Mon Jun 28th, 2010 at 02:13:52 PM EST
Another wise old man thinks we humans are doomed.
Frank Fenner sees no hope for humans is how The Australian, Rupert Murdoch's rag, puts it. Virologist Frank Fenner, who oversaw the eradication of smallpox, now predicts that it is possible humans may be extinct by the end of this century.
Frank Fenner doesn't engage in the skirmishes of the climate wars. To him, the evidence of global warming is in. Our fate is sealed.
"We're going to become extinct," the eminent scientist says. "Whatever we do now is too late."
Fenner is 95 years old and I don't know if it is just that he is nearing the end of his life that his outlook is bleak, or if it is an insight gleaned from his long life.
"Homo sapiens will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years," he says. "A lot of other animals will, too. It's an irreversible situation. I think it's too late. I try not to express that because people are trying to do something, but they keep putting it off.
The reasons for extinction?
Fenner says the real trouble is the population explosion and "unbridled consumption".
The over-consumption and over-population will lead to increased conflicts and wars over dwindling resources with the collapsing climates. His diagnosis is one I agree with, but I'm not sure we'll see complete collapse of the human species.
The article continues:
The number of Homo sapiens is projected to exceed 6.9 billion this year, according to the UN. With delays in firm action on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, Fenner is pessimistic...
"Climate change is just at the very beginning. But we're seeing remarkable changes in the weather already.
"The Aborigines showed that without science and the production of carbon dioxide and global warming, they could survive for 40,000 or 50,000 years. But the world can't. The human species is likely to go the same way as many of the species that we've seen disappear.
I wish The Australian delved more into his thoughts leading to extinction. I would have expected Fenner predicting the warmer climates leading to more devastating viruses such as Ebola infecting humans, but the only reason he gives is war. Fenner may well be right, but his prediction is little more than holding up a sign saying "The End is Nigh."
Fenner actually makes James Lovelock seem like a bit of an optimist. Lovelock told Rolling Stone in 2007 that world population will collapse to 500 million.
By 2100, Lovelock believes, the Earth's population will be culled from today's 6.6 billion to as few as 500 million, with most of the survivors living in the far latitudes -- Canada, Iceland, Scandinavia, the Arctic Basin.
If the future is what Fenner or Lovelock predict, then I'm not sure how to best prepare the children of today to meet its challenges. My best ideas are try to teach and model community, adaptability, and flexibility. Any other ideas?