Will climate change lead to human extinction?
Evolution: The end of mankind due to climate change
Of humans and mice
On the one hand, populations of animals with short reproductive cycles fluctuate more and thus increase the chance of fluctuating to zero due to sheer bad luck. On the other hand, slow organisms need much more time to recover from crises and are therefore more susceptible to nasty double blows. Another possible factor is the basal metabolic rate. If this is unusually high, which is the case with us, the risk of extinction increases - at least with mollusks. Extreme body size in one direction and the other currently seems to be more of a disadvantage in mammals, which increases the risk of extinction, which also speaks against us.
It is completely open whether technology and culture tend to help us survive or, on the contrary, make us more vulnerable. On the one hand, technical aids have made mankind more independent of fluctuating environmental conditions for thousands of years and will continue to do so in the future - on the other hand, we are becoming more and more culturally and socially dependent on them. This means: If the technical infrastructure fails in the long term, it will be difficult to land gently at a lower level because the know-how is often lacking.
In addition, many high-density societies can suddenly no longer meet basic needs such as water and food without this infrastructure; this would probably lead to chaos and reduce the ability to intercept the original crisis through organized technical or cultural measures.
Personally, I don't think technology and culture make that much difference. The respective time horizons are too different: Human societies find it difficult to keep track of 100 years - a possible extinction, on the other hand, would be a process over five to ten generations or more that would have to be averted on the same time scale. And then there is still the risk that the attempt to combat climate change in a targeted manner will go badly in the pants due to unintended effects.
But something like this is ultimately pure speculation, in one direction or the other. From a scientific perspective, in my opinion, there is currently no evidence that the future climate will acutely threaten the very existence of mankind. Rapid, significant climate change increases the risk of all species, but what we know so far about extinction makes us appear to be a less endangered species.
Whether less endangered species are actually safe depends, of course, on how drastic the crisis really becomes. In addition, there are indeed a number of possible warning signals that could indicate the corresponding risks. Apart from that, it doesn't have to be climate change alone. It is enough if it reinforces other developments. For example, conflicts that lead to a global nuclear war. But, as I said, that is speculation.
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