Near Term Human Extinction

Ask yourself, do you really want to know?

by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

Would you look into a dark closet when you already know that there is a monster inside?

Near term human extinction sounds as if it could be a plot for a riveting sci-fi movie. I wish it was that benign. Sometimes I wish that I had never learned about abrupt climate change. I wish that I had never connected the dots.

Kubler-Ross probably had no idea that we would be applying her work to the mass grieving on the earth today. Her five stages of grief applies to the individual, as well as to everyone on the globe collectively. Today, as people become aware of just how close we are to the precipice of collapse, each is motivated to travel their own direction in search of comfort. It is ironic that all those roads eventually lead to the same place. It is the realization that we are all going to die and many today will see the end of the world.

I wrote a piece where I tried to explain why scientists are convinced that we can count the remaining time here on earth in years, not in decades. It all has to do with what is happening in the Northernmost region of the planet. The arctic is referred to by scientists as “the canary in the coalmine”. I explained that, “All that is frozen there really needs to stay frozen. Mother earth has a system for storing the earth’s waste. Billions of tons of greenhouse gases are stored in deep freezers under the ocean and in the permafrost on land. It’s Earth’s way. Melt that and all that gas, methane and carbon dioxide, is released into the atmosphere. We would feel the warming effects on earth in just a few years what would normally take millions of years to accomplish. Nothing would be able to adapt, including us.”

The arctic is just one such “storage facility”. Deep underground is a concentration of waste that we inadvertently tapped into on August 28th, 1859. That is the day that is recognized as our first attempt to drill for oil. Edwin Drake and George Bissell had no idea that they were resurrecting waste that Mother Earth had long ago hidden from us. All they saw was a cheap way to heat their homes and power their machines.

It didn’t take long for some to understand that burning this “fuel” was detrimental to the environment because in 1859 a man by the name of Tyndall discovered that some gases block infrared radiation, leading him to speculate that changes in the concentration of these gases could bring about a change in climate. The year 1859 was a big one for our climate. It is ironic that on one hand we have the first attempt to drill for oil, while on the other we discovered that it is probably a bad idea to do so.

The fact that mankind’s activities can have an adverse effect on climate is not really all that new. In 1938 a man by the name of Guy Callendar announced to the Royal Meteorological Society of Britain that global warming was underway. We have known about man-made climate change for at least 80 years.

“Callendar died in 1964. By that time, many climate scientists had reconsidered their opposition to his ridiculous-sounding belief that slightly increasing the small amounts of carbon dioxide in the air could affect global temperatures. A few were grappling with an even crazier idea: that people were pumping enough carbon dioxide into the air to reshape the face of the Earth and put human existence at risk.” Meet the Amateur Scientist Who Discovered Climate Change by Charles Mann

We are now living during a time when the earth will reach several tipping points. In turn this will cause a positive feedback scenario to begin. Time will not crawl by as it has done for the previous 80 years. No, global warming will morph into runaway climate change and then all bets are off. Why? It is not about how well we will be able to outsmart what’s going on. We could invent a device to keep us cool but will we then outfit every plant and animal? What about bees? Can you see them with their tiny little cooling devices going about their important work of pollinating the plants? If the bees go, and the butterflies, and every other pollinator, will we set up a system where humans, with their Q-tips, pollinate every blossom by hand?

We are animals, and as animals we need habitat. We need to be able to grow food, plants as well as animals. We need good soil, clean water, the right temperature, and fresh air to accomplish this. This is habitat. It requires that we go beyond thinking only of what we are capable of enduring. We must ask if the bugs and other life forms that assist us can endure as well. Humans require so much help. From the bacteria in our gut to the hidden mycelial network at work under our feet. We simply cannot survive without them.

There are many “canaries” to watch during this time. We should keep an eye on the rate of soil depletion and the occurrences of desertification around the world. These are signs that we are losing our habitat. We need to monitor the condition of fresh water on the earth, what is in it and how much there is. When the global average temperature rises to the point where deserts are growing and lakes are disappearing, we will know that the time is near.

We can also watch what the privileged do around the globe. When there are stories about luxury bunkers, huge indoor farming operations, and perhaps smart mega-cities or biodome projects, that will be a pretty good indicator of what could be around the corner. These folks may have more money than god but they didn’t get rich wasting it. They will start spending lots of money especially if they feel money has a short shelf life.

When someone sets out to prepare for a disaster, there is always the idea that it will be possible to come out the other side. There is no “other side” to total climate catastrophe. This cycle of build up and tear down, freeze and thaw, speciation and extinction, has been going on for millions of years. The problem is that humans have managed to speed up the destruction. What we are incapable of doing is to speed up the recovery. No “habitat” that we could build for ourselves will withstand the length of time that would be required.

Near-term human extinction is a real concern. It is not only possible, it is probable. We have already locked in several degrees over what has ever been experienced by the species homo. We are not yet experiencing the warming that is a result of carbon dioxide added in the last ten years. Climate change that we see is far from being a knee jerk reaction of the environment. We are always about ten years behind.

What can we reasonably expect to see every year for the next ten years? More heatwaves like in Japan. More wildfires like in Greece and California. More crop failures like in the UK and Australia. The big dry will continue. The flooding will continue. Food and water will continue to be just out of the reach of those who need it most. Millions of people will be displaced by sea level rise or some other climate related catastrophe. If the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior, the next ten years do not look promising.

Good research that has been published in conservative peer reveiwed scientific journals is available for anyone wanting to scrutinize it. Understand that once you see the evidence for yourself, you can never go back. This information is not for the faint of heart. You will be one of the millions now navigating the five stages of grief, because our demise is indeed sad.

Just as Kubler-Ross described, you too will want to bargain. You will experience the desire to deny everything. Unfortunately because extreme weather events are happening all over the world, your denial won’t last. If you find that you become angry over the suffering of others, especially those that contributed next to nothing toward the problem, you are not alone. Try to keep busy when you feel beaten down by all the sadness. If you stick it out, you will come to accept that there is not much we can do at this point. It is what it is. You wanted to know, remember? Well, now you know.

**T. A. Fave lives in North Central Wisconsin and besides writing, enjoys working on her small permaculture homestead. She and her family raise their own food and endeavor to live a very low carbon lifestyle. She is a defender of Earth and a fighter of Climate Change. You may contact her on Twitter at @432frequency or on Facebook at