100 Years Left
Every day billions of humans go about their daily lives- some in poverty, political turmoil and war and in other places - eating, sleeping, working and worrying about mortgages, love affairs, kids, skin rashes, their futures and a multitude of other human concerns. Just like the masses of humans who have lived on this earth before them, they are living life like there is a tomorrow...
There are some scientists who believe our days here on beautiful, troubled, Planet Earth are numbered. One such doomsayer was Nobel-prize winning microbiologist Professor Frank Fenner who died last month in Australia, at age 95. Fenner was a luminary in the field of science, having been responsible for eradicating the variola virus that caused smallpox. As well as the Nobel, he also won the Japan Prize in 1988, the Albert Einstein World Award for Science in 2000 and the Prime Minister's Science Prize in 2002. In addition he has published hundreds of scientific papers and written or co-written 22 books
As a microbiologist, Fenner was fascinated by evolution at every level-an enthusiasm that never waned and his "deep understanding was
shaped by studies of every scale, from the molecular to the
ecosystem and planetary level." (The Australian)
If Professor Fenner makes guesses about humanity and our relationship to the natural world..they are educated ones.
Easter Island Scenario
According to Professor Fenner, the human race probably shouldn't
make any long term plans. Fenner predicted we will be extinct within the next 100 years. Toward the end of his
life he didn't bother with debates about climate change because he
believed it is already too late -the human race cannot survive.
The cause? Population explosion and unbridled consumption.
The cure? Sorry, it's terminal:
Homo sapiens will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years. A lot of other animals will too. It’s an irreversible situation. I think it’s too late. I try not to express that because people are trying to do something, but they keep putting it off.
As the population keeps growing to seven, eight or nine billion, there will be a lot more wars over food. The grandchildren of today's generations will face a much more difficult world.
Fenner posited that what happened to the Easter Islanders will happen to us...
Archeologists believe that within a few centuries, overexploitation of
resources on Easter Island caused the widespread extinction of plants
and animals . The social fabric of Islanders unravelled and a state of
chaos and cannibalism emerged in it's place.
The Islanders got to a point where they were destroying the forest more rapidly than it could could regenerate. Springs and streams dried up and there was no wood for fires. The animal food supply dwindled, crop yields declined due to soil erosion and fishing became difficult as wooden canoes could no longer be made.It is believed the population eventually starved.
Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday...nothing happened, nothing will.
Fenner may not be correct of course. As well as pessimistic scientists, there are optimistic ones and others somewhere in-between. Environmentalist and futurologist Professor James Lovelock, stops short of total extinction within one hundred years but warns that the world’s population may sink as low as 500 million over the next century due to global warming...a phenomenal drop when you consider the 6.9 billion or so walking the earth today. Lovelock suspects any attempts to tackle climate change will not be able to solve the problem, just buy us some time.
The danger with such views is they don't encourage action but rather a kind of apathetic fatalism. The idea of human extinction within such a short period is almost too big for me to contemplate and I believe much of the world, including governments, are in a kind of denial. I suppose the Easter Islanders were too.
I've got no idea what will happen...I've always been an optimist about the human race, but my optimism is becoming a bit ragged around the edges. I'm aware that some people don't believe there is that much of a problem at all - who say climate-change is a hoax and a scare campaign generated by those with a vested interest in order to control people for some purpose or other. It'd be good if they were right but I think they are wrong. The bulk of those making such claims are not experts in the field, rather they are vocal media players, conspiracy theorists and mouthpieces for industry and political factions. They lack credibility.
Chances are high you and I will be be long dead before the final extinction, should it occur. Perhaps that's part of the problem...it's what everyone thinks:
Why should I care about posterity? What's posterity ever done for me?
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5)
- LIFE ON EARTH AND HOW IT WILL CONTINUE
It took a long time for the earth to be in a position where life could be sustained. Scientists today believe that the first life forms to make a home for themselves on our planet were life forms that required...
- In the beginning there was...the beginning? Creationism or Evolution?
How does it matter how we got here on this planet? We ARE here, that's a fact that no one can argue with. Well, maybe some of those existential types that suppose we are really inside a universe that is...
- Action for Climate Change - Conservation Volunteers Australia
Action for Climate Change is a new program managed by Conservation Volunteers Australia. It is a range of initiatives to assist business and individuals to reduce their impact on the environment.
- Climate Change in Australia - Temperature, Rainfall, Humidity, Sea surface Temperature, Wind speed,
Climate change in Australia, Global Warming Temperature rainfall wind speed solar evaporation sea surface temperature CSIRO Bereau of Meterology
The Australian Newspaper...June 16
Jared Diamond, Easter Islands End, Discover Magazine1995