Is Nature doomed?

Ever since about ten thousand years ago, when humans first grasped the idea that you could plant seeds of edible plants, and raise animals for food, it seems that humanity has steadily expanded at the expense of the rest of the planet. (Not that hunter/gatherers didn’t do some harm- just that they were a lot more limited.)

This process greatly accelerated after the Industrial Revolution, which not only dramatically increased the number of humans who could be supported at least temporarily, but vastly increased the per capita usage of resources.

Where will it end? Assuming that technological civilization survives, will our descendants a thousand years from now be living in biodomes either in space or on a barren ruined Earth? In short, is the theme song of the human race “Paved Paradise, Put in a Parking Lot”?

I hope something like the following will occur: after peaking at 10-14 billion, the population stablizes and then gradually falls as the rest of the world adopts Western values such as education for women, birth control, etc. New technology that is cleaner than today’s allows for a sustained standard of living without harming the planet. Preserves for wildlife are maintained and if necessary extinct species get re-created through cloning of stored tissue samples.

#1) Who says it has been at the expense of the rest of planet? Although I wouldn’t say we have been completely “clean” in our conduct (far from it), it is entirely possible that we really cannot damage the planet as a whole. Certainly, as time passes we are becoming cleaner and cleaner which is very much a good thing. I don’t subscribe to the world is doomed, but just because we haven’t doomed the planet doesn’t mean we should be irresponsible.

#2) And the question is just how many resource years do we have left? If the answer is not many then we are in a boatload of trouble. If the answer is a whole lot, then I wouldn’t worry too much. At the rate of technological expansion we should be able to stave off most problems of resources. The real problem is going to be disease which has the edge of rapid evolution over us.

Anyway, I remember a decade or so ago they said we were going to run out of oil in a decade or so (and they may have been partially right if we hadn’t improved our oil drilling methods over the past 10-15 years). I also remember that certain extreme enviromentalist said the planet would be uninhabitable by 1990! A lot of people make it sound like there is barely a tree left standing. Travel north to Canada sometime and I’ll show you just how many trees there are.

So, personally, I think there are plenty of natural resources to get us to the stage where we won’t have to depend on so many natural resources.

Of course, now that I reread the question, I would say that “nature” is doomed depending on how you look at things. Is man a part of nature? If so, then no. If so, then maybe yes. Certainly is appears that we will sooner or later cover nearly every inhabitable section of the world with people.

It’s bernard, just under new management

Lumpy wrote:

According to the U.N.'s population division (at least in 1996), this is indeed what current trends show will happen by 2040. See .

I’m not flying fast, just orbiting low.

Lumpy hopes:

Too late, Lumpy: the birth rate is already stabilizing. Check and remember that current trends are for current birth rates to continue to fall.
Currently, population “problems” aren’t actually population problems: they’re wealth problems. Damned proles are earning so much now that they can buy SUVs and drive to national parks and ski resorts, just like us.

“Kings die, and leave their crowns to their sons. Shmuel HaKatan took all the treasures in the world, and went away.”

Wow, looks like Akatsukami and I had the same idea at the same time – even though we got it from different webpages.

All right, Akatsukami, since we’re obviously reading each others’ minds – what am I thinking about right now? I’ll give you a hint, it’s a household object.

Human beings are so utterly dependant on the organic ressources of the planet that I don’t see how we could possibly destroy nature without destroying ourselves first.

Worst case scenario: we really screw up the planet and wipe out most advanced life forms, humanity dissappears, the planet recovers after a few million years.

That’s unless we manage to sustain a human population somewhere else than on Earth.
Realisticly, by the time we figure how to do such a feat as colonizing other planets or having a sustainable population aboard an autonomous spaceship, we’ll have figured out how not to destroy the earth we live on.

Only humans do inhuman things.

Momotaro wrote:

Real worst case scenario: the quark-gluon plasma experiment at the Brookhaven National Laboratory creates a previously nonexistent form of matter/energy called a strangelet. This particular type of strangelet has a stabler state than any other form of matter. Its presence causes all nearby “normal” matter to collapse into its own state. This continues as a chain reaction which leads to the destruction of all life, our planet, our solar system, and in fact the entire rest of the universe.

The laws of physics permit such an occurrence theoretically, in a universe with certain specific properties. We’re sure that if it were possible in our own reality, it would have already occurred due to natural processes… but wouldn’t it suck if we were wrong?

If they are wrong, and bring about the end of the universe, I say we sue.

Aura, can you provide a bit more background on the “strangelet” hypothesis, perhaps in a new thread? I’m fascinated.

According to an article by Nicholas Eberstadt in the 7/5/99 Engineering News Record, U.N. Pop. Div. estimates that world population will “peak at about 7.5 billion at around 2040.” There would be a decline thereafter with each generation about 27% smaller than the previous. “In 2050, according to projections, seniors would outnumber children by about 2 to 1.”