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07/15/2012

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T E Cho

Humans will not become extinct. They are too versatile, eat almost anything, too adept at communicating long distances, too adept at migrating long distances.

Extinction means elimination of 99.9999999%+ of the 7billion on this planet. As the percentiles go up, more and more determined, rugged, (self sacrificing), (cooperative!), and adaptable people remain. We would be shocked to see just how capable the top .001% of human population are at surviving in adverse conditions. Past examples include prisoners in extreme conditions, wwII prison camp survivors of the Japanese or Nazis, some airplane crash survivors, etc.

There will always be plants somewhere to make oxygen. There will always be rainwater. There will always be something eating those plants. T there will always be caves.

Having said that, it does not mean that it would be a life worth living for 99+% , given a choice.

An Armageddon is coming. Perhaps the prophecies of simultaneous wars, starvation, disease epidemics and pestilences, which until recently seemed unimaginable, will be coming true soon. Almost everything that can go wrong will go wrong, semi-simultaneously. In at least this respect, knowing the prophecies is mind-expanding.

It is unbelievable how generally bad organized science, organized politics, organized religion and organized commerce has been ineffectual or detrimental. It is so much clearer now how things can go wrong, how Nazis could almost take over the world, how human selfishness and downright evil exists just below the surface of an unsustainable abundance created artificially.

The world needs better people before it needs better technology...

What would the world be like if only the top 10% or top 1% of altruistic, empathetic, cooperative, 'righteous' people were in it? It'd be very very different...

Anywhere But Here Is Better

Well Dave, today you surprise me. I have listened carefully to all you've been saying in your posts these past months since I happily discovered your voice on the web. What you write about chimes with my own understanding after decades of witnessing the brainlessly destructive (what I can only describe as) antics of my fellow human beings crawling like a virus across the biosphere, quarrelling with, maiming and killing just about anyone or anything getting in the way. And I am convinced that our species is going the way of the other dinosaurs, and fast.

I believe we are not fit to survive in the environment we are rapidly creating through our fixated behaviour, in the same way that the dinosaurs were not fit to survive the environment that, in their case, was rapidly created for them by asteroid strike or whatever it was that drastically altered the biosphere at that time.

Another way of looking at this is to say that we are too damn stupid as a species to create a cooperative society that generates proper respect for the biosphere as well as respect between individuals. The time to do this has long passed. If we were capable of establishing a non-me-first, non-greed focused global community where resources were both shared fairly and conserved for future use, we would have done it already. Let's face it, even the humble squirrel is wiser than us. For us, time has moved on, and we are now witnessing - in my analysis - the first knockings of the tall dark stranger at the door of our species, a.k.a. the grim reaper.

What am I surprised about in this post? That you say we are "technologically and socially clever" and "astonishingly resilient", and so you "doubt the planet will be entirely human-free two centuries from now."

There's almost a sense of hope in this statement. In all your other writings I've read, you've treated hope as a dirty word. Come on compadre, explain yourself! I would love to rediscover something akin to hope, but ...

Dave Cohen

Anywhere But Here --

I guess I really don't see why you are surprised. I said--

Cleverness is often conflated with wisdom, but they are quite obviously not the same thing

Let's talk about cleverness. No one who has looked at modern world could possibly fail to see how technologically clever Homo sapiens is. My God -- examples abound! Look around the kitchen!

Humans are socially very clever. The primary example is politics. The complexity of the games being played is simply astonishing. These games are played to hoodwink people and gain advantage.

So people are clever, but they are also operating without a clue about what they're all about. Therefore they are bound to self-destruct.

I don't see how you could possibly confuse my point that there will probably be some humans roaming the Earth in two centuries with some kind of delusional hope. I even said I didn't even see a glimmer of hope. I have not contradicted myself today.

-- Dave

Ben

Kernan is a typical hyper-aggressive suit monkey. I mean he couldn't contain himself, he jumped all over that mashugana Krugman, analogizing his existence in the realm of economics (the realm of sophisticated numerical bullshit) to a unicorn ... it would be funny if it were not so sad watching a group of people calling themselves adults and professionals acting like fucking children.

Jack Leonard

There were five people around the table. One of those people was sane (based on his comments and rationale) Can we guess which (guess?) which one was sane?

Ken Barrows

The moderator was the most sane. All he did was ask questions.

Dave Cohen

Jack --

I was wondering. If you have point to make, what is it?

-- Dave

Anywhere But Here Is Better

Thanks Dave and apologies, you've cleared it up nicely. I was thrown by the word "therefore" in your last sentence. This made me think for a few moments that maybe, two centuries hence, some descendants might have survived beyond the mass extinction point I see coming and be on the way to re-establishing some new 'society' of some sort. But if they are the same old, same old Homo sapiens, complete with delusional hope and me-me-me attitudes, they won't last very long in the absence of large numbers of human drones to create the surplus they gorge on as at present.

I guess it's all about timing - 50 years, a century, two or five.

Joy

Yeah, I agree with Dave that humans won't go extinct. But that is not optimistic at all. After a couple of centuries of catabolic collapse, the global population could easily go down to 7 million miserables ... or much less. But humans will carry on at the top of whatever degraded food chain remains. I would prefer the extinction scenario, which would clear the table for another round of evolution, perhaps a better species could emerge in a few tens of megayears. But that can't happen while human survivors are squatting on the top of the global rubbish heap.

lemmonmc

I think it may be all about the non-linear feedback loops, how fast, how hard, and how many of them we trigger. Correct me if I'm wrong: the planet's never experienced this much carbon in such a short time period with life in existence. Even the Permian extinction event took thousands of yrs for the first killer (carbon)to reach catastrophic levels.

Is it possible nothing in the paleo record exemplifies the potential disaster we sense coming? Could this much warming, this fast unleash forces of such magnitude we can't even study, model or imagine? James Hanson's Venus Syndrome comes to mind. Could our endless bullshit actually kill off life itself from this planet? If you hit those feedbacks hard and fast enough...

I got a bad feeling.

Charlie Thornton

We don't have the political will= Rich people don't want it to happen because it would cost them money. So why do we listen to them?

PBD

No matter how "technologically and socially clever" humans might be, I suspect no animal as physically large as us will escape a Canfield ocean for long.

And unfortunately, since we've already used up all the easily extractable resources (especially fossil fuels), even if another "intelligent" species evolves after us, it won't likely "advance" to anything resembling an industrial civilization.

So stick a fork in this planet - it's done.

James

Advancing to industrial levels isn't a true measure of success, though, is it? Consider that long after humanity has passed into the annals of history, the planet will continue to spin. Materials will break down and new ones form. Some sort of natural equilibrium will be reached. Life will continue. Perhaps it will only be sulfur devouring bacteria that survive. Who knows? Over time whatever is there will grow and develop. A dominant species will emerge, perhaps over another few million years. Maybe they will be like the dinosaurs- apex predators that don't fundamentally change their environ. Maybe they will be more like humans- expansive, destructive hyper devourers. Maybe they will be something completely different. But they will be. And perhaps one day they will look back on us. Or perhaps not. So the cycle will continue time and again until the sun runs out of its fuel in about 5 billion years before spending the next 2 billion as a much larger, but much cooler, giant. Of course that will bombard the earth will hellish levels of energy and solar winds that may very well strip Earth of its atmosphere, but it may offer a window for development on the frozen moons of Jupiter or Saturn. Perhaps an earth species may make it there. It won't really matter as the inevitable death throes of Sol will likely scourge our universe and leave only a husk of a star behind.

So, in the end, we are little different from the uncaring systems in which we live.

Anywhere But Here Is Better

Nicely put James. If only the sapience you express had permeated the collective human mind from the beginning, we could have earned the denomination Homo sapiens, and maybe we'd have more than a few decades left.

Whoever came up with this name for our species was a cosmic jokester. I'm still grinning.

Jack Leonard

Well Dave, maybe my point was not clear, but agree with him or not it appeared to me that Krugman was the only one at the table who could claim to be sane. One fellow to his right said nothing during the entire 13 minutes that however does not make him sane. The "unicorn" comment was indicative of the whole thing.
I felt sorry for Krugman. I don't know why he would subject himself to that?

Brian M

Because he gets paid a lot of money and "respect" to pontificate the utter nonsense which is modern "economics"?

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