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Earth Science

Stephen Hawking: We Might Have 1,000 Years Left on Earth (usatoday.com) 522

Stephen Hawking says the only way humankind can escape mass extinction is to find another planet. And the clock is ticking. From a report on USA Today:During a speech at Britain's Oxford University Union, Hawking detailed the history of man's understanding of the universe and reiterated that the future of humankind lies in space. "We must also continue to go into space for the future of humanity," he said. "I don't think we will survive another 1000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet."
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Stephen Hawking: We Might Have 1,000 Years Left on Earth

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  • futurist (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Thursday November 17, 2016 @01:30PM (#53306801) Homepage

    Stephen Hawking is a brilliant man and solid scientist. His abilities as a futurist leave something to be desired.

    • Re:futurist (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lead Butthead ( 321013 ) on Thursday November 17, 2016 @01:41PM (#53306987) Journal

      Stephen Hawking is a brilliant man and solid scientist. His abilities as a futurist leave something to be desired.

      He seem to be rather optimistic. I gave it no more than a few hundred years.

      • Re:futurist (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <mashikiNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday November 17, 2016 @04:15PM (#53308817) Homepage

        He seem to be rather optimistic. I gave it no more than a few hundred years.

        300 years ago, people said that half the world would starve to death. And people would be fighting for the rats in the big cities in Europe. ~40 years ago, they said that people would be starving to death and fighting for the rats in cities to survive. Didn't happen in either case. It's not any different then the "we're going to run out of oil/gas/etc in 10 years." That has been repeated since the 1970's. Or "the water will be so toxic, that only the rich will afford clean water." Or "in the future students will only see trees in a museum" types of stuff. Remember ~6 years ago it was "we're now at peak oil!11111eleventy one" and everything is doomed? Except that isn't the case. It didn't happen, and the "better get used to $200/bbl because that's the new normal" didn't happen either.

        You know what happens in every case? It's either full out propaganda bullshit, or individuals failing to understand that human ingenuity can solve actual problems. People like Norman Borlaug solved that food problem. Improvements in basic finding and extraction methods solved oil/gas problems. More trees are planted every year then are cut down, but that doesn't stop environmentalists from claiming that it's the end of the world. There's problems sure, there's problems with luddites and environmentalists screaming that "insert thing will destroy the world" or going absolutely insane and making claims like "*insert GMO* crop is poison" and people starving to death because of lies. Or the continued "nuclear energy will kill us all" bullshit.

        We'll survive another 1000 years as long as we don't nuke ourselves, or have massive wars where even the most basic things like no chemical/biological warfare are thrown out the window. Ingenuity will see that we make those 1000 years.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Sperbels ( 1008585 )
          Your faith that ingenuity will solve all problems before they happen is a little ridiculous. And frankly, a panicking electorate is probably the best way to mobilize government to hedge our bets against a potential disaster. If the government doesn't do something, who do you think will? You think the market will miraculously self correct? BS. The market brings us unstable bubbles with violent and sudden collapses. The government mitigates or prevents these disasters.
        • by Xyrus ( 755017 )

          ...Ingenuity will see that we make those 1000 years.

          Stupidity will see we won't make the next 100. Or have you not been paying attention?

    • Re:futurist (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 17, 2016 @01:42PM (#53306993)

      Came in to find the guy who think hes smarter than Hawking. Found him in five seconds.

      • Re:futurist (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Thursday November 17, 2016 @01:48PM (#53307081) Homepage

        I may not be smarter than Hawking but I'm easily smart enough to recognize when even geniuses are speaking with the wrong orifice.

        • by LQ ( 188043 )

          I may not be smarter than Hawking but I'm easily smart enough to recognize when even geniuses are speaking with the wrong orifice.

          Well I guess a speech synthesizer is a different orifice from usual but a lot of sense does come out of it.

          • Lol, that's because the killer AIs he keeps predicting have taken over the speech synthesizer and are trying to fool the rest of us in to looking out for killer aliens while the AIs quietly take over the world.

    • Re:futurist (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Thursday November 17, 2016 @01:48PM (#53307077)

      Agreed. What I'd like to know is what makes anyone think that he's got the answers to our future when everyone else who's made such far-sighted doomsday predictions has so far demonstrated to be ridiculously wrong. Remember, by now billions were supposed to be starving to death, we'd be out of oil, the ice caps were supposed to be gone, and/or we'd have destroyed ourselves in nuclear hellfire.

      I do agree that we should strive to spread out into space, so as to avoid leaving all our eggs in one basket, but unless its something completely out of our control, like a massive cosmic event, then sorry, I'm not buying the doom and gloom anymore. We've got plenty of serious problems we need to deal with without resorting to hysterics. Even if it doesn't mean the end of humanity, there are still some potentially bad scenarios we'd like to avoid. But every time scientists or environmentalists make wackadoo doomsday predictions that don't come true, it actually HURTS credibility of those that were more responsible.

      • Yeah, it really annoys me that sites promote anything an expert says as being just as valid on topics for which the expert is, definitively, not an expert. Anyone even remotely familiar with economics that has made even a precursory glance at distant predictions of mankind's fate is familiar with Thomas Malthus.
      • Devil's Advocate: There is a problem with the phrase "...but unless its something completely out of our control, like a massive cosmic event, then sorry, I'm not buying the doom and gloom anymore."

        By the time humanity comes to the realization that something terminally wrong is occurring, it may well be too late to reach out into space as a second home.

        If the calamity involves resource depletion, we will have run out of sufficient resources to create a self-sustaining colony somewhere else. If it involves so

        • It is not deadly to stop using fossil fuels

      • I do agree that we should strive to spread out into space, so as to avoid leaving all our eggs in one basket, but unless its something completely out of our control, like a massive cosmic event, then sorry, I'm not buying the doom and gloom anymore.

        The History channel has been running this series, "Doomsday: 10 Ways the World Will End": 1: Killer Asteroid, 2: Black Hole, 3: Rogue Planet, 4: Nuclear War, 5: Solar Storm, 6: Mega Eruption, 7: Gamma Ray Burst, 8: Earth Out of Orbit, 9: Alien Invasion, 10: Deep Sea Disaster

        The episodes on Black Hole, Rogue Planet and Gamma Ray Burst are especially cheery.

        • by Potor ( 658520 )
          There is clearly something wrong if the History channel is in the business of futurology.
      • Re:futurist (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Delwin ( 599872 ) on Thursday November 17, 2016 @02:46PM (#53307917)
        There's some caveats to this. We cannot continue our growth based society for more than about 200 more years. This is because energy usage is directly tied to growth and in about 200 years we'll boil the oceans just with the amount of power we use. If we can transition from a growth based society to a stable society then we could continue on Earth but that society doesn't look a whole lot like the one we have now. Likewise climate change is already on track to radically alter our planet from what we've known for the entirety of human existence. Yes the human race will adapt and survive but what kind of society (and technological level) we will have after that period of adaptation is completely unknown. All we know is that it will look nothing like what we have now.
    • I also wonder when people think that we can somehow figure out a way to travel at light speeds to get to another planet. The alternative is to spend thousands of years traveling to another planet and potentially find it uninhabitable or die on the way. Any other planet would have a distinctly different gravity - one on which we have not evolved. How would we enable a breathable atmosphere? How would we remove toxins from the environment. It's quite probable that most of the environment would in one way or a
      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        I also wonder when people think that we can somehow figure out a way to travel at light speeds to get to another planet.

        The door isn't quite closed on that yet. There's still a lot we don't know about the fundamental physics of space-time, with interesting work ongoing to understand just what exactly space is. However, it seems a safe bet that any sort of FTL "hack" will take a lot of energy - far beyond what we could do as a civilization today.

        So, while I wouldn't say FTL is a "never", it's not in any of our lifetimes. Basically, it's far enough out that it's beyond the "prediction horizon" for technology. We should pla

      • by khallow ( 566160 )

        The alternative is to spend thousands of years traveling to another planet and potentially find it uninhabitable or die on the way. Any other planet would have a distinctly different gravity - one on which we have not evolved. How would we enable a breathable atmosphere? How would we remove toxins from the environment. It's quite probable that most of the environment would in one way or another be toxic.

        The obvious answer is "engineering". We have a huge track record of solving hard problems. This is just a bunch of hard problems most which would already be solved in order for the dilemma to happen at all. If you're flying for thousands of years to another star system, then you've solved the gravity problem; how to enable a breathable atmosphere; and how to remove toxins from the environment.

        How would we get a significant number of people to this planet?

        It's just a matter of mass. So much habitat, resources, etc needs to be brought per person. So want more people to g

  • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Thursday November 17, 2016 @01:30PM (#53306805)

    In the span of 1000 years, I can certainly see humans being able to travel and inhabit other nearby planets but do we really think we'll be at a point where we can move large groups of humans >25 trillion miles away? Or does he see this more as we'll be putting civilization into space for centuries-long travel toward those other systems?

    • Progress seems to be overestimated for shorter periods and underestimated for longer periods. It's one of the reasons why predictions like "we can't possibly get rid of coal and oil by 2050" don't seem to make a lot of sense. Now progress 1000 years from now is completely unknown to us, and interstellar travel doesn't seem to be strictly needed - merely inhabiting the near space still has the benefits of controlled and stable conditions, if at great costs from our primitive point of view. Although one must
  • Barring entirely any entirely unforeseen and wholly unprecedented breakthroughs in physics and technology, based on the historical (and exponential) rate of humanity's technological progress, I had once heard that we could reasonably expect humanity to be interstellar by about the year 3000.
    • based on the historical (and exponential) rate of humanity's technological progress, I had once heard that we could reasonably expect humanity to be interstellar by about the year 3000.

      Growth has only been exponential for the last 100 to 150 years. There are many indicators that exponential growth is already coming to an end. I would not assume that we can continue this type of growth indefinitely.

      • Growth has only been exponential for the last 100 to 150 years

        What do you mean, growth is always exponential even a million years ago.

  • "Battlefield: Earth" by L. Ron Hubbard was set a thousand years into the future, where humans were almost extinct due to aliens killing off humanity to strip mine the planet. Great minds think alike... Meh.
  • by scunc ( 4201789 ) on Thursday November 17, 2016 @01:33PM (#53306851)
    ... says the man who has outlived his own predicted life expectancy by more than 3x.
    ---
    Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.
  • Disaster may hit the planet, but we've had hundreds of millions of years of multicellular life, and humans are likely the most adaptable variety yet. I don't think there's any reason to suppose humans will be completely wiped out by any global-scale disaster that doesn't wipe out essentially all land-based life. We haven't had one of those kind of disasters yet, so I don't see it happening any time in the next 1000 years.

    Yes, there will likely be a disaster of global proportions, and I sure don't want to

  • We're overrunning the planet. Trying to get Humans to curb their hardwired instinctual drive to reproduce is almost completely futile for various reasons ranging from religions frowning upon any sort of birth control methods, to people too poor to afford birth control, to people who just won't stop having kids -- and since geriatric medicine is getting better, people are living longer. Meanwhile it's harder and harder every decade to feed everyone, and the world seems to be increasingly full of agitators an
    • the solution of moving off planet is a dubious "solution" for Earth itself. It presumes that we could move off planet at a rate that significantly exceeds the reproduction rate of humans. The solution may preserve humans as a species, but Earth itself and any people living here are doomed unless an event like a massive virulent plague (or similar human specific disaster) strikes humans. But ultimately, this solution is just recreating the same problem on another planet. Until we are able to somehow get repr
    • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Thursday November 17, 2016 @01:46PM (#53307043)

      Trying to get Humans to curb their hardwired instinctual drive to reproduce is almost completely futile for various reasons ranging from religions frowning upon any sort of birth control methods, to people too poor to afford birth control, to people who just won't stop having kids -- and since geriatric medicine is getting better, people are living longer.

      I'd agree except this has been fixed in the developed world with universal negative population growth among populations around longer than second generation immigrant. You keep talking about how people can't stop having kids... but they have.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Population growth already slowing down. Many countries are already in demographic decline. It's not hard to imagine that the rest of the planet will follow and growth will stop by the end of the 21st Century or so.

      • Call me when the overall curve is heading downhill.
        • by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Thursday November 17, 2016 @03:13PM (#53308213) Homepage Journal

          Call me when the overall curve is heading downhill.

          <ring>

          The developed world is calling you, and the second derivative is already negative globally. The world population growth rate should hit zero around 2050 and then begin declining.

          To put it another way, the number of children born per year is already declining and has been for some time. The only reason the population isn't already declining is that the global population is still skewed young. Today's population growth is entirely due to the "filling out" of the age distribution. If you divide the population into five generations, each of 20 years -- so you have the 0-19, 20-39, 40-59, 60-79 and 80-99 groups -- There are about 2B in each of the first two groups, then it drops off rapidly. As the upper groups fill out over the next 35 years or so, you'll end up with roughly 2B per generation times five generations, for a total of about 10B people. Barring significant life extension, that will be the peak. Because the supply flowing into the first generation is slowly declining, the overall population will then begin to decline.

          That's if current demographic trends continue, but it's likely that they'll accelerate. The biggest factors in reducing birthrates are (1) female education (2) infant survival rate and (3) wealth. Educated women who have confidence their children will survive and the resources to invest in them tend to have few children and invest heavily in the education and development of those fewer children. Since the trends in the developing world (the areas still producing lots of babies) are toward more education, better availability of medical services and increasing wealth in the developing world, it's likely that the current birth rate numbers will be further reduced.

          No, the population crisis that is coming is one of not *enough* people, rather than too many. Some northern European countries are already facing this issue, especially since their systems for supporting the elderly require that there be plenty of young people working. Denmark, for example, has been running ads for several years now, encouraging couples to do the patriotic thing for their country by having babies.

          The one thing that might change this is if medical technology progresses to allow the average person to live many decades longer. Add another 2B to the peak population for every 20 years of (universally-available) life extension.

    • by ganv ( 881057 )
      It is a nice dream...build a Moon colony, let it develop industry and grow into a jumping off point. But what economic benefit will it provide while we spend 10s or 100s of trillions of dollars getting it going? The analogy to colonies on earth is just not relevant. We evolved on earth and developed economic models that worked on earth. So new land was naturally economically productive. There is plenty of desert and polar land on earth that is much more hospitable than anything on the moon. You unde
      • I said that's what I'd like to see -- I never said I thought it would happen. For that to happen, hearts and minds have to change, on a grand scale, so that people are thinking far into the future, and people are not thinking about short-term profits, or really about money at all. Also, try to get Joe and Jane average, with their 2.5 kids, 30 year mortgage, two car payments, plus all their other monthly expenses, plus thinking about their retirement accounts, to give a rats ass about anything happening even
  • by ganv ( 881057 ) on Thursday November 17, 2016 @01:36PM (#53306897)
    This critical issue deserves a more subtle discussion that guesses about when humans will go extinct on earth. Without human foolishness (nuclear weapons, pollution, etc) we would expect we have millions of years. But humans are foolish, so we really don't know. I am suspicious of claims that the human future is in space. Both because there is no plausible way for sustainable human settlements off planet to be manufactured with current technology and because it enables a short sighted approach that treats this planet as a disposable stepping stone to better things. More likely, intelligent machines we make will colonize space before we do since it is much easier to design them to tolerate the harsh environment than it is to modify biology to survive off planet. Maybe we will teach them to build habitats for us, but in that case, it will really be the machines that are doing the colonizing. And this is much further off than many people suspect.
    • Hey, Nations of Earth, let's all agree to not have nuclear weapons anymore, so everyone is safer, what do you say?

      Nations of Earth:..sure, great idea! We're all for it!

      One or two Nations, in private: LOL, We'll pretend to go along with this, and hide our nukes, so we can be dominant, LOL! What a bunch of idiots!

      ***Everything gets fucked up***

      We need to grow up, as a species, before we're really mature enough to do things like this without someone being an underhanded dick about it.

  • by es330td ( 964170 ) on Thursday November 17, 2016 @01:37PM (#53306903)
    There is no reason whatsoever to think that a civilization of hunter gatherers cannot continue to survive on Earth for a long, long time to come. Even if the oceans rise several feet there will still be arable land somewhere. The people who say we are destroying the planet are full of sh*t. The only thing we can do is make it inhospitable for humans to exist. The *Earth* will continue and some kind of life will survive and even thrive. It just may not include homo sapiens.
    • Why is this the classic "Oh, don't worry" response? "It's not Earth that is doomed, just humans." Does anyone read that and go "Whew! I was worried, but now I'm not."??? Destroying the planet, versus destroying it for human habitability, is pretty much the same damn thing as far as my concerns go. If Earth becomes inhabitable to people, I'm not going to sleep better knowing the rest of nature will survive.
  • by Daerath ( 625570 )
    So he cites three scenarios: Nuclear war, global warming, and genetically-engineered viruses. Then says we should have more planets to ensure a single incident doesn't destroy us. Given how much he and others have been spewing "AI is our DOOOOOOOM!!!!!!!" I'm surprised that's not on his list too. That aside his entire talk comes down to saying "Don't put all your eggs in one basket." Thanks man.
  • by Pfhorrest ( 545131 ) on Thursday November 17, 2016 @01:38PM (#53306919) Homepage Journal

    The technology we would need to survive on any other planet besides Earth would also make surviving any catastrophe that could b fall Earth -- including catastrophic climate change, nuclear winter, or a giant meteor -- trivially easy in comparison.

    The worst thing that could conceivably happen to Earth, at least until the sun becomes a red giant billions of years in the future, is something like the above catastrophes would render it a barren wasteland utterly inhospitable to life. But every other planet is already a barren wasteland utterly inhospitable to life. If we could survive at all on any other planet, we could also survive anything that happens to Earth.

    Call me when self-sustaining cities on the seafloor, Antarctica, or in the middle of the Sahara are normal things, and then we can talk about living on another planet just because it's there.

    • The worst thing that could conceivably happen to Earth, at least until the sun becomes a red giant billions of years in the future, is something like the above catastrophes would render it a barren wasteland utterly inhospitable to life.

      Wrong.
      The worst thing that could conceivably happen to earth is a meteor blasting it and all the things on it to chunky kibbles. Phaeton style.
      And that could happen in 3 months if destiny wanted it so.
      It could even happen without us ever knowing what hit us. Literally.

    • You are forgetting how fast technology is accelerating. I don't want to trivialize how big an obstacle living in space or another planet is, that is huge. But hawking said 1,000 years (I think he is generous), look back that amount and things are unrecognizable. Look 100 years back and it is just the same. Moores law doesn't just seem to be a guidline for processing power, i believe there was an article about it being about total knowledge (sorry, on phone and can't find relivant link). I am not going t
      • by epine ( 68316 ) on Thursday November 17, 2016 @03:49PM (#53308555)

        look back that amount and things are unrecognizable

        That's a rather trite definition of "unrecognizable". Let's take a look at a serviceable "one thousand year's ago" cultural landmark.

        Magna Carta [wikipedia.org]

        First drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury to make peace between the unpopular King and a group of rebel barons, it promised the protection of church rights, protection for the barons from illegal imprisonment, access to swift justice, and limitations on feudal payments to the Crown, to be implemented through a council of 25 barons.

        Neither side stood behind their commitments, and the charter was annulled by Pope Innocent III, leading to the First Barons' War.

        After John's death, the regency government of his young son, Henry III, reissued the document in 1216, stripped of some of its more radical content, in an unsuccessful bid to build political support for their cause. At the end of the war in 1217, it formed part of the peace treaty agreed at Lambeth, where the document acquired the name Magna Carta, to distinguish it from the smaller Charter of the Forest which was issued at the same time. Short of funds, Henry reissued the charter again in 1225 in exchange for a grant of new taxes; his son, Edward I, repeated the exercise in 1297, this time confirming it as part of England's statute law.

        Now I don't know about others, but I'm having trouble finding anything in there that doesn't strike me as entirely modern—except for Edward I following in the footsteps of his father Henry (for a while we had largely fixed that problem, but then we brought the eternal water-powered millstone of aristocracy back to America by terminating estate tax; the new Edward is a trust-fund baby, stemming from a long line of trust fund babies—stretching as far back as the eye can see—but this has yet to come to fruition as we're presently but a half a generation into the inevitable upshot, so I'm not redefining "modern" just yet).

        But obviously I cherry picked that example (plus I cheated by 200 years), so let's spin again.

        History of gunpowder [wikipedia.org]

        The invention of gunpowder is usually attributed to experimentation in Chinese alchemy by Taoists in the pursuit of immortality, and is popularly listed as one of the "Four Great Inventions" of China. It was invented during the late Tang dynasty (9th century) but the earliest record of a written formula appeared in the Song dynasty (11th century).

        That pretty much allows one to build a modern rifle, supposing you have steel.

        Steel [wikipedia.org]

        The Chinese of the Warring States period (403–221 BC) had quench-hardened steel, while Chinese of the Han dynasty (202 BC–220 AD) created steel by melting together wrought iron with cast iron, gaining an ultimate product of a carbon-intermediate steel by the 1st century AD.

        Surely I'm still cheating, let's try again.

        Hero of Alexandria [wikipedia.org]

        Heron of Alexandria (c. 10 AD–c. 70 AD) was a Greek mathematician and engineer who was active in his native city of Alexandria, Roman Egypt. He is considered the greatest experimenter of antiquity and his work is representative of the Hellenistic scientific tradition.

        Heron published a well recognized description of a steam-powered device called an aeolipile (sometimes called a "Heron engine"). Among his most famous inventions was a windwheel, constituting the earliest instance of wind harnessing on land. He is said to have been a follower of the atomists. Some of his ideas were derived from the works of Ctesibius.

        Much of Heron's original writi

    • But every other planet is already a barren wasteland utterly inhospitable to life. If we could survive at all on any other planet, we could also survive anything that happens to Earth.

      There are still two reasons that I can think of, for why it would still make sense to at least spread out to other planets. The first is the additional resources. If Earth becomes overpopulated or scarce of resources, spreading to another planet could mitigate that problem. The other is to serve as a kind of backup. If something truly sudden and catastrophic happens to Earth (e.g. struck by a comet) there would be another population of humans to carry on.

      But neither of those provide an argument as to w

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      The technology we would need to survive on any other planet besides Earth would also make surviving any catastrophe that could b fall Earth -- including catastrophic climate change, nuclear winter, or a giant meteor -- trivially easy in comparison.

      Well, the assumption here is that the disaster is of a such magnitude that 99.9999% of the human race won't survive anyway. The question is whether we should send 0.0001% into space to carry on mankind's legacy. Personally I think sending 0.0001% into deep underground vaults in solid rock, supplied with all kinds of supplies and equipment to outlive the immediate effects and reboot life on Earth stands a much better chance than any other place in the solar system, unless the planet is pretty much obliterate

  • by prefec2 ( 875483 ) on Thursday November 17, 2016 @01:38PM (#53306921)

    The more sustainable we become as an economy, the longer we can stay. The less sustainable we are the less likely are we able to leave. Presently, we are not able to leave. To be able to leave, we need a machine which is sustainable in all aspects. In case it is not, we run out of material we can transform and entropy will destroy the machine and subsequently all inhabitants of it (yes a space ship/ark is a machine). However, in case we achieve the goal to be sustainable in the context of such space ship, we are also able to apply that on Earth.

    Fun fact, we have 34 years to get CO2 neutral (this is being sustainable with the atmosphere) or else we are fucked up. Unfortunately, the US will not go in this direction for the next 4 years. So dear US citizens, 30 years left and the clock is ticking.

    Beside the CO2 problem, we have also sustainability problems in electronics, food, water, cement, fishing/oceans, ecosystem-diversity etc. All of them have a point of no return and many of them are linked to others. Therefore, we should get on with it. Now is the time. Not tomorrow. NOW.

    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      >> we have 34 years to get CO2 neutral (this is being sustainable with the atmosphere) or else we are fucked up.

      Where did you get this from? Cite references please.
      I can personally remember that experts have been saying "we only have around 35 years" since the 70's, so I would have guessed that by now it would be much less than that.

      I also suspect there is a real chance that we've already blown it and its being hushed up, in which case we are already doomed to runaway global warming.

    • Fun fact, we have 34 years to get CO2 neutral (this is being sustainable with the atmosphere) or else we are fucked up. Unfortunately, the US will not go in this direction for the next 4 years. So dear US citizens, 30 years left and the clock is ticking.

      Just because out newly elected leader may not understand enough about science beyond how much it costs to research (if that much), it doesn't mean US scientists and businesses (OK, most businesses can't see beyond the profit margin but some understand long term planning) will not keep working in the right direction.

  • by Ranbot ( 2648297 ) on Thursday November 17, 2016 @01:40PM (#53306959)

    I don't think anyone [even Stephen Hawking] can say anything meaningful about where we'll be 1000 years from now. Did anyone in the year 1016 A.D. foresee conditions today?

    • I don't think anyone [even Stephen Hawking] can say anything meaningful about where we'll be 1000 years from now. Did anyone in the year 1016 A.D. foresee conditions today?

      Our capability to understand our entire planet is FAR greater today than it was in 1016 A.D., where a humans understanding of the "world" and resources to exist may have been restricted to the island they were trapped on.

      Today, we understand the global impact of the human population increasing 3x - 30x. We can measure resources and use computer models to understand the impact, so yes, I do believe we can have meaningful predictions.

      Unfortunately, due to humans consuming more and more finite resources and o

    • Well, surely the elite monk who got there against all odds would have had a special ability to see the problems of the future, right? LOL

      If you go from this stuff to Feynman's memoirs there is very big, refreshing contrast. Feynman would see a giant pile of unknowns in the future and know he wouldn't be able to calculate a result, and that it is also out of his field so he should finish a solid calculation before trying to dictate the answer to the world.

    • I got the general drift pretty much right, but did lose several thousand Edward the Confessor Sovereign eagle pennies on a stupid bet I made with an abbot on the outcome of the whole William/Harold dust-up in what was October of 1066. Harold trying that stupid surprise move ... idiot. But yeah, pretty much called it in a general way.
    • Agreed! Only Iain Banks could write the most elegant and eloquent future fiction book ("The Player of Games") --- I value no one else's opinion as highly --- he will be sadly missed!
  • Well, so far Homo sapiens has survived on the order of a million years on this "fragile" planet. Obviously the current exponential growth in population and consumption of material resources cannot continue for even 1000 years, but all that means is that our lifestyle WILL change markedly one way or another, and very probably our quality of life will be greatly reduced. But even if there is a mass die-off of 99-99.9% of the population, the species will continue. That goes even for the case of a catastrophic

  • by belthize ( 990217 ) on Thursday November 17, 2016 @01:50PM (#53307097)

    But -100 for taking a bit too long a view.

    Technically there's no reason we can't actually populate other planets or solar systems in 1000 years if we decide to. On the other hand there's no reason we can't sustain human culture on this planet for another billion years if we decide to.

    So sure, by all means lets investigate technologies to more efficiently explore our surroundings but let's spend a bit more effort on sustainability in the balance. For starters we could stop spending the vast majority of our energy arguing over issues that don't matter one bit (where to go to the bathroom, sexual preference of the person 4 doors down).

    If we can't figure out how to solve sustainability problems moving to another planet is just a change of scenery.

  • Sure, make a prediction that no one will be around to check.

  • I doubt we have 1000 years left on earth. The current max lifespan seems to be about 115. Even with modern advancements in science I doubt we'll make it to having 1000 years left on earth.

    Now, our descendants might be here in 1000 years, but we won't be- at least not in one piece any more.

  • With nanotech and other technologies, it's likely that the human form will be extensively redesigned in coming decades, with all kinds of replacement forms possible. Why be stuck with flimsy, fragile biology? Some of the new designs might live in space and have no need for Earth. There may be a few human hold-outs around living on land set aside for them.
  • by Kagato ( 116051 ) on Thursday November 17, 2016 @02:18PM (#53307509)

    A lot of geologists think we'll have a pretty decent culling of the human population when the poles flip. That could happen in our lifetime or thousands of years from now. The main contention is the parts of the Earth surface are going to get fried with radiation when that happens. Stock up on sun block and lead lined suits.

  • Once more, a "No shit, Sherlock!" moment! Thanks, guy, nobody else would have ever guessed . . . .

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!

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