When will the Earth as we know it truly end?
Is our future THAT dismal?
An in-depth analysis, which indicates that in closely reflecting the reality of the world today, we find that the collapse of humanity is “difficult to avoid”. We see that the end of humanity draws nearer than the end of the Earth.
By: Michelle Monteiro, Staff Writer
The end of the Earth and the end of humanity are two separate concepts. There are only three things that could destroy life on Earth: an asteroid of an adequate size hits the planet, the sun expands into a Red Giant, turning the planet into a molten wasteland, or a black hole captures the planet.
It is key to note, however, that these possibilities are highly unlikely; at least, not in our lifetime and generations to come. For example, in recent months, Ukrainian astronomers claimed a giant asteroid, named 2013 TV135, would hit the Earth on August 26, 2032, but NASA later debunked this hypothesis, saying there is a 99.9984 per cent certainty that it will miss the planet’s orbit since the probability of an Earth impact is 1 in 63000.
Plus, these outcomes are out of our hands. Even if it was likely for an asteroid to strike the Earth, the Sun to consume it, or a black hole to swallow it, there is absolutely nothing in our power to prevent such outcomes.
Conversely, while there are less than a handful of reasons for the end of the Earth, there are countless, more likely possibilities that could destroy humanity on Earth as we know it. And we can prevent them.
This collapse was described by the science journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society, as a “gradual breakdown [due to] famines, epidemics and resource shortages [which] cause a disintegration of central control within nations, in concert with disruptions of trade and conflicts over increasingly scare necessities”.
Let’s look at each plausible theory thoroughly.
The entire fundamental structure and nature of our society is at fault:
According to a new study written by Safa Motesharrei, applied mathematician of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) and a team of natural and social scientists, civilization will last only for a few more decades before “everything we know and hold dear collapses”. The report blames the end of civilization on the fundamental structure and nature of our society.
The downfall of societal structures will follow when the factors for societal collapse – population, climate, water, agriculture and energy – converge. This convergence will result in, according to Motesharrei, the “stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity” and the “economic stratification of society into [rich] and [poor]”.
The rich, coined as the “Elite”, limit the resources accessible to the poor, also known as the “Masses”, which in turn leaves an excess of resources for the rich that is high enough to strain them (overuse). Thus, with the restricted resource use, the decline of the Masses will occur much faster, followed by the downfall of the Elites, whom, initially thriving, will eventually succumb to collapse as well.
Technology is at fault:
Moreover, Motesharrei claims that technology will damn civilization further: “Technological change can raise the efficiency of resource use, but it also tends to raise both per capita resource consumption and the scale of resource extraction, so that, absent policy effects, the increases in consumption often compensate for the increased efficiency of resource use”. Therefore, this speculative worst-case scenario involves sudden collapse due to famine or a breakdown of society due to the overconsumption of natural resources.
So what is the remedy? The study calls for the recognition of the imminent catastrophe by the rich and the restructuring of society into a more equitable arrangement.