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For how long will humans exist?

A quick overview by Keith Hayward, Farnham Humanists


A rule of thumb is that a new species lasts on the Earth for about one million years. Our human forebear species, Homo erectus existed for some two million years.


Homo sapiens has existed on Earth for around 200,000 years. We have only lived in agrarian communities with villages and towns for about 12,000 years, for only a few hundred years in technologically advanced civilisations, and for only a few decades with digital computers.


Already, Homo sapiens has used up much of the natural resources of the Earth, yet the world population is presently eight billion and continuing to rise. We live on a planet which is increasingly overheated by global warming that we have caused. The propensity of the human race for warfare, and the existence of nuclear weapons in the hands of crazed national leaders could wipe us all out at any time. In the years 2020-2021, humanity was laid low by the Covid-19 virus, a creature only one ten-millionth of a metre in diameter. A new potential threat to our existence is machines exhibiting Artificial Intelligence that we ourselves have created.


'It seems to me that there is no chance that the human race will last another 1,900,000 years to catch up with Homo erectus, even 100,000 years. Compared with earlier species of human being, we may well be very temporary.'
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