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‘We’re going to be okay’: Humans not destined for extinction


Between melting ice caps, water scarcity. and a warming climate, the future of humanity can sometimes look grim.

Scientists have long warned of a mass human extinction event and many believe that things have taken a turn for the worst. The iconic doomsday clock currently sits at  2½ minutes to midnight (the closest its been since the beginning of the Cold War). Meanwhile, a recent study from the University of Barcelona asserted there was a 13 per cent chance that humans don’t make it out of the 21st century alive.

But despite all the doom and gloom, scientist and former NASA astrobiology chair David Grinspoon says there might not be so much to fear.

“The human race is not credibly threatened with extinction,” he told host Robyn Burns on CBC’s All Points West ahead of his guest lecture at the University of Victoria.

“We’re going to be okay — but we’re going through a very difficult transition.”


Overpopulation does not pose a significant threat as the human population should eventually decline, says Grinspoon. (James Cridland/Flickr)


Grinspoon recently penned Earth in Human Hands — an in depth look at how humans have shaped the Earth over millions of years.

He says that through his decades of research, some trends stand out that should actually be causes for optimism.

The Earth’s stabilizing populations are one of those causes.

“All of the best projections show population peaking and then leveling off later this century, and fertility is declining for the right reasons,” he said.

While billions of humans live in poverty, Grinspoon says increased economic development and rising standards of living would slow population growth. He expects the world’s population to peak at about 10 to 11 billion before the end of the 21st century

He admits the prospect of feeding that many people is daunting, but trends suggest the number would soon start to decline.


Climate change remains the biggest threat to humanity, says Grinspoon. (Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images)

Climate change

If the population does eventually decline, so to will the effects that humans have on the planet, meaning humans could inhabit the Earth for longer, says Grinspoon. However, he says the true challenge lies in minimizing the damage that’s already being done.

“The overall biggest issue we face is the threat of climate change and our need to transition our global energy systems into ones that do not wreck the natural systems that we depend upon,” he said.

But Grinspoon is also optimistic on this front. He says current investments in wind and solar are just the starting point of an energy revolution.

“There’s no way 100 years from now we’ll be dependent on fossil fuels.”

Alberta solar panels schools

Investments in wind and solar energy will prove to have economical benefits, said Grinspoon. (CBC)

Grinspoon points to economic incentives that favour renewable resourcs. He cites China’s ‘green revolution‘ as an example of why it’s in the best interest of countries to reduce their carbon foot print.

“[China is not switching to renewable energy] because they suddenly became global altruists — it’s because you can no longer breath in Beijing, so they’re shutting down coal plants and investing in solar and wind.”

He admits that humanity needs to pick up the pace in order to stave off further effects of climate change, but firmly believes humans are in a state of transition.

“The 21st century is going to be rough and tragic in some ways, but its also true there’s going to be a 22nd, and a 23rd century.”


74 Comments on "‘We’re going to be okay’: Humans not destined for extinction"

  1. Apneaman on Sat, 18th Mar 2017 2:09 pm 

    Did You Even Hear About These Crazy Wildfires in the Midwest?

    Science says a warming climate means more wildfires in southern plain states—which are all governed by deniers.

    Governed by deniers and populated by deniers. Keep denying, take no precaution…please.

  2. Apneaman on Sat, 18th Mar 2017 2:11 pm 

    February 2017: Earth’s 2nd Warmest February and 4th Warmest Month in Recorded History

    “With the exception of last month, the top five warmest months on record since 1880 (expressed as departure from the 1951 – 1980 average) in the NASA database all occurred during the strong El Niño event of 2015 – 2016, which worked to raise global air temperatures by exporting heat from the oceans:

    February 2016, 1.32°C above average
    March 2016, 1.28°C above average
    January 2016, 1.13°C above average
    February 2017, 1.10°C above average
    December 2015, 1.10°C above average

  3. Apneaman on Sat, 18th Mar 2017 2:16 pm 

    Climate change is certainly causing more powerful storms

    Even blizzards show that climate change is a very serious problem

  4. Apneaman on Sat, 18th Mar 2017 2:17 pm 

    Burundi’s capital hit by floods
    Roughly a month’s worth of rain in a night destroys homes in Bujumbura.

    Rain Bombs keep falling on their heads

  5. Apneaman on Sat, 18th Mar 2017 2:20 pm 

    Bacteria In Expanding Oceanic Dead Zones Releasing Massive Plumes Of Methane Spanning Thousands Of Miles

    “Hmm. More irreversible, non-linear positive feedback loops we’re discovering more and more about as our Great Mother becomes less hospitable to complex life. These bacterial menthane releases, coupled with accelerating global permafrost methane releases is not good. Not good atal. Not to mention seafloor methane releases… Existential threats intensify and proliferate, as mass extinction continues in the oceans. Meanwhile, I just watched a commercial with a fire engine red Range Rover hurtling down a ski course at nearly 10,000 ft elevation, and there was hardly a scrap of snow to be found on the ski course. The Driver got out at the bottom of the mountain and ran his hand over the vehicle, smiled approvingly, green grass gleamed behind him. Sigh.” -OSJ”

  6. Apneaman on Sat, 18th Mar 2017 2:28 pm 

    Tucson weather: Heat wave brings a different type of March Madness

    “Tucson’s March heat wave has brought an unprecedented stretch of temperatures in the high-80s to low-90s, and broken several records along the way.

    With eight consecutive March days above 88 degrees- which continued yesterday- this year broke 1989’s record of seven days.

    The past nine days have also brought temperatures more than 15 degrees above average (another record) and the list goes on.

    Today’s forecast brings the chance of another record: If it hits 91 degrees, today will be the 5th consecutive day.”

  7. Apneaman on Sat, 18th Mar 2017 2:30 pm 

    Climate Change Directly Affects Health: Causes Malnutrition, Mental Health Problems Among Others

  8. Apneaman on Sat, 18th Mar 2017 2:31 pm 

    Texas faces at least $21 million in wildfire damages–regional/texas-faces-least-million-wildfire-damages/NlcjDIv6EGO72pRPHMLmSN/

  9. Apneaman on Sat, 18th Mar 2017 2:34 pm 

    Budget Cuts Impacting Wildfire Response In NW Oklahoma

    “WOODWARD, Okla. – State forestry services says nearly 200 people are still patrolling what’s left of the wildfire complex in Northwestern Oklahoma. More than 300,000 acres have burned in the state.
    Many might be surprised to see firefighters from different agencies and states fighting in NW Oklahoma, but leaders at the department of forestry say it’s a sign of the times and budget.

    Thousands of acres burning in Northwest Oklahoma has prompted an all hands-on deck response from the state forestry division. But even their entire emergency incident management team is not enough to handle on their own.

    “We are pretty much at the limit of what we can do,” said State Forestry Director George Geissler. “The budget of agriculture has taken about a third of its budget cut over its past few years.”

    Initial response to the intense Northwest complex fire was limited to local firefighters from rural and volunteer departments. Geissler’s emergency response teams have understandably been spread thin.

    “We literally at this point needed hundreds of firefighters, not the 25 we sent there”, said Geissler.”

  10. peakyeast on Sat, 18th Mar 2017 2:55 pm 

    No – humans are the greatest threat to humanity.

    The human race has lived through many severe climate changes – far greater than the human made changes..

  11. Cloggie on Sat, 18th Mar 2017 5:46 pm 

    Yesteryear was about 30 years ago Cloggie. Like so many of the other predicaments that the human race now finds itself in. Too little, too late.

    I registered on this board in January 2012 and posted ever since, albeit with considerable intervals. I know for certain that you dropped the phrase at least once, more likely at least twice.

    Some people can find more productive things to do with their short time here on this Earth.
    Knock yourself out, and enjoy your fight.

    As if the animals, including humans, on this planet have a choice to either “join a fight or not”, to “get raped or not”. I believe you when you say you have more productive things to do during your short time. The questions of course is if you are going to be left alone. Our next wars are going to be initiated, not by invading armies, but by exploding… “troubles”, as I believe they are called in Ireland.

  12. Cloggie on Sat, 18th Mar 2017 6:23 pm 

    Knock yourself out, and enjoy your fight.

    Pictures from Rotterdam, last Saturday, Dutch police body-searching security personnel of a Turkish cabinet minister:

    The Dutch government had made it clear to the Turks in advance that no Turkish government official was allowed to enter the Netherlands with the intent to conduct referendum campaigning.

    As a clear sign of the contempt the Turks feel for the Dutch and Europeans in general, a minister flew to Duesseldorf in Germany regardless and even went so far to attempt to fool Dutch officials by sending three convoys at the same time, with two decoys.

    The female minister was intercepted and told in no uncertain terms to leave the country immediately:

    Initially she refused. Only when the Dutch were about to lift the limousine including the ministerial content on a trailer and cart her off in this somewhat humiliating and unceremonious manner back to Germany, the minister understood her predicament and volunteered to leave the country in a more regular fashion.

    The was what made the Turks furious… and Mark Rutte win the election as the tough guy that he isn’t.

  13. Cloggie on Sat, 18th Mar 2017 8:12 pm 

    Ticket Norway-US: 69 euro, standard price:

    This is not an exception. Several price fighters have discovered long distances.

    Who would have thought that 5 years ago.

  14. GregT on Sat, 18th Mar 2017 11:10 pm 


    I just read that there are ~500,000 Dutch of Turkish origin, a large percentage of whom became Dutch citizens over 50 years ago, and many now who are second generation.

    Is this true? And if so, what do you propose to do about this? Kick them out of the country that they were born into? They’re Dutch, are they not? Forgive my lack of understanding
    of the situation, but I’m not quite getting exactly what is going on there, or why.

  15. GregT on Sat, 18th Mar 2017 11:28 pm 

    Just read this:

    Sounds like the Eurozone has gone insane. WTF?

  16. joe on Sun, 19th Mar 2017 2:32 am 

    Greg, liberal multiculturalism (which reared its head again in the Paris airport) sidestepped issues of identity by shouting down and ignoring legitimate criticism, this has caused people to move to the nationalists and their points seem to be confirmed as muslims spill ever more blood on the streets of Europe. Can there be a solution? Yes, but it will require pain and violence and the creation of a new country in Europe in which to dump European Islam, but then thats just muslims, there are many other identities in western society now, white-dutch, white-english etc is wrong too since the notion of white-? is an incorrect notion of nationalism and is a defeat for liberalism who have done nothing except become referees in the so far non violent race war which Johnson shot the starting gun for and MLK died for.

  17. Cloggie on Sun, 19th Mar 2017 4:25 am 

    I just read that there are ~500,000 Dutch of Turkish origin, a large percentage of whom became Dutch citizens over 50 years ago, and many now who are second generation.
    Is this true? And if so, what do you propose to do about this? Kick them out of the country that they were born into? They’re Dutch, are they not? Forgive my lack of understanding
    of the situation, but I’m not quite getting exactly what is going on there, or why.

    The figure I have is 400,000 and most have two passports. Many of them did indeed come in the seventies. The first generation was OK, they worked hard and behaved “secular” and modest. They were here for the money to be send to their poor families deep in Anatolia. Most of them were thankful for the opportunity. Turks never were as irritating as Moroccans.

    But this changed over the last decade. The Muslims behave aggressive and demanding and have zero intention to “integrate”, what ever that may mean, although at least they are all able to speak reasonably Dutch. Politically the most are an extension of Erdogan. When they win an important soccer match they drive through the streets with Turkish flags.

    The current standoff has everything to do with Erdogan’s referendum of coming April about whether or not Erdogan should get dictatorial powers. The polls say 50-50. Now Erdogan is trying to influence the many Turks living in Europe to vote in his favor. To that purpose he is sending high-ranking politicians to organize massive rallies, like this one in Oberhausen-Germany that have drawn large German criticism:

    The Dutch PM Rutte, eager to show to the Dutch public how tough he is at the eve of the Dutch general elections, decided to forbid these rallies on Dutch soil. That was the real cause for the standoff. This made the Turks furious.

    Now Erdogan has openly told the Euro-Turks to have at least 5 children to “gain influence”, read: take Europe over in the long run. This is a declaration of war.

    The good news is that Turkey and Europe are finally drifting apart. After the election the Dutch left has gone silent after the most important party promoting multicult (and most important Jewish power base) the PvdA (Labor) has been decimated.

    The aim must be now to politically destroy Merkel and bury the liberal globalist order once and for all and begin to use our navies to intercept invaders and kick them back with force.

  18. joe on Sun, 19th Mar 2017 5:52 am 

    Not gonna happen cloggie. Using force would end europe, the uk recognised this with its criticism of the EU army concept. The EU navy is currently doing all it can to fish armies of pregnant immigrants and virile 20 somthing men from the sea to make sure they get to Europe safe and sound. The EU wants goodwill from the people it plans to rule over. The plan is a New Rome and Rome included Africa and Asia, Babylon rebuilt.

  19. Cloggie on Sun, 19th Mar 2017 6:57 am 

    Not gonna happen cloggie. Using force would end europe, the uk recognised this with its criticism of the EU army concept.

    Complete BS and wishful thinking. What Britain really wants is the continuation of American-Anglo hegemony over Europe. That’s why they oppose the formation of the EU army. But now that the British population wrong-footed the British elite, the latter are now stuck with a premature Brexit, giving us in continental Europe the chance to finally get the EU army started, which fits hands-in-glove with Trump’s demand that Europe should pay more for its defense. And that is exactly what we are going to do.

    But we in Europe have far better cards than the British, because we have Russia patiently waiting in the wings, eager to finally become a fully fledged European country. And then there are these white nationalists in America who also have enough of Washington and aim for a white ethno-state on former US soil. These folks will be our natural allies in the future as we can give them what they want and they can give us what we want, namely excluding an American-Chinese alliance.

    So joe, why don’t you follow the advise of your own Economist and commit suicide:

    We have had two liberal Anglo centuries, a coal-based British one in the 19th and an oil-based American one in the 20th. Both are over. Welcome to the age of identitarianism and multi-polar world order. And if Anglo elites calls this concept “racist”… well, we couldn’t care less.

    The EU wants goodwill from the people it plans to rule over.

    More BS. The EU is very afraid of its “own” European population and the populists. Everybody is focusing on Wilders not becoming the largest party, but the real news is the total collapse of multicult party #1 Labour (PvdA) in the Netherlands. That’s the real big news. What “defeated” Wilders was his call for the Netherlands leaving the euro and the EU. A majority of the Dutch don’t want that.

    Non-PC Eastern Europe already has effectively sealed off the Balkan route, leaving only Italy and 150,000 Africans year, which is peanuts on a EU-population of 500 million.

  20. joe on Sun, 19th Mar 2017 10:20 am 

    Cloggie im sure you are not really dutch man. Having been to many major european capitals myself im certain what the end game is, its minarets and blood and money and fear, Trump is right, Merkel is wrong. Multiethnic ‘nations’ dont last and so neither will the EU or european so called identity.

  21. Cloggie on Sun, 19th Mar 2017 11:02 am 

    Cloggie im sure you are not really dutch man.

    No? You think I am able to fake my true identity for five years on a row and write a Dutch-centric energy blog just to fool everybody:

    For what purpose?

    So what am I then? A Belgian, a German, a Jew, what?

    My parents, who no longer live, originate from the Doetinchem and Enschede area respectively for at least 4 recorded centuries. After the war the met (in Switzerland during a Protestant church organized holiday) and moved to the town of Eindhoven where they had their family and where I still live, probably until my final years.

  22. GregT on Sun, 19th Mar 2017 12:39 pm 

    So like I said above Cloggie; “Yesteryear was about 30 years ago”, or in this case about 50 years ago.

    What do you propose to be a solution to this ‘problem’?

  23. Cloggie on Mon, 20th Mar 2017 5:35 am 

    UN 2017 happiness report just in:

    1. Norway
    2. Denmark
    3. Iceland,
    4. Switzerland,
    5. Finland,
    6. Netherlands,
    7. Canada,
    8. New Zealand,
    9. Australia
    10. Sweden

    The usual Protestant NW-European suspects on top plus smaller Protestant Anglo-countries.

    What a winner religion Protestantism is. It was really worth it to fight an 80-year war for that religion to prevail, meaning a religion that still promises an afterlife in heaven and benevolent God guarding over us, but also introduced a work ethic that ensured wealth that praying alone probably would not have brought. Protestantism means being a Christian on Sunday only and rolling up the sleeves during the week.

    14. USA
    16. Germany
    19. UK
    31. France

    Ingredients happiness: liberty, entrepreneurial spirit and resulting wealth.

  24. Davy on Mon, 20th Mar 2017 5:49 am 

    I don’t put much stock in reports today. They are a dime a dozen especially out of the UN. Talk about a shady organization that has outlived its mandate. Most reports, lists, and polls are focused on a goal seek agenda. The world is nothing but marketing today. Even academics and scientist are corrupted. So much for the scientific method. When everything is valued by price and price becomes ubiquitous you then have a de facto religion. Today in our world of relative reality, price is the one factor that is concrete. Everything else including morality is relative to your chosen perspective.

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