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Three Paths to Near-term Human Extinction

Three Paths to Near-term Human Extinction | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it

About a decade ago I realized we were putting the finishing touches on our own extinction party, with the shindig probably over by mid-century.

During the intervening period I’ve seen nothing to sway this belief, and much evidence to reinforce it. Yet the protests, ridicule, and hate mail reach a fervent pitch when I speak or write about the potential for near-term extinction of Homo sapiens. I hear how:

We’re different.
We’re special.
We’re too intelligent.
We’ll find a way out. We always do.
We’re humans, and therefore animals. Like all life, we’re special. Like all organisms, we’re susceptible to overshoot. Like all organisms, we will experience population decline after overshoot.

Let’s take stock of our current predicaments, beginning with one of several ongoing processes likely to cause our extinction. Then I’ll point out the good not quite so bad news.

We’re headed for extinction via global climate change

It’s hotter than it used to be, but not as hot as it’s going to be.

The political response to this now-obvious information is to suspend the scientist bearing the bad news. Which, of course, is no surprise at all: As Australian scientist Gideon Polya points out, the US must cease production of greenhouse gases within about three years if we’re to avoid catastrophic runaway greenhouse. I think Polya is optimistic, and I don’t think Obama’s on-board with the attendant collapse of the US industrial economy.

Climate change is one of three likely extinction events. Well, three I know about: I’m certain there are others, and any number can play.

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Stupidity Is Not A Valid Defense For Us - The Automatic Earth

Stupidity Is Not A Valid Defense For Us - The Automatic Earth | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it

If we can't plead stupidity, what else is there? How do we live with ourselves? Is it all the stuff we buy that manages to numb our brains and consciences?

 

When I see a headline like this one at Bloomberg today, World Needs Record Saudi Oil Supply as OPEC Convenes, there’s just one thought that pops into my head: what the world needs is for us to stop doing this thing we’re doing. Even apart from peak oil concerns, it’s obvious we’re going to run out at some point or another, and it doesn’t matter whether that’s tomorrow or at some other point in the future, though we do know it’s not going to take another 100 years, or even 50.

 

And nothing will ever take the place of oil; once those unique carbons are gone, that’s it, we’ll have to find a completely different way of running our societies, and if we’re not smart enough to prepare for that beforehand, we’ll be cats fighting in a sack and use the last scraps to kill off each other. And our legacy won’t be the Greek thinkers and Picasso and Dostoyevsky and Walt Whitman and Maria Callas, since there won’t be the means for our children anymore to share what makes man great between them. Our main legacy will instead be bloodshed, we will have gone the exact same path that any non-thinking or even primitive organism would have taken, who don’t have opera or philosophy or poetry to their name.

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David Collet's curator insight, August 2, 2014 8:26 PM

A thoughtfull read.

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Top 10 Bushcraft & Survival Skills To Practice This Winter - The Good Survivalist

Top 10 Bushcraft & Survival Skills To Practice This Winter - The Good Survivalist | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it
During the winter many people become like bears, they hibernate. Venturing outdoors way less often than they do during the warmer months. Personally I think those people are missing out on a great part of life by not enjoying the cool crisp air, or a quick hike along a favorite trail. It’s quite invigorating. One …
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Six right livelihood guidelines - StumbleUpon

Six right livelihood guidelines

Consume mindfully.

Eat with awareness and gratitude.Pause before buying and see if breathing is enough.Pay attention to the effects of media you consume.

Pause. Breathe. Listen.

When you feel compelled to speak in a meeting or conversation, pause.Breathe before entering your home, pleace of work, or school.Listen to the people you encounter. They are buddhas.

Practice gratitude.

Notice what you haveBe equally grateful for opportunities and challenges.Share joy, not negativity.

Cultivate compassion and loving kindness.

Notice where help is needed and be quick to helpConsider others' perspectives deeply.Work for peace at many levels.

Discover wisdom

Cultivate "don't know" mind (= curiosity).Find connections between Buddhist teachings and your life.Be open to what arises in every moment.

Accept constant change.

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24 Thoughts That Will Make You Re-Consider Your Entire Existence - StumbleUpon

Space is big – like, really, really big.

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A modern "hermit's cabin" | Parra + Edwards

A modern "hermit's cabin" | Parra + Edwards | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it
Parra + Edwards Arquitectos designed this modern studio cabin in the forest outside Santiago, Chile. La Nave Anacoreta ("Hermit's Ship") was conceived as a small boat floating in a sea of foliage. ...
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La Nina Extreme Weather Pattern May Double by Century's End

La Nina Extreme Weather Pattern May Double by Century's End | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it
La Ninas bring floods and droughts to different parts of the world
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High-Altitude Forests in the Himalayas Harder Hit by Droughts

High-Altitude Forests in the Himalayas Harder Hit by Droughts | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it
Why are plateau and mountain timberlines in Asia shifting downslope, despite global warming?
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What's Next for the Automobile?

What's Next for the Automobile? | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it
Forget alternative fuels: the next big change for cars lies in information technology and automation, which will lead to new designs and are the best hope for the widespread adoption of all-electric vehicles
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What Do Farmers Think about Climate Change?

What Do Farmers Think about Climate Change? | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it
Most farmers believe climate change is occurring but do not trust those who clamor for action
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What a Warming World Means for Snowstorms

What a Warming World Means for Snowstorms | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it
A warmer world could mean fewer storms but bigger snowfalls
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Is Recycling Worth the Effort?

Is Recycling Worth the Effort? | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it
The value of recycling depends on the material in question and whether all hidden costs and benefits go into the analysis. David Biello reports
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Abandoned oil and gas wells are leaking methane across the USA

Abandoned oil and gas wells are leaking methane across the USA | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it
Millions of abandoned oil and gas wells are leaking across the USA. In PA alone, leaks cause 10 percent of all emissions and there is no plan to deal with them.
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Rand Paul's Crazy Dream of a Libertarian-Democratic Alliance on Civil Rights Is Actually Happening

Rand Paul's Crazy Dream of a Libertarian-Democratic Alliance on Civil Rights Is Actually Happening | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it
In crime bills, signs of that rarest Washington unicorn: bipartisanship.
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We Ignore Unintended Consequences At Our Peril

We Ignore Unintended Consequences At Our Peril | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it
Early in my business career, I was faced with a challenge that gave me an appreciation for a critical lesson about life and business. It's that oftentimes, even with the best of intentions, our ac
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Meghalaya: The Wettest Place on Earth - StumbleUpon

Photographer Amos Chapple returns to our site once once again, bringing amazing images from the state of Meghalaya, India, reportedly the rainiest spot on Earth. The village of Mawsynram in Meghalaya receives 467 inches of rain per year. Laborers who work outdoors often wear full-body umbrellas made from bamboo and banana leaf. One of the most fascinating and beautiful features in the region are the "living bridges" spanning rain-soaked valleys. For centuries, locals have been training the roots of rubber trees to grow into natural bridges, far outlasting man-made wooden structures that rot in just a few years. The bridges are self-strengthening, becoming more substantial over time, as the root systems grow. 

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Oil Price Crash Continues to Ripple Through Economy

Oil Price Crash Continues to Ripple Through Economy | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it
What the Oil industry has in mind for America, is that the entire country become something of a resource colony, with boom and bust cycles disrupting and ultimately impoverishing communities all ac...
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Teacher: I see the difference in educational privilege every day. I live it. I am disgusted by it.

Teacher: I see the difference in educational privilege every day. I live it. I am disgusted by it. | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it
'Almost every day, I slip food to one of my students. Both of his parents are in prison. Or, one of his parents is in prison and the other is dead. We can’t quite get the full story from him....Where there is money, there is education. Where there isn’t money, there is excessive testing, lack of curricular options, and struggle.'
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BPA Exposure May Change Stem Cells, Lower Sperm Production

BPA Exposure May Change Stem Cells, Lower Sperm Production | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it
Chemicals that mimic estrogen hamper development of the stem cells responsible for making sperm in mice
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Boston's Got a Gas Problem as Methane Seeps from City

Boston's Got a Gas Problem as Methane Seeps from City | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it
Boston's leaky infrastructure for transporting natural gas is a big climate problem
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India and U.S. Commit to Global Fight against Climate Change

India and U.S. Commit to Global Fight against Climate Change | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it
The U.S. and India pledged to work together toward a new pact to curb global warming
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Taking a closer look at the global oil supply/demand balance | Plugged In, Scientific American Blog Network

Taking a closer look at the global oil supply/demand balance | Plugged In, Scientific American Blog Network | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it
Global oil prices are at their lowest levels in six years. Supply is up and demand increases are sluggish. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) ...
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Keystone XL Pipeline May Force Republicans to Embrace Climate Change

Keystone XL Pipeline May Force Republicans to Embrace Climate Change | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it
The Senate's battle over the controversial pipeline is likely to have an impact on presidential politics
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Nor’easters May Become More Intense with Climate Change

Nor’easters May Become More Intense with Climate Change | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it
As Northeasterners hunker down to weather tonight’s potentially record-breaking winter storm, they may also want to brace themselves for even more severe nor’easters in the future
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Ancient Sea Rise Tale Told Accurately for 10,000 Years

Ancient Sea Rise Tale Told Accurately for 10,000 Years | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it
Aboriginal stories of lost islands match up with underwater finds in Australia
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U.S. EPA chief hopes pope will spur concern on climate change

U.S. EPA chief hopes pope will spur concern on climate change | Sustain Our Earth | Scoop.it
Obama shares pope's belief climate change is a moral issue as effects will be felt most by poorest, official says
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