Armageddon

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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19 November 2018 20:48
 

So it’s all going to end right? One way or another. Some projections have global culture as we know it failing within a generation. Even with the most generous speculations about human society our biology and ultimately the physical resources of the cosmos all have non negotiable expiration dates. Extinction isn’t negotiable. It’s just the time frame and specific details that may be variable.

Assuming that much isn’t controversial how likely do you suppose it is that we can predict the nature of our demise? Even an approximation? I would eliminate freak occurrences that could do this but lie mainly beyond our current instruments of measurement. Just given the array of potential threats that we do understand should we be able to make at least an educated guess?

As a little context for the question I think we should consider our species in the spectrum of nature in general. (among other things) I think we can observe an array of risk aversion, threat avoidance, group solidarity and other forms of genetic fitness that express themselves behaviorally. I would want to suggest that animals in general are pretty good at predicting and avoiding immediate threats but pretty bad when it comes to large scale, existential threats. Please correct me if I have this seriously wrong. I’m not especially educated on how such a calculus would work nor do I have good examples for when a species may have consciously saved itself from a catastrophic event. As far as I can tell extinctions seem to be non negotiable, non avoidable events.

Now, if that’s true should we expect to be different? Should we expect to be able to avoid the hanging sword at all? Or even identify it?

Asking for a friend.

[ Edited: 19 November 2018 20:56 by Brick Bungalow]
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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19 November 2018 21:07
 

It also occurs to me that evolution itself is a sort of threat avoidance mechanism. It’s not historically conscious as far as I know but it is, in some sense a means of avoiding extinction by an accumulation of adaptations so its a caveat to my earlier statement. All current species ARE actually pretty good at avoiding catastrophe in the sense that they or their ancestors were able to avoid it thus far… again my grasp of such things is pedestrian.

Still, humans probably will probably not speciate further. Whatever time we have left is up to the resources of our current likely final form. So the question remains.

 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
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20 November 2018 07:44
 

“…animals in general are pretty good at predicting and avoiding immediate threats but pretty bad when it comes to large scale, existential threats.”  As far as I know, no animal has the ability for the abstract cognition required to estimate large scale, existential threats.  There may be instances of coordinated group behavior adaptive to avoiding the internal kind that might come up in a community (bees come to mind), but as for judging external, ecological threats and appraising possibility and potential response, nil.  We are then only species with that capacity, and it comes with our (no doubt evolved) ability for representational thought (ideas, concepts, aka “language”) and positing ends-in-view.  Most species can do the latter, but none have the former combined with it—as far as we know. 

That said, no species alters its own ecosystem to such an extent that these alterations threaten its survival through unintended effects.  Obviously there would be a strong selection pressure against such species persisting.  This self-threatening can be occurs on local levels within groups of a given species, of course, but not for species as such.  We seem unique in this regard too, because of that ability that could save us, meaning we are essentially in charge of saving us from ourselves, not just anticipating and responding to external, ecological threats.

Will we use these two (nearly miraculous) cognitive abilities to coordinate out of our own extinction…I don’t know, but the way things are going now, I doubt it.  If intelligent life is as abundant in the universe as the Kepler data suggests it could be, then my guess is that say 1 in 1000 species figures out the self-adapt-out-of-extinction trick (and frankly, if someone said 1 in 100,000 I wouldn’t be shocked).

[ Edited: 20 November 2018 07:49 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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21 November 2018 09:37
 

I think there is some evidence to suggest that humans may have a unique capacity here.We may have escaped an extinction event two or three times in our early history because we were able to travel to another biome and/or contrive extraordinary measures to survive extreme conditions. We are probably the only species to have escaped the atmosphere.

At the same time we’ve also deliberately invented things that have the capacity to wipe us out. I’d be interested to know if there are analogies for this in the animal kingdom. Has any other species manufactured its own demise?

 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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21 November 2018 15:24
 
Brick Bungalow - 21 November 2018 09:37 AM

Has any other species manufactured its own demise?

How would that be possible?

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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21 November 2018 22:48
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 21 November 2018 03:24 PM
Brick Bungalow - 21 November 2018 09:37 AM

Has any other species manufactured its own demise?

How would that be possible?

Not sure. That’s why I ask. I think there are some plausible scenarios but I’d rather hear from someone who has studied the issue in depth.

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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22 November 2018 07:30
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 21 November 2018 03:24 PM
Brick Bungalow - 21 November 2018 09:37 AM

Has any other species manufactured its own demise?

How would that be possible?

Just a little semantic clarification on the word “manufactured”. Do you mean wittingly? If not, then there are probably many examples of a species ruining it’s own limited habitat.

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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22 November 2018 07:33
 

Back to the OP,

I suspect that when Armageddon comes (all too soon, argh!), it won’t end us as a species, it’ll simply destroy society, and a few survivors will be left in a primitive, mad-max-variant sort of world.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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22 November 2018 11:20
 
icehorse - 22 November 2018 07:30 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 21 November 2018 03:24 PM
Brick Bungalow - 21 November 2018 09:37 AM

Has any other species manufactured its own demise?

How would that be possible?

Just a little semantic clarification on the word “manufactured”. Do you mean wittingly? If not, then there are probably many examples of a species ruining it’s own limited habitat.

Right. I doubt anyone can speak with authority about the collective intention of non human species. There do seem to be examples of things like suicide and revenge killing but I think prudent study should avoid projecting human categories onto animal behavior.

The examples that come to mind involve the kind of evolved behaviors that would confer an immediate selective advantage over local competitors so that the species flourishes but ultimately prove to maladaptive because the the balance necessary for long term persistence is upset. Maybe a new food source is discovered that proves to be a slow poison. Migration to an area that is too geographically isolated. Some kind of violent mating ritual that ends up actually diminishing the best candidates… I’m just grasping but I feel like some of this stuff probably happens.

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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22 November 2018 11:43
 

Well, for example, if they’re not managed, cattle will overgraze and destroy the pastures they rely on.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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22 November 2018 14:37
 
icehorse - 22 November 2018 11:43 AM

Well, for example, if they’re not managed, cattle will overgraze and destroy the pastures they rely on.

But that won’t cause them to go extinct, will it?

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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22 November 2018 15:38
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 22 November 2018 02:37 PM
icehorse - 22 November 2018 11:43 AM

Well, for example, if they’re not managed, cattle will overgraze and destroy the pastures they rely on.

But that won’t cause them to go extinct, will it?

Well mankind has made cattle pretty widespread. But other grazing animals don’t have such a wide range.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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22 November 2018 16:13
 
icehorse - 22 November 2018 03:38 PM
Antisocialdarwinist - 22 November 2018 02:37 PM
icehorse - 22 November 2018 11:43 AM

Well, for example, if they’re not managed, cattle will overgraze and destroy the pastures they rely on.

But that won’t cause them to go extinct, will it?

Well mankind has made cattle pretty widespread. But other grazing animals don’t have such a wide range.

Still, wouldn’t their population simply be reduced to a level sustainable by whatever remains of their pasture?

 
 
LadyJane
 
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LadyJane
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22 November 2018 16:52
 

Yes.  Grazing cattle don’t move.  They’ve been pushed from pasture to pasture…by humans…who tend to them.  The Water Buffalo and the Caribou still have a wide range (fer now) unlike us and the cattle.  We wouldn’t likely fair well in the Serengeti, is what I’m saying.