On 10/30/2013 4:01 PM, LizR wrote:
On 31 October 2013 11:40, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net <mailto:meeke...@verizon.net>> wrote:

    On 10/30/2013 2:54 PM, LizR wrote:

        Or to be exact, is humanity fucked? Or at least the vast majority of it 
- I can
        imagine some of us surviving even a catastrophic ecological collapse. 
But
        leaving aside the horrible thought that we might go 99% extinct, is 
there any
        chance for the survivors, at least, having a long term future?

        I suspect not, because the chances are they would be unable to sustain 
anything
        like our present level of technology.


    We survived about 200Myr with no more technology than flint chipping.

We didn't. When the sky fell, small mammals which hadn't yet lost their pelts or gone in for huge brains and long childhoods did.

My mistake. I meant to say 200Kyr. So if 1% survived a strike, I think they could live with technology. Technology, even agriculture, is a recent development in human history.


        A tribal or medieval human race is unlikely to last out. All the readily
        available fossil fuels have been burned, which makes another industrial
        revolution unlikely - even assuming they could learn the lessons of the 
past and
        headed towards sustainability a.s.a.p., they'd need that initial 
kick-start. And
        without attaining at least our present level of technology they would 
have no
        defence against normal planetary disaster - comet impacts, 
supervolcanoes, etc.


    I don't think we have any defense against those now.  Hell, we don't even 
have a
    defense against global warming and it's US.


My point, such as it is, is that we're at least in a position to create such defences now, or will be soon if we continue on our current trajectory (and fix all the attendant problems).

Whereas if we revert to anything prior to the industrial revolution, after a while we won't even have the /concept/ of an asteroid impact (for example). At which point an impact could easily wipe out the human race (which by then would probably only be a few million people).

Of course if there are 7 billion people it's more likely there will be survivors than if there are only few million. But an asteroid strike could easily be big enough to wipe-out all terrestrial life bigger than bacteria. We have the concept now, but we don't have any ability to do anything about it and we probably still won't fifty years from now.

Brent

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