And we'll all go together when we go
Every Hottentot and every Eskimo
When the air becomes Uranious
We will all go simultaneous
And we'll all glow together when we glow!
predicted that in 20 years we will have wiped ourselves off the face of the Earth. An interesting (and chilling) prediction -- one that has been made numerous times before over the years (the Cold War was full of predictions of the US and the USSR wiping out the planet) -- and one that will eventually come true (though it possibly won't be self-inflicted).
Possible ways for humanity to become extinct, both self-induced and not:
- Global warfare (nuclear, biological, chemical)
- Super-volcano that wipes out the overwhelming majority of all life on Earth. Actually, we're already overdue for the next one.
- When has this ever happened? The overdue comment makes it seem like this is a model for periodic mass extinction, more usually explained meteors, but if that's geologic it shouldn't be quite so easy to predict. And overwhelming majority is an exaggeration - the absolute worst was 80% of species, but most are nowhere near that.
- Super-volcanos are caused by new mantle plumes cracking the surface of the Earth. The last one created the Deccan Traps in India and spewed enough magma to cover the entire USA to a depth of 1 km. The one that created Iceland also created the North Atlantic ocean. Events like this destroy anywhere from 50 to 90% of all life, all species, on Earth. The only reason the meteor in Chicxulub managed to do the damage it did was because it fell in a very bad area and vaporized tons of sulfur. And even then, the meteor didn't kill off the dinosaurs alone, especially given its puny size, because the Deccan Traps event occurred at the same time and better explains the extended nature of the extinction (and the fact the extinctions started before the impact).
- The rate of the extinction near the boundary is pure conjecture - fossils are too sparse to estimate it. If the Deccan Traps are responsible for the iridium layer, they occurred in a geological instant. The prediction and then discovery of the crater is too much coincidence for me, and I've heard it suggested its shock triggered or exacerbated the Traps, as they occur around the same time on opposite sides of the planet. In any case, though, volcanic plumes aren't periodic enough to be "due" and even the giant ones don't usually kill a majority of species. They could still take us easily, I'll grant.
- Volcanoes don't deposit iridium. Yes, there was a meteor at Chicxulub at the right time and place. Unfortunately, it was too small. At the exact same time, by pure coincidence, a mantle plume broke the crust at the opposite side of the Earth, and that had more than enough power behind it to cause the dinosaur extinctions. And yes, super-volcanoes do occur in a geological instant; less than a million years. Finally, mantle plumes (which are a very different thing from volcanic plumes) must be more periodic than meteors since the latter are almost completely random.
- Whoever said television isn't educational? Oh, right, I did. Check out the Earth Story documentary series, available at a P2P near you, especially episodes 4 (Deccan Traps), 7 (extinctions) and 8 (Mars and Venus).
- Environment is sufficiently despoiled that massive famine, global warming, loss of atmospheric oxygen, etc. occurs
- This would take quite some doing. If enough food-eaters die off, there will be a lot more for the ones who are left. And humans have proven to be able to adapt to many climactic extremes.
- That's right. Radical environment change can only cause a total and unrecoverable collapse of technological civilization on Earth.
- Total and unrecoverable would still take some doing; of those listed, only loss of atmospheric oxygen seems capable, and I don't know what would cause that.
- Actually, any collapse of technological civilization will be completely unrecoverable. We've exhausted all the easily accessible resources on the Earth and a technological civilization couldn't evolve without any access to mineral resources.
- True, but it's not like those minerals were vaporized. Our ruins would be a rich and easy to exploit source of iron oxides, at least.
- By the cockroaches that replace us? And I for one welcome our new insect overlords...
- high-altitude fluorcarbons? catalytically kills ozone, maybe that would suffice. this was sufficiently NON-unlikely to make their global elimination a priority
- That's not a matter of destroying civilization, though. People are capable of surviving and even developing with a life expectancy of 35 years. We simply would rather have more, and make it a priority. true, but the point of bringing up the ozone layer was that something that was initially not even considered possible, and then later "highly unlikely" turned out to be not even remotely unlikely. Caution is needed before simply dismissing something as "highly unlikely" on the basis of essentially lack of meaningful data on the topic
- Highly contagious and lethal disease (carried by any number of micro-organisms and/or vectors) arises; either naturally or as part of some bioweapons research. Something like SARS, HIV, Bubonic Plague, Ebola (see DiseaseControl ).
- Asteroid strikes Earth, causing catastrophic climate changes
Blatant impossibles have been deleted.
I'd like to see the list of blatant impossibles
- One of the ones he deleted was merely a joke I made (although maybe it wasn't so obviously a joke, since some believe this kind of thing): Psychological warfare and conquest by corporations, taking over control of governments, media, and then our minds. -- already happened I deleted it on the basis that it wouldn't accomplish the extinction of humanity. Then I reconsidered and tried to merge it in the "extinction of humanity from human beings" section.
Well, there you have it, what someone thinks is "hard to quantify" for some unknown reason:
- High-energy physics experiment goes horribly wrong (or right) creating mini-black hole and/or unforeseen unravelling of local spacetime.
- Vogons need a new hyperspace bypass... earth is in the way
- Earth obstructs Marvin the Martian's view of Venus, so he blows it up. Wrong, carrot breath! Bugs Bunny stopped him!
- supernova sufficiently close to Sol
- Yeah, as if astronomers didn't already know everything there is to know about every star within 500 light years.
- TheRapture? -- god decides to have a do-over [Actually, this doesn't qualify for an ExtinctionOfHumanity. When God does the "do-over", He divides humanity, but none are "wiped out". -- BrucePennington
- Loss of water would work too. It's looking like Mars went down that road.
- Which can't happen with Earth. The problem with Mars is that it's so small that it lost all of its internal heat very quickly. It also never had plate tectonics to recycle its carbon dioxide. So once Mars' volcanoes died, its water washed all of the CO2 out of its atmosphere. As a result, it lost its greenhouse effect and the planet froze solid. It's not like Mars "lost" its water by it magically vanishing or anything.
- No no no no no. The ancient Martian race of super-beings polluted their planet, and they realized that they had begun an irreversible process, so they Mars-formed the previously uninhabited Earth and then seeded it with genetically-engineered Martians. They engineered into the "human" DNA the desire to build large landing zones in arid regions so that Martian surveillance teams could come and go. Unfortunately, they didn't fix the DNA bug that caused the Martians to destroy their own ecology, so the humans have done the same thing to Earth. This is the clear, scientific, objective and undeniable TRUTH about our origin, and any attempt to argue or disagree is scurrilous and blasphemous and means that the opposer is an ignorant, evil, stupid scumbag who doesn't deserve to be listened to.
whole bunch of fun ones:
For the record, he predicted we'd have wiped life off the Earth, which is harder - usually requires GreyGoo.
And of course, what will eventually get us all if the others don't first
- Sun goes nova, destroying the Earth and anything on it. But... It used to be thought the sun would nova, but it turns out that's not something stars do on their own. Large enough stars will supernova, and sun-like stars just expand outward until most of their gases drift away.
- This will still get the job done. The sun will expand until it fills the orbit of Mars But... long before that happens, the sun will have increased its radiant output (it's already increased 25% during Earth's history) to the point where the Earth joins Venus as a runaway greenhouse effect, vaporizing the oceans, stopping plate tectonics and wiping out all life on Earth. If we haven't all become mutant supermen/women (see following point) by then, then I wouldn't want to be on the planet, anyway. Just say no to Homo sapiens!
- Humans evolve into something else
- Not unless something else almost wipes us out.
- Not necessarily, evolution occurs within standing populations. Most species don't last more than 2-3 million years, including many that have become fairly ubiquitous, such as certain fish. People have the special opportunity of replacing themselves with nanotech. Also, we could move to other places - but none of these are the usual meaning of being wiped off the earth.
- cf. TheSingularity
Extinction of Humanity from HumanBeing
The body-snatchers, TeleVision
/massmedia/advertising/corporations, have done it. Many others are CaughtInTheNet
It started with StarTrekTheNextGeneration
. Get them young.
It is not yet complete, yet happening fast because it is SomebodyElsesProblem
, and IdoNotHaveTime
, so BusinessAsUsual
. See CategoryBigPicture
listed items -- AnonymousCoward
At least OOP will be dead too! -- top
will be reducing us all to a ThirdWorld?
lifestyle. We won't be extinct, but the majority of people will die and it will be mighty unpleasant.
Interesting and funny presentation (streaming video): "Stephen Petranek: 10 ways the world could end". http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/167