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  1. katina

    katina Contributor Contributor

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    could humans ever become extinct?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by katina, Jul 9, 2019.

    A topic I am considering in my next short story.
    Dinosaurs did just saying.

    If so what could drive them to extinction?
     
  2. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    99.9% of species that have ever existed (that we know of) have already gone extinct. Statistics is not on our side. Also statistically, according to J. Richard Gott, by applying the Copernican Principle, the Lindy effect, and a healthy Confidence Interval, and given that humans as we know it have been around for 350,000 years, then we've got somewhere between 9,000 and ~13.5 million years left on the earth before we finally do perish.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
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  3. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

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    Everything that begins must end. Humans are the only species capable of consciously (purposely) modifying our evolution. We can accelerate, hinder, divert, or modify our genetic future. Transferrance or symbiosis seem the likely conceptual solutions for extending our existence. Transcendence is one way of existing indefinitely - inhabit a medium outside of time. Otherwise the future is cold and dark, but not gone.
     
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  4. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    We could become extinct quite quickly if we screw up badly enough.
     
  5. Necronox

    Necronox Contributor Contributor

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    Depends, in a few hundred years there may become a time were we can literally just guarantee our survival. Even if our planet or solar system fails, we may be able to relocate to another at that point. We may be able to cure anything disease, prolong life, etc... Who knows what the future holds? Ultimately, I think we are currently at a point were the only possible way we, as a species, can become instinct is if we:

    a) Genetically modify ourselves so that "homo sapiens" are no longer the same species as we are currently. At this point I would say homo sapiens, which is what we currently are, have become instinct. I would argue that natural evolution has been almost entirely stopped in our case due to our control of nature and our own health along with our insistance on saving everyone we can -- something which can ultimately be detrimental to the whole. An example of this any hereditary conditions. But that ventures into extremele ambigiuous (and controversial) moral/morality areas which I think I will stay clear off.

    Or:

    b) we destroy ourselves, or we are destroyed in an some rather unlucky, unstoppable or unavoidable fate. For example, a massive war, run-away greenhouse effect with no method for us to survive, apocalyptic event which we cannot survive (for instance a massive meteor crashes into earth...), etc... But none of these are "natural" extinctions.

    As for the 99.9% of species that have gone instinct. A large percentage of these have not died simply because of 'natural causes' like competitions, lack of food or the likes. A large percentage died for other reasons like a radical change in temperature, atmospheric/oceanic composition, etc... none of which i would say are 'natural' but more so 'accidental'. 'The Great Dying' is a good example of that.

    just my opinion...
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
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  6. Rae_3

    Rae_3 Member

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    ^
     
  7. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Contributor Contributor

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    We've lost Cro-Magnon, Neanderthals, and if you're willing to ignore a bit of controversy homo americanus, in the last 10000 years. Let's face it we're screwed!
     
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  8. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Contributor Contributor

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    Neanderthals are in us, in our DNA.

    We did not lost Neanderthals. We fucked them. Or they fucked us. Or...

    If you think what was the quantitative ratio between Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals and how big persentage of cross breeds die or does not have kids, you might find out that we have very much Neanderthal DNA.
     
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  9. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Contributor Contributor

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    None the less they are gone in a pure form we may have just had a common ancestor. they screwed us we screwed them one way or another we are screwed.
     
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  10. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Unless we somehow make it to the stars and propagate, we are screwed. I believe Stephen Hawking once said as much -- the only way to save our species now is to colonize distant planets.
     
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  11. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

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    Doom and Gloom. Doom and Gloom. There is no 'pure' form or common ancestor. There is only random recombination and transition. If we remain as this aesthetic we obsess over, then maybe we become marbled and static fossils in a living world - but not all of us. Life triumphs over will. We are not the humans of even fifty years ago. I've no doubt that as we float through space, untethered to any planet, we will look back and wonder how we evolved from such primitive creatures.
     
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  12. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

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    There is a show, the name escapes me at the moment, that deals with this very issue; it isn't nuclear war, pollution, aliens, or rising sea levels that drive humans to extinction, but the lack of wanting; mankind has lost the will to live and to produce offspring. The show deals with their last days as they assign themselves to the fact that they are about to die out as a species.
     
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  13. Selbbin

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    It's not if, only when and how.
     
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  14. Mish

    Mish Active Member

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    Some light reading. Let's hope, if humanity survives, it will find a way to leave earth in the next couple of million years. Otherwise:

    The luminosity of the Sun will steadily increase, resulting in a rise in the solar radiation reaching the Earth. This will result in a higher rate of weathering of silicate minerals, which will cause a decrease in the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In about 600 million years from now, the level of carbon dioxide will fall below the level needed to sustain C3 carbon fixation photosynthesis used by trees. Some plants use the C4 carbon fixation method, allowing them to persist at carbon dioxide concentrations as low as 10 parts per million. However, the long-term trend is for plant life to die off altogether. The extinction of plants will be the demise of almost all animal life, since plants are the base of the food chain on Earth.[12]

    In about one billion years, the solar luminosity will be 10% higher than at present. This will cause the atmosphere to become a "moist greenhouse", resulting in a runaway evaporation of the oceans. As a likely consequence, plate tectonics will come to an end, and with them the entire carbon cycle.[13] Following this event, in about 2–3 billion years, the planet's magnetic dynamo may cease, causing the magnetosphere to decay and leading to an accelerated loss of volatiles from the outer atmosphere. Four billion years from now, the increase in the Earth's surface temperature will cause a runaway greenhouse effect, heating the surface enough to melt it. By that point, all life on the Earth will be extinct.[14][15] The most probable fate of the planet is absorption by the Sun in about 7.5 billion years, after the star has entered the red giant phase and expanded beyond the planet's current orbit.
     
  15. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

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    A cause of global warming may be the Moon's gradual departure from the Earth, which is accelerating. The 'wobble' that generates our weather cycle will is destabilizing, and the rotation of the Earth is slowing, causing the ice caps to melt. The shifting tidal forces will are wreaking havoc, and the Earth will be covered by water, then freeze. We will not die in fire. We will die in water or ice. Many factors will likely accelerate this eventuality, reducing the time scale to less than one million years. We need to get the fuck off this dirtball. :(
     
  16. Selbbin

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Who cares if people survive though? Why is that so important?
     
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  17. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

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    Because we can decide
     
  18. exweedfarmer

    exweedfarmer Contributor Contributor

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    HG Wells the time machine for one.
     
  19. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Supporter Contributor

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    In an afternoon, yes. Though I wouldn't compare humans going extinct to other species going extinct, because we are the only species on Earth that can truly comprehend what extinction means, and can through its own deliberate actions effect whether extinction occurs.

    The Fermi Paradox tells us that other civilizations have not left any evidence of their existence, despite that being very likely if there are as many other civilizations out there in the galaxy as we expect probabilisticly. Therefore, there is likely some frequent cause of extinction. What could it be?

    Possible causes of extinction:
    • Nuclear or biological war: this is the most likely cause of extinction, and could happen at any time due to out of control tensions or accidental pathogen release. It is the most likely short term cause of our extinction, though no one in power wants it to happen, so it probably won't? Us getting through the cold war was almost a 50/50 shot. Now I'd say we have a 10% chance of a large scale event of this nature over the next century... scary stuff.
    • Asteroid or other cosmic event: Some people look at when we are "due" for the next asteroid strike. This I think is a misunderstanding of probability theory. Each moment has an equal chance of seeing an asteroid strike, a chance which is ridiculously low. Let's sooner worry about getting struck by lightning on a cloudless day before we worry about this. It's more likely. This becomes more likely when we look at the thousand or even million of years timescale though.
    • Unsustainability: This could include global warming, fossil fuel shortages, population crises, or any other overuse of resources. It is possible that we may ruin our own environment or civilization, causing extinction-level consequences. These crises are more of the self-regulating variety; they may naturally force civilization to scale back, but the scope of the disaster is less than nuclear war. Yes, temperatures rising is catastrophic, but if we compare that to the consequences of a nuclear war, under that scenario we basically see the entire atmosphere being polluted with sun-blocking radioactive materials that do not decay for hundreds of years. Climate crises for instance may force our civilization to scale down, but that scaling down may in turn reduce the crises. New developments in sustainable power will help our society scale. This becomes less scary the more our technology improves.
    • Unpredictable technology: What if we suddenly learn that it is possible to 3D print a nuke equivalent using commercially available materials? This isn't going to happen tomorrow but may happen over the next 100 years. This is a huge problem because any crazy person could upend society. Research in genetics, "gray goo" nanobots, creating black holes, etc. could trigger similar doomsday scenarios. This cannot be predicted by definition, so we have no way to know what the probability is. It is one of my "favorite" explanations for the Fermi Paradox however, because it would explain why we haven't seen evidence of other civilizations. Maybe they burn themselves out technologically before they leave a lasting footprint. The happy side of this possibility is that civilizations may naturally develop a way to transcend from this lesser reality to a better one before they leave a mark.
    • Expiration date: our sun goes bad after a few million years. Yes this would end our civilization, but I think we can get off this rock before then.
    I'm more worried about the short term, because in a few hundred years we will start to develop interplanetary capabilities. Every day that passes since the invention of the nuclear bomb, machine gun, and bio-weapon decrease our chance of dying early as a civilization. Our greatest threats, I think, are the unknown unknowns. The things that we don't know that we don't know about.
     
  20. Selbbin

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    For the short term. Not in the long term. No matter what happens people will eventually end. And that won't be such a big deal.
     
  21. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Supporter Contributor

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    Under our current understanding of time and the universe, yes. If we continue to grow as a civilization for one million years, we may be manipulating reality at a level that is literally inconceivable to us today. With sufficient technology, spacetime may cease to have any constraints at all.
     
  22. Selbbin

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    A million years is a very, very long time for us to survive, considering how long our current 'species' has been alive. the next 1000 years is going to see vast inconceivable change, even faster than the last 10,000. If we last that long. Which, with our rate of propagation we might but only with a drastic cull. And I agree that spacetime is so beyond our understanding right now it can have a dramatic and yet unknown impact on our survival as a species long term. But the way spacetime manifests itself as far as we know, according to many parts of the universe we don't yet exist, while for others we are already gone. Personally I doubt our visions of the future will be realized in the same way we like to imagine, just like the visions of the future in 1930 are mostly different than reality. We don't have flying cars but do have smart phones. And we ain't livin' on the moon. And then one day time will end and there will be nothing again. So yeah, we're doomed regardless of our tech. 'cause reasons.
     
  23. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    ^ That's the key thing we should consider. The future isn't going to go the way we think. Fifty years ago we all thought we'd have flying cars and build colonies on the moon. A hundred years ago everybody knew that World War I (aka: The Great War) was gonna be the 'War To End All Wars'. I, too, have my doubts on what the future holds because we simply don't know.

    That said, I can guess that, because we have yet to even figure out how to build bases on the Moon and live on it, interstellar travel is not gonna be happening for a long, long while. Is it possible? Yes, if we're given enough time and this is the direction we want to go in. Is it likely? I don't know. It's also just as possible that scientists of the future will develop tech to for humans to survive a radically different Earth. Humans can, and do evolve. It's just a matter of giving us time and the will.
     
  24. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

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    Perhaps, but Homo Sapiens is more likely to become Hominis Etherium or whatever progresses from here. Consider Occam's(?) Razor. If the Universe has an end, than it is conceivable that the steady-state of existence is oblivion, which means an unknowable Operator initiated the Big Bloat. Many things that happened before, happen again.
     
  25. The Mink

    The Mink Member

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    In answer to the original question:-
    i) Environmental collapse.
    ii) Nuclear exchange
    iii) Technological singularity
    iv) Gamma ray burst/ various astro events

    A more interesting question is - what destroys society but not the race.:-
    i) Supervolcano
    ii) Plague
    iii) Trade war
    iv) solar flare
    v) Kessler Syndrome
     

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