100 years from now–fate of mankind?

So as mentioned elsewhere within the Scienceblogosphere, the Ask a Scienceblogger Question of the week is:

“Will the ‘human’ race be around in 100 years?”

Short answer: yeah. Long answer: I’m not sure why there were scare quotes around “human” (are we going to mate with cyborgs or something?), but I think it will take quite a lot to totally wipe us out. We may not be as hardy as cockroaches, but we’re adaptive as hell, and even major events (volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, massive infectious disease outbreaks, etc.) haven’t done much to put a dent in our population. I do think, though, that our quality of living has a chance to take a real tumble. Already clean water is scarce for a sixth of the world’s population, and almost half lack adequate sanitation. We’re working on royally screwing up our environment, and increases in the amount of world travel mean that a virulent, easily-transmissible infectious disease could easily do some major damage (though not enough to put much more than a dent in our overall population, IMO). Will the next century bring improvements, or more destruction? Dunno, but I’ll bet $100 that humans will still be around to see it.

5 Replies to “100 years from now–fate of mankind?”

  1. Tara writes:

    Long answer: I’m not sure why there were scare quotes around “human” (are we going to mate with cyborgs or something?)…

    Hmmmmm….fembots….sounds intriguing!

    But I suppose they’re thinking of the possibility that the organisms that are in existance at that time may have arose from the existing human species, but have changed to such an extent (for whatever reasons) that they are no longer the same species. Maybe we will genetically engineer ourselves in that time, in combination with other external factors, so that Homo sapiens gives way to Homo cyborgensis. Doubtful..but impossible?

    I agree that humans will almost certainly still be around (much to the relief of our young kids and their potential progeny) but much will be different. In some ways it’ll probably be better…in the advancement of medicine for example. But in other ways they’ll have it worse…for example in the general decline of the environment through continued global warming and probably the end of oil as an effective source of energy. Maybe they’ll have solved the fusion problem by then and all is copacetic…maybe not.

  2. i’m not convinced humans are not dying off now. I am insulted by the suggestion that Curious George Bush and I are of the same species.

  3. What about peak oil? There’ll be preciously little liquid fossil fuels left in 100 years, by the most optimistic projections. The most realistic alternative source of transport fuel is gasoline produced from coal through the FT process, as far as I can tell.

    (Fusion will always be 30 years away, ethanol takes more energy to make than it gives, biodiesel needs vast acreage, hydrogen is a energy carrier, not a source, wind and solar don’t scale up very well, etc.)

    That means bad, bad CO2 emissions, much worse than our current climate prediction models assume.

    I generally agree with your conclusion, though, that we will be around – but the more we take it for granted that we will be around, the more risky it seems.

    The possibility of nuclear war can also not quite be laid to rest – not on a perspective of a hundred years. That one may actually have the potential to kill off all our descendants.

    Sorry for the pessimism. Read it as a reminder to keep moving the world in a sane direction.

  4. Einstein discoverd. Einstein uncovered metered proplapses of space bwetwixt small planet’s surface ora firewall but the grounbreaking asromer never peculated on the orgini of other planets regarding the orgin of the public moon talented Frecnh astronomer Edward Rosche asys everything will be alright 100 years from now en hou. “It gradually contracted around rings of gas coaleasce and from planets his idea was a ball of gas. You knoew that George Bush is a ball of gas surronded by eight golf balls. “He has a much lower iron content than the Earth,” Ed says.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *