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Earth will forget us remarkably quickly
October 12, 2006 2:50 PM   Subscribe

Imagine Earth Without People A great, non-hysterical article about what Earth would be like if we all, one day, vanished.
posted by BuddhaInABucket (71 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hmm. OK. However I'm scratching my head at the conclusion that states that intelligent life is very unlikely to arise on earth as we are the only examples of it, but also states that if any new intelligent beings did occur in say a 100,000 years time then they would be hard pressed to notice our existence from the articles we've left behind (assumin we all disappear tomoorow).

Not that I'm saying I believe that intelligent life did exist before us but given the fact the article is saying- 'blink and you'd miss us'- interesting that they assume that anything 'intelligent' previous would be obvious to us.
posted by Gratishades at 3:06 PM on October 12, 2006


Great read, I've been wondering about this a lot, thanks.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:07 PM on October 12, 2006


Sigh.
posted by jokeefe at 3:13 PM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


I too have long wondered what would happen if we caught something more plausible than bird flu. A biologist pal of me reassured me one day about the opposite: he said no matter how hard we tried as a species we'd never kill everything. Those deep-rock bacteria will certainly escape. I was cheered up, of course. Thanks for the post.
posted by imperium at 3:14 PM on October 12, 2006


There will come soft rain and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum-trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.
- Sarah Teasdale, "There Will Come Soft Rains"
posted by Afroblanco at 3:15 PM on October 12, 2006


end-of-days yard sale
fifty percent off all souls
like new, barely used
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:30 PM on October 12, 2006


Well, the hedges would certainly get all scraggedly. And the dolphins might develop an attitude.
posted by DenOfSizer at 3:40 PM on October 12, 2006


um...bears vs monkeys?
posted by es_de_bah at 3:45 PM on October 12, 2006


...he said no matter how hard we tried as a species we'd never kill everything. Those deep-rock bacteria will certainly escape.

Typical small thinking from the life sciences. What about a Greg Bearian neutronium/anti-neutronium explosion at the Earth's core? Tell your biologist friend to put that in his pipe and smoke it!
posted by The Tensor at 3:48 PM on October 12, 2006


Don't you just love how they make like there's this big divide between Humans and Nature.

Humans are part of Nature. We evolved from it and obey it's dictates. If we change the climate that's part of Nature, too.

It's just that Nature's a bitch and not quite as nice as some people like to believe.


You want to know what Nature is? I recently found a stray mother cat eating the brains of one of it's kittens on my sidewalk. That's Nature. The Human part was when I took it away and buried what was left.
posted by nyxxxx at 3:51 PM on October 12, 2006 [2 favorites]


or alternately *ahem*
when the angels leave their silos
white-hot mushroom clouds for halos
to rain fire and leukemia down on everyone below
then the rodent and the roach
and the robots and the ghosts
will live at peace till the sun turns crimson and explodes
posted by es_de_bah at 3:51 PM on October 12, 2006 [5 favorites]


nice
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:58 PM on October 12, 2006


Great post; I've wondered about this very question from time to time. Although I find it a little hard to believe that places like Manhattan or Tokyo would not show any obvious signs of previous inhabitants, even 100,000 years hence. I'd think that the massive amounts of steel debris would take much longer to become buried in sediment or to corrode fully. Any metallurgists out there?
posted by aliasless at 4:00 PM on October 12, 2006


Thanks for the post. Interesting read. The thought of all of those energy stations slowly whirring out from lack of replenishment painted a surreal mental picture. Kinda peaceful actually.
posted by meh at 4:06 PM on October 12, 2006


I couldn't finish it. "Some species of animals are too far gone for them to bounce back from extinction.

But forget all of that! Humanity sucks! If humans left then the animals and the plants would all live happily ever after in all kinds of harmonious harmony!"


Personally, it felt more like a guilt trip than a serious hypothetical article.
posted by Cyclopsis Raptor at 4:07 PM on October 12, 2006


"Some species of animals are too far gone for them to bounce back from extinction."

Huh? Wasn't there reports of wildlife returning en mass to the Chernobyl site? Like, bears and other animals that haven't been seen in the wild in decades are now "thriving" in the depopulated zone...
posted by porpoise at 4:11 PM on October 12, 2006


You want to know what Nature is? I recently found a stray mother cat eating the brains of one of it's kittens on my sidewalk. That's Nature. The Human part was when I took it away and buried what was left.

Then the cat buried its poop, and you went inside for a hamburger.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:14 PM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


For the next 200 million years, any intelligent species on the planet would be able to determine that we had been here by the fact that oil and minable ores that their geology say should be there, won't be. They'll be able to detect our mining activity even if they can't detect anything else.

The coal and oil we're using now were laid down in the earth during the Carboniferous period, 360-290 million years ago. Most of the ores we're mining are even older.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 4:20 PM on October 12, 2006


According to Wikipedia's Timeline of Invention article, the oldest known tools are 2.4 million years old. Clearly human technology is capable of leaving traces far longer than 100K years.
posted by Humanzee at 4:31 PM on October 12, 2006


Duh.

Earth without us will be like this.
posted by allkindsoftime at 4:36 PM on October 12, 2006


By my calculations, the loss of gravity resulting from the elimination of AskMe will send our planet hurtling out of the solar system.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:40 PM on October 12, 2006


"Imagine Earth Without People"

Oh, I do. I do.< .i>
posted by orthogonality at 4:50 PM on October 12, 2006


Good news for VHEMT
posted by rottytooth at 4:55 PM on October 12, 2006


For the next 200 million years, any intelligent species on the planet would be able to determine that we had been here by the fact that oil and minable ores that their geology say should be there, won't be. They'll be able to detect our mining activity even if they can't detect anything else.

Not necessarily. Our successors' geology, like our geology, will be an observational science. Theories that predict ore deposits that should be there, but actually aren't, will be dismissed as incorrect theories.

Which raises the obvious corrolary: our geology doesn't, and can't, account for any changes any predecessors of ours made to the Earth.

The coal and oil we're using now were laid down in the earth during the Carboniferous period, 360-290 million years ago. Most of the ores we're mining are even older.

A fair point, but I can see two rebuttals to that: firstly, suppose our theoretical predecessors existed before or even somewhat after that laying down of oil etc. Perhaps the oil etc was produced as a side effect of a mass extinction event, eg being the buried corpses of the trees of 300 million years ago, the last time an oceanic H2S uprising as a reaction to high CO2 concentration 'killed the planet'. Secondly, suppose our predecessors existed more recently, but for whatever reasons didn't use the coal and oil deposits, instead using some other compounds (lithium? uranium?) as the energy supply of their civilization. Consequently, we consider those compounds 'rare', make the mistake (under this scenario) of assuming that they have always been rare, and thus the idea of basing a civilization on them seems implausible to us.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:03 PM on October 12, 2006


In Chernobyl, the animals have returned once more...
posted by Sparx at 5:08 PM on October 12, 2006


For those in a hurry.
posted by nonmyopicdave at 5:21 PM on October 12, 2006


i submit that earth would not exist without people, since existence is something which occurs in the realm of language and communication. a thing is perceived by a sentient being, is named, and communicated about. lacking all that, the whole thing is a moot chunk of rock inhabited by unthinking beasts that nobody, anywhere, knows about, because there is nobody to know it, and no knowing.

*poof*
posted by quonsar at 5:33 PM on October 12, 2006


I rather agree with quonsar. The earth can't be beautiful if it's not being observed by animals with an aesthetic sense, nor can it be fascinating if not observed by animals that understand science.
posted by Citizen Premier at 5:44 PM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


I personally think that 65 million years ago there was a race of dinosaurs not unlike ourselves, highly intelligent and technologically competent. They would have lived in a temperate climate, since it is only in temperate climates that one finds human high civilizations starting up. And they wouldn't have expanded to the more plentiful tropical lands because their tropical macrofauna were a bit more impressive than ours.

So anyway this intelligent spacefaring race of dinosaurs put up satellites and wired their continent and ultimately tried to move an asteroid into orbit to mine for heavy metals, but something went wrong. And we'd know all about it today if the only temperate continent in those days hadn't been Antarctica.
posted by localroger at 6:12 PM on October 12, 2006 [3 favorites]


Countless gallons of beer have been consumed around countless campfires by geologists discussing this scenario - but I've never heard anybody seriously go so short as 100,000 years...
Don't forget we're talking traces - things which can be picked up with radar, IR, low angle light photography, VLF, seismics, drilling, chemical analysis etc. Will all the refined metals (e.g. the gold in Fort Knox) really be dispersed and undectable in 100,000 years, or even 200,000 years?

How about 100,000,000 years? Almost certainly all traces will be gone as plate tectonics sweeps us under the rug.
10,000,000 years? Maybe - time for some ice ages in there.
1,000,000 years? Depends on how much beer you've had!
posted by speug at 6:13 PM on October 12, 2006


Secondly, suppose our predecessors existed more recently, but for whatever reasons didn't use the coal and oil deposits, instead using some other compounds (lithium? uranium?) as the energy supply of their civilization. Consequently, we consider those compounds 'rare', make the mistake (under this scenario) of assuming that they have always been rare, and thus the idea of basing a civilization on them seems implausible to us.

It isn't just coal. We're mining everything. If a previous civilization had existed 300 million years ago, it's outside the window I set. If it existed a hundred million years ago and achieved anything like the kind of industrialization we have achieved then a lot of the aluminum and iron ore we're digging up now wouldn't be there for us to get.

Sedimentary deposits are still being laid down in the ocean, and the ones being laid down for the last couple hundred years are qualitatively different than any before that. For instance, there's a 50 year or so period in which huge quantitiess of lead was being vaporized (via gasoline) and would be included in the sedimentary deposits being laid down now. And there's also PCBs being stored in the bottom of the ocean which in that environment will last pretty much forever and which are not created in any significant quantities by any natural process I've ever heard of.

Fact is, in many ways we're making lots of changes to this planet that are permanent and will always be detectable. I'm afraid that Mother Gaia will never fully heal from the human plague that is corrupting her holy body.

As it were.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:24 PM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


So anyway this intelligent spacefaring race of dinosaurs put up satellites

I wonder if there's anywhere in the Solar System where such satellites might remain. Probably not the Lagrange points, if in the course of a hundred million years, something large enough to sweep up orbiting satellites has a chance of passing through them.

The moon's surface, somewhere? Has the moon's orbit, and the side it presents to us, changed in a hundred million years? Mars? It might have had flowing water, a hundred million years ago.

Where could we stash something, where it could last for a hundred million years?
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:31 PM on October 12, 2006


Once there were parking lots
Now it's a peaceful oasis
You got it, you got it
This was a Pizza Hut
Now it's all covered with daisies
You got it, you got it

I miss the honky tonks,
Dairy Queens, and 7-Elevens
You got it, you got it
And as things fell apart
Nobody paid much attention
You got it, you got it

I dream of cherry pies,
Candy bars, and chocolate chip cookies
You got it, you got it
We used to microwave
Now we just eat nuts and berries
You got it, you got it

This was a discount store,
Now it's turned into a cornfield
You got it, you got it
Don't leave me stranded here
I can't get used to this lifestyle
posted by Staggering Jack at 7:15 PM on October 12, 2006


Plate tectonics doesn't eradicate surface area all that fast. There are large parts of the surface of the earth which are land now and were land 100 million years ago. The problem isn't finding someplace to stash something like that; the problem is doing so in a way that would permit something or someone a hundred million years from now to find it.

Getting to some of your questions: the moon's surface has changed over 100 million years because of deposition of dust. It's slow, but 100 million years is a long time. 100 million years from now the Apollo astronaut foot prints won't be visible. But it's not a rate fast enough to fully change the surface; most of the craters we see now date from more than a billion years ago.

The Moon's orbit has changed quite a lot in the last 100 million years, and so has the length of Earth's solar day. Because of the gravitational effect of tides, right now the average orbital radius of the Moon increases by 3.74 centimeters per year. Right now it averages about 379,100 kilometers. It isn't really right to extrapolate that back linearly, but it's a good first order approximation, and that would mean that 100 million years ago the moon was 3740 kilometers closer.

And it turns out that the length of a solar day was somewhat shorter. Currently, the day is getting longer by 2.3 millisecond per century. (In other words, one day in 2000 was 2.3 milliseconds longer than one day in 1900.) There's historical reason to believe that number is high (other factors come into play) and again you can't really extrapolate that linearly, but if you do then 100 million years ago a solar day would have been about 38 minutes shorter.

If we really wanted to stash something for 100 million years and have it be found, the way to do it would be to use five big nuclear weapons to create five equal-sized craters in a regular pentagon in the middle of one of the mare, and then put whatever-it-was in the center. The chance of natural strikes creating such a pattern is negligible and the craters would be visible for at least a billion years if not even longer.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:16 PM on October 12, 2006


I'm afraid that Mother Gaia will never fully heal from the human plague that is corrupting her holy body.

As though humans, and everything they produce aren't part of the Earth anyway. Don't get me wrong -- we shouldn't ruin the Earth -- but it is odd that we don't think of ourselves or our technology as being part of nature, when it really all is.
posted by JekPorkins at 7:18 PM on October 12, 2006


...in the middle of one of the mare on the near side of the moon...
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:18 PM on October 12, 2006


"If man disappears tomorrow, do you expect to see herds of poodles roaming the plains?"

I want nothing less.
posted by stbalbach at 7:43 PM on October 12, 2006


The article made me think of this thread about Eric R. Pianka. One sometimes wonders if a cabal of mad scientists isn't actually working to make this happen.

While I'm far from one of those "the earth's resources + human innovation = infinite abundance, so let's exploit the hell of it" types, I am bothered by the persistent human vs. nature distinction that articles like this take as a given. Seems to me this opposition -- and the arrogance it implicitly harbors (e.g., even when "we" destroy "nature", we're still somehow uniquely apart from it, special, a radical exception to all natural laws) -- is precisely where the trouble lies.
posted by treepour at 7:50 PM on October 12, 2006


The first few years after people evacuated the [Chernobyl exclusion] zone, rats and house mice flourished, and packs of feral dogs roamed the area despite efforts to exterminate them. But the heyday of these vermin proved to be short-lived, and already the native fauna has begun to take over. Wild boar are 10 to 15 times as common within the Chernobyl exclusion zone as outside it, and big predators are making a spectacular comeback. "I've never seen a wolf in the Ukraine outside the exclusion zone. I've seen many of them inside," says Chesser.

Very interesting. Great link!
posted by jason's_planet at 7:52 PM on October 12, 2006


and the robots and the ghosts
will live at peace till the sun turns crimson and explodes


Since watching the latest Superman movie in July and watching Krypton get pwned by its exploding sun, I've been moderately preoccupied with the thought of what happens to (if they exist) ghosts roaming the Earth if/when our Sun explodes:

Do ghosts continue to exist as they were pre Sun-explosion?

If so, how is their orientation in space affected, since many accounts of ghosts describe them correctly xyz-oriented in relation to the surface of the planet.

Sans Earth, where would they hang out?

If you're able to hang out elsewhere in the universe, is it really so cool to hang out on Earth when you're a ghost?

etc.

posted by Extopalopaketle at 8:24 PM on October 12, 2006


Duh. They'd be on the Ghost Earth.
posted by lekvar at 8:37 PM on October 12, 2006


I'm pretty sure that's how Space Ghost became a superhero. Or something.
posted by JekPorkins at 8:41 PM on October 12, 2006


Neat article, but for a horrifying counter to its generally peaceful "after man" scenario, try Douglas Coupland's 2002 article for Adbusters called "The End of the World, or The 7 Days of UNcreation." It starts with a similar all-humans-instantly-vanish premise but takes only 7 days to turn the earth into "not much more than a waterlogged, barbecued briquette."

By Day Six, warehouses of solvents in most large cities have ignited and/or exploded and drained themselves into the rest of the world. There is no habitable space remaining on the planet's surface, nor any potable water. Mammal's are extinct, save for a few rodents eating vending machine snack food within underground missile silos in Colorado, Siberia, and Bonn, Germany. Around noon the last whale floats to the ocean surface off the couther tip of Chile; the last bird, a migrating Sandwich tern, falls to the ground over southwest Africa. Even plankton, sensitive to UV radiation, are undergoing a rapid die-off.

Brrrrrr.
posted by mediareport at 9:03 PM on October 12, 2006


[should've fixed typos in the quote, but you get the idea...]
posted by mediareport at 9:04 PM on October 12, 2006


By Day Six, warehouses of solvents in most large cities have ignited and/or exploded and drained themselves into the rest of the world.

Sounds like Coupland is such an urbanite that he doesn't know how little of the earth is anywhere near a large city.
posted by JekPorkins at 9:31 PM on October 12, 2006


So let the previous generation take another whack at it:


posted by cenoxo at 9:31 PM on October 12, 2006


the whole thing is a moot chunk of rock inhabited by unthinking beasts that nobody, anywhere, knows about, because there is nobody to know it, and no knowing.

Intelligence in Nature.
posted by carsonb at 9:52 PM on October 12, 2006


i'm a bit surprised by all the 'we're part of nature too, so everything we do is part of nature'.

in the strictest sense this is of course true, but up until the point that we happened on the scene, nature's one and only (biological) tool was natural selection.

the thinking mind has, in just a few tens of thousands of years, been able to accomplish what used to take millions, as far as climate change is concerned. save of course the random massive volcanic explosion, or meteorite, or what have you.

the idea that we're part of nature, so whatever we do is cool seems like a very dangerous idea to me, given the tools we are wielding.
posted by joeblough at 9:53 PM on October 12, 2006


he doesn't know how little of the earth is anywhere near a large city.

Oh, the solvents aren't what make the earth uninhabitable; the nuclear volleys on Day 2 have already taken care of that. And if you're going to argue realism, try looking instead at New Scientist's take that without humans, power will simply and gently "wink out" across the globe without major incident, not least because the consequences of multiple nuclear meltdowns are probably gonna be "less dire than most people suppose."

*shrug* Coupland's scenario supposes otherwise. Like I said, it's just a more horrifying version of the same thought experiment. Boo.
posted by mediareport at 10:03 PM on October 12, 2006


We're part of nature, so whatever we do is nature. Nature isn't cool, and neither are we.

The thinking mind has been able to accomplish what random events have also been able to accomplish. Man is bad for the rest of nature, but so are other things.

What we do isn't necessarily "cool," but it's certainly not unnatural.
posted by JekPorkins at 10:04 PM on October 12, 2006


http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2000/06/0623_korea.html

here is an article about the wildlife in the North Korea / South Korea DMZ. This is quite fascinating. The poltical relationship has changed alot since it was written to, so you get a certain sense of omniscence reading the article.
posted by Deep Dish at 10:42 PM on October 12, 2006


Perhaps it's helpful to replace the word nature with the word environment. We are destroying the Earth's environment.

Nature may be taken to mean either that same environment, or the metaphysical nature of which everything that exists is a part (so that silicone implants, for instance, can be said to be a part of nature). But everyone knows what is meant when we say 'humans are destroying nature'. And we are.

One species is destroying life on this planet at an alarming rate as well as destroying the delicate balance on which that life survives. If it were a green fungus, I'd say it were destroying nature too.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:06 PM on October 12, 2006


Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you had till it's gone?
They razed parking lots
And put up a paradise.
posted by eritain at 11:27 PM on October 12, 2006


Coupland's take seems to be that if all the humans die, all of our nuclear bombs will be launched. I find that a little difficult to believe.
posted by delmoi at 11:55 PM on October 12, 2006


Enough with the misuse of semantics. There are various senses of the word "nature", and beating each other with one then the other isn't helping. Having said which (sorry), the "it's all natural because we're part of nature" argument makes the word virtually meaningless and certainly analytically useless.

The relevant sense of "nature" means the diversity of flora, fauna, and the environmental conditions required to sustain them. Now can you see that a lot of our collective activities are "against nature"?
posted by imperium at 12:38 AM on October 13, 2006


"the Earth will forget us remarkably quickly"
posted by acrobat at 1:28 AM on October 13, 2006


"The Earth" never "knew" anything about us in the first place and won't "forget" us or do anything else about us. We do stuff to it, it does stuff to us, but we're the only ones who care.
posted by cgc373 at 5:10 AM on October 13, 2006


Some people seem to have skimmed a little too quickly. Here, read this sentence paying attention to the word I've bolded:

Alien visitors coming to Earth 100,000 years hence will find no obvious signs that an advanced civilisation ever lived here.


He then goes on to discuss the nonobvious signs that would remain. Gosh, he's not a moron after all!

Thanks for a good, thought-provoking post.
posted by languagehat at 7:05 AM on October 13, 2006


Citizen Premier: The earth can't be beautiful if it's not being observed by animals with an aesthetic sense, nor can it be fascinating if not observed by animals that understand science.

I think every animal is "conscious", to some degree, but you'll never know it unless they can tell you. (Similarly, if I appreciate a beautiful flower, but never convey that appreciation to you either directly or indirectly, have I "appreciated beauty" in your world?)

I think communicate, therefore I am.

Dude... You gonna hit this..?
posted by LordSludge at 7:16 AM on October 13, 2006


I work at a studio that records presentations on upcoming books. Lots of fun, since I'd describe myself as a "recovering english major". anyway, there's a book coming out by Alan Weisman that basically lays out his ideas of how, assuming all humans just vanished, the evidence of civilization would decay. Things like, how long would it take houses to rot/become overgrown by vines, etc. I read a little excerpt of it, and it seemed really interesting. I think that there's more and more interest in this topic, as we become more and more aware of our impact on the planet...
posted by dubold at 7:21 AM on October 13, 2006


cgc373: "The Earth" never "knew" anything about us in the first place and won't "forget" us or do anything else about us. We do stuff to it, it does stuff to us, but we're the only ones who care.

Elephants never forget. (does that count?)
posted by LordSludge at 7:28 AM on October 13, 2006


My take on the traces of humankind that would remain after a few million years:

-An extraterrestrial race clever enough to build and operate a spacecraft and head to earth would immediately know that it (earth) was once the home to a technological civilization.

-A native species on the threshold of technological development, squid people for instance, would discover all sorts of weird things and come up with explanations based on what they "know" about the world. They'd form theories about just why there is so much gold in that one spot, or why this place burns your beak and dries your tentacles, etc. Eventually they might figure out that there were yucky mammal-things running the place in the past - might they not even find fossilized people? After all, there have been zillions of people interred over the ages, and only a small fraction have become zombies.
posted by Mister_A at 7:40 AM on October 13, 2006 [1 favorite]


LordSludge, no, elephants caring about other elephants doesn't count. Elephants don't care about their environmental impact or set up courts to determine whether their trampling villages in search of their sick relatives or friends caused some sort of harm to those villages. Elephants, however cool they might be, just don't have that capacity for guilt, nor can they bear the sort of responsibility humans bear. It's a cognitive lottery and we have the only winning number so far.
posted by cgc373 at 7:46 AM on October 13, 2006


Beyond the 41st Century, how much will the supermen/aliens/über-roachen know about us? David Macaulay's Motel of the Mysteries is as good of a guess as any.
posted by cenoxo at 7:50 AM on October 13, 2006


Imagine people without Earth — the National Space Society's Roadmap to Space Settlement. Once the Earth is wrung dry, we'll probably just move.
posted by cenoxo at 8:23 AM on October 13, 2006


Whatever. You've all gone Crazy Eddie.

(not to be confused..)
posted by LordSludge at 9:58 AM on October 13, 2006


Am I a bad person for finding both the main link and the Coupland article absolutely thrilling? Nice post.
posted by you just lost the game at 10:21 AM on October 13, 2006


Maybe the idea that the Earth would continue without us in some form, even thrive, is so attractive because we don't believe in Earth Plan B (ie, heaven) so much anymore. So the closest we can get is imagining we all disappeared and things got better. Because deep down, it's hard not to think we are incapable of fixing it if we stay...that there is something integrally destructive to humanity, and we will destroy ourselves (and most of the life on the planet) eventually whether we want to or not.

It is hard to hope for better most of the time. Our record's not inspiring.
posted by emjaybee at 10:31 AM on October 13, 2006


Am I a bad person for finding both the main link and the Coupland article absolutely thrilling?

No.

I liked this. I liked it a lot.
posted by reklaw at 2:30 PM on October 13, 2006


Am I a bad person for finding both the main link and the Coupland article absolutely thrilling?

Heh. No. Let's start a club. It's a really invigorating/frightening thought experiment. And to whomever above suggested that nature hadn't known tool use before humans: do some reading into what biologists think about animal tool use these days.
posted by mediareport at 6:46 PM on October 13, 2006


"Some species of animals are too far gone for them to bounce back from extinction."

Huh? Wasn't there reports of wildlife returning en mass to the Chernobyl site? Like, bears and other animals that haven't been seen in the wild in decades are now "thriving" in the depopulated zone...


Um, have you checked the meaning of "extinction" recently? Like, you know how babies are made by two people? And so, how if there were no people, there would be no new babies? It's the same thing for animals. Like, since there are no passenger pigeons at all, like zero, then there are never going to be any baby passenger pigeons, so there will never be any "thriving."
posted by salvia at 10:55 PM on October 13, 2006


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