Monday, May 29, 2006

Posing the 100 Year Question:

Peter McGrath very usefully mentioned this posting by PZ Myers which asked the question "Will the 'human' race be around in 100 years?

Myers speculates on three possible outcomes:

1. We keep going as we have been. The population is double what it is now or more, and resources are scarcer. We continue to tear at the planet, squabbling over what's left, and we're wallowing in poverty and war and desperation. That can't last, of course: sometime beyond that century mark, or before, we hit scenario 2.

2. There is a major resource crash. The oceans are exhausted, climate change wrecks agriculture, plagues rip through a bloated population, and there is a massive die-off of humanity. Populations drop precipitously, leaving only scattered enclaves. Civilization as we know it ends. Humanity continues, but in a barbarous state.

3. The optimistic scenario: some cultures practice restraint, using technology to control population growth and develop sustainable food and energy resources. They work to bring about scientific and technological advances that improve their chances for survival and progress. Unfortunately, the whole world won't do that: the gap between the haves and have nots widens. On one side, population reductions by choice and with little disruption; on the other, population reductions by starvation and suppression and war.

Here's a tip: spend some time reading through the comments to Myers' post. Some very good thought-provoking stuff here , with links to some other sites. After all , if you are going to have a baby in the next few years, the end of the century could be your baby's old age.

In my next post I want to write about how option 1 might look in practice - the "Underkill" answer.


peter said...

Ha. Another case of Pharyngulitis.

Chris Black said...


And I caught it from you!

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