The Difference Between “End Times” and Human Extinction

Amazingly enough, some politicians have been playing games with the fate of humanity because they believe that “End Times” are near, and they would like to encourage this. They would like to do this so they can go to heaven and everyone else can go to hell. Having political leaders whose goal is to make everything worse makes for less than ideal government.

It is not “End Times” that are nigh, I’m afraid. It’s the distinct possibility of human extinction. There is a vast difference between the two.

The actual end of he world will come, but not on the terms true believers imagine. Such believers get their info from antique books, written when it made a sort of sense to believe in the fantastic because nobody had better information. Before things could be “proven” by repeatable experiments and other actual evidence. Most religious beliefs are impossible no matter how you look at them. It’s the science that counts.

It is not “End Times” that are nigh.
It’s the possibility of human extinction.

What we know because of science has increased geometrically, like compound interest, because science progresses by building on what has already been proven. That’s why everything seems to change so fast. It’s because it does.

We don’t need new laws of motion because Newton already did that. Many scientists since then have caused our knowledge to progress so rapidly that much of our best understanding of the cosmos in the 19th century seems rather quaint today. Yet the 19th century wasn’t so long ago.

Calculating how long the sun will last
is fairly straightforward.

We know the universe is 13.8 billion years old. We also know that Earth is about 3.8 billion years old. And we know that Earth will someday die. It will die because Sol, the sun, will die, becoming something we wouldn’t recognize. And how do we know that? Because the sun, like all stars, is composed of hydrogen that is being consumed as atomic fuel, and eventually that fuel will run out the same way it does in other stars.

Calculating how long it will last is fairly straightforward. Hydrogen gives the sun its mass, and therefore its gravitational strength. In a billion years or so the fuel will be exhausted enough that its gravity will diminish with increasing rapidity, so it will expand. It will swell so much that it will become a red giant the size of Earth’s orbit. All life will be extinguished long before that, and then the planet itself will vanish into the sun.

That’s about as close to End Times as there will be. The entire human species will have ridden off into the sunset—so to speak—hundreds of millions of years before then, so the religious aspect is kind of irrelevant.

We are on track to bring about our own end.

Unfortunately, something far more disturbing, and quite real, is happening right now, and it has nothing to do with our imagined end as told by books written during a time of gross ignorance. We are on track to bring about our own end by heating the place up so much we won’t survive.

It could happen within another several centuries, unless we wake up to the realities science has been showing us for decades. What science tells us is that we have altered the global climate, and it continues to heat up at an increasing rate. The rate of heat increase seems like a very slow rate. But unless it reverses, that rate will be enough to make human life impossible. It’s the compound interest effect, and it guarantees disaster even if it doesn’t end all life.

The hottest temperature recorded on Earth was 147 degrees F. Humans cannot survive at that temperature because we have no natural mechanism to cool our bodies sufficiently. We can sweat ourselves down to normal body temperature when it is 120 degrees, but just an additional five degrees will end all human life. Phoenix is the hottest city in the US, and it has 107 days per year of 100 degrees or higher. It has reached 118 to 122 half a dozen times, all since the 1990s. Some other desert cities are not far behind.

There is also no question
that we will reach 125 degrees
on our present track.

There’s really no question that the planet will be unlivable once we reach 125 degrees. Unfortunately, there is also no question that we will reach 125 degrees on our present track. No one alive today will be around when it happens, because it won’t happen for another few centuries, but perhaps we should care a bit what our progeny will have to say about us.

What do we have to do to prevent this thermal apocalypse? The answers are actually simple: get the global population closer to the 1.5 billion that is sustainable, and sharply reduce carbon fuel use to lower greenhouse gasses. Sharply. Like 90%. Now!

The difficulty lies entirely in the political-economic realm, in actually making serious changes, because the wealthiest part of the population, the part that controls government, wants to continue on the present suicidal path. Why? Because it has made them unimaginably rich, the future be damned.

Doesn’t it seem rather preposterous that enough of the very rich who control government are so utterly blind to the implications of the danger that they are willing, even eager, to bring about the extinction of the entire human race? For money?

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