Extinction, how scary does it sound. Until a few years ago the word extinct was only used for animals species that we have lost. Which, by the way, are 11. 11 animals gone extinct and about 20,000 animals and plants that are at a high risk of following. The cause of this; humans. And now we learn that humankind itself is chasing down the same path. Almost close to an end. How could that be happening? We have been proved the most powerful species on planet throughout history!
To answer that question let me ask first, What do we know about the origins of mankind? A basic history lesson is in order.
Different species have existed in history but the first human like creature that scientists acknowledged were in Africa about 200,000 years ago. Homo Ergaster, later known as Homo Erectus, were first to colonise Asia. Homo Sapiens also evolved in Africa around 120,000 years ago, they spread out in Europe. Both species came close to going extinct about 75,000 years ago.Homo Sapiens eventually survived, Homo Erectus however did not, closely followed by other human species.
Even up till 100,000 years ago, we still had several human species on Earth. Our ancestors, Homo Sapiens, were the only survivors of extinction and the logical explanation is that their brains were more developed than the other species. They evolved with time, making new weapons, language and introducing trade. Spreading across, populating the globe. Ultimately to the life as we know it.
Which brings us to now, the second time human race is threatened by extinction. First time it happened the reasons were climate change, volcanic eruption and ice age. What’s destroying human race now? Get this; it’s not natural disasters or climate change or alien attack, it’s nuclear war and genetically-engineered viruses and basically all man-made problems that pose an imminent threat to humanity.Progress for the sake of progress has landed us in a position where our own advance achievements have started to become the main reason of our setbacks.
Stephan Hawking has declared this a very sensitive stage for human race. He believes that we might not last another millennia at the pace we are going. He warned: “Although the chance of a disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next thousand or ten thousand years. By that time we should have spread out into space, and to other stars, so a disaster on Earth would not mean the end of the human race. However, we will not establish self-sustaining colonies in space for at least the next hundred years, so we have to be very careful in this period.”
In other words if we don’t get out of Earth and start over, animals won’t be the only species erased from existence. There are those who suggest taking drastic steps to avoid this. Like The Voluntary Extinction Movement, which is an environmental movement that calls for all people to abstain from reproduction to cause the gradual reduction of humankind. VHEMT supports the movement because, in the group’s view, it would prevent environmental degradation.
This reminds me of a book I read called Inferno by Dan Brown which is about a movement, very similar to VHEMT, lead by Bertrand Zobrist. A genetic engineer who believes that the rising numbers in human population will cause massive disruption and nuclear wars would begin over water, food, natural resources, basic necessities, eventually leading to destruction of Earth and mankind; ergo, human extinction. He creates a vector virus that is activated to employ DNA modification to cause sterility in 1/3 of humans, thereby reducing population growth to an unthreatening level.
Let’s hope we can find a better solution than a virus. Hawking suggests that we all get a basic understanding about space and spread our horizons. Otherwise we might not last to tell the tale of how Human race survived second threat of extinction.
On a lighter note, the odds are in our favour, we have the most brilliant minds figuring out ways to prevent this. We will surely find a way around it. By we, I mean the Physicists, Astro physicist, Scientists and Engineers of course. The weight of saving all of humanity rests on their shoulders. No pressure!