fulfills its potential. Once a minimal intelligence is created, AI will be able to bootstrap itself up almost overnight leading to almost daily advances in all fields of science. This technological singularity has been predicted for this century. Again what difference does it make if the timeline is off? You don't need AI machines to take over or to directly kill off the human race. Technology will become so staggeringly powerful, so widely dispersed, and so easily understood it will take just a small handful of mad scientists or perhaps even a single individual to use technology to destroy the human race or his environment. If this group can’t design a doomsday weapon themselves, they will just program a computer of vast intelligence to do it.

Chris Cooney said at December 17, 2008 4:44 PM:

Greed and Fear is what will, and is in the process of destroying our planet and species. It is such a shame. We could have done so much more with the gift that we have been given. Unless there is a massive revolution and those responsible for allowing our own kind to starve suffer and die, are brought to justice. (Thats most current politicians) That future is set in stone.

Leah said at May 20, 2009 5:03 PM:

to get is to give, to keep balance. most of us take, take, take. what will leave you in the end with nothing. to give, give, give will also leave you with nothing in the end

i beleive that earth has a unquic way of ridding it self of it parasites (humans) they are epademic viriuses like aids. small pocks. flues. common cold. carz.. some we have had cures for( for now till it evolves), but my point is, these all durive from our plant deep with in it's ecosystem some say. for example humans destroy the rain forest and jungles upsetting the natrual eco systems contact the aids virius from monkeys and now mass amounts of humans die from it ( if would have left it alone it would have only been a matter off time before some else did). cancer is another one which i belevie is technology created( what happend to hunting and gathering, when things go to shit. we now have none of these skills to survie. we are lazy and getting dumber by the second). the frist signs of it was after we started to mass produce things(realing on crops for example) useing fillers in lots products, pestasides,GMO ( this type of manufacturing has been arond longer then we think)when it comes down to it we will destroy are selfs for money, power and greed well before the earth destroys us.
sorry if this offends any one that was not my intention, and even though my grammer and spelling is shit. i do read a lot and love history and any information i can read from one spectrum to the other.. from keepin an open mind i can develope a great personal oppion
may god or who ever you beleive in bless you or what ever your "god" dose
Mahalo
Leah

even in the last 80 years hawaii itself has been destroyed by humans that just in 80 years. the only way this land now can keep its natraul envirorment is for humans to undo what they did and leave it that way,and continue on with the culture beleive of give and take. ( which is just to hard for our lazy asses)

A simple loveing life cures all said at May 20, 2009 5:39 PM:

If im not mistaken there has been civilistion that has destroyed there own exsistatance as being domant in history all over the time line. greed, power and money its human nature to gain this.

silly humans the answer is for our creator to decide. said at May 20, 2009 5:50 PM:

will we learn??? no beacause we are dumbing down... its all part of it. its easier to controll dumb controllable people.
America's a fine example they know what we are going to do before the media even shows us anything. they rule our lifestyles tell us what we have to be and the majority listen to be accepted by there "controllers" scociety. i agree a simple loving life will crue all. we as humans make gains in life at other expences. but we truly can gain everything if we just cared for eachother... then evil would not have a place in this world and would die off like anything else that didn't have a place in the world at one time. we could make a difference in our exsistance but we are lazy and greedy. but who are we to know the big picture. we are just simple humans we try to understand everything but it is impossible.

jun said at May 22, 2009 3:35 AM:

well taking an overlook on the grand scale of our history and knowledge of the human race the cycle of never ending curiosities and perfection never takes a break. it is in a human's basic survival skills to adapt to it's environment and choose a mental path of whether to co-exist or dramastically rearrange the situation. simply put we take what we need or take and take more and live with the endevor of the outcome. funny though, some days you awake to cherish the joys of your surroundings and then there are the few(maybe many for some)other days that you just wanna watch the world burn. all a state of mind. the environment,the people,aspects. all of this lil thoughts utterly play out and in the end the questions that ultimately begs to be answered are always did i do enough?, why? should've done this?,why didn't people listen?,how are we gonna prevent this from happening again? in the end it's the same factor of mistakes then maybe, an answer. who knows what will become of us all? the choices we make ehco in eternity ladies and gentleman.....welcome to the extinction of man:)

Leah said at July 22, 2009 6:34 PM:

actully its not such a grand scale compare to the history of any exsistance. for example our pittally human exsistance in the earths history is about as big as lets say a grain of sand on a humongous beach. its like a mm in a kilometer. seriously. we haven't even been around with intelagance long enough to solidly make the claims we set in stone. we dont know the patterns of history beacause we dont have enough hisotry. but leave to the humans to think we know everything and over evaluated everything instead of being simple people( much nicer life style)at least then you can focus on whats really important. we neglect so many things that need attention. and instead we focus on things to far head of our selfes and lifes. you cant make a strong stable socitiy if your not giving it a foundation. so yes we will destroy our selfs i beleive

The human race. said at August 22, 2009 5:04 PM:

The human race will destroy itself, whether it be greed, power or any other contributing factor, it will happen.

I say this because we have made several mistake (which in my opinion) if prevented would have at least delayed the inevitable. The first of these "mistakes" was the discovery of other cultures and humans native to other countries. The reason I say this is that the human race did not evolve together, people from one area such as the Mayans will have had other beliefs and gods to praise than people from other countries. There is nothing wrong with this, and I not saying that any culture is wrong, what I am saying is that a human that has grown to know something, will not change everything they have lived for. This brings us to the first problem, dis-agreement. If the human race cannot agree with each other, then we have no hope. Each side of the line will argue that their "way" is right therefore only malice will arise. This is why I think for a start the human race would have been better, not discovering other areas of the planet BUT of course this was always going to happen.

I think if the human race is going to survive, there is only one way to do it. Forget everything, money, leadership, power, everything that drives humans in the way we are today. Forget even religions and any personal beliefs that one may have and therefore eliminate any dis-agreement. The human race would have to be become a collective, one race in which would work as one to continue its time on earth. If this was to happen, we would use the earth resources to develop technologies in which would be more beneficial to the planet and less weaponry as it would not be necessary. If there was no money then resources would be for the race, not bargained for with the highest bidder. We just need to share, co-operate, think alike and focus more on becoming a better more advanced race. If this had happened earlier, we would most likely be exploring space now, colonizing other planets and spreading like any other race. In the universe we are so small and all the conflict on this planet is so pathetic. Every time I hear it on the news, someone has been murdered or a war has started, it just looks childish for the reason that it has only been started via dis-agreement, power or greed.

Human nature is an abomination of so much anger and sense of self preservation, but if we push this all aside, there are good traits in which we posses like love and the desire to explore. We were once enthralled by the concept of exploration, thus leading us to other countries of this planet and meeting other humans and animals. But the earth is only so big, and we have seen most of its wonders and natural events. But why has this stopped? what has happened to the humans lust for knowledge? In the such a short period of time, we wanted to reach the moon. This happened quickly if you look at the age of our race. We have technology orbiting this planet which is impressive to use but we seem to have forgotten one of our most valuable aspects. If we all came together, put everything we had into developing greater technology we would be up there by now which is what disappoints me so greatly. I just want to see us do something with our life, instead of being born, working for money to buy food/resources to live then passing away in a pointless cycle, a waste of life and our potential.

The most upsetting thing about this however is that I know as a human, that this will never happen. I myself believe we deserve to be destroyed by whatever means and allow a more worthy race to have a glorious chance like we have had. And lets just hope that whatever that race is, it is no where near as pathetic and self-absorbed as we are.

(I hope my opinion has not offended any individual. If so I must deeply apologize, but I thought it necessary to present my opinion as thorough as possible.)

Technological Pride said at September 19, 2009 2:27 PM:

We will kill ourselves, not by global warming or anything natural but by technology

1. Weaponry
We all know about the nuclear bomb but 1 hypothesis is that we will kill ourselves by nuclear wars and the aftermath of these wars would bring deadly nuclear winters.

2. Robotics
Another well known one is that robotics will get so advanced and eventually outsmart humans and wipe us out and claim the planet for ourselves.

3. Technological Advances and Pride
The most generally unknown one, I have never come across this one on the internet but we are naturally filled with a sense of pride when we invent or discover something and this leads us to do more. To prove our intelligence we do more and more dangerous experimenting, such as the Large Hadron Collider that has a chance of destroying the planet with black holes. Also more and more talk about the colonising of space and a perfect example of the dangers is the Time Machine film (2002) when in 2030 we have set up colonies on the moon but by 2037 we, for some reason, destroy them but during this it causes the moon to break up and crash down onto the surface of the Earth destroying the planet with human civilization with it. It shows that our need for technological advancement will cause the destruction of humanity

cbc said at November 2, 2009 8:21 PM:

While the common human instinct seems to be to protect ourselves then our own kind second, whether it be; race, religion, nationality, or whatever else you can think of as a category. The basic human instinct is to survive and conquer.
If (or perhaps when) we as a world were ever to feel threatened enough by an external force that could result in total destruction of our species (such as some kind of large meteor or some such being on a definite collision course with The Earth) then you'd probably find a much closer feeling of cooperation and togetherness happening among humankind during that time to try and prevent that from happening, but I suspect that even if we, together, conquered such a threat, once it was over, the suspicions and hatreds of old would at some point resurface given enough time. As clever as we are as a species, and in spite of our intellect, we are on the whole a rather destructive bunch with rather childlike basis instincts. You have to stand back quite far to view our species collectively to appreciate what I mean. I'm not talking about individuals here, whether it be Jim in Chicago, Lars in Stockholm, or Matsumoto-san in Japan, etc. you need to zoom out much further to look at the behavior of the human race overall. Availability of sustainable drinking water around the world might be a much simpler thing that I can imagine could very well lead to humans killing each other for at some point. We are all basically interested in our own survival and continuance, and civility is only a rather fragile surface cosmetic when it boils down to basic survival instincts, no matter how charitable and righteous we may feel we are today.
Oh well, time to move on to another subject...
Bye, and have as good a life as you can.

Scott said at December 11, 2009 4:20 PM:

Boy is everyone missing it. I have a friend that is a researcher and he thinks that the human species will become extinct in 90 to 150 years from now. I'm not going to say here what will cause it, but it involves people not having the capacity to acknowledge what is before their eyes. Facts prove that pedophiles have to the point now that we are inferior to all animals. Go to http://actsofkilling.webs.com and learn more.

Nitro Mikerson said at February 15, 2010 12:37 PM:

Babydoll, if you cannot post anything intelligent, then don't post anything at all! Why don't you grow up?

yangsta said at March 11, 2010 12:36 AM:

Meh, to me technology would wipe out the human race. Our intelligence will kill us. Remeber the hydrogen bomb that killed the japanese. That was only a hydrogen bomb. We have developed the "nuclear bomb". Who knows, in the future most likely we would build big guns to destroy a whole contry. Think about it. A nuclear fallout will/might happen. People having big red buttons pointing nuclear missiles in every single direction. currently there are 23,000 nuclear warheads globally. If you did a little thinking it would probably destroy the earth. Not robots or whatever taking over. The hiroshima bomb whiped out 120,000 (not including the nuclear radiation and cancers that killed many japanese) people in a second. If i did the calculations correct there would be approximately 2.76 x 10^9 deaths. From the current world population there are approximately 7 x10^6 people on earth. So in other words we are doomed. As time continues more nuclear war heads would be produced.
Whats the probability that terrorist would attain a nuclear weapon (Iraq War which was a false alarm). while one country fires a nuclear warhead another country will fire one at that country. Knowing how many treaties each country has formed with other countries, other countries would back the other one up. Then there would be missiles flying everywhere. Hence, extinction to the human species. Even that doesnt kill you , the after math would. Global food shortage, nuclear radiation.
Another important note is that the younger generations are becoming more agressive. Hence, the violent shooting games, new and better graphical movies and bigger explosions. Face it what kid doesnt like that. So in the future people would get more violent making bigger weapons with massive explosions and thus dooming not the human civilisation but the earth. Contaminated water, food and extremely violent weather.
To tell you the truth my hypothesis is that we are going to kill ourselves before robots take over. We already got the weapons to destroy the earth. It only takes one button to destroy the world and missiles will fire at every direction. To be honest the only safe place would be antartica or the artic frozen solid ice. We know its down/up there but what country gives a damn about it.

The human race is not going to stop just to let you know. Take technology for example. The nuclear bombs we made, all the information we collected to make it. it can't be erased. and/if the UN is going to react and stop it. Some greedy country would persue to make it again. We are just living in a ticking time bomb. SO SAVE YOUR SELVES.

To tell you the truth why are we all scared of dying anyways.


------------> Don't take life to seriously nobody makes it out alive anyways.=p

Jon said at September 3, 2010 1:11 AM:

Damn, I thought I was creative! lol I have read every post, and by the way, almost everyone had a great perspective. There was only a couple posts, Blondebaby or Dollbaby, or whoever, not everyone here is gay. And even if you were correct, that means you'd be gay.

I guess I have a simple explaination of what my opinion is. I think that there are several ways the Human Race could come to an end.But, I don't beleive it will be this Generation that will figure out which way the Human Race comes to an end. Either Nuclear, technical or by over-population, it doesn't matter because we really don't know. The smartest people in the World just guess and speculate. There are only two things I know for sure in the World we live in, one, we are born and then we die. Either it be when your eighteen and you just got layed at the High School Senior Prom,then got drunk and was in a accident or your 85 and die of Cancer, it does not matter except on your own personal level. And two, if you Don't pay your Taxes, you go to Jail, eventually!

I hope I offended no one.

Amanda said at September 4, 2010 7:02 PM:

How much more can the world go through? This is not the first disaster, you are correct but the more we have the more likely it is that the Earth herself will not be able to handle it. So I agree, we are causing our own extinction.

RobMS88 said at May 6, 2011 11:00 AM:

I think that one of the main problems is the pure ignorance of the a lot of the population. Dont get me wrong, I am not so much as having a go as I am just pointing out my view. For example, it might not even be the 'ignorant populations' fault, whoever they may be, because it could be a lack of available education on the topic from 'higher beings' who have studied this in depth. It could also be that the 'ignorant population' just don't know how to go about gettin the available mecanisms to make change, in which case, they may not be ignorant of the subject, but are still not making contributions to change.

This leads me to my next point - change. When I am referring to change, I am meaning change for the good. When I mean change for the good, I mean a change to a
sustainable future.

Change, as we should all know, is inevitable. Oil, gas and coal WILL run out, or at least be so expensive that it is not worth the investment
to extract it for use. Anyway, there will be change, and it will be to renewables.

During this change to renewables, I feel that some people, 'the ignorant ones', will be so involved in their own thinking of technological change, that a lost, forgotten aspect is 'what nature is' and 'what the Earth is'. If you go outside at night on your own to get away from the world, that is what the world truly IS.

This highly technological society is not healthy. It might seem it because things are cheeper, jobs might be more secure, and things are easier to do, but the basic ecosystem services, the core services that regulate our ability to be here which are provided by the Earth, are being lost. Therefore, wellfare is declining, albeit that it might not be noticeable to these 'ignorant ones'.

I guess it comes down to 'what are you willing to trade the ability to exist for?'.

Is a new iPad worth the fact that the materials to create it took a slice of "the ability to exist's" cake. If this continues, I feel what we will end up with is a lot of corpses that died playing video games and computer games, watching TV, or designing some technology that really is not necessary.

Before any design of new technology is invested in, I think people should take a look outside and see what is actually providing for them to be there. The water they are drinking, the food they are eating, the environment that is processing their waste products. That's what matters. Not a new iPad. Wind farms, tidal power, wave power, things that matter, that is what should be invested in. Things that can contribute to the goal of "This current pattern could continue forever..." However, unfortunately
that is not what is being see, and I fear it is something that will never be seen. People are too engrossed in things that do not matter.

I would go into this more, but I can't be bothered to type anymore for the purpose of the fact that the last post was quite a while ago.

That is my two pennies worth.

Rob.

Back to basics said at September 15, 2011 3:57 PM:

Will try to keep this short and sweet :)

I think we need to get back to basics.

If we as humans didn't have so much time on our hands (admittedly like now...me writing this blog) we would probably have fewer problems in the world. It seems the general population accepts that it is a mission to continue to find ways to make life easier for ourselves. Is that really a good thing?

Technology = progress?? I don't know about that....progression can also mean regression.

Let's face it....western civilization promotes consumerism! We live in a disposable society! The more we have, the more we want. The more we have, the more we have to worry about. We've created a never-ending vicious cycle. Personally I'm a bit tired of the constant, mundane repetition of the wheels that go round in suburban life. It's no wonder that society faces half the challenges we have today. The same old cliche's about saving the world...mostly talk and no action....depending on the individual's/group's agenda at the time.

How many of us actually get off the beaten track? OR remove ourselves from our comfort zone?

It is great reading and you are arguably all intelligent people with interesting views/opinions - scientific, religious or otherwise....all valid points! Apart from the few brainless comments.

I just want to say....right now I'd rather be sitting on my island in the pacific , remote and isolated with no electricity, running water etc than here at my home in Brisbane (feel free to check out our website: www.uluai.com). Although I haven't really got anything to complain about here either apart from the crappy weather we've been having up until the last few days.

It really isn't such a bad thing to go without STUFF.

All these THINGS we think we need? Must have been cooked up by some evil person in an attempt to distract us from real values. What is the saying?...."the devil is the ruler of this world?" Well, maybe it's true.

Basically I view life as an open book....we write our own stories for the time that we are priveleged enough to be here and pass on our knowledge to those that matter to us. We are but tiny ants under the stars. For what it's worth at the risk of sounding like some loony, I believe in a higher order....a process of natural selection....as in the web of life where all living things in every form are connected to each other and communicate on some level. I think mother nature is more in control of this planet than we are of our own destinies. If we happen to be the cause of our own demise/extinction by whatever means, the earth will survive and rejuvenate itself along with the thousands of other life forms on this planet. Cockroaches being one of them hahaha. Having said that....it is still our duty to do the right thing and educate those in the dark, so to speak.

Subsistence living is the way to go (grow your own, take only what you need).

Cheers
P.S. Don't sit on the computer for too long ;-D

monkeypuzzle said at April 17, 2012 10:53 PM:

Every problem that the earth is faced with is a direct result of human OVERPOPULATION. If the total population of earth was capped at 1 billion there would be plenty of natural resources to go around, polution would no longer be an issue, ocean overfishing would cease, etc, etc. 1 billion people could easily live a modern western lifestyle with little to no negative impact on the earth and its ecosystems. 9 billion, not a chance. There needs to be a minimum genetic standard set in place for allowing humans to procreate. The old days of just letting anyone produdce as many offspring as possible with no regard as to what quality of humans are being born is over. I would much rather live on a beautiful, enviromentaly stable planet with 1 billion intelligent, rational and caring people than a filty, poluted, war ravaged planet crowded with 9 billion stupid, violent superstitious and uneducated selfish assholes. Which one of those versions of earth do you think could survive for the next several thousand years?

deepak said at September 12, 2012 2:27 AM:

In my opinion human race shall extinct because of human action. This action cannot be just in the form of damage to the environment for the causes of development or over utilization of natural resources for rising the economy of a nation or just a nuclear or a biological warfare (which i think is far far away from present).The damage is in the form of human perception where one will not be just competing with other but also with self. Times are vey near where humans shall line only for 30 to 40 years instead of 80 to 100 years despite having a great and advanced technology which can fulfill all the human inabilities. The action shall be in the form a disease that not only disables the phisical ability but also the mental ability of a human. It shall spread like a virus from a person to person and makes him live in the dark. The only way to overcome this shall be to come out of the dark side and have the pure knowledge about humanity and its share with the diseased.

Enoch Yang said at October 19, 2013 5:39 AM:

Or, if we continue to produce pollution we will pollute everything (atsmosphere,water,air)and lead to de-forestation and have no means of obtaining enough oxygen to support the world and just die out.

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