Thursday, February 11, 2021




Neil deGrasse Tyson said that we consider ourselves intelligent creatures because the most intelligent species we have to compare ourselves to is the chimpanzee, which we share 98 percent of our DNA.


Intelligence is a far reach when we consider the human species.  We are a species that commits war and genocide on our own species.  We readily buy into mystical religions and tribal beliefs.  A small percentage of the human race has designed industries and technologies which has improved our existence on the whole, but for the majority of us we eat, shit, sleep and go about our daily existence in a dull routine.  We consume energy, produce pollution, and threaten other of our species that do not belong to our tribe. 


Individuals of the human race vary drastically in intellectual abilities, on the whole most people are poorly educated, egocentric and easily manipulated.   We only have to go back for a few weeks to see the ignorance personified by our species that ended in an attempted insurrection on the democracy of the United States.  An attempted coup, based on a lie, supported by millions, without any thought  as to what would follow.


Viewing the human race as an erratic and self-destructive lifeform; what are the chances of our survival as a species?


The possibility of human extinction has always existed through natural causes: an asteroid impact, a stellar explosion, a massive volcanic eruption or drastic climate change.  The odds have been stated as one-in-ten thousand (The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity by Toby Ord).

Better odds than winning the lottery.  


Natural causes are not the pressing danger.   The beginning of the atomic era in 1945 and our rapid acceleration of technology has now allowed humans the capability to destroy themselves. 


On August 6, 1945 the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima killing 140,000 humans.    Today the world nuclear arsenal is equivalent to 200,000 Hiroshima bombs, and we are depending on the restrain of uncertain individual to prevent a nuclear holocaust.


Man accelerated climate change presents another danger of extinction.  Since the beginning of the industrial revolution mankind has been polluting the atmosphere at an unsustainable rate.   The possibility of reaching a runaway greenhouse effect is real.  The earth atmosphere could enter an amplified feedback loop where heat increases atmospheric water vapor and the water vapor traps heat.   This loop could raise the temperature beyond human viability (i.e. Venus.)    Ord places this danger as one-in-one-thousand.   Again, better odds than the lottery.   


Natural pandemics have wreaked havoc on the human race. The Black Death pandemic of the 14th century killed between one-fourth and one half the population of Europe.   But natural pandemics are not the only threat.   Biotechnology now has the capacity to create deadly new pathogens and resurrect old ones in a more deadly and contagious forms.    Biolabs in the United States and other countries research and store these pathogens.   Between bio-error and bio-terrorism this human catastrophe is an incident waiting to happen.  Ord list the danger as one-in-thirty.   Stephen King portrayed it in The Stand.


Artificial Intelligence is the new boogie-bear theorized by technology nerds.   It goes in three stages.   One – computers are able to teach themselves.  (We are already there: the computer company Deep Mind created a program that allowed a computer to teach itself championship level chess in just a few hours).   Stage Two – programs allow computers to teach themselves not just a limited skill, but a full range of human cognition.     Stage Three – AI exceeds human intelligence.   Computers would have the ability to shut down power grids, launch nuclear weapons and control the human environment… etc.


I don’t worry as much about AI as long as we can pull the power plug out of the wall socket.  But again, which humans will be in control of the computers that control us?


I don’t necessarily buy into the odds stated by Ord; but I do believe that the human race has a sell by date for its own destruction.  


An apocalyptic event might not bring about full human demise, but it would surely bring about an end to civilization as we know it.  


My feeling is that the most pressing danger is overpopulation – population growth at an unsustainable rate.  Pollution and the depletion of natural resources will increase respectively with population growth.   The earth will reach some point within the next century where it will not be able to sustain human needs.


Of course, humans are programed to see dead generations as fictional stories, and future generations in the same light.  We are only capable of reality in the now, which allows us to see destruction of our species as a fictional event.   


the Ol’Buzzard






  1. I think the human race will survive until I am gone and after that, well, it's not my problem anymore, is it?

  2. I agree too. But I really worry about my grandchildren.

  3. Neanderthals survived for many times longer than H sapiens has. We may be a flash in the pan. Not sure we will be missed. You have listed the major likelihoods of our demise and no the odds are not good.

  4. Does one think that any warnings of overpopulation would ever stop the sexually privileged from screwing a la "social class Carte Blanche"?

  5. I feel that you are overly optimistic about the demise of everything being so far into the future.

  6. The movie "Planet of the Apes" is always on my mind. The human race has relentlessly destroyed the very earth that sustains us. Even animals know not to foul their own nests. Nature and man's medical knowledge provided us with everything we needed to survive and flourish. Even if we now set on a path to mitigate the damage, we don't know for sure we can save it.


COMMENT: Ben Franklin said, "I imagine a man must have a good deal of vanity who believes, and a good deal of boldness who affirms, that all doctrines he holds are true, and all he rejects are false."