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How serious are earth's problems

How serious is the threat to humanity

Poll closed Jul 18, 2006.
  1. Beyond hope; The planet is dying

    2 vote(s)
  2. Catastrophic; Life as we know it will change fundamentally

    6 vote(s)
  3. Serious; Significant changes will affect our way of life

    23 vote(s)
  4. Of concern; Worthy of our attention and planning

    10 vote(s)
  5. Not a concern; Life will go on without serious interruptions

    11 vote(s)
  1. Jul 18, 2005 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    I was just curious how serious you all believe our problems may be, if at all. This is meant within the context of anthropogenic, or natural causes or processes - global climate change, pollution, despeciation, loss of habitat, chemistry changes such as ocean Ph levels, etc; and not to include chemical or nuclear warfare, or other similar intentional acts, or acts of terror. The seriousness is taken as a measure of the threat posed to humanity by one, some, or all concerns combined.

    Edit: Consider the time frame of 50 - 500 years.
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 18, 2005 #2
    Serious; Significant changes will affect our way of life

    The world will change, and it will effect the way we live. When it will happen is anyones guess, but it has happened enough to know, it will happen again.
    What will cause it, is also anyones guess. Perhaps one big even, or a series of smaller ones. All of our eco-systems are tied in with each other, I can see how a domino effect would happen.
  4. Jul 18, 2005 #3
    It used to be completely horrendous to me to consider that we might wipe out 10, 20, 30% of the species on the planet....

    And I think we are. But now, I sort of am resigned to this stupidity. The more people prioritize some vague notion of sustained, eternal, economic growth over biodiversity, the less likely we are to try to curb our appetites for that sort of growth. And as I realize how much people prioritize economy growth, I begin to realize that no species (or precious few) will be considered worth saving.

    Especially when the corporations run the elections.

    Everyone needs a thneed. A thneed's a fine something that all people need. =sigh.=

    On the plus side, we won't wipe out all the microorganisms, and that'll give us a leg up next time around.
  5. Jul 18, 2005 #4
    In case I wasn't clear, I value biodiversity in general over certain human societal quirks. So for example, terror attacks are awful, horrific, but do not concern me in the sustained way that deforestation does.
  6. Jul 18, 2005 #5


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    What exactly is the "threat" though. There have been periods in Earth's life where humans wouldnt have anything close to a chance of living through and it was just part of a natural cycle. With that... you can say something will significantly affect our lives but we really cant do anything about it. Other things such as the theory of global warming can be significant but they surely can be planned for and 'solved' in a sense. So what exactly are we talking about?
  7. Jul 18, 2005 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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    We are talking about expectations for events, say within the next 50-500 years. I should have indicated a time frame. There has been a great deal of discussion about all of these subjects, but I was curious about the perception of the total impact that we can expect in the coming centuries. Obviously our expectations for the extreme future, say in terms of geologic time scales, are rather meaningless.
  8. Jul 19, 2005 #7


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    A dark industrialized world with no wild life and a few parks, humans have
    polluted the rivers, oceans and land, global companies have all the political
    clout and human life is cheap, thats progress.
  9. Jul 19, 2005 #8
    Hi Hypatia,

    "When it will happen is anyones guess"

    I think it's happening now. Whether or not the shift in the Arctic Oscillation (AO) is happening due to CFCs or CO2 causing strtospheric cooling. It seems to be the AO shift that is responsible for, amongst other things, the drought in parts of the mediterranean region. Indeed here in the UK rainfall patterns have changed.

    It is reasonable to say that change has happened before, and nature re-adjusts. New niches open up and every mass extinction is a chance for species to adapt and fill the available niches.

    But for those who 'like things as they are' it is a concern. I don't see the 'end of the world'. Indeed for those of us in rich nations like the UK Peak Oil is an issue that is more likely to affect us in our everyday lives than climate change.
  10. Jul 19, 2005 #9


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    Watch, tomorrow nasa is going to come out and say theres a meteor going to hit us in a few days and thats teh end of that. I'm very pro-meteor. It'd make a lot of people look stupid and we'd for once be certain of how we're all going to die.
  11. Jul 19, 2005 #10
    Pengwuino, "I'm very pro-meteor." Does that mean you're some kind of mileniarist hoping for the wrath of God? ;)

    Seriously, I suspect you are in favour of trying to track every near earth object that poses a threat. If so, I agree fully! Good insurance, low risk - high impact, an event to be avoided if we can.

    "we'd for once be certain of how we're all going to die." As a 20+ a day smoker I've got a hunch as to how I'll go: Coughin' to the coffin. i.e. You could always take up smoking. ;)
  12. Jul 19, 2005 #11


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    No, if i had my way, you'd die in the meteor attack next week. I Just want something to blow us all up. Dont have to worry about the middle east, oil prices, the supreme court, global warming (oh boy will there be some warming!)
  13. Jul 19, 2005 #12
    The "meteor attack" LOL.

    We Americans are hopeless.

    Pengwuino, you do realize that meteors have no volition, don't you?

    But I like your scenario. I always hated the idea of dying and leaving my kids, or having them die first, same with my husband ---- A meteor impact would solve all those problems!
  14. Jul 19, 2005 #13
    -=Catastrophic; Life as we know it will change fundamentally=-

    I don´t see humanity change over the next 500 odd years to a species that will look further into the future than say 10 years (talking about humanity as a whole, not the <10% that actually uses its brain for more than personal gain.)

    So, in the end i think our greatest achievement will be changing life a we know it.

    P.S. i got locked out of my old account due to a deleted mail acount, deleted cookie´s and a lost pw, this is the continuation of the account known as Marijn
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2005
  15. Jul 20, 2005 #14
    The question is a bit ambiguous but if it is concerning the near future of mankind, then it requires some serious attention. The big problem though is to figure out the right thing to do.
  16. Jul 20, 2005 #15


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    Now that is looking on the bright side of catastrophe. It sounds like Pengwuino is going through a nihilistic phase.

    I voted 'of concern', because the current problems are 'solvable' assuming enough people really want to solve the problems.

    Regardless of the state of humanity, the planet will exist. Presumably, between now and the next 4-5 billion years, the sun will go nova (unless theories of stellar evolution have changed) and all life on earth will cease. Where will mankind be then?

    One of the biggest problems in humanity is greed and selfishness - it seems to be the root of many, perhaps most, problems.
  17. Jul 20, 2005 #16
    Exactly, the total rate of testosterone per square mile is increasing and so does the natural agression. But other than that, We see the apparantly drastic events that show in the Greenland ice cores as "Dansgaard Oeschger" events, whatever they are. Now, could they have prevented humanity to build an early civilisation? And what if they occur again? How serious is that threat to humanity?
  18. Aug 22, 2005 #17
    i have voted for serious. quite apart from global warming, nobody i believe has failed to notice that percentagewise natural ecosystems has become a minority and human induced artificial ecosystems dominate the world. this trend is unlikely to be reversed in the near future and would cause major long term changes in the global ecosystems and natural cycles. one thing is certain , evolution of cognitive species like humans is a watershed in the history of life and future of life on earth will no longer mirror its past history.
  19. Aug 22, 2005 #18
    I voted serious,

    JMHO, global warming will change a few maps and possibly begin some extreme scenarios like that in the movie 'The day after tomorrow' over the next decade, pollution is making water, air and land more hazardous to our health, the decrease in biodiversity among micro and macro organisms could signal future problems with the food chain.
  20. Aug 23, 2005 #19
    It really isnt that serious. Humans can be copared to any other animal. When the popualion goes up, that habitat can only handle so large of a population. In this case, human has made the entire planet their habitat. So the population will grow exponentially until resources will run out. Unless interstellar travel becomes possible to safely alieviate the population boom, the poorer countries will fight amongst themselves and there will be staving people and proverty will rise. It is inevitable, nothing can be done except delay it for a small amount of time. Wars and famine will reduce the population, thus making it area habitable again only to repeat the cycle over and over again. It is a sad and depressing end, but there is nothing that can be done about it.
  21. Aug 25, 2005 #20
    This is just a toss up and because I hate to give in to defeatism type views but how about this? Those that we put into (or that have) positions of power (worldwide), start working together with one another not to rape the Earths resources and steal or seize resources from other countries, to draft policies that promote ecolgically safe and nonpolluting methods of industrial production, think about establising policies that open up dialogue between groups of people interested in making the world a better place for everyone not just ethinicities, nationalities or eliticists. (I know its a fantasy)
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