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World On Brink Of Sixth Great Extinction pt. 2

Will the planet recover from our abuse?

Unread postby Kylon » Mon 11 Dec 2006, 15:38:21

I was wondering if the planet would recover from the abuse that humans are doing to it constantly.

I know that the planet would recover if we all just disappeared/died tomorrow, but will it recover in 100 years, after we have turned the oceans into lifeless acid baths, and made the planet into one scorching desert?


What do you think?
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Re: Will the planet recover from our abuse?

Unread postby americandream » Mon 11 Dec 2006, 15:42:19

Nope its dead....in fact we're looking at 6 billion deadmen and women walking at the moment.
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Re: Will the planet recover from our abuse?

Unread postby gego » Mon 11 Dec 2006, 16:20:03

Who knows!

In the long scheme of things, maybe we are not so significant as we think. Maybe we humans are just the equivalent of a bad parasitic infection, and global warming is the earth's equivalent of an infection killing fever.

My guess is that earth will recover once we are gone or reduced to "in balance" population levels.
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Re: Will the planet recover from our abuse?

Unread postby dissimulo » Mon 11 Dec 2006, 16:21:06

We might eventually kill ourselves, but more likely, we will just make it very difficult for humans to survive and our numbers will be significantly reduced.

The planet, however, will be fine. Life will go on and a new balance will be formed as plants and animals adapt to changing conditions.

The earth has been through many cycles, including some that wiped out a great deal of life on the planet. There will be many more cycles - we just might not be here to see them.

All of that said though, my bet is that humans are going to survive for many, many more generations, even if we have made things a lot less pleasant for our descendants.
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Re: Will the planet recover from our abuse?

Unread postby billg » Mon 11 Dec 2006, 16:50:56

According to Lovelock the earth will be able to support 500m once the climate stabilizes again...

Whether this is true seems to depend on whether or not humans continue to burn fossil fuels post pole melt.

Let's hope the dolphins and whales survive so at least we have a earthly intelligent vehicle in which to reincarnate...
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Re: Will the planet recover from our abuse?

Unread postby rogerhb » Mon 11 Dec 2006, 16:53:36

Kylon wrote:I was wondering if the planet would recover from the abuse that humans are doing to it constantly.


Depends if you think there is some supposedly standard state the world is supposed to be in.

I'll go for the Rumsfeldian description of the planet, "Stuff happens"
"Complex problems have simple, easy to understand, wrong answers." - Henry Louis Mencken
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Re: Will the planet recover from our abuse?

Unread postby smallpoxgirl » Mon 11 Dec 2006, 16:57:20

First off, life on earth will be just fine. That's not really a question. Bacteria live off the sulfur in deep sea vents. They can eat crude oil and prosper. The real question is the fate of vertebrate animals. That I think, is a difficult question to answer. Personally I believe that nature has balances. When something is set terrifically out of balance, like humans have done recently, a big correction can be expected to restore order. IMHO, peak oil is that correction. The truth is that for all its self agrandizement, the current world that humans have built is based on one simple discovery long ago....fire. All of our magnificent machines are all powered in one way or another by the concept of finding things and burning them. When we run out of things to burn, balance will return. I suspect that humans and most vertebrates will survive the correction.
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Re: Will the planet recover from our abuse?

Unread postby ohanian » Mon 11 Dec 2006, 16:59:05

"Our evidence points to the likelihood that Earth was peppered with small 'oases' of shallow-water, oxygen-producing, photosynthetic microbes around 2.7 billion years ago," stated lead author Jennifer Eigenbrode of Carnegie's Geophysical Laboratory, who collected the data while pursuing her Ph.D. at Penn State. "Over time these oases must have expanded, eventually enriching the atmosphere with oxygen. Our data record this transition."

When will Earth recover from the damage done by microbes which emitted huge amount of the toxic substance OXYGEN unceasingly 2.7 billion years ago. The damage done is so staggering that EARTH may never recover to what it was.
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Re: Will the planet recover from our abuse?

Unread postby coyote » Mon 11 Dec 2006, 19:19:51

It's likely that Mars was once a warm and wet planet like ours. Now it's dry, cold and sterile or nearly so. Complete devastation is possible.
Lord, here comes the flood
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If again the seas are silent in any still alive
It'll be those who gave their island to survive...
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Re: Will the planet recover from our abuse?

Unread postby Tanada » Mon 11 Dec 2006, 19:21:24

A million years from now, if our species is still here, our descentents will look back and see another example of a great world wide extinction like those 65 and 250 million years ago. They might or might not link the extinction event to humans.

The ecosystem however won't care, it will go merrily on evolving species from the survivors to fill the empty or poorly competed for ecological niches in the environment. In the ecosystem web, all life forms are expendable because the processes of natural selection will evolve replacements in the niches over geological timespans.
I should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, write, balance accounts, build a wall, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, pitch manure, program a computer, cook, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
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Re: Will the planet recover from our abuse?

Unread postby Lighthouse » Mon 11 Dec 2006, 19:53:19

coyote wrote:It's likely that Mars was once a warm and wet planet like ours. Now it's dry, cold and sterile or nearly so. Complete devastation is possible.


But planet Mars still exists.

So will planet earth. Maybe that's the ultimate recovery for a planet? Get rid of all life before life blows the planet to oblivion?
I am a sarcastic cynic. Some say I'm an asshole. Now that we have that out of the way ...
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Re: Will the planet recover from our abuse?

Unread postby EnergyHog » Mon 11 Dec 2006, 19:53:55

Sure thing, we're a minor infection that the earth will rid itself of.
Survive the economic fallout...
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Re: Will the planet recover from our abuse?

Unread postby mrflora » Mon 11 Dec 2006, 19:54:04

billg wrote:

Let's hope the dolphins and whales survive so at least we have a earthly intelligent vehicle in which to reincarnate...


Well, there's two non-sensical assumptions in that sentence.

Sure, the earth "recovered" after the K-T boundary event, so it will recover after the fossil fuel era. If there were no intelligences around to observe, it wouldn't make much difference.

Regards,
M.R.F.
"... coal and oil were depleted... increased demands for food cut off conversion of the agricultural surplus into fuel alcohol... solar power... as much a dream as atomic energy..." - Jack Williamson, "The Crucible of Power" (1939)
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Re: Will the planet recover from our abuse?

Unread postby Zardoz » Mon 11 Dec 2006, 20:41:48

billg wrote:According to Lovelock the earth will be able to support 500m once the climate stabilizes again...

Well, that's quite a turnaround for The Master Of Disaster. He's gone from "a few breeding pairs" to 500 million survivors. Hell, he's hardly a doomer at all anymore. We'll be calling him a cornucopian if he backtracks any more.

Question about his British Island paradise: If it becomes one of the most habitable places on a scorched Earth, how will the Brits be able to hold off the billions who will want to join them? I mean, talk about a Zombie Horde problem...
"Thank you for attending the oil age. We're going to scrape what we can out of these tar pits in Alberta and then shut down the machines and turn out the lights. Goodnight." - seldom_seen
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Re: Will the planet recover from our abuse?

Unread postby EnergyUnlimited » Tue 12 Dec 2006, 09:05:53

Will the planet recover from our abuse?

I would say yes, as long as one of following is not to come into play:

1. Some disastrous GW type of event.
Burning of all FF by tommorow would probably be not good enough, but hypothetical "planetary engineering" done in misguided attempt to "correct" initial damage could produce another, yet unpredictable and greater damage, which we could try to correct again producing even greater damage etc.
In extreme situation we could precipitate disastorous climate change, which would wipe out anyting more advanced than bacteria perhaps within few thousands of years from tipping point.

2. Nanotech go wrong.
You know, von Neuman probes, grey goo scenario, artificial non-DNA based life replacing existing one or similar story.

Those two looks obvious candidates. Any other ideas?
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Re: Will the planet recover from our abuse?

Unread postby basil_hayden » Tue 12 Dec 2006, 09:38:47

Define "recover" and "abuse".

Due to hysteresis, there is no returning exactly to the origin.

Is "different" better or worse?

Like anything else, it depends on where you stand.

I don't worry about the 4% warmer times on Earth, I worry about the 96% colder times. Perhaps a long cooling period resets the balance in oceans and atmosphere. Mars never had the mass to have the gravity to have a fighting chance.
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Re: Will the planet recover from our abuse?

Unread postby MrBill » Tue 12 Dec 2006, 10:01:55

My guess is that the planet will survive and bounce back, but due to individual species extermination and manmade climate changes, it will not be the same planet as we inherited. I think in terms of geological time measured in hundreds of millions of years that a mere hundred or so years is pretty insignificant. Still it is pretty sad condemnation of humanity that even knowing all that we know we cannot muster the will to save a planet worth inheriting by our children's children. Everything we have learned is utterly pointless unless we can survive as a species in a sustainable manner. Of course, that may prove difficult as well after the sun dies? ; - )
The organized state is a wonderful invention whereby everyone can live at someone else's expense.
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Re: Will the planet recover from our abuse?

Unread postby Doly » Tue 12 Dec 2006, 10:22:04

MrBill wrote:Still it is pretty sad condemnation of humanity that even knowing all that we know we cannot muster the will to save a planet worth inheriting by our children's children.


Hey, the disaster hasn't happened yet!
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Re: Will the planet recover from our abuse?

Unread postby joewp » Tue 12 Dec 2006, 12:21:17

Doly wrote:Hey, the disaster hasn't happened yet!


It's starting, there's plenty of evidence right in this forum. Much of the damage is irreversible in time to prevent even more damage. The damage is even increasing as we talk about it.

And you can't stop it, or you'll "hurt the economy". :x
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Re: Will the planet recover from our abuse?

Unread postby Revi » Tue 12 Dec 2006, 12:53:18

The earth abideth.
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