Exit Mundi
September 23, 2020 8:16 PM   Subscribe

How Humanity Came to Contemplate Its Possible Extinction: A Timeline is precisely, as they say, what it says on the tin. A history of ideas that led to the modern concept of extinction - and how it inevitably applies to ourselves. Careful not to have too much fun reading!

Hey! Wanna know more neat ways we could all die? Visit the original existential risk superfan home on the internet - Exit Mundi. Highlights include:

Also of interest: Cambridge's Centre For the Study of Existential Risk. er, pre-previosuly?
posted by Lonnrot (12 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
I just thought with all the awful things going on right now we could all use some light reading
posted by Lonnrot at 8:16 PM on September 23, 2020 [17 favorites]

CTRL+F "climate": Two hits, in passing mention.

When I lived in Silicon Valley, it was fashionable for people to publicly wring their hands about existential risks from e.g. malevolent artificial intelligence or grey goo, while driving forty five minutes in single-occupancy ICE automobiles to work at sites encircling an inland marine dead zone surrounded by burning desert.

People like to act out anxiety due to things like the nuclear launch button, when we are all prisoners of a society that has grown to rely on each of us incrementally pushing the launch button on climate and ecosystem collapse; over and over, every single day, by going to work, and going to school.
posted by Verg at 9:10 PM on September 23, 2020 [11 favorites]

Not with a bang but with a Crumble
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:11 PM on September 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

🎶 Some time in the next 10,000 years / a comet's gonna wipe out all trace of Man / I'm banking on it coming before my end of year exams... 🎶
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:12 PM on September 23, 2020

Also, Going Liquid On The Subway is the name of my band's new psychedelic-rock album.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:13 PM on September 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Don't forget about Froomb!
posted by vrakatar at 9:49 PM on September 23, 2020

I find it oddly soothing to contemplate the extinction of humanity in the face of societal collapse.
posted by mollweide at 4:08 AM on September 24, 2020 [4 favorites]

I really enjoyed Dr. Katie Mack’s book about not just the end of the world, but the end of the universe. It was a surprisingly fun read, considering it did not rule out the universe ending suddenly at any time with no warning!
posted by rikschell at 6:39 AM on September 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

I like Moynihan's timeline. He does a good job of referencing non-English-speaking sources. Good note about the mind-bending horror of WWI. Bravo for including Mary Shelley's Last Man.

I would have added Byron's "Darkness" (1816). For Stapledon, Last and First Men (1930) is a better choice than Starmaker since it is all about human extinctions. For threats, he downplays the pollution fear (yes, includes Carson, good); I'd add bioweapon threats, perhaps with a nod to King's The Stand.
posted by doctornemo at 6:58 AM on September 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

mollweide me too!! so much. I'm consuming apocalyptic and horror content at a high rate and it mostly makes me feel better! I'm looking forward to diving into this when work is done.
posted by supermedusa at 9:55 AM on September 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

CTRL+F "climate": Two hits, in passing mention.

To be fair, it’s not appropriate for every scenario. The last one, for example, deals with what happens when all the stats have gone out, the free atoms have largely been swept up by black holes and the universe has gradually cooled to a uniform near-absolute zero.

No mention of the Ross Ice Shelf on that one.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:51 AM on September 24, 2020

(For what it's worth, Exit Mundi includes climate catastrophe as one scenario - though bear in mind the site has not been updated in years and years, so could use more up to date data - and Moynihan's timeline is a condensed excerpt from his book, which I assume discusses climate catastrophes in more detail since that's a big one looming in near-to-mid future. I did want this post to be fun/interesting instead of only bleak and depressing, so focused the below-fold links on the more weird far-future physics failure scenarios. I will also second Katie Mack's book The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking). There are a few caveats and additions I'd make to the timeline, myself, but I wanted to give others a chance to talk, and don't have the time right now to add more than this quick note.)
posted by Lonnrot at 4:58 PM on September 24, 2020

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