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Reader Comments (5)
I am about to go in to mini-retirement, woot!
Awesome. 8^) I rather need to come out, but it seems no one will have me . . .
What do you mean?
Oh, ha, out of *retirement*. I thought you meant come out to the states. Keep plugging away!
Michael wrote on "Our Final Century":
It occurred to me this might explain why we've never encountered any other intelligent life in the universe: there are just too many easy ways to wax yourself once you get to a certain level of technology – for instance a simple bit of black hole creation theory that's only obvious after...."
And in rebuttal:
Sure, most of humanity could get wiped out by any number of things, but there is a huge difference between ruined societies, and human extinction.
I say pish posh to his whole premise. We could have been wiped out at any time up to the point where we became aware that we are in constant danger. This planet isn’t hospitable to life, in fact 99.9x% of life on this planet is regularly snuffed out. So how does being aware of threats to our existence make us any more in peril than we were at the end of the 19th century? Answer: it doesn’t. On the contrary, we are phenomenally more safe now than we were a century ago. We regularly address known matters of our continued existence- such as the ban on CFC’s or above ground nuclear testing, or international regulations on food safety, or any other host of agreements to keep us from killing each other. We regularly discover new threats due to our increased capacity for discovery and monitoring, and in the face of a danger we can’t prevent, we now have the technological capacity to assure some humans will survive somewhere, in space, or deep underground. I can’t imagine a single danger that could occur short of our solar system running over a black hole, or actual magic and divine intervention, where humans would not have the capacity to survive the calamity.
Asteroids- anything big enough to destroy the planet would now be detected, anything small enough to come in undetected may wipe out billions, but anything more than a few hundred survivors on the world’s opposite side of the impact point, and we could rebuild after a long cold winter.
Climate Change- may cause large parts of the earth to be deleterious to human habitation, but won’t kill us all- not even remotely. Canada may become the new garden of Eden, and millions of people will live there- and anywhere else that isn’t flooded with sea water.
Black holes created in particle colliders- no danger at all, at the sizes which could be created, Hawkings radiation causes them to evaporate like water drops on a hot stove. You can’t get more energy into building the black holes than you put in, and even our sun doesn’t have enough power to create a stable black hole.
Virus unleashed, nuclear war, anything created by man- again, too many survivors and too many nicely sealed or remote places to hide to kill us all off. Even Easter Island had survivors after they cut down all the trees which prevented anyone from leaving, ate all the food, inbred, and killed each other for food, sport, and religion for several hundred years.
Magnetic field protection atmosphere disappears, or gamma ray burst from nearby super-nova- radiation leakage into atmosphere may cause ozone layer to disappear and will definitely disrupt DNA, but effects will be slow, plenty of time to move underground, or abandon planet surface with some significant group of survivors until surface life is viable once again. Heck, the surviving population on submarines alone after a gamma ray burst would be enough to repopulate the planet.
Sun ends life-span, earth cools and gets locked into rotational synchronicity (like the moon), or some or other cosmic event- will be known for millions of years, if we care, we’ll send some element of humanity out away from the planet.
DNA degradation, again not only slow, but potentially reversible with emerging technology.
In the end (no pun intended), we are safer now than we’ve been since life first formed. We are aware of dangers, we have billions of potential human survivors to any world-wide event, and we have the technological capacity to avoid, alter, survive, or get out of the way of anything short of tripping over some sleeping black hole out there that spins us out into the void away from the sun (and even then, we might be able to cobble together some ships before we all froze to death, or move a few thousand of us underground.
Only a willful act of suicide by every remaining woman after an apocalyptic event would end human life.
And as far as alien contact goes, may I suggest the following reading: http://www.bautforum.com/life-space/
Finally, for shits and giggles I’d like to rank climate change threats according to continent:
Asia- Doomed. Melting Himalayan glaciers and lack of rain due to industrial small particulate pollution will wipe out water shed to billions. Seriously, run for your lives, this is going on right now.
Europe- Global warming causes Greenland ice-cap melt which in turn floods north Atlantic with fresh water shutting down oceanic conveyor belt. Gulf stream is disrupted, and ice age ensues turning Northern Europe into Yukon-esque tundra. Spain upset by year-round presence of German tourists.
Australia- droughts get far worse as lack of rainfall caused by Asian industry and deforestation, population steadily declines to stable level along some coastal areas, and interior becomes too hot to support any large human settlements.
Africa- same problems get a little worse, no one notices. Chinese colonize most of central Africa, blame USA for imperialism. AIDS deaths among blacks causes white majority rule in South Africa and Namibia, Northern African countries green up due to cooling European climate, but again, presence of Germans year-round causing social strife.
South America- not much change caused by climate, but as Brazil and others cut down remaining rain forests to create sugar plantations to power Ethanol vehicles, rainfall drops dramatically. Areas formally inhabited by rain forests become savannas, and Andes watersheds dry up dramatically.
Antarctica- Some parts warm enough to support tree life and small scale agriculture. German tourists form quasi-Viking societies along McMurdo Peninsula, raiding Argentina and Chile to the north.
North America- Does all right. Millions of German tourists in Florida drowned. Crappy parts of Louisiana and Texas under 10 feet of water. Retirees stop moving to desert states due to lack of sufficient rain to provide drinking water. Northern US population enjoys rebound due to European migrants and warmer winters. South East US continues to be prone to droughts caused by pollution in Atlanta. Switch grass production in former corn producing states replaces fossil fuel oil production. Mexico virtually unchanged. Canada becomes breadbasket to the world with wheat and corn production in the USA replaced by switch grass production.
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