1 August 2009

Cold comfort

In Cast Changes on the Ecological Stage of Earth's Evolutionary Theatre, John Cairns takes an extreme position:
Will Homo sapiens be one of the many species lost in the sixth great extinction? James Lovelock believes that [hundreds of millions of] humans will persist even though billions will suffer and die...

My speculations on the future are less optimistic... If [negotiations fail in Copenhagen in December 2009], a 3°-6°C increase in global mean temperature appears probable – [and] humankind could probably not cope with this increase. In this case, small tribes of hunter/gatherers are the best outcome to hope for... [but] if Homo sapiens does not survive, it may be that intelligence (as humans define it) does not provide much survival value. Homo sapiens was not essential for most of the 4 billion years of life on Earth, and, presumably, life can continue for more billions of years without it.

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