Can the human race survive the next 100 years?

CatherineW

Registered Senior Member
Maybe stealing this off Mr Steven Hawkings but never mind. The SciForums community will give much better answers than the Yahoo Answers community.

Okay so we have:
Nuclear war
Global warming
Racism
Over population
Natural disaster
Medical epidemic
Possible alien attack?

Ultimately the human race won't survive... but will we survive the next 100 years?
 
Maybe stealing this off Mr Steven Hawkings but never mind. The SciForums community will give much better answers than the Yahoo Answers community.

Okay so we have:
Nuclear war
Global warming
Racism
Over population
Natural disaster
Medical epidemic
Possible alien attack?

Ultimately the human race won't survive... but will we survive the next 100 years?

I would rate over population and medical disaster as the most possible drivers
for a dooms day, the more people there are the more the chances are that
disease will spread quickly.
A virus like the flu could kill millions if it is spread quickly via modern transportation, the problem is, who is isolated these days.
 
Nuclear war
Check out the thread, "Are We Living in the Most Peaceful Times in History." War has always been a major survival risk to adults. Yet since WWII, averaged over the whole planet, it no longer is. Peace has of course not increased monotonically and there's no way to be positive that we won't backslide into another world war, but the odds of that will drop considerably when Bush crawls back under his rock in Texas.
Global warming
This threat remains frustratingly unproven, since the evidence is far less abundant and consistent than we'd insist on before canonizing any other scientific theory. Still even in the worst case it's unlikely to cause the literal extinction of our species. Communities with solar or nuclear power can become self-contained, raise their drawbridges, feed themselves with hydroponics, and perhaps even sequester themselves in giant arcologies with climate control.
There are entire (large) countries where racism is at least illegal, if not completely obliterated. Religious differences are a far bigger risk. Still it's been argued that what we Americans see as "Islamic terrorism" is really politically and economically motivated, and what other people see as a Christian revival here is just the religion's death throes, before it fades away as it is doing in Europe and many other places.
Overpopulation
The second derivative of the entire global population has been negative for a couple of decades. (I.e., the rate of increase, as measured by the birth rate, is falling.) The signs are everywhere. Many Western countries are already greying and their "social security" Ponzi Schemes are dependent on immigration to avoid collapsing. At the other end of the scale, in countries where the average family once had twelve children, they now have eight. Prosperity is the most powerful contraceptive and the human race's per-capita GDP is rising steadily. I've seen predictions that the population will peak before the end of this century, and then start falling.
Natural disaster
It would take something like an asteroid hit to wipe us out, along with most of the other large non-aquatic species. The probability of that is of course non-zero but it's so small as to qualify as "extraordinary speculation" on a science board. I assume you want to discuss serious threats that are worth worrying about, or perhaps even lobbying Congress for action.:) Not to veer off into science fiction.
Medical epidemic
Again, in a science fiction story it's easy to postulate something like that, but in real life the probability is too small to qualify as a major concern. The Plague only killed off about a third of the population of Europe, and the result was that the remaining two-thirds suddenly became fifty percent wealthier. That was arguably one of the causative factors in the progress of the last half millennium.
Possible alien attack?
I forget, did I already say something dismissive about science fiction?:) To give it the brief consideration it deserves: Physics is a rather mature science and we know quite a lot about how the universe works. (Compare this to, say, the science of psychology and its domain, the human mind.) It's extremely likely that the lightspeed limitation on space travel is both real and insurmountable. Voyages of interstellar exploration may take thousands of years and require generation-starships that are miniature cities. It will be difficult for one civilization to even find another one, even harder to send any information about it back home, and a herculean project to send back artifacts. The concept of a galactic civilization (or an interstellar war) is preposterous.
Ultimately the human race won't survive.
That's an extraordinary assertion and you are hereby challenged to provide the extraordinary evidence that supports it, in accordance with the scientific method. Our species is about 200,000 years old. The first stirrings of tool-building, which mark the beginning of human culture as qualitatively different from other animal societies, goes back two million years. If you're talking about a timeframe with six or seven zeroes, well then sure, the species Homo sapiens may be extinct, but I see no evidence to suspect that our descendant species will not still be recognizable as "humans," just as our ancestral species were, with even a continuity of civilization going back to 9000BCE when the first villages were built and we gave up nomadism.
But will we survive the next 100 years?
30-50 years ago, with the Cold War raging, nuclear weapons proliferating, and "duck and cover" drills being practiced in schools, that was a very topical question. But now communism is dead in most places and emasculated in the rest. There are far fewer operational nuclear weapons than there used to be. Today the biggest threat to our survival is religion, particularly the Abrahamists, who rise up in paroxysms of genocidal violence every few generations and seem to be thinking about it now. But there's no way "religious" terrorists (which they probably are not, as I noted earlier) can get their hands on enough nuclear weapons to bring about Armageddon.
 
Human beings survived about 40,000 years this time...so we could for 100 years. I think, we may have humanoids seven times over the last 750 million years. We are like ants..or roaches....never completely die off....
 
Maybe stealing this off Mr Steven Hawkings but never mind. The SciForums community will give much better answers than the Yahoo Answers community.

Okay so we have:
Nuclear war
Global warming
Racism
Over population
Natural disaster
Medical epidemic
Possible alien attack?

Ultimately the human race won't survive... but will we survive the next 100 years?

First of all, Welcome to Sciforums CatherineW.

Nanotechnology can get crazy if researched deep enough, but the good thing is that you can't research nanotechnology without some one knowing about it, mainly because of the tools required to do it. Maybe thats a bit more likely of a threat than alien attack..... ****points at kmguru****
 
... Today the biggest threat to our survival is religion, particularly the Abrahamists, who rise up in paroxysms of genocidal violence every few generations and seem to be thinking about it now. But there's no way "religious" terrorists (which they probably are not, as I noted earlier) can get their hands on enough nuclear weapons to bring about Armageddon.
Wow, you had a great post until you said this. "particularly the Abrahamists". I try to remain neutral on religious issues so say what you want, but I am just pointing out how great the rest of your post was.

To stay on topic, I don't think that the the human race will have a problem in the next 100 years. I do think that the human race has a slim chance of escaping Earth before it becomes uninhabitable. "Escape" meaning being able to establish survivable colonies far enough away from Earth that the destruction of Earth would not necessarily wipe out the colonies. We are probably thousands of years from such colonies even if there was a unified effort, which there probably will never be.

Ultimately my thinking is that the human race will not survive unless there is already intelligent life out there that could swoop in and save us :).
 
In the next 100 years, I'd worry most about the threat of nuclear war, for a large part of humanity (it is highly probable for each of us to die in general); however, I don't believe humanity itself will be wiped out by such. This applies to pandemics, and other catastrophe as well...

We may not be as invulnerable as some creatures (such as cockroaches) to survive unaided the disasters that inevitably strike every long era or so. But we do have the technology to save ourselves. Life will probably never die out completely (evidenced by ourselves and the abundance of life even after major catastrophes to our planet) until Sol supernovas (and then perhaps we would have already occupied other parts of the solar system/galaxy, and brought other life forms to sustain ourselves).

Humanity may not survive (just because things tend to fall apart), but I don't think that would rid the universe of intelligent, conscious life forever - The most probable theory of genesis is that life sprang from very rare conditions; anyhow, we know that is has the potential to happen again, and it (via natural selection) tends to approach a few strategies, one of them being intelligence, which may very well be 'the' dominant strategy. It may bring about human-like intelligence. I'm not sure what we're defining as human here, but its probably less about the 4 appendages, furless skin, etc. than our consciousness.
 
I have to agree completely with Bananite, and I like the last thought. If the thread had said "Can consicousness survive longer than humanity", then I would have to say I certainly believe so too.

I would even go so far as to say that consciousness will last as long as life lasts in the universe. Then the question would be, will the universe survive :D.
 
I have to agree completely with Bananite, and I like the last thought. If the thread had said "Can consicousness survive longer than humanity", then I would have to say I certainly believe so too.

I would even go so far as to say that consciousness will last as long as life lasts in the universe. Then the question would be, will the universe survive :D.

That's really interesting.

The universe is ever expanding isn't it?

It's so lovely to speak to such knowledgeable people :D

Makes me feel really quite stooopid.
 
If the sun's going to die out then so is the human race.


Not necessarily. What about those humans that have relocated to another star system, or are in transit to another star system? There is a lot of time before the Sun expands to engulf the inner planets, more than enough to develop the technology to leave the Solar System and expand out into the galaxy. That’s provided we haven’t killed ourselves off beforehand, of course.

Besides, I suspect that the future of humans is cybernetic in nature. If we could catch a glimpse of humans a half dozen centuries from now we may barely recognise them as ‘humans’.
 
100 years should be cake & pie if we do not get hit a really big asteroid.

Neither nuclear war nor disease would wipe us out. Oddly enough, either could turn out to increase the length of our survival. If our population was cut down by 30 to 70%, we might not use up our resources so damn fast.

Nuclear war would be unlikely to cut down the population as much as some really deadly disease.

Most people have an exaggarated view of how much damage a nuclear war would do. If the USSR & the USA had gone all out 20 to 50 years ago, the USSR would have become a 12th century peasant culture (in the absence of massive aid from abroad). The USA would have still have been a viable technological culture with a lot of rebuilding to do.

Some astronomical disaster is the only likely event to end it for the human race (and probably all other life on Earth). The other possibility is the exhaustion of our natural resources, but technology is likely to beat this problem.

I think the sun will become a Red Giant & then a White Dwarf in about 5 billion years. We might not be able to survive either of those stellar events. We are unlikley to be able to save more than a small percentage of hunanity by colonizing another solar system, assuming that we could save any.

Building collectors of solar energy in space might be a viable way to survive until Sol uses up almost all of its nuclear fuel. This is on the verge of being possible with current technology. Consider the total energy radiated by SOL and compare with the amount received by the Earth. This is the ratio between the surface of a sphere with a radius of about 93 million miles and the surface of a round disk with a radius of about 4000 miles. I think the ratio is about 2 billion. I think somebody named Dyson came up with a variant of this idea in a SciFi story (a search for "Dyson Sphere" might turn up some data on this).
 
Not necessarily. What about those humans that have relocated to another star system, or are in transit to another star system? There is a lot of time before the Sun expands to engulf the inner planets, more than enough to develop the technology to leave the Solar System and expand out into the galaxy. That’s provided we haven’t killed ourselves off beforehand, of course.

Besides, I suspect that the future of humans is cybernetic in nature. If we could catch a glimpse of humans a half dozen centuries from now we may barely recognise them as ‘humans’.

Fair point I suppose.

I wonder what life will be like in 3008 :O
 
That's really interesting.

The universe is ever expanding isn't it?

It's so lovely to speak to such knowledgeable people :D

Makes me feel really quite stooopid.

Yes, they say the universe is ever expanding. I guess my post should have said, "Then the question would be, will life in the universe survive? Actually the standard cosmology, Big Bang Theory, has us in an expanding universe and current thinking is that it will expand forever. They don't actually say the universe will end as much as they say that at some point it won't support life. Check out the Big Rip
 
Check out the thread, It would take something like an asteroid hit to wipe us out, along with most of the other large non-aquatic species. The probability of that is of course non-zero but it's so small as to qualify as "extraordinary speculation" on a science board.

Why is it so unlikely that an asteroid could hit us?
 
I just started reading a book called "Death from Skies! - these are the ways the world will end..." by Philip Plait, Ph.D - fascinating book....
 
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