Is the Human race, too resilient to die out?

We’ve heard of the great extinctions, we are still seeing many species die out on a daily basis on the planet today.

Now we hear of global warming, war, and epidemics.

Maybe it’s possible to say that today’s reality is nowhere near the scale of suffering and life quality it was throughout many historical periods.
But is it impossible to wipe out the human race, because of our ability to adapt to the environment or in better words, the ability to manipulate nature to work in our favor?


Yeah, no. We are much more dependent on nature than we realise. Do you know how many agriculturalists were shitting themselves over colony collapse?

Our ability to muck up natural systems we depend on exceeds our ability to manipulate them in our favor.

With a big enough asteroid, there wouldn’t be anywhere to hide.

I think we’ll die out eventually, just give it time and a dwindling of resources. It happens to the best of bacteria, and it’ll happen to us as well.

Yes, we are.

What other species can live - thrive - in every environment on the planet? Our adaptability is almost unlimitless. Sure, a disaster could take place killing 99.9% of humanity, but that’s no big deal; we’ll recover almost immeidately (in biological terms: several thousand years). Maybe, *maybe *some or even most of the planet will become uninhabitable for humans - if that’s the case we’ll just live in the parts that can support us until the planet recovers or we adapt to it.

Those are two totally different things.

Humans are adaptive, and if you count the ability to remake our way of life entirely to survive in a changed world which has (as Alessan suggests) wiped out the majority of our population–sure, we probably won’t go extinct any time soon.

But it will be us that changes to fit the world, not the other way round.

Dinosaurs were awfully resilient. They ruled the planet for a period of time beyond human conception, far longer than human have been around. Lived almsot everywhere on the planet. How many triceratops did you pass on the way to work today?

Trilobites once teemed over the earth in quantities almost beyond imagining. We know that because there’s so many fossils. No so much with the living specimens, though.

Of course humans can die out. For all we know we’ll be creamed by an asteroid tomorrow - we aren’t yet all that good at detecting them, so for all we know the big killer might be about to hit Nepal this afternoon. Then in a few months we’ll all be dead. Something else will evolve to replace us as the big cheese. So it will always be on this planet until the sub burns it up.

Compared to a lot of living things, I’d say humans are pretty easy to kill. We can die of too much heat, too much cold, viruses, infections, and any number of injuries. There are a lot of us and we’re pretty adaptible, but let’s not be vain.

Cockroaches. Rats. Tapeworms. E. coli.

At the current rate we overpopulating and consuming resources, within a hundred years or so we’ll be completely dependent on artificial manipulations to keep us all alive…those artificial systems are more likely, in my opinion, to fail from some unforeseen fiasco. They will not have withstood the test of time for self-correction and homeostasis. One bad crop virus; Yellowstone; a meteor–who knows. We are already living on the edge of Gaia’s ability to support us.

I predict a big die-off within a few hundred years (my personal die-off may be sooner, so I won’t be around to be mocked if I’m wrong).

The entire species will certainly expire at some point. Really big meteor would do it, but of course the delightful thing is that it’s usually the unexpected catastrophe and not the expected one, that ends up being the winner. For that reason, assorted preparations and ability to adapt are not all that helpful.

All of this assumes we get past 21 May, 2011.

Understand the difference between killing “most” of us and killing “all” of us. No matter how badly we fuck up the environment, short of a meteor or bathing the entire planet in radiation, fire and poison gas (a tall order in and of itself) it will recover. We may kill off 90% of each other, but we would also severely reduce our ability to impact the environment.

The idea of running out of resources is mostly bullshit. Most resources are renewable or convertable from something else. As technology or conditions change, a new equilibrium is reached and eventually the population and the environment adapts.

I think it is, generally speaking. As mentioned previously, even if 99.99% of the human population was to die out, we would repopulate the planet.

However, I also believe that if the human race does dissapear, it will be in all likehood as a result of our own actions. We’re probably too powerful for our own sake, and we’re way more likely to mess up big time than to be wiped out by a giant asteroid or some super-volvcanoes. I could imagine us destroying ourselves, all life on the planet or even the planet itself (while, say, experimenting with this brand new gravitional weapon, relasing an army of nano-killers or whatever else), within a couple centuries, while in the “short term” (some dozens thousands of years or so) our full demise from “natural cause” seems highly unlikely.

Nothing in this universe lasts forever, therefore Homo sapiens sapiens will not last forever. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Is there a really significant difference between this thread and the one you started earlier?
Are we fear mongering, or is the world going to swallow us alive?

I will leave them both open for a little while, but you need to refrain from loading the board down with lots of variations on the same question.

[ /Moderating ]

Biologically, humans are very expensive animals to keep alive. We’re large, reproduce slowly, require premium food sources and copious amounts of fresh water. We don’t have the ability to hibernate or produce durable eggs or spores. Without fire at an absolute minimum, humans would be no more numerous or widespread than apes. To survive humans need either a generous ecosystem or an artificial substitute for one. A cataclysm that both knocked down our civilization AND wrecked the environment would be very hard to survive indeed. I would bet on rabbits surviving an eco-catastrophe that humans couldn’t.

I would say humans are within a 300-400 hundred years of a critical moment on our chances of lasting millions or more years as a species. If we can keep it together that long (in terms of technology advances, waging no planet wide nuclear wars, avoiding destroying the enviroment to the point of inducing worldwide famine etc.) than we have a chance of doing something that will ensure humans last a very long time.

That something is insterstellar space travel (at .1c or possibly greater), with the intent of establishing new colonies on planets that are similar enough to earth that humans can function and grow on them with some relative ease.

Humans on earth will eventually be wiped out. Asteroids, super volcanoes, nuclear or ash winters, super viruses, etc. Interstellar colonies will be wiped out over time too. But by having multiple eggs in our basket we can ensure that some humans, somewhere, will be forging on.

Two step process - highly contagious virus that has a one month symptomless gestation period and then you suddenly drop dead. This kills 99.99999% of the population, excluding a couple of isolated tribes, if them.

Then the meteor, to finish the job - survivors of the plague will inevitably use little science and be reliant on living off the land, and blackening the sky will end that.

I also feel a need to point out that humans have only been around for a couple hundred thousand years. In another couple hundred thousand years of evolution, we may not even be recognizable as humans anymore. So technically, homo sapiens will have died out.

Again with the freakin meteors. Yes, it is possible through some cosmic calamity like an asteroid strike, gamma ray burst or aliens enacting eminant domain to errect a hyperspace bypass, all life on Earth may be destroyed. Baring that, I just don’t see us wiping ourselves out completely.