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What is the risk of human extinction ?

Posted on Wednesday, 7 March, 2012 | Comment icon 30 comments | News tip by: Bracket

Image credit: military

As our population grows in excess of seven billion are we really vulnerable to extinction ?

Professor Nick Bostrom seems to think so; he believes that it won't be an asteroid, supervolcano or other natural disaster that will strike a deathblow to mankind, instead it will be our own actions that will kill us. Bostrom has written several papers detailing his views that human extinction risks are both misunderstood and underestimated. "We are doing unprecedented things, and there is a risk that something could go wrong," he said.

"Unthinkable as it may be, humanity, every last person, could someday be wiped from the face of the Earth."

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 Source: The Atlantic

  Discuss: View comments (30)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #21 Posted by jbefumo on 8 March, 2012, 13:36
yes, but . . . the 1% are making a buck in the meantime, so who's complaining? In a market economy, survival of the species has little value.
Comment icon #22 Posted by JayMark on 8 March, 2012, 17:17
Let's get into the environemental relam a bit. People generally don't want to talk about the real and serious risks that we are facing just because they don't want to accept them as true problems. Nobody wants to hear that we could be stuck in a global crisis before the end of the century. A lot of people talking about it are often refered to as "alarmists" spreading fear and "catastrophism". Although I'm aware that such people do exist, we shouldn't, on the contrary, try to minimise the current situation and risks. If nothing changes, T could rise to as much as 6C over average from now unti... [More]
Comment icon #23 Posted by redhen on 9 March, 2012, 13:05
Overpopulation is a far greater threat than climate change. It's all tied in together. Here's a recent documentary by David Attenborough on human overpopulation. The title of video is the one question that politicians, developers and economists refuse to ask; How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth? http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/how-many-people-can-live-on-planet-earth/
Comment icon #24 Posted by JayMark on 9 March, 2012, 14:43
Overpopulation is a far greater threat than climate change. Not really. They are two very diffrent things. But they are both dangerous and affect eachother out. From now on until 2100, if nothing changes, hundreads of millions people will have to be re-located. When that happens, then yes, our planet will even be MUCH more sensitive to overpopulation (more than it is already) because more and more places are going to be inapt for human establishment. Other places, though, are going to bloom with life, plants etc. and will offer us a possibility to move (northern places especially). But then ag... [More]
Comment icon #25 Posted by 27vet on 9 March, 2012, 15:30
Thanks for the comments. look at the rate of population growth on this graph (courtesy of Wikipedia)
Comment icon #26 Posted by AbsurdistMe on 10 March, 2012, 8:03
If you look at how long humanity has been on earth and how many times species have been whipped out, then it's inevitable that we will be eradicated at some point. In fact it would seem that we are overdo for another extinction. Humanity is resilient to a certain degree, but there are many creatures that will probably outlive us and possibly surpass us. I'm leaning toward a virus of some sort or other. At some point our tampering with nature will come back to bite us.
Comment icon #27 Posted by woopypooky on 10 March, 2012, 9:30
that some crazy son of a **EDIT** who modified the H2N1 virus is one of the factor. **Your attempt to bypass the profanity filter is not appreciated.**
Comment icon #28 Posted by Bracket on 10 March, 2012, 23:34
I've never been much interested in whether or not the human race will eventually render itself extinct since the Sun is eventually going to do that for us anyway. However, I read one article about this scientist guy who believes the human population will taper off round 2070 or so. I have always wondered about this, because it seems to me that only so much of the Earth's mass can be converted into human beings. Does anyone know more about this, because this scientist guy didn't really explain why to my satisfaction. I very much doubt that the sun will kill us. We'll most likely be long extinct... [More]
Comment icon #29 Posted by Hilander on 12 March, 2012, 1:14
The person that is listening to the voices in their head is as much of a danger as a asteroid. All they need to do is get to thinking the earth needs purified and get their hands on some bio engineered disease that's 100 time more lethal than its original version. Then you have all the scientists digging around in places that haven't been exposed to the air in thousands or hundreds of thousands of years that could unwittingly unleash something. There are diseases we have to deal with everyday that are becoming immune to antibiotics. One day antibiotics may not have any effect on most of them. ... [More]
Comment icon #30 Posted by JayMark on 12 March, 2012, 16:51
Another point is our behaviors. I really think the earth could easily be able to handle 10, 15, 20+ billion people as long as we use our resources responsibly which is far from beeing the case right now.

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