As the pandemic continues to leave a disastrous impact on the world, on our economy, our health, and our community many have asked the question when will humans go extinct. Is a pandemic able to end the entire human raise or will it take something greater? Will humans go extinct in the future or can we live forever?
There is a simple answer to this. We will go extinct. 99.9% of any species that have ever lived have gone extinct. While we can take pride in the fact that we are part of the 0.1% that remains we should not count our chickens just yet. Even human species has faced extinction in the past. Neanderthals and Homo Erectus both died out many years ago and who is to say how much longer Homo Sapiens can survive. The question is therefore not if we will go extinct, but when.
Depending on who you listen to you may think it will be quite soon. The Mayans allegedly predicted the world would end in 2012, then someone realized we were reading it wrong and that it actually said 2020. That feels right based on some of the news that has happened in this strange year. However, at present it feels like we are still not at the end of the world. Many others do argue that we are close though.
They say that the ongoing climate change will soon make Earth unlivable and kill us all. They say a world war will soon take place and be the war to end the world. They say that a stronger disease than COVID-19 is only around the corner and will wipe us all out. Are they right? Are we so vulnerable right now?
There is clear evidence that we are vulnerable. Looking at it from a historical perspective we have some weaknesses that have cost species their existence before. We are large, warm-blooded animals. In terms of the species that generally survive catastrophic events, it is the warm-blooded ones that do worst. We need to eat often and that means that we are pretty bad if the world is disrupted for a short period of time. To add to that we live very long lives and produce slowly. This means that from an evolution standpoint it takes us a long time to evolve to deal with change.
However, there are positive signs too. We are well spread. We cover a great area of the world so if a catastrophe happens in one part of the world at least we have survivors somewhere else. We have a large population too. If 99% of the world population was gone we would still have millions to restart civilization. We have one other advantage, we are strange.
We are stranger than any species that has come before. We are adaptable, we are interconnected, we are technologically advanced. This means that although we can take a long time to evolve we can change our behavior quickly. We have seen this during the current pandemic crisis. People stayed indoors, people wore masks, people washed hands, to contain the virus. As long as we act intelligently we can fight off a lot of potential catastrophes. If another incredible event happened we could do a lot more too. If we learned that an asteroid was going to hit the Earth we could probably build underground living quarters to survive or send a large number of people off the planet.
The reality is that we are the most adaptable species that has ever lived and while our extinction is guaranteed it will likely not be for a very long time. Unless we act stupidly and selfishly, which to be fair, is always a risk.