The future of the human species

We hear a lot of “we need to prevent climate change chaos [CC] to save the Earth humanity,” but that cliché is just wrong.

  • There are nearly 8 billion of us, and I am pretty sure that some of us will survive the current (sixth) mass extinction that is being driving by CC.* Humans, like cockroaches, will find ways to survive, even if it’s in a Matrix of some sort.
  • Human populations are already falling due to a combination of pessimism, female empowerment, and the high cost of raising babies. So we’re moving from quantity to quality, which will mean that everyone will have a greater chance of living.
  • Even if male fertility continues to fall (the “Children of Men” scenario), we will find a way to reproduce.
  • Humans are the pre-eminent species at adopting ourselves into hostile environments and/or changing those habitats to suit ourselves.

In combination, I predict that our world of 2100 or 2200 will be much more dangerous (due to CC) than today but inhabited by a smaller population of humans who have found ways to cope with harsh conditions and a falling standard of living. (We will need to pay for man-made alternatives as today’s “free” ecosystem services weaken/collapse/reverse.)

Beginning around then and strengthening as history unfolds and humans are beaten back, I predict that some ecosystems (and their services) will come back as people are forced to retreat. In some ways, there may be a flowering of diversity in this “new Eden” but it may not be so friendly to our descendants.

My one-handed conclusion is that humans will always be on Earth, even if they are less dominant.

* There’s the possibility of a catastrophic, “Don’t Look Up” event, but I’m not sure that even that would eliminate ALL humans.

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Author: David Zetland

I'm a political-economist from California who now lives in Amsterdam.

2 thoughts on “The future of the human species”

  1. Interesting take, David. I appreciate the candor on a tricky topic. Curious if you have read ‘The Ministry for the Future’ yet by Kim Stanley Robinson. It is a Cli-Fi book about the not so distant future. I’m reading this now and it is molding my thinking around how some events could play out, especially as world powers take on knee-jerk reactions to major climate induced disasters. I’d be keen to read your book review if this one makes it to your desk!

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