Humanity’s Timescale Forward

Guy McPherson says humans will be extinct in 10 years, while Stephen Hawking puts it at 1000 years (they each have PhD’s, but…). What’s your guess? Civilization is likely to collapse before human extinction, when would that be likely? McPherson cites the exponential rise of global average temperature (locked in by intertwined natural processes, and continuously fed by humanity’s obsessive industrialized capitalism), which we can visualize causing crop failures and oxygen depletion (mass starvation) and extreme weather catastrophes (mass displacement), which in turn would cause mass migrations with inevitable conflict (as with 5th century Rome and the Germans, and today with African and Middle Eastern diasporas aiming for Europe, and Central American and Caribbean diasporas aiming for the USA). Hawking cites climate change and the possibilities of nuclear wars and the dispersal of genetically engineered viruses. Hawking believes humanity should prepare to colonize other planets within 1000 years, while McPherson believes people should calmly pursue excellence in what they like doing, and to be loving to all the people near and dear to them, to make the best use of the remaining time before exiting with grace (not a bad plan regardless). What’s your guess about humanity’s prospects and the state of the planet over next 100 years?

HWPTRA (an author whose article is listed below) responds:

“I’ve read Guy McPherson’s work and he tends toward the catastrophic view of the various indicators. Hawking’s estimate of 1000 years I find vanishingly unlikely. Most of the mainstream climate scientists I’ve been reading are generally pointing to 2040 to 2050 as the time of severe conditions making the continuance of human civilization simply untenable with the accompanying deterioration of how people will treat each other. When a man is hungry, morality is largely irrelevant. However, I agree with McPherson’s advice on how to live with the remaining time we collectively have.”

Guy McPherson – Human Extinction within 10 years
25 November 2016

How to Avoid Stephen Hawking’s Dark Prediction for Humanity
18 November 2016

How Dangerous is Climate Change?, How Much Time Do We Have?
5 December 2015
(by guest author: HWPTRA)

How soil carbon loss could accelerate global warming
29 November 2016

Global Warming Research in Danger as Trump Appoints Climate Skeptic to NASA Team
1 December 2016

Manuel Garcia, Jr. comment to the above news story:

“It doesn’t really matter. There will always be an excuse, regardless of what faceless suit is momentarily “in charge.” And the people overwhelmingly agree with those excuses because they prefer instant power, individually, to social responsibility. That’s why we are where we are: a runaway warming is all locked in now. It will be crazy in 2040-2050.”

The physics of, and history of human awareness about, Anthropogenic Global Warming:

Closing the Cycle: Energy and Climate Change
25 January 2014

AGW and Malthusian End Times
(by Daniel P. Wirt, M.D., and Manuel García, Jr.)
13 January 2014


One thought on “Humanity’s Timescale Forward

  1. A timeline of informed human awareness about AGW (from the AGW article cited above):

    The clock for a public policy response to the “energy crisis” (now enlarged to AGW) started ticking in October 1973 with the First Arab Oil Embargo (1973 Oil Crisis), and we’ve yet to get off our asses in response to the alarm (40 years later).

    Four years later, the energy problem was serious enough for President Jimmy Carter to address the nation about it on the 202nd anniversary of Paul Revere’s ride (18 April 1977). See

    Peak Oil was the fear in 1977, not AGW, even though science had been certain about AGW since 1955-1957.

    What follows is a very brief synopsis of the scientific development of AGW knowledge, along with incidents of the parallel world energy crisis. Quotes are noted as from one of:

    (JEA): John E. Allen, Aerodynamics, Hutchinson & Co. LTD, London, 1963.

    In 1896 Svante Arrhenius calculated the effect of doubling atmospheric carbon dioxide to be an increase in surface temperatures of 5-6 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, another Swedish scientist, Arvid Högbom, had been attempting to quantify natural sources of emissions of CO2 for purposes of understanding the global carbon cycle. Högbom found that estimated carbon production from industrial sources in the 1890s (mainly coal burning) was comparable with the natural sources. (HCCS)

    In 1938 a British engineer, Guy Stewart Callendar, attempted to revive Arrhenius’s greenhouse-effect theory. Callendar presented evidence that both temperature and the CO2 level in the atmosphere had been rising over the past half-century, and he argued that newer spectroscopic measurements showed that the gas was effective in absorbing infrared in the atmosphere. Nevertheless, most scientific opinion continued to dispute or ignore the theory. (HCCS)

    In 1955 Hans Suess’s carbon-14 isotope analysis showed that CO2 released from fossil fuels was not immediately absorbed by the ocean. (HCCS)

    In 1957, better understanding of ocean chemistry led Roger Revelle to a realization that the ocean surface layer had limited ability to absorb carbon dioxide. (HCCS)

    In a seminal paper published in 1957, Roger Revelle and Hans Suess, **, argued that humankind was performing “a great geophysical experiment,” calling on the scientific community to monitor changes in the carbon dioxide content of waters and the atmosphere, as well as production rates of plants and animals. (HS)

    ** Roger Revelle and Hans Suess, “Carbon dioxide exchange between atmosphere and ocean and the question of an increase of atmospheric CO2 during the past decades.” Tellus 9, 18-27 (1957)

    AGW became common knowledge among aerodynamicists and atmospheric scientists by the 1960s, as witnessed by the following passage from John E. Allen’s 1963 book surveying the field of aerodynamics “for the non-specialist, the young student, the scholar leaving school and seeking an interest for his life’s work, and for the intelligent member of the public.”

    Scientists are interested in the long-term effects on our atmosphere from the combustion of coal, oil and petrol and the generation of carbon dioxide. It has been estimated that 360,000 million tons of CO2 have been added to the atmosphere by man’s burning of fossil fuels, increasing the concentration by 13%. This progressive rise in the CO2 content of the air has influenced the heat balance between the sun, air and oceans, thus leading to small but definite changes in surface temperature. At Uppsala in Sweden, for example, the mean temperature has risen 2° in 60 years. (JEA)

    22 April 1970: On this first Earth Day, MG,Jr decides to aim for a career in energy research, for a brave new future.

    October 1973 – March 1974: The first Arab Oil Embargo (formally known as the 1973 Oil Crisis) erupts in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War (1973 Arab-Israeli War, October 6–25, 1973).

    Evidence for warming accumulated. By 1975, Manabe and Wetherald had developed a three-dimensional Global Climate Model that gave a roughly accurate representation of the current climate. Doubling CO2 in the model’s atmosphere gave a roughly 2°C rise in global temperature. Several other kinds of computer models gave similar results: it was impossible to make a model that gave something resembling the actual climate and not have the temperature rise when the CO2 concentration was increased. (HCCS)

    18 April 1977: President Jimmy Carter’s Address to the Nation on Energy.

    The 1979 World Climate Conference of the World Meteorological Organization concluded “it appears plausible that an increased amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can contribute to a gradual warming of the lower atmosphere, especially at higher latitudes….It is possible that some effects on a regional and global scale may be detectable before the end of this century and become significant before the middle of the next century.” (HCCS)

    1979-1980: The 1979 (or Second) Oil Crisis erupts from the turmoil of the Iranian Revolution, and the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War in 1980.

    March 28, 1979: A nuclear reactor meltdown occurs at the Three Mile Island power station in Pennsylvania.

    July 15, 1979: President Jimmy Carter addresses the nation on its “crisis of confidence” during its 1979 energy crisis (oil and gasoline shortages and high prices). This address would become known as the “malaise speech,” though Carter never mentioned “malaise.” See Have you seen as honest an American presidential speech since? “Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this nation.”

    November 4, 1980: Ronald Reagan is elected president and the “big plunge” (the neo-liberal shredding of the 1945 postwar social contract) begins. Poof went all my illusions about an American energy revolution.

    April 26, 1986: A nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power station in the Ukraine explodes, spewing radioactivity far and wide, and the fuel core melts down. The Chernobyl disaster was the worst nuclear power plant accident until the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster of March 11, 2011.

    1986: Ronald Reagan has the solar hot water system removed, which had been installed on the roof of the White House during the Carter Administration. The official US energy policy was obvious to me: solar energy and conservation are dead.

    In June 1988, James E. Hansen made one of the first assessments that human-caused warming had already measurably affected global climate. Shortly after, a “World Conference on the Changing Atmosphere: Implications for Global Security” gathered hundreds of scientists and others in Toronto. They concluded that the changes in the atmosphere due to human pollution “represent a major threat to international security and are already having harmful consequences over many parts of the globe,” and declared that by 2005 the world should push its emissions some 20% below the 1988 level. (HCCS)

    All that AGW scientific research has done since 1988 has been to add more decimal places to the numbers characterizing the physical effects. That was a quarter century ago. So, I take it as a given that the American and even World consensus is in favor of probable extinction sooner (by waste heat triggered climate change) rather than later (by expansion of the Sun into a red giant). And, yes, the course of the extinction will proceed inequitably. Not what I want, but what I see as the logical consequences of what is.

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