That leaves them vulnerable to even brief food chain disruptions caused by catastrophes such as volcanoes, global warming, ice ages or the impact winter after an asteroid collision. The threat of earth-grazing asteroids is a media favourite. Want an ad-free experience?Subscribe to Independent Premium. and Steven Spielberg's A.I. But financial gambles on Wall Street destroy European economies, violence in one country inspires murderous extremism on the other side of the globe, a virus from a cave in China spreads to threaten the lives and livelihoods of billions. Once… The question isn’t whether we go extinct, but when. Whales took millions of years to evolve flippers, pointy teeth, sonar. Science 277 (5325): 494–499. Homo Rudolfensis. People domesticated plants, then cleared forests for crops. Depending on what’s available, we’re herbivores, piscivores, carnivores, omnivores. Horses evolved grinding molars and complex guts to eat plants. Ancient Western philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, and Lucretius wrote of the end of humankind only as part of a cycle of renewal. Soon they learned to produce more food, and ate a variety of animals and plants. The short answer is yes. Evil actions are rewarded with wealth while good actions are rewarded with subjugation. By 2100 – a short 81 years in the future – he sees three potential outcomes: human extinction, the collapse of civilization with limited survival, or a … Our journalists will try to respond by joining the threads when they can to create a true meeting of independent Premium. With 7.8 billion people, we’re among the most common animals on Earth. International trade, travel and communications link people around the world. In that sense it may not seem surprising that human-like species – known as "hominins" – have died out. If you buy the Drake Equation, it's only a matter of time at this point before we … , Some 21st century pop-science works, including The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, pose an artistic thought experiment: what would happen to the rest of the planet if humans suddenly disappeared? Some left descendants. Please continue to respect all commenters and create constructive debates. Later philosophers such as Al-Ghazali, William of Ockham, and Gerolamo Cardano expanded the study of logic and probability and began discussing abstract possible worlds, including a world without humans. At the turn of the 20th century, Russian cosmism, a precursor to modern transhumanism, advocated avoiding humanity's extinction by colonizing space. This may result either from natural causes or due to anthropogenic (human) causes, but the risks of extinction through natural disaster, such as a meteorite impact or large-scale volcanism, are generally considered to be comparatively low. Alien invasion. , Eliezer Yudkowsky theorizes that scope neglect plays a role in public perception of existential risks:. But is it an 'existential threat'? The Swedish-born director of the institute, Nick Bostrom, says the stakes couldn't be higher. In the end, Luby comes down firmly on the side of yes, we can. Rachel Carson's 1962 Silent Spring raised awareness of environmental catastrophe. Java Man.  The existence of nuclear submarines, which can stay hundreds of meters deep in the ocean for potentially years at a time, should also be considered. Physicist Willard Wells points out that any credible extinction scenario would have to reach into a diverse set of areas, including the underground subways of major cities, the mountains of Tibet, the remotest islands of the South Pacific, and even to McMurdo Station in Antarctica, which has contingency plans and supplies for a long isolation. To start with, it's worth pointing out that extinction is a normal part of evolution. Scenarios include: Nick Bostrom argues that it would be "misguided" to assume that the probability of near-term extinction is less than 25% and that it will be "a tall order" for the human race to "get our precautions sufficiently right the first time", given that an existential risk provides no opportunity to learn from failure. Brown bears and red foxes, with huge ranges, aren’t. "World Should Prepare for 11 Billion or More People", "World population stabilization unlikely this century", "What if fertility decline is not permanent? Humans are inevitably heading for extinction. ", "Implication of our technological species being first and early", "Stephen Hawking: Humanity Must Colonize Space to Survive", "Hawking: Humans at risk of lethal 'own goal, Catastrophe, social collapse, and human extinction, Cognitive biases potentially affecting judgment of global risks, "We're Underestimating the Risk of Human Extinction", "Nuclear war and climatic catastrophe: Some policy implications", "Could science destroy the world? Substantially larger numbers, such as 500 million deaths, and especially qualitatively different scenarios such as the extinction of the entire human species, seem to trigger a different mode of thinking... People who would never dream of hurting a child hear of an existential risk, and say, "Well, maybe the human species doesn't really deserve to survive". Humans are inevitably heading for extinction. ", "Climate change is a catastrophe. This not only affects humans, but also animals. Death and anti-death: Two hundred years after Kant, fifty years after Turing (2004): 339-371. , The hypothetical end of the human species, For the "West Germany" extrapolation see: Leslie, 1996 (, Vitousek, P. M., H. A. Mooney, J. Lubchenco, and J. M. Melillo.  As of 2020, the Biological Weapons Convention organization has an annual budget of US$1.4 million. If humans went extinct, There would be MILIONS of other species of spiders, Insects and microbes that would go extinct, Too. Neanderthals, Denisovans, Homo erectus all vanished, leaving just Homo … These findings were uncovered by a team at the University College of London who compiled a list of every bird species known to have gone extinct since humans appeared on the planet. He quotes Holger Bech Nielsen's formulation: "We do not even know if there should exist some extremely dangerous decay of say the proton which caused eradication of the earth, because if it happens we would no longer be there to observe it and if it does not happen there is nothing to observe. The question isn’t whether we go extinct, but when. It is the fate of 99.9 per cent of species that ever lived on Earth, and it will be no different for us.  Economist Robin Hanson argues that a refuge permanently housing as few as 100 people would significantly improve the chances of human survival during a range of global catastrophes. Humans have already wiped out hundreds of species and pushed many more to the brink of extinction through wildlife trade, pollution, habitat loss and the use of toxic substances. The question isn’t whether we go extinct, but when. Many possible scenarios of anthropogenic extinction have been proposed, such as climate change, global nuclear annihilation, biological warfare and ecological collapse. Big animals with fast metabolisms – tyrannosaurs, or humans – require lots of food, constantly. In 1983, Brandon Carter proposed the Doomsday argument, which used Bayesian probability to predict the total number of humans that will ever exist. It is helpful to realize that most people are not ready for this conversation. Humans eat thousands of animal and plant species. At a time when humans are threatening the extinction of so many other species, it might not seem so surprising that some people think that the extinction of our own species would be a good thing. In contrast, other researchers argue that both research and other initiatives relating to existential risk are underfunded. Headlines often suggest this extinction is imminent. Nuclear war? Even so, humans would likely survive, scavenging society’s remains, Mad Max-style, perhaps reverting to subsistence farming, even becoming hunter-gatherers. But, explains Nick Longrich, it’s now just a question of how and when, Find your bookmarks in your Independent Premium section, under my profile. Cultural evolution outpaces even viral evolution. We’re a deeply strange species – widespread, abundant, supremely adaptable – which all suggest we’ll stick around for a while. Read on to discover a few of the animals we have lost to our unthinking exploitation. The study of human extinction arose relatively recently in human history. Headlines often suggest this extinction is imminent. Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism or of a group of kinds (), usually a species.The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species, although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point. But this adaptability sometimes makes us our own worst enemies, too clever for our own good. One of the best known extinct animals because of human activity, this impressive bird was mostly found in Mauritius and… Polar bears and pandas, with small ranges, are endangered. If one habitat is destroyed, it can survive in another. Create a commenting name to join the debate, There are no Independent Premium comments yet - be the first to add your thoughts, There are no comments yet - be the first to add your thoughts. , The large scale destruction of World War I and the development of nuclear weapons at the end of World War II demonstrated that omnicide (human extinction caused by human actions) was not only possible, but plausible. The probability of anthropogenic human extinction within the next hundred years is the topic of an active debate.
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