Every day we see a new species of animal and plant being added to the Red List, which is a list of species that are in danger of becoming extinct. Extinction is when a species or a group of plants or animals ceases to exist.
Just like the dinosaurs and so many other species that came before and after it, all living things die at some point (except cockroaches, but we’re not sure how they managed that!). As Mufasa, from the classic animated film The Lion King, says – it’s the circle of life.
This leads us to the very interesting question – will humans go extinct? The short answer is yes, humans will go extinct. But when and how we will go extinct are the real questions that are worth pursuing.
First things first – humans aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. The possible extinction of the human race is at least a few hundred million years away. Some have estimated it to be a few hundred years, while some say it would take another 7 billion years, but the general consensus seems to be that we’re nowhere near extinction. However, factors like accelerating climate change and population explosion can cause these estimates to change.
Humans are very vulnerable creatures, just like the dinosaurs were. We’re large, hot-blooded and depend on our environment for our survival. Unlike many reptiles and insects, we can’t go long periods without food, water, and heat. But humans have one thing that the dinosaurs and most animals don’t have – adaptability.
Humans adapt to changes in environments much faster than any other animal. Animals tend to adapt to their changing environment over time by modifying their DNA. This can take several generations to manifest. We use intelligence to understand the changes around us and adapt, sometimes within minutes, to those changes. So, while we are vulnerable, we’re also strong and adaptable, which is why it may take more than an ice age to wipe us out.
Another reason why extinction will take a long time is that there are so many of us. Humans are one of the most spread-out species in the world – we’re on every continent and have explored almost every inch of the planet. Even if there were to be an apocalyptic situation like a world war or a pandemic, where millions die, there would still be enough of us left to repopulate the Earth.
Now for the interesting part – how will it all end? There are many possibilities that could lead to human extinction, and they’re all equally probable.
One theory suggests that it could be an asteroid, much like the one that caused the end of dinosaurs. And while many asteroids have threatened the Earth over the years, we now have a defence against them, thanks to NASA. Another possibility could be war and nuclear destruction, but those are dependent on many changing factors.
The most common theory in the scientific and anthropological community is that global warming and climate change will be the biggest reasons for us homo sapiens to die out. Already we see so many negative consequences of deforestation, pollution and depleting natural resources. Wars over water, land, and food in the future can affect millions of people’s lives. This can bring us close to extinction sooner than we think.
However, there is hope. There are many scientists working on sustainable solutions for our current and future problems. It is also possible that while homo sapiens may die out, we could evolve and become the next step in human evolution.
How do you think the human race will look like a thousand years from now? Let us know in the comments.
Madhavi is passionate about everything to do with books, art, literature, films, trivia and food. A former journalist, she believes that asking questions makes life interesting.
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