Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Stephen Hawking warning that our extinction is on the horizon

  1. Apr 13, 2013 #1
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-11386_3-57579003-76/stephen-hawking-predicts-end-of-earth-scenario/
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 13, 2013 #2

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    :rolleyes:

    I wonder if he's pondered how much energy would be involved - and how much time.

    There really isn't a practical alternative to the planet we currently inhabit.
     
  4. Apr 13, 2013 #3
    I think he might just be trying to get people to support funding NASA.
    A lot of people don't think it's necessary. They don't understand how it affects their lives directly, so they don't care about it.
     
  5. Apr 13, 2013 #4

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Wouldn't population control make more sense? Oh, I guess that would require common sense and responsilble actions by people and the groups they're ruled by.

    Nevermind.
     
  6. Apr 13, 2013 #5
    He's losing it at this stage in his life, making claims that seem down right dramatic.
     
  7. Apr 13, 2013 #6
    Yes, nothing new. I've seen other "crackpots" spouting the same rhetoric.
     
  8. Apr 13, 2013 #7

    lisab

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I wish prominent scientists would do what they're good at: being extraordinary scientists, and not trying to be sages.
     
  9. Apr 13, 2013 #8

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I wonder if they are going to start screening what gets released to the media? It would be a shame for what he achieved to be replaced by memories of him losing it.
     
  10. Apr 14, 2013 #9
    He doesn't cite over-population as the problem, though.

    "Human battering," I'm sure, refers to assaults on the environment: cutting down forests, pollution, human introduced non-native species, that sort of thing.
     
  11. Apr 14, 2013 #10

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    In all fairness to the good doctor, he mentioned a thousand years. We've had a space program for a little over 60 years. The idea may seem a bit more practical in five hundred years.

    With the drive towards life extension, ending hunger, and a more humane world, population control may never be a reality. So far our track record suggests that we will exploit every resource at our disposal until it's gone with little regard for the consequences. We are currently striving for sustainable technologies, but the jury is out on whether we can really achieve sustainable lifestyles or not.
     
  12. Apr 14, 2013 #11
    "Over population" is another crackpottery notion.

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/multimedia/2010/11/world_population

    http://www.worldbank.org/depweb/english/beyond/beyondco/beg_03.pdf

    http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/longrange2/WorldPop2300final.pdf

    http://www.metla.fi/tiedotteet/2011/pdf/CPF-final-press-release-forests-human-health.pdf

    The last link is about untapped forests that could be utilized for human advantage.

    The other links are mainly about the human population birth rate decreasing not increasing (the birth rate is still rising, but when compared to previous years, it has decreased in number of children born to a single family), it is expected to plateau off at around 10 billion (I rounded up). 10 billion people is not "overpopulation" when taking in landmass, resources, etc...
     
  13. Apr 14, 2013 #12

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    That's all fine, but none of it takes into account continuing drops in the death rate. If we are looking out even 100 years, we might see dramatic increases in the average lifespan. And the current stresses on ecosystems and various resources, peak oil, and even the threat of severe shortages of clean water in some parts of the world, are no secret. We aren't talking about the next decade, so this isn't an alarmist argument, but unless we can achieve sustainable lifestyles, it is hard to see how we don't eventually reach a breaking point. So far, there is no evidence that our lifestyles are sustainable on a global basis. We may soon face many crises.
     
  14. Apr 14, 2013 #13

    WannabeNewton

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    It would be bad news for Mother Nature if our species lasted even that long. The poor thing :[
     
  15. Apr 14, 2013 #14

    AlephZero

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Equating "current unsustainable lifestyle" with "human extinction" doesn't necessarily follow.

    From studies of human genetics, it seems that the global human population crashed to only 3,000 - 10,000 survivors, about 70,000 years ago. And we are still here. The cause may have been http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toba_catastrophe_theory
     
  16. Apr 14, 2013 #15

    jim hardy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    Don't dismiss Evo lightly..

    Asimov has been warning about overpopulation since the 1940's.

    Try a search 'Asimov overpopulation'




    we ought to do something about our energy habit.
    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2186 [Broken]
    CMO.jpg

    http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/fossil-fuels/joules-btus-quadslets-call-the-whole-thing-off



    CubicMile_ncmo01_0_zps3411ccb2.gif

    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2186 [Broken]

    And it's not just "Peak Oil" anymore:
    https://www.crops.org/publications/cs/abstracts/50/5/1882
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  17. Apr 14, 2013 #16

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    You can't seriously think that just because we can continue cramming humans into every remaining piece of land on earth that there is no problem or that it would even be feasable. It's not that hard to find information on the destruction of the rain forests, pollution of the oceans, etc... to see how much damage we are doing.

    It's about quality of life, jobs, healthcare, availability of food and water, and environmental impact.

    http://www.colorado.edu/econ/courses/roper/sustainable-economics/pop/royal-society_92.html

    A good example for you to study would be Ethiopia. They have a vast amount of arable land, yet the people suffer from hunger, lack of safe water, lack of sanitation, etc...

    http://www.future-agricultures.org/pdf%20files/SG_paper_3.pdf [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  18. Apr 14, 2013 #17
    I will have to take it in parts.

    Part A: "If we are looking out even 100 years, we might see dramatic increases in the average lifespan."

    The world bank, the U.N., both take into account of dropping death rates and longevity. There has been an increase in longevity and with that a decrease in the overall birth rates as compared to decade/centuries before.

    The worldbank link takes the decline in the death rates for developing countries:

    ... for developed countries:

    The UN's link is based on models from prior years projection of population growth with a continual increase in longevity. If the population's replacement level isn't stabilized, to which the UN link and the world bank link state that the population replacement level is below the stabilizing factor of 1, then we won't see a dramatic increase in population growth rates. The UN link goes into further detail that this replacement level will begin to become more stabilized in the year 2175 based on their projection models. This is taking into account longevity and decrease in death rates. I'll post some excerpts:

    (UN-link, Section B: World Population)

    They base this off two different possibilities ranging from where the population spikes to 36B or drops to 2B. They take these two models and place them around the expected medium value of 9B-10B. This section later goes over different possibilities between a deviation from the medium to the high-end possibility, to the low-end possibility.

    Part B: (Ivan) "And the current stresses on ecosystems and various resources, peak oil, and even the threat of severe shortages of clean water in some parts of the world, are no secret." & (Evo) "It's not that hard to find information on the destruction of the rain forests, pollution of the oceans, etc... to see how much damage we are doing."


    Clean Water:

    These aren't solely related to population increase, rather malpractice of corporations. I'd put it under, "complex issue". Thus, I believe to link a decrease in clean water to population increase to be unreasonable. I have yet to see, in my research, a positive correlation between increase population and decrease in clean water. I have seen research into the transfer of pollutants though that undermines the CWA.

    (Bolded = interesting). This source is in the article of litigation from, "The Water Transfers Rule: Weakening the Clean Water Act One Reasonable Interpretation at a Time."

    ^ Is in the U.S.

    Part C: Ethiopia and Landmass

    The developing world... Specifically, "A good example for you to study would be Ethiopia. They have a vast amount of arable land, yet the people suffer from hunger, lack of safe water, lack of sanitation, etc..."

    The link you told me to study doesn't even show a direct correlation between population growth and lack of resources. If any thing it showed that insufficient farm practices, although producing more grains per hectare, were stifled by acquirable land and technologies to effectively capitalize on such benefits. Also, the farmers that were able to produce increasing gains did not follow Ethiopia's government recommendation which was based of the recommendations of reputable agriculturalists.

    Not only that Ethiopia's practice of farming agriculture is below the standard of Africa.

    Given the above, I fail to see how this supports your argument. In fact, it takes away from your argument given your link. I will post some excerpts from your link that I found particularly interesting though to give credence to what I have said.

    From your link:

    In your favor, Ethiopia does have a higher population rate compared to the grain production rate, but this grain production rate isn't stifled by higher populations. Given that, it wouldn't be sound to draw the conclusion that population rates (increasing) result in a lower amount of resources. This is the case as the link specifically states that it is much ado to, as I stated above, insufficient farming methods:

    In drawing to such conclusions, nowhere is there an indication of population increase causes lack of resources. The conclusions that are drawn primarily stem from farming methods that I have stated way too many times now.

    You base this off of your first link you posted which had some questionable statements, that the population based on the link I posted of the U.N. to be around 10B in 2050. This is the world population we are talking about.

    Again, the onus is on you to prove that the area of landmass is insufficient to support 10B people. Also, we aren't cramming even 7B people into the world as it is now.


    You're oversimplifying a complex issue. Just like the clean water position above, this is more complicated than what you are trying to purport here. I need to see your citations and the two you've given me thus far do nothing to support such statements.

    Part D: Jim Hardy

    That is interesting and true. But this practice of wheat growing is based on an old model that was for a lesser population. Given that populations increase with better quality of health and longevity, using an older model for a much smaller population in terms of grain production, is rather backward and lazy. But I couldn't read more than the abstract so I went scouring the net for some more information in the link and found...

    ^ Based on your link.

    Source: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2010/08/has-wheat-peaked.html [Broken]

    I will search into oil and energy production later. So the rest is just my opinion now.

    Energy needs can be changed given that their are proper intiatives in place. I remember reading about how a certain popular use of hair spray was destroying the ozone in Australia and the Australian government took measures to tackle the problem, and they did as much. I also remember reading that in the past, I forgot the decade it was, but when a person went to pump gas the abscence of the nozzle to keep in the toxins (as much as possible I believe) were contributing to poor air quality. After the U.S. government noticed this (the EPA brought it to their attention) the government issued the nozzle on the gas hose, and by doing as such this helped air quality.

    I said all of this because in cases such as oil or clean water as I addressed above, you cannot say, "more people = worse environments." I think it intellectual dishonesty to immediately have that knee jerk reaction. With a combination of efforts by scientists and the government, these sorts of problems can be reduced and the population can remain at the numbers projected in the U.N. model of 10B.

    What you're are doing is looking at the issues and immediately drawing population growth as the problem, and this neglects what is actually causing it. Sort of like going into the bar and seeing two men fight and immediately drawing the conclusion that the knuckles are the problem. Sure, the knuckles are present but is that the actual problem?


    EDIT: I forgot to support my statement of malpractice of corporations polluting water:

    http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/12/epa-water-aquifer-drilling-fracking-waste
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  19. Apr 14, 2013 #18

    Evo

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Mental, I'm not talking about if there is hypothetically enough land mass to keep x number of humans alive, go back and read what I said. Also, the problem in Ethiopia demonstrates the types of *real* problems that exist. The following paper seems to address the type of thinking you follow, IMO.

    http://www.jayhanson.us/page118.htm

    And as I said, environmental problems are just one of many issues such as quality of life, jobs, healthcare, etc...

    When the UN came out with it's recommendation for population control, the Catholic church had a fit and forced the UN to back off.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2013
  20. Apr 14, 2013 #19

    OmCheeto

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    I can.

    And for the record, I don't have a problem with Hawking's statement, as it seems that c|net kind of pulled it out of context.

    I prefer the L.A. Times version:

    (ref)
    Walking along, looking at your feet, you will find random pennies. (or in Zoob's case, random dollars)

    Look up, and you will find....

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIwvLJX-Olg ​

    It's quite possible that only Hooper would understand what I'm trying to convey.
     
  21. Apr 14, 2013 #20
    I will read that link you gave later as I have to get back to work in a bit, but I wanted to respond to something in particular that I found surprising because you posted it.

    This is the same church that would rather see people die in Africa of aides because of a holy book. The same people that instead of concerning the teachings of Jesus Christ, their lord, whom Pope stands in place of, whom God had instructed, "no-one can stand in place of me(paraphrased)", instead of following the teachings of justice, would rather "relocate" pedophiles. The same people that believe a human in some expensive regalia talks to a being outside of this world and, therefore, we must follow their teachings because this person in expensive regalia holds the voice of God in his head. The same people that exclude other types of individuals because only God can talk to European males. God doesn't talk to Asian, African, or any other race of individuals, or women, because God apparently made women to be lesser, only western, white, European males does God talk to. So, I don't really care for what this church has to say and this means little to me. This is a cult, not a credible organization.

    I've been following your posts for quite some time and would have never thought you'd post something like this. It seems out of character to me. But I don't know why, it just kind of irritated me that yet again the Catholic church stifles progress with regressive thinking. They are a cult, a huge cult. I don't care for them or their little teachings they get while humming to themselves hearing their own voices giving speeches in the tongue of the Angels. These people need to be written off as loons because that is essentially what they are, loons.

    Every time this happens. "Oh! Don't you begin cloning because it is against the natural order of what God wills" These peoples thoughts are a poison to society, a sickness. They have no place, or should have no place or authority in a civilized world because their belief is a barbaric nuisance to progress.

    Work shouldn't be influenced by notions of delusion. The Catholic church makes it their moral imperative to remain in a state of delusion.


    Yes, these are problems we both agree on this. I am essentially saying that we can have a population size in the numbers of 9B-12B and still live relatively comfortable. This assumption rests on governments of the world actually making progress and reforms in technology, etc... As for our health, the link I posted in the first post, specifically the last talks about this particular topic.

    Technically, you didn't say it, rather typed it. My previous statement holds.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Stephen Hawking warning that our extinction is on the horizon
  1. Stephen Hawking (Replies: 3)

Loading...