It’s frightening but true: Our planet is now in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals — the sixth wave of extinctions in the past half-billion years. Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural “background” rate of about one to five species per year. Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day . It could be a scary future indeed, with as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species possibly heading toward extinction by mid-century .
Unlike past mass extinctions, caused by events like asteroid strikes, volcanic eruptions, and natural climate shifts, the current crisis is almost entirely caused by us — humans. In fact, 99 percent of currently threatened species are at risk from human activities, primarily those driving habitat loss, introduction of exotic species, and global warming . Because the rate of change in our biosphere is increasing, and because every species’ extinction potentially leads to the extinction of others bound to that species in a complex ecological web, numbers of extinctions are likely to snowball in the coming decades as ecosystems unravel.
Species diversity ensures ecosystem resilience, giving ecological communities the scope they need to withstand stress. Thus while conservationists often justifiably focus their efforts on species-rich ecosystems like rainforests and coral reefs — which have a lot to lose — a comprehensive strategy for saving biodiversity must also include habitat types with fewer species, like grasslands, tundra, and polar seas — for which any loss could be irreversibly devastating. And while much concern over extinction focuses on globally lost species, most of biodiversity’s benefits take place at a local level, and conserving local populations is the only way to ensure genetic diversity critical for a species’ long-term survival.
Of all humans so far, roughly ten per cent are alive with you and me. If human extinction occurred soon, our position in population history would have been fairly ordinary. But if, in contrast, humankind survived for many more centuries, perhaps colonizing the galaxy, then we could easily be among the earliest 0.001 per cent of all humans who will ever have lived. This could seem a very surprising position to be in — a point which is crucial to a “doomsday argument” originated by the cosmologist Brandon Carter.
People who accept the argument, even in a weakened form which takes account of the fact that the world is probably indeterministic, will re-estimate the size of the threats to humankind, showing increased reluctance to believe that humans will survive for very long.
Possible threats include nuclear and biological warfare; ozone layer destruction; greenhouse warming of a runaway kind; an environmental crisis caused by overpopulation; new diseases; disasters from genetic engineering or from nanotechnology; computers replacing humans entirely, as some people think would be desirable; the upsetting of a space-filling scalar field through an experiment at very high energies, as discussed in a recent book by England’s Astronomer Royal; and even the arguments of the many philosophers who see no duty to keep the human race in existence. But despite all such dangers and despite Carter’s disturbing argument, humans may well have a good chance of surviving the next five centuries.
What chance has the human race of surviving the coming century, and perhaps further centuries?
During the next hundred years Earth may well be hit by something large enough to wipe out a city, or several cities if the thing hits an ocean, producing huge tidal waves. Yet even something much bigger, like the monster which exterminated the dinosaurs, probably would not be enough to kill all humans, and objects of that size arrive only about once in a hundred million years. Long before the next one did, humans should have spread far beyond their tiny planet so long as they had not exterminated themselves. How likely are they to do that? Let us look at various risks.
First, there is nuclear warfare. There are still thousands of hydrogen bombs despite the collapse of the Soviet Union. Because of the chaos of its collapse, the threat of accidental nuclear war could well be greater than ever. Nitrogen oxides from a nuclear war might be disastrous to the ozone layer, Earth’s shield against ultraviolet light. Also, nobody can be sure whether a “nuclear winter”, severe cooling which lasted for months, would result from all the soot which burning cities and forests threw into the atmosphere. The radioactive fall out would work mischief too. Humans might be wiped out through the deaths of microorganisms which were crucial to the health of the biosphere.
Biological warfare could be still more dangerous. Scientists could produce new diseases that spread more easily and killed far more efficiently than the Spanish ‘flu which, appearing in 1918, ended more lives than the World War had just done. An aggressor nation’s vaccines to protect itself could fail, in which case maybe everybody could be killed off.
Do not say that nobody would be criminal enough to risk it! The world contains some very unpleasant individuals and, now that mammalian cells can be grown on tiny beads, a single bottle can produce viruses in numbers which previously required large factories.
It is often population pressures which lead to warfare, and the world’s population is still exploding. We have some six billion humans now, which means only very little usable land for each. There could be up to twelve billion humans by the end of the next century. Even without warfare, the environment could come under disastrous pressure. Many think it already is, thanks to such things as the unholy alliance between fertilizers and pesticides, the loss of forests, and the chlorofluorocarbons which continue to erode the ozone layer.
Recent research suggests that in the northern hemisphere, during the crucial spring growing season, ozone losses will be double what had been estimated, because of how global greenhouse warming is linked to stratospheric cooling. And the warming might be disastrous just by itself. To get the consensus needed in 1992 for persuading the politicians in Rio, the International Panel on Climate Change disregarded worst case predictions, also dealing with biological feedback loops in just one sentence: “Biological feedbacks have not yet been taken into account.”
Scenarios involving positive feedback and runaway overheating are easy to construct. For instance: Ocean waters warm up, becoming less able to absorb carbon dioxide which is a powerful greenhouse gas; cold-water nutrients then rise to the warmed sea surface less often, so phytoplankton grow more slowly, absorb less carbon dioxide, and generate less dimethyl sulphide, a substance which encourages the birth of the clouds which keep us cool in daytime; many phytoplankton die because of ozone layer losses; warmer weather increases production of carbon dioxide by plants and soil microbes; tundra melts and peat bogs dry out, producing yet more carbon dioxide and vast amounts of another greenhouse gas, methane, which is, molecule for molecule, perhaps thirty times as powerful; changes in high altitude clouds make them trap more heat; drought then kills vegetation, returning carbon dioxide to the atmosphere; there next comes depletion, through the ravages of methane and other greenhouse gases, of the hydroxyls which are so important in destroying these gases; there follows a retreat of sea ice, so that less sunlight is reflected back into space; heating of the sea thereupon releases the trillions of tons of methane which are at present locked up in the clathrates of the continental shelves; the new heat produces much more water vapor, an extremely important greenhouse gas, so that a greenhouse-effect disaster arrives.
The Lost Book of Remedies PDF contains a series of medicinal and herbal recipes to make home made remedies from medicinal plants and herbs. Chromic diseases and maladies can be overcome by taking the remedies outlined in this book. The writer claims that his grandfather was taught herbalism and healing whilst in active service during world war two and that he has treated many soldiers with his home made cures.
I’m not afraid of this apocalyptic scenario, but I do understand the impulse. Worry about the end is a quintessentially human trait. Thankfully, so is our resilience.
For most of mankind’s history, infectious diseases were the existential threat to humanity—and for good reason. They were quite successful at killing people: The 6th century’s Plague of Justinian knocked out an estimated 17 percent of the world’s population; the 14th century Black Death decimated a third of Europe; the 1918 influenza pandemic killed 5 percent of the world; malaria is estimated to have killed half of all humans who have ever lived.
Any yet, of course, humanity continued to flourish. Our species’ recent explosion in lifespan is almost exclusively the result of the control of infectious diseases through sanitation, vaccination, and antimicrobial therapies. Only in the modern era, in which many infectious diseases have been tamed in the industrial world, do people have the luxury of death from cancer, heart disease, or stroke in the 8th decade of life. Childhoods are free from watching siblings and friends die from outbreaks of typhoid, scarlet fever, smallpox, measles, and the like.
So what would it take for a disease to wipe out humanity now?
In Michael Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain, the canonical book in the disease-outbreak genre, an alien microbe threatens the human race with extinction, and humanity’s best minds are marshaled to combat the enemy organism. Fortunately, outside of fiction, there’s no reason to expect alien pathogens to wage war on the human race any time soon, and my analysis suggests that any real-life domestic microbe reaching an extinction level of threat probably is just as unlikely.
Any apocalyptic pathogen would need to possess a very special combination of two attributes. First, it would have to be so unfamiliar that no existing therapy or vaccine could be applied to it. Second, it would need to have a high and surreptitious transmissibility before symptoms occur. The first is essential because any microbe from a known class of pathogens would, by definition, have family members that could serve as models for containment and countermeasures. The second would allow the hypothetical disease to spread without being detected by even the most astute clinicians.
The three infectious diseases most likely to be considered extinction-level threats in the world today—influenza, HIV, and Ebola—don’t meet these two requirements. Influenza, for instance, despite its well-established ability to kill on a large scale, its contagiousness, and its unrivaled ability to shift and drift away from our vaccines, is still what I would call a “known unknown.” While there are many mysteries about how new flu strains emerge, from at least the time of Hippocrates, humans have been attuned to its risk. And in the modern era, a full-fledged industry of influenza preparedness exists, with effective vaccine strategies and antiviral therapies.
Beyond those three, every other known disease falls short of what seems required to wipe out humans—which is, of course, why we’re still here. And it’s not that diseases are ineffective. On the contrary, diseases’ failure to knock us out is a testament to just how resilient humans are. Part of our evolutionary heritage is our immune system, one of the most complex on the planet, even without the benefit of vaccines or the helping hand of antimicrobial drugs. This system, when viewed at a species level, can adapt to almost any enemy imaginable. Coupled to genetic variations amongst humans—which open up the possibility for a range of advantages, from imperviousness to infection to a tendency for mild symptoms—this adaptability ensures that almost any infectious disease onslaught will leave a large proportion of the population alive to rebuild, in contrast to the fictional Hollywood versions.
While the immune system’s role can never be understated, an even more powerful protector is the faculty of consciousness. Humans are not the most prolific, quickly evolving, or strongest organisms on the planet, but as Aristotle identified, humans are the rational animals—and it is this fundamental distinguishing characteristic that allows humans to form abstractions, think in principles, and plan long-range. These capacities, in turn, allow humans to modify, alter, and improve themselves and their environments. Consciousness equips us, at an individual and a species level, to make nature safe for the species through such technological marvels as antibiotics, antivirals, vaccines, and sanitation. When humans began to focus their minds on the problems posed by infectious disease, human life ceased being nasty, brutish, and short. In many ways, human consciousness became infectious diseases’ worthiest adversary.
None of this is meant to allay all fears of infectious diseases. To totally adopt a Panglossian viewpoint would be foolish—and dangerous. Humans do face countless threats from infectious diseases: witness Zika. And if not handled appropriately, severe calamity could, and will, ensue. The West African Ebola outbreak, for instance, festered for months before major efforts to bring it under control were initiated.
When it comes to infectious diseases, I’m worried about the failure of institutions to understand the full impact of outbreaks. I’m worried about countries that don’t have the infrastructure or resources to combat these outbreaks when they come. But as long as we can keep adapting, I’m not worried about the future of the human race.
This book takes a fresh look at the art, science and romance of building and stocking a root cellar. There are detailed, illustrated construction guides for making four different kinds of root cellars that are functional and attractive. These include never-before-seen models for apartment and condo dwellers and home owners without a basement.
The Complete Root Cellar Book provides technical information on using photovoltaics (solar cells) and other energy technologies to enhance a root cellar’s performance and ecological sustainability. It also includes must-know information on how to choose, store and manage a supply of fruits, vegetables, nuts and preserves.
Carnivore’s Bible (is a wellknown meat processor providing custom meat processing services locally andacross the state of Montana and more. Whether your needs are for domestic meator wild game meat processing)
The Lost Book of Remedies PDF ( contains a series of medicinal andherbal recipes to make home made remedies from medicinal plants and herbs.Chromic diseases and maladies can be overcome by taking the remediesoutlined in this book. The writer claims that his grandfather was taughtherbalism and healing whilst in active service during world war twoand that he has treated many soldiers with his home made cures. )
The Lost Ways (Learn the long forgotten secrets that helped our forefathers survive famines,wars,economic crisis and anything else life threw at them)
LOST WAYS 2 ( Wordof the day: Prepare! And do it the old fashion way, like our fore-fathers did it and succeed longbefore us,because what lies ahead of us will require all the help we can get. Watch this video and learn the 3 skills that ensured our ancestors survival in hard times offamine and war.)
Survival MD (Best Post Collapse First Aid Survival Guide Ever)
Conquering the coming collapse (Financial advice and preparedness )
Liberty Generator (Build and make your own energy source)
Backyard Liberty (Easy and cheap DIY Aquaponic system to grow your organic and living food bank)
Bullet Proof Home (A Prepper’s Guide in Safeguarding a Home )
Family Self Defense (Best Self Defense Strategies For You And Your Family)
Survive Any Crisis (Best Items To Hoard For A Long Term Crisis)
Survive The End Days(Biggest Cover Up Of Our President)
Drought USA(Discover The Amazing Device That Turns Air Into Water)