I totally sympathize with you pessimism, Nation of Ecologists. In a certain respect, you're right: many, many things (including us) will not survive the 6th extinction, which will take thousands of years to play out in full. There will be echo extinctions of things that were brought to the brink and then continued to decline or disappear altogether hundreds of years after we are all gone, since the systems take a long time to catch up, loss of genetic diversity can cause future disaster, etc. So yes, WE (i.e. the humans and many of our own charismatic, beautiful plants and animals that we have around now) will be gone, and there will be no going back, but:
This is some of the most comforting stuff, honestly. Not that dislike people per se, but it is extremely comforting to me to think that even all of our damage, all of my damage, will eventually be ground down into almost nothing, and that millions of years from now, the Earth will once again be crawling with abundant life and luxurious ecosystems. I won't live to see it, but the same carbon that is now tickled pink by the music coming through the AirPods will eventually and unknowingly be scattered across the world, and someday I'll be part of plants and animals. I'll be in the sediment on the ocean floor, and in the atmosphere, swirling and the planet. Embrace the deeper times.
In practical terms, this hits the nail on the head. Do YOU want to "do something" about climate change, about the destruction of nature, and about the human effluvia covering the earth? Don't. Have. Children. Or have one child. Compared with any type of lifestyle change one might make, there is no comparison (as I have typed in more detail on here in past years, many times) with how efficacious the decision is to not reproduce oneself, thus breaking the trend of more-more-more. We might not be totally fvcked, but it would depend on us not only cleaning up our per capita act and collective act, but to add many fewer people for some time, and to therefore let the capita themselves be reduced, thus taking multiplicative weight off of whatever we do and however we live. 8 billion is FAR too many. Hell, 4 billion is far too many. Imagine one billion, which would still put us back only to the early 1800s, which is like a few seconds ago. But that's 1/8th the size and scope of the total operation that has to be run in order to fuel our species.
If you had a five-pound box of survival food, you'd better hope that it's for a gerbil or a mouse, not an elephant or a hippopotamus. Yet we are clearly the elephants, to the misfortune of literally everything else, everywhere.
But the end approacheth, in the decades and centuries to come. Hence the need to "lust for" or to desire the ruins. Once we're gone, it will lead to something new, in the far future. And even sooner, too. I'd bet that in a world where humans just magically went "poof" (as The Un-History and Non-Discovery Channels have explored in cinematic ridiculousness for shallow American audiences), the natural world would almost immediately surge back, and fill up our human deserts with life again. So it will be, fear not.
The thing is (in my opinion) you hid the nail right on the head....the human race keeps multiplying as the circumstances allow it.....our biological instinct is still telling us that that is the "right" thing to do although it is objectively observable that this way of life with this many people is not sustainable and will actually reduce the chances of survival as a species in the long run......our economical (and cultural) system doesn't help either. However no politician (in a democratic country) with any hope to get elected will ever touch the worldwide "overpopulation"-issue with a ten foot pole. So I believe that "humanity and our way of life as we know it" is fvcked. We as a species and the planet will probably adapt but our "quality of life" will most likely take some severe hits along the way.
There's a lot of truth to what you're saying, and to the unchanged evolutionary instinct to pass on our genes. There is, however, a single fundamental difference that breaks this model, and which makes the raw evolutionary drive a drive towards oblivion. Alone among species, humans have developed the ability to modify the carrying capacity of their environment on a global scale. We no longer face population limits in inhospitable regions due to shortages of food or water - we bring those products from hospitable parts. We no longer face migratory environmental pressures due to heat and cold - we bring HVAC to the remotest reaches. We no longer face selection pressure where eyesight or tooth decay or limb injury means culling the herd - we deploy glasses and dentures and splints along with a powerful medical support network to ensure we thrive.
It is an absolutely brilliant evolutionary strategy - we evolved to a point where we could recognize evolution (even if it took a few millennia to put a name on it), and then eliminate the evolutionary pressures that limited us. We've broken the system from within the system, and are currently unbound by any limitation that has previously been relevant to a species in the history of the world. The occasional natural disaster or war, even on a scale we would consider an unimaginable tragedy, is unlikely to be more than background noise for us as a species. If you took every casualty of WW2, civilian, military, violence, disease, etc, and added them all to a single year on top of the natural death rate, the Earth's human population would still grow. The only checks and balances we now have are global in nature.
These global checks are, of course, entirely natural as well. If we run ourselves out of food, out of clean water, out of breathable air, etc, we'll start dying off just as we would if that happened in a smaller area to a species that didn't have the luxury of seeing it coming. Our blessing is that we can indeed see it coming, and our curse is that we understand it well enough to fear it. As far as we know, we're the only species on Earth that can recognize an evolutionary pressure before it asserts itself, and can try to voluntarily restrict ourselves in an acceptable way in order to avoid an involuntary and traumatic institution of new limits by a tapped-out planet down the road. That ability to exist in more than the now is in fact the one very specific thing that makes humans what we are, and which gave us the success we have. Without the ability to process and act to better our futures, we would never have expanded as we have, nor become dominant like we have. Exploration, colonization, technology, medicine, art, science... all of these are about the future. The future is what defines humanity.
I love when I leave for 5 days, and come to review the RMD and find out the weekly discussion has completely switched from Veganism to...the fate of humanity and how we will go extinct?
"One Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a small café in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had been going wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything. Sadly, however, before she could get to a phone to tell anyone about it, the Earth was unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass..."
Announcement about the Forestian Chess Championships:
If any of you remember the chess tournament I was enquiring around about recently, I have opened an OOC/Signups thread on the Forest Forums. Any questions you may have will be answered there, and if not, feel free to telegram me.
Link is here:
There's likewise a lot of truth in what you say, but it would be more convincing if humans currently had the option of using our technological skills by deflecting an asteroid from its course or somehow saving us from the effects of increased volcanism or changes to the chemistry of the sea. The problem is not only that we are the asteroid, the volcanism or the chemical change, but that the threat is specifically a result of what marks us out - the ability to change the environment by means of technology. Since, as you said, this means our span on earth might well be extremely short in the context of the history of the planet, I'd suggest that the special tactic we've bought to the game of life won't look like a winner with hindsight compared to, say, those of the living fossil species that have successfully survived in a stable form for hundreds of millions of years.
Our special ability doesn't seem likely to help us out now either, since in the decades that we've understood the situation we've pressed ahead with doubling and redoubling our destructive behaviour. Perhaps we're like an addict - in principle we could stop but in practice we can't. I think maybe this isn't the sort of situation our technical skills lend themselves to. Only a very small percentage of the population produce developments in science, medicine, etc. A small number of people produce an innovation, say the internet or the Covid-19 vaccines, and the species as a whole uses them to carry on as before, either with a threat nullified or with an increased standard of living. Nothing about this obviously prepares us for a situation where we need a very large number of people to carry on not as before, but with a greatly reduced standard of living.
If this is correct, the kind of solution we're equipped for is one where someone invents a source of clean energy that isn't more expensive that fossil fuels, or plant-based plastics that perform like the originals without increased cost. These may be achievable - we can certainly hope - though they might be more of a delaying tactic since it seems pretty clear that indefinite growth is impossible on a finite planet. The best case scenario would be that such solutions would mitigate climate change enough for us to find out what happens when we cause mass extinction simply by occupying the entire surface of the planet with our growing needs and numbers.
I'm not even sure I agree that our intelligence and aptitude for tool making have been about dealing with evolutionary pressures before they assert themselves. In the beginning they enabled hominids that were slow, physically weak and lacking in sharp senses to escape predators and kill prey despite their obvious disadvantages. Beyond that early stage, however, the problems that we used these skills on didn't threaten the species. If for some reason we hadn't developed agriculture, or the wheel, or the printing press, or modern medicine, or the steam engine, we may very well have survived. Any time before the industrial revolution, had progress been mysteriously frozen we could have found some kind of equilibrium with other species. We might have burned a lot of forests to make way for livestock and transported many invasive organisms to new habitats, but we could have settled into some kind of stable arrangement in which we were one of many elements. Our innovations didn't save the species from natural selection, they allowed us to exist in greater numbers, with longer lifespans and higher standards of living. When we could, we multiplied with no more free will or conscious awareness than yeast.
And of course there was never any reason why progress should mysteriously freeze. If a time traveler could assassinate James Watt and burn his papers someone else would take that step. Who could ever deny that using ingenuity to prevent the deaths of children was truly worthwhile? The sci fi novelist David Zindell had one of his characters observe how strange it is that the intelligence required to sharpen a flint spear tip is the same as the intelligence required to prove the theorems of mathematics. The new strategy we brought to the game of life quickly turned out to be a serious case of cracking a nut with a sledgehammer, and it has backfired spectacularly.
This is a lovely trend I wish to get familiar with, to read all the long posts this weekend and contribute if I have anything to add, but now I’d like to pause it for eight seconds and share my happiness of reaching 8th year with this nation today.
Happy birthday to me The Federal Kingdom of Einswenn!
Agreed. Even though the actual day is March 5, I’m already celebrating it :D who could guess back then that this nation will survive for so long. After all NS is somewhat a social media platform which means our nations could be called our alter ego thus they worth a good celebration.
Totally true. This remains, to my surprise, the place in which I have uninterruptedly been for longer, and the high quality conversations that emanate from here are surely something worth celebrating :)
Thank you. Real life has drastically changed several times during these years, and frankly this nation too.
I don’t remember my first, more ancient nation(s) at all, not even name or date of creation. Other puppets have risen and fallen in time but Einswenn stands as the only main nation.
Back to extinction.
As far as I imagine it (please note I am not referring to any research or official scientific odds, I rather speak about how my creative imagination sees it) the next extinction would be caused directly by human civilisation. Whether we cannot be 100% sure if global natural disasters will ever strike unexpected ways, humans themselves are the main threat to humanity. Nukes, mentioned earlier, are the classics of course but I doubt they will ever be the real apocalypse tool. Another possible option is artificial virus which could kill us all, or human activity in Antarctica where a lot of surprises are still frozen in ice and buried under meters and meters of snow.
This statement does not include the possibility of human evolution in said billions of years and dependency on the Sun may be completely not what it is today. More than that, successful colonisation of other planets will also affect settlers' DNA in coming generations. This will divide humans into new types (say races?) and the new humans won't necessarily will be dependent on the Sun either. It's a very, very long process and theoretically can be effective if every new type of humans colonise next planet gradually, lowly reducing the environmental requirements from each to each home.
Obviously the life we live and enjoy now is not what it was in more ancient times back in the evolution steps, and it obviously will be different if the environment changes in the future.
As for this part, I do agree we need to save or planet and make it be the primary hub of space exploration and colonisation. However, I can't share the idea of Earth be unable to survive 6th mass extinction. It seems to be a very natural process, and again, we don't know all the life on our home planet. If the surface species die there are undiscovered ares underwater, under Antarctica ice, even here, underground, right next to you and me. Humans are too arrogant to admit it as full as it should be. We know nothing comparing to what we have yet to learn.
In addition to my previous reply, this is what I 100% agree with. Thanks for wording it better than me.
Hey all! For those who are interested, today marks the opening of this year's NationStates Great Exhibition!
Forest participated last year as a featured region, and a different group of regions have exhibits up this year - worth checking it out.
There are also four days of "talks" and Q&A sessions that are being posted on assorted topics of interest to the NationStates public. I myself was invited to give a talk tomorrow (IE, a post in long-form) on the subject of issue writing from the perspective of an issue author. Today's first talk has been posted, on the complex topic of how to run a Regional Olympics, by experienced games-organizer Electrum. Many more talks will be posted over the coming days, on topics ranging from NS Journalism to card collecting to how monarchy works in regional governance.
It's definitely worth checking out - the NSGE is operating on the NationStates Great Exhibition forum, located here: https://nsge.jcink.net/index.php