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What Earth Without People Would Look Like

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the earth-sans-peepul dept.

671

Raynor writes "Imagine a world without people. What if every human being, all 6.5 billion of us, were suddenly abducted and the planet was left to fend for itself? The planet would heal. 'The sad truth is, once the humans get out of the picture, the outlook starts to get a lot better,' says John Orrock, a conservation biologist. Pollution would cease being created. It would remain around for many years, CO2 taking as long as 20,000 years to be restored to it's natural level, but will decrease. Even if we were all whisked away and our nuclear reactors melted down, it would have a surprisingly little effect on the planet. Chernobyl gives hope to this end. 'I really expected to see a nuclear desert there,' says Ronald Chesser, an environmental biologist. 'I was quite surprised. When you enter into the exclusion zone, it's a very thriving ecosystem.' In the grand scheme of the world there would be little evidence of our existence at 100,000 years. The most permanent piece is the radio waves we've emitted of the last century. As the article puts it, 'The humbling — and perversely comforting — reality is that the Earth will forget us remarkably quickly.'"

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671 comments

Is He Looking for Volunteers? (5, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493503)

If so I'd like to recommend Kim Jong Il

If they could, the other species we share Earth with would surely vote us off the planet.

They could try, but we'd be the ones building the voting machines [slashdot.org] .

even though buildings will crumble, their ruins - especially those made of stone or concrete - are likely to last thousands of years. "We still have records of civilisations that are 3000 years old," notes Masterton. "For many thousands of years there would still be some signs of the civilisations that we created. It's going to take a long time for a concrete road to disappear. It might be severely crumbling in many places, but it'll take a long time to become invisible."

Like the ancients, it's how we bury our dead which will be most telling to the next crop of intelligent life to evolve on Earth.

"They're all in these frames of petrified wood with evidence of metal rails, hinges and nails around them. Do you suppose they spun these things and then suffocated inside them? Or was this some way other creatures stored their food? They couldn't possibly be so vain as to try preserving their bodies after they died, HA HA HA!"

'The humbling -- and perversely comforting -- reality is that the Earth will forget us remarkably quickly.'"

Oh, I dunno. The planet itself might, with the help of perhaps another ice age to drive the remnants of our cities into so much rubble.

Sadly it is true... (0, Flamebait)

NaklsonofNakkl (1014887) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493601)

Although it does seem that way, in 100,000 years, this planet would seem like it was empty of any "intelligent" life forms...except that the animals would truely be the intelligent ones for being able to survive without the need for hurting the planet they live on...what has become of us humans? Are we no better than a common criminal? Taking the life of a planet for our own?

Re:Sadly it is true... (4, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493807)

Although it does seem that way, in 100,000 years, this planet would seem like it was empty of any "intelligent" life forms...except that the animals would truely be the intelligent ones for being able to survive without the need for hurting the planet they live on

I wonder if they would be able to spell "truly".

what has become of us humans? Are we no better than a common criminal? Taking the life of a planet for our own?

Uh, those who kill to live are not simply criminals, although some system of law could make them so. Killing to live is perhaps the only reasonable purpose for killing. (It doesn't make it right, but it does make it understandable.)

But in response to your question, it's not so much a criminal act as an act of negligence - but at the same time, the powers-that-be are doing everything they can to make us forget about the real issues so that they can rape the planet. Since humans are pack animals, this is typically a highly successful venture.

Unfortunately, we have given our planet to the people with money and are unwilling to take it back. We elect the incumbent to congress something like 95% of the time but people always complain about how corrupt government is and how badly we need a change.

Re:Is He Looking for Volunteers? (3, Interesting)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493925)

Like the ancients, it's how we bury our dead which will be most telling to the next crop of intelligent life to evolve on Earth.

Burials are certainly a rich source of information but believe it or not some of the most interesting archeological discoveries have come from ancient rubbish dumps [ox.ac.uk] .

Pollution = hurting other people (3, Insightful)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493527)

"What if every human being, all 6.5 billion of us, were suddenly abducted and the planet was left to fend for itself? The planet would heal."

This excess anthropomorphising has reached a new heights for slashdrivel.

We are not hurting the planet with pollution. We are primarily hurting each other. As TFA notes, we have left very few permanent traces on the earth. Pollution is - or ought to be - a tort.

PS: and we should continue as the dominant species on the planet. If we don't the chimps will take over.
PPS: and if Mr. Orrock, the writer of the article, thinks that the global demise of the human species is a good idea, I invite him to act locally. Very locally.

Re:Pollution = hurting other people (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493577)

How about just a world with one of me (heterosexual male) and all women. A short but happy life....

Re:Pollution = hurting other people (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493669)

When the gender ratio exceeds 3:1 mass situational homosexuality begins to kick in.

Re:Pollution = hurting other people (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16493687)

Like in professional sports teams?

Re:Pollution = hurting other people (4, Funny)

s20451 (410424) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493755)

How about just a world with one of me (heterosexual male) and all women. A short but happy life....

When the gender ratio exceeds 3:1 mass situational homosexuality begins to kick in.

That's not a bug, that's a feature!

Re:Pollution = hurting other people (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493985)

It would be a 'feature' if you were talking about bisexuality. Homosexuality includes a lack of interest in the other gender period.

Re:Pollution = hurting other people (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16493841)

sounds like a lot of turd burglars must live in china...

Re:Pollution = hurting other people (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493941)

When the gender ratio exceeds 3:1 mass situational homosexuality begins to kick in.

Given some men's propensity for enjoying lesbian porn (but oddly enough not gay porn) this is a problem?

Re:Pollution = hurting other people (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16494039)

"Lesbian" porn isn't actual lesbians. The "lesbian" porn designed for straight males is specially designed to make the guy want a threesome. Most of the actresses in that stuff admit to actually being straight. If you saw two actual lesbians doing it you wouldn't think the same thing.

Re:Pollution = hurting other people (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493869)

Sadly you wouldn't see a long line of lovelys all ready and waiting in line; more like a line of doctors with turkey basters. But hey maybe you really have a thing for doctors carryin g turkey basters.

Re:Pollution = hurting other people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16494019)

Maybe for them, chances are they'd all go dyke if all they had available was you.

Just like a lot of things (1, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493773)

We are not hurting the planet with pollution. We are primarily hurting each other. As TFA notes, we have left very few permanent traces on the earth. Pollution is - or ought to be - a tort.

Just like a lot of things, the rich can affect the poor by having the capacity to do more harm by wielding wealth. The foolish can too, but not to anywhere near the same extent.

As an example, consider Joan Q. Public; buzzing back and forth in her compact which gets 30 MPG. Aside from a few drips from an oil leak and some evaporated (or leaked) coolant, she's not having a major impact. Now consider John F. Doe; charging between stop signs in his 4WD with monster tyres which achieves an average of 12 MPG and worse, he's fiddled his exhaust for that sound which can leave no trace of doubt in anyone's mind, that he indeed has a very small reproductive organ. Then there's Harriet T. Grundgeworth, with her private jet, zipping around between New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, she's got so many things to do and people to see and appearances to make, not by some car do we guage her MPG, but in all the miles it is essential for her to cover. She makes John F. Doe look like he couldn't properly achieve a bathtub ring compared to her footprint on the enviroment.

The thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16493543)

The thought of no humans gives you environmentalists huge chubbies, doesn't it? Perhaps you'd rather they be eaten by lions instead of being abducted into space?

Moo (5, Insightful)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493545)

'The sad truth is, once the humans get out of the picture, the outlook starts to get a lot better,'

But for what purpose? That's like never opening a package, so it never gets finished.

Who would even appreciate it? Is the Earth something so deistic and magical that's its mere existence is good enough by itself? Or, is some alien race (no doubt evilly destroying their own planet) going to come by and appreciate its pristine beauty?

The planet is here, and we are using it. We are becoming better, and making it more capable. To say that to conserve, take notice, and be proactive, to make it last longer, is not only true, but it is helpful. To say, however, that if we were gone it would be better, is an unproven theory, and would remain unproven, being noone would be here to care.

Growth takes a toll somewhere. But not for naught. The Earth is here for us, and we have made quite some progress based on her resources. There's no reason to replace our pride with some pessimistic view that promotes nihilism in some strange way.

Re:Moo (5, Insightful)

dan828 (753380) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493829)

Actually, did you not find it amusing that during the course of all of this speculation about what would happen on the earth without humans, the guy makes the point that he was totally wrong in his thoughts about what the area around Chernobyl would be like?

The guy basically tells us that his predictions about ecosystems are for crap anyways, so why the heck should we listen to his current one?

Re:Fuck! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16493877)

Dude, can't you ever come up with a real post subject?

I mean, even I MOO a lot, but you just aren't any good at it.

If you can think of nothing else, may I suggest... Subject: Fuck!

Re:Moo (1)

catbutt (469582) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493939)

Very good point. Its kind of hard to define the concept of "better" without humans. Better for the animals? Maybe, in the sense that there might be more of them. Better for the plants? Well, they don't have brains so I have a hard time seeing how they care one way or the other. Better in some Darwinian sense? This guy didn't really seem to think through his premise.

I always like a challenge. (1)

tfinniga (555989) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493551)

'The humbling -- and perversely comforting -- reality is that the Earth will forget us remarkably quickly.'

Not if I can help it!

Humans are Entropy (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493555)

'The sad truth is, once the humans get out of the picture, the outlook starts to get a lot better,'
What's sad about that? Do you cry every night knowing that the time you spent in your house added to its deterioration?

You can view this as we are abnormalities in our ecosystem. We are atypical organisms living beyond what we are supposed to.

Or you can acknowledge that if other organisms were intelligent enough to make their existence better for them (at the expense of others), they would. That's one of the laws of nature and we're just reverting back to our primal instincts. Now, we're fairly civil and modest in reproducing and killing, so we're a bit better than the animals in that respect. If we chose to acknowledge that we're destroying earth for the rest of the organisms, it would probably be both civil and intelligent. Unfortunately, about half of us don't give a shit. Well, that's what we deal with.

Every organism is in competition for resources with every other organism in some way. A symbiosis rarely occurs and when it does, it's usually forced (humans raising cattle for milk).

Is there any scenario we can reach where we won't destroy the environment?

Probably not but, in my opinion, humans are entropy.

The humbling - and perversely comforting - reality is that the Earth will forget us remarkably quickly.
And, if you acknowledge the very long history of the earth, we are remarkably new to the earth. The dinosaurs had a longer reign and they are forgotten with the exception of their bones.

Re:Humans are Entropy (5, Insightful)

iocat (572367) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493993)

We're not abnormalities. We were created by the eco-system. Then we gamed the (eco)system and beat it. Think our lack of fur makes us unable to survive ice-ages or cold climates? Fuck you, eco-system, we're going to kill some animals and wear their fur! No wings? Fuck you, eco-system, we're making planes! No gills? Again, fuck you eco-system, we're busy evolving Jacques Cousteau and a crazy machine that lets us breathe underwater! Antibiotics -- win for us. Language -- win for us. Brains filled with the ability to learn -- win for us. Crazy-ass opposable thumbs -- win for us. Neil Armstrong -- win for us.

We're the winners. We rule. As a species, we're at the top of every single food chain on earth, local irregularities notwithstanding (for instance, I would not try to argue this point with a bear, shark or tiger). As long as, as a species, we act smart, we're likely to stay there. That means being responsible, not wrecking things for the next generation, conserving what we have, acting sustainably, and if needed, figuring how to removing unstable elements and memes from our global society (religious fundementalists, dictators with nukes and itchy trigger fingers, etc.). (Oh, and figuring out how to get off this rock long term, so we can beat the sun at its "burn out after a billion years" game too.)

You're free to disagree with me, but I like being on the winning team as a species. I am much happier as a videogame-enjoying human than I would be as an anonymous ferret or weasel or whatever.

A good fictional treatment of this scenario (1)

Ryu2 (89645) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493569)

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, although definitely not one of Clancy's best, deals with a enviro-nut case group that wants to eradicate all human life on earth (except their own cult, of course).

As you might predict, it never gets off the ground, but if you can get past the almost comic plot, there's a lot of semi-informed commentary and discussion about "what if" and just how quickly the Earth would rebound.

A real treatment of this scenario, apparently (3, Informative)

s20451 (410424) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493733)

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, although definitely not one of Clancy's best, deals with a enviro-nut case group that wants to eradicate all human life on earth (except their own cult, of course).

Here's an enviro-nut case group that wants to eradicate all human life on Earth, including their own cult. (They don't want to do it violently, though -- they just want everyone on Earth to agree not to have children, and let nature take its course.)

Voluntary Human Extinction Movement [vhemt.org]

It could be a hoax website, but it's at least plausible.

The best thing for everyone is for you to leave (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16493581)


I'am sorry Mr Human but i think i speak for everyone here when i say your disrupting behaviour isn't welcome at our party, so i think its best if you just leave quietly before you cause some more trouble, here is your cab fare and its waiting outside for you, sorry but goodbye.

yours sincerly

The Earth

The earth will forget us? (1)

pedantic bore (740196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493583)

How fickle is that? After all we've done for it, too. We've made a good start at cleaning up the mess left behind by the dinosaurs -- all those fossil fuels! And we've exposed ourselves to toxic flourocarbons in order to get rid of the even more corrosive and dangerous layer of ozone obscuring the sun.

And to think that after all that, the earth is just going to forget about us. Well, not if we dump her, first!

Geez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16493591)

I knew those "Left Behind" guys were desperate for money, but it never occurred to me they'd figure out a way to write a sequel.

even better! (5, Insightful)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493595)

Bah, this fellow lacks imagination.

Imagine how beautifully clean and preserved the planet would be without life of any type! No more messy leaf litter, buzzing flies around dungheaps, the occasional lightning-sparked forest fire besmudging the sky with ugly smoke...

Re:even better! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16493653)

Plus, without life there wouldn't be any of that corrosive Oxygen in the air. It'd all bind up with either carbon or hydrogen. Can you imagine a world in which lifeforms aren't constantly pumping out toxic gasses?

What about styrofoam? (3, Funny)

pestilence669 (823950) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493599)

Is all the environmental hype about styrofoam over blown? Will some ancient civilization mine for it like we mine for oil? ... or will it disappear?

Re:What about styrofoam? (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493907)

Actually it's a virtual certainty that we will be mining landfills in the relatively near term. I would guess ten to fifty years for it to catch on - it's actually happening in some places.

I read an article once on where our trash goes. Apparently a lot of our "recycled" plastic bottles go to a landfill in Australia. When crude prices double (they will, eventually) then recycling all that plastic will actually become lucrative and people will go looking for ways to get the good stuff out of landfills. This is likely to take the form of intelligent robot swarms - they will communicate with one another, unlike the ones just discussed here on slashdot. Or, if you project this into the future, maybe nanites :P

But to answer your question, styrofoam is a polystyrene foam, and it does degrade in sunlight, albeit slowly. Practically all plastics are susceptible to damage from ultraviolet light; UV-resistant plastics have all kinds of things added to them to refract, reflect, or absorb it before it has a chance to do much damage to the plastic. Ten or even a hundred thousand years is a sneeze on a geologic timescale.

Alien perspective? (2, Insightful)

Retardican (1006101) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493607)

Humans have altered the environment extensively throughout our existence. An alien species visiting us 5000 years ago would have noticed all the farming, extensive irrigation, not to mention a pyramid or two sticking out. Without humanity, would Earth be as interesting?

Yup (1)

valkabo (840034) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493615)

Once man leaves the world would heal, and a really just terrific glob of dirt in the middle of space with a bunch of cell's running around eating. No need to improve things, after all! THere better now! Man's gone! whats that? A deadly asteriod is coming towards earth?! WHATS THAT?! Ben Affleck has vanished and now no one can save us!? Well.. At least theres minimal pollution. Cheers mate.

Re:Yup (2, Funny)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493931)

Ben Affleck has vanished and now no one can save us!?

I thought Ben Affleck vanishing was saving us.

Can nature save itself from Heat Death? No. (5, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493623)

In 1.5 billion years the sun will start to grow into a red giant and solar winds winds will strip the Earth of its atmosphere.

Then in about 5 billion years after that, the sun will have consumed the Earth and whatever life remains on it.

(Source)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Sun_Life.png [wikipedia.org]

This is of course barring large iron metorites or collision with large space bodies and of course a passing of another solor system or galaxy in the meantime.

So if man went away tomorrow... Life would be peachy for nature for a while, but then it would die by itself due to reasons far beyond non-intelligents life control (unless dolphins evolve into space faring creatures on their own)

So nature has to put up with man for a while to we figure out how to get off this rock... Or get used to not being around in a few billion years.

Re:Can nature save itself from Heat Death? No. (1)

32Na (894547) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493911)

1.5 billion years is a bit too early for the sun to use up all its core hydrogen:
Here is a quick calculation of the time needed to deplete the hydrogen below the threshold to support the mass of the star (after which it should collapse and then rebound, forming a red giant):

http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/question.php?numb er=389 [cornell.edu]

If you don't want to follow the link, the figure is about 5 billion years away. I think that temperatures here on earth are expected to vary greatly between now and then, however, making this a less hospitable place for life.

Re:Can nature save itself from Heat Death? No. (1)

HerrEkberg (971000) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493921)

Well, the dinosaurs appeared about 230 million years ago, primates some 60 million years ago. I would say 5 billion years are plenty of time for a new space faring species to evolve.

Re:Can nature save itself from Heat Death? No. (1)

Quaoar (614366) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493935)

I think the point is that nature will only take about 20,000 years to even things out, which is only 2e5/1.5e9 ~ .01% of the years the planet will have before its atmosphere is stripped.

You're also forgetting that man himself only needed ~50,000 years to mature from animals to advanced civilization...who's to say that nature won't create another creature who will be as advanced as we were in the time the Earth has left?

More misanthropic crap... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16493651)

I'm really disappointed at Slashdot for posting this crap.

Re:More misanthropic crap... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16493989)

Why is it crap? Our society is greedy and obsessed with consumption and overbreeding.

Maybe you should think about the consequences of these actions on a large and long-term scale instead of knee-jerk reacting about how it puts down some people's freedoms to engage in these behaviors.

Fuck you when my kids have to inherit a polluted Earth with assorted problems that we may not be able to solve.

no (5, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493665)

"The sad truth is, once the humans get out of the picture, the outlook starts to get a lot better,'"

not to me.

Hold on... (2, Insightful)

numbsafari (139135) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493673)

While I kill myself to repent...

What a stupid and lame discussion. Of course we have an impact on the earth. So do insects, cows and bacteria.

The rocks would be happier without the moss.

The questions shouldn't be about what if we all leave, they should be about how can we maintain an environment hospitable to us. That includes reducing pollution and expanding the "wild zones" and "gardens" of "terra firma".

Should we all just stop existing because, oh dear, we might actually have an impact on the rest of the world?

Re:Hold on... (2, Insightful)

dedazo (737510) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493943)

What a stupid and lame discussion. Of course we have an impact on the earth. So do insects, cows and bacteria

Not to seem pedantic here and all, but man is the only animal species that actually destroys ecosystems and causes the extincion of other species that are not in his food chain. We are also the only species that is incapable of existing in an ecological balance. We have an inordinate amount of impact on the planet. Elk and bacteria haven't yet industrialized the production of resources (and the elimination of its byproducts), as far as I know.

Having said that, I have a feeling that there wouldn't be much of a point to the existence of man if we weren't supposed to be doing what we do (albeit in a less destructive manner, ideally). Maybe destroying your surroundings goes along with being sentient and having opposable thumbs? Who knows. Unfortunately we don't have a frame of reference for these types of things.

Here's What The Lower 48 Would Look Like (3, Interesting)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493709)

If you're interested in what the United States would be like without humans, there is a nifty map developed by A.W. Kuchler in 1964 and refined periodically since of what would grow where without human interference. It is called Potential Natural Vegetation of the Coterminous United States and can be found at the US Forest Service. [fs.fed.us]

If there were no humans...... (1)

fatboy (6851) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493713)

or other "intelligent" life, then the Earth and the rest of the universe is a big waste of space.

This is funny (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493715)

Chernobyl gives hope to this end. 'I really expected to see a nuclear desert there,' says Ronald Chesser, an environmental biologist. 'I was quite surprised. When you enter into the exclusion zone, it's a very thriving ecosystem.'

Uh, what? Why would you expect to see a nuclear desert there? Armed with some research papers and some estimates of how much nuclear material was released, it should have been easy enough to figure out that no, all life will not fail. In fact the plants are doing great (and some of the shorter-lived animals) because there aren't a bunch of people running around destroying them.

Anyway, this is not a big surprise. There are some indications that it might rebound even faster than these studies suggest. One of the major indications is the continued presence of complex animals (like land-based vertebrates) after all the cataclysms which have occurred since they first crawled out of the ocean. I mean we only even know about a few and some of them are major impacts, some are ice ages, etc.

Just as an example the earth has a built-in mechanism for regulating global temperature. As temperatures rise, the ice caps melt, and sea levels rise. This has two major effects: One, it leads to additional evaporation, which causes cooling; the other is that it covers more land, which results in more light being reflected back into space, which also causes cooling. This pitches things towards an ice age; the globe cools, the ice caps refreeze, the sea level falls, evaporation decreases, more land is exposed, the earth retains more sunlight and the planet heats up. The cycle continues.

Of course, we may not be too happy about this, and there are things that we can do to make a difference and maybe (at some point) stabilize the system. Every year we put out (as a species, on average) something like 20 times as much CO2 as active surface volcanoes...

Re:This is funny (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493821)

He's surprised because he's been indoctrinated to believe that ANY amount of radioactivity is bad, bad, bad and will kill anything and everything within miles and miles for thousands upon thousands of years.

Heck, I probably get a higher dose going to Aspen for the weekend...

Re:This is funny (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493857)

No, addition moistur in the air helps trap energy from the sun.
No it doesn't cause cooling because the water that evaperoted still exists in the atmosphere, as does the energy used to do the evaperation.
What it MIGHT do is create more clouds, which will reflect more heat. However, the caps and glaciers reflect more energy then the surface of the ocean.

The natural cycle has been substantially faster(and gaining speed EXPOTENTIALLY) then ever before.

The high CO foung is 300ppm, usually around 220ppm. The CO now is 380ppm.
So yes it is happening, it is happening faster, and we are speeding it up. Only politician, and people withy there head in the sand debate these facts.

No Turkeys, no Bananas... (4, Interesting)

Clueless Moron (548336) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493723)

Modern "food" turkeys have such huge breasts that they are physically unable to breed without human help. Even if they escaped their pens, they'd be doomed to extinction.

Modern bananas have been bred totally seedless, like various grape varieties. They spread entirely by grafting. So they too would soon die off.

The article mocks Poodles, but I wonder a bit about that. They're actually considered one of the smartest breeds of dog there is, and that must be worth something when a major change in lifestyle is called for.

Re:No Turkeys, no Bananas... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16493831)

Little yappy toy poodles would breed out, but I dunno, they might catch rats or something.

Real poodles are freaking big strong dogs. They're terriers, which are all aggressive and intelligent by nature.

Re:No Turkeys, no Bananas... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16493901)

Modern "food" turkeys have such huge breasts that they are physically unable to breed without human help.

The biggest joke on the turkey since the creation of thanksgiving.

Re:No Turkeys, no Bananas... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493973)

The article mocks Poodles, but I wonder a bit about that. They're actually considered one of the smartest breeds of dog there is, and that must be worth something when a major change in lifestyle is called for.

Large poodles might have a small chance to survive, although really the only advantage they have is that they're designed to float on water for longer than most other dogs. Small poodles would be well and rightly fucked, they're just defenseless compared to other small dogs. I mean even dachsunds were bred for hunting - they sent them into holes to attack things like foxes and badgers. I mean, I wouldn't fuck with a badger given the choice, but I wouldn't have any fear of my ability to dropkick a sausage dog.

Anyway there's still plenty of wild precursors to our purpose-bred food around. So what if a bunch of species we created go extinct when we do?

Re:No Turkeys, no Bananas... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16494073)

I wouldn't fuck with a badger given the choice
... but a beaver on the other hand ...
what about those turkeys he was talking about?

And the Earth will know how? (1)

bohemianflux (804386) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493741)

Earth is not conscious or sentient. We, the homo sapiens, are. From the collected human knowledge so far, we are the only ones. And this is our first time doing it. So gimme a break. Its a no brainer the Earth will heal. But the mutual goal ie win-win situation is that how can the humans repair the damage and maybe even return the Earth to a healthier state than it ever has been. That isn't bad proposition for either party. We are on the same fucking side.

Well, not quite all, of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16493767)

The submitter, and the authors of the article are thinking of suddenly removing all the ecologically incorrect people, of course. This would exclude themselves, naturally from such a genocide. Perhaps Tom Clancy shouldn't have written "Rainbow 6." He has understood the implications of "ecological" thinking far more clearly than most so-called "ecologists."

Too many environmentalists I've talked to either don't or can't really think through the implications of the programs they are promoting. Many, many of them really do mean dramatic reductions in population in time frames and won't or can't see that that can only mean death on a large scale. And implicit in their programs is the assumption that such a mass genocide wouldn't include them, of course!

They should consider leading by example.

Re:Well, not quite all, of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16493919)

Why does it matter if the environmentalists too die? The point they are making is that we're shitting in our own household - Planet Earth. The best way to improve human life is to change the way we stewart the Earth and not have so many of us putting stress on it. Killing all the environmentalists will not solve the problems, in fact, its usually the enviornmentalists who stewart the Earth the best and practice less environmentally destructive lifestyles.

This is the fallacy of individualism. This isn't about a plualrity of opinions, its about the truth and the self-centered nature of today's humans that basically say "Fuck You" to their own enviornment. We are a free society - free to dig our own collective graves.

Better? (5, Insightful)

venicebeach (702856) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493793)

'The sad truth is, once the humans get out of the picture, the outlook starts to get a lot better'
Better for whom?

Zen Koan (1)

JuzzFunky (796384) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493797)

What would earth look like if there was nobody there to look at it?
um.. er... I've just gone cross eyed...

Military bases and DMZs are the best preserves (1)

ObiWonKanblomi (320618) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493815)

I recall watching a few news programs saying the best places that preserve wildlife are military bases. Most of the base is never used, yet a buffer is kept around the areas that are used. Since people are prohibited from walking onto those bases with their hunting rifles and ATVs, these bases have actually become the best wildlife preserves, in fact better than those which are in place to protect wildlife.

Another program I saw was discussing the DMZ between north and south korea. Aside from the outposts that scatter the line, this long fuzzy border does not have a whole lot of foot traffic and has allowed for the some wildlife to retake what was once theirs. Ah, just dug up an article on this: http://edition.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/asiapcf/east/08/ 22/korea.bio.dmz/ [cnn.com] Funny how they mention the only threat to this "preserve" would be peace between the two countries.

Confusing writeup! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16493833)

What if every human being, all 6.5 billion of us, were suddenly abducted and the planet was left to fend for itself? The planet would heal.

Even if we were all whisked away and our nuclear reactors melted down, it would have a surprisingly little effect on the planet


Which is it? Either the Earth is in danger and needs to heal, or we really don't have much impact on the planet.

Can't have it both ways. If you're going to write a doomsday article, you better decide on the angle of it BEFORE you write it.

Geological Time Scale (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493861)

>> In the grand scheme of the world there would be little evidence of our existence at 100,000 years.

No shit, Sherlock. Unless you're from Kansas, the earth is around 4.5 billion years old, and Homo sapiens have been around for about four hundred thousand years. On a geological time scale our existence is completely irrelevant.

Better or Just Different (1)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493873)

Always remember, 'better' is a human-formed opinion. The Earth would not be better, or worse, off without us. Just...different. If all life were removed from Earth, it would be far worse... in our opinion. Without humans, their is no know universal qualifier as "better" or "worse;" just "is" or "is not," though without a way to observe, we couldn't be sure...


All of humanity shares a wonderful ability to briefly transcend their individual lives and apply human qualities across far-reaching matters. That we can say "without us, the world would be better." If there is one true glimmer of hope in humanity, it is that we have so deeply ingrained ourselves a necessity to acknowledge our deficiencies.

Of course, we evolved for a REASON (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493885)

And likely, half a million years after we're gone, chimps or bears will recreate their own special version of the human species.

Save the whales? Or save us by saving the whales. (5, Insightful)

dominion (3153) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493899)

Probably the biggest PR mistake that environmentalists ever made was that they made their activism about "The Earth", and not about our ability to survive on it.

Nature is a resilient bitch. We could hardly do the kind of damage necessary to make Earth unlivable by something.

We can, however, make life very unpleasant for mankind. And that's why we need to preserve the environment as best as possible. For us, not the environment.

Of course the planet will be fine (1)

Astarica (986098) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493903)

I'm not aware of how the Earth, taken as an entity, can 'lose' before the rest of humanity 'loses', ignoring planetary colonization (one would think the technology required for this would be enough to clean up whatever problem we cause at home). The planet is certainly far durable than we are, and we're getting along fine right now so it can't be worse than us.

Except for the fact that... (1)

OSXCPA2 (988302) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493917)

... human beings are the only organisms capable of attaching value to 'better'. Other organisms certainly struggle to live, but can't assign a value to living.

Stupid argument, but the sentiment (preserve the Earth) is valid, IMHO.

Yea nature will reclaim the planet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16493947)

but aren't humans a part of nature either? enough proof for me that the "system" isnt as perfect and symbiotic as everybody likes to think. in the end, the planet itself is doomed to die (red dwarf and whatnot). dig that, hippies!

of course it'd be worth it notheless to take care of the precious ecosystem.

I don't buy it (3, Insightful)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493961)

We find dinosaur bones after a hundred of millions of years. But there wouldn't be a single trace of the gigantic structures we've built? Sounds unlikely. I'm surely one of those concrete buildings will accidently not get meddled with too much (and in turn shield its contents a little better). If in just a few million years our presence would go unnoticed by an intelligence similar to our own, then wouldn't that imply that for all we know this hypothesis actually did happen to the dinosaurs and possibly species before (or even since) them?

Humans Only Have Power When They Can be Blamed? (1)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493965)

What if every human being, all 6.5 billion of us, were suddenly abducted and the planet was left to fend for itself? The planet would heal.

This coming from the eco-hystericals who focus entirely on humans as being solely responsible for anything that happens on the entire planet, which is usually bad. That's some lopsided power.

earth first (1)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493975)

"What if every human being, all 6.5 billion of us, were suddenly abducted and the planet was left to fend for itself? The planet would heal. "

I think i have heard similar things from earth first terrorists here in boston. The only difference being this "scientist" talks about alien abduction whereas the earth first freaks talk about the more realistic way of doing the same thing, killing thier fellow humans.

Oh No - Another Guy In A White Lab Coat (1)

cannuck (859025) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493979)

As usually - nothing like a good bullshit session by some guy in a white lab coat pretending to be talking scientific - when it's all about "bullshit baffles brains". Where's most methane come from - people farting? - no..... cows farting and pooping!



Lets look at this planet 10 million years ago. Looks different from the way the planet nows looks? Naturally it does, 10 million years ago this planet was covered with ice!!



Just you wait (1)

shoor (33382) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493981)

-As the article puts it, 'The humbling -- and perversely comforting -- reality is that the Earth will forget us remarkably quickly.'"

yeah, well, unless we suffer some big setback (not impossible) through disease or turmoil, we ought to have the
ability to do major terraforming on terra in a few decades. More seriously, what is meant by "Earth will forget us".
Did earth forget the events that caused the great mass extinctions of the past? We've been responsible for a quite
a few extinctions ourselves. The earth as a planet is just a thing. It's only the biomass that has any awareness,
and it is in constant flux, the oldest things being only a few thousand years old. Strip that incredibly thin film
of living stuff off the surface and the rest of what we call the earth wouldn't care if it was vaporized in a supernova.

The planet would heal (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#16493991)

The planet will heal whether we get out of the way or not. It will take us offline, as a necessary step towards self-correction.

Thinking we have control from the top is a mistake - that is like a giant clam feeling remorse for eating too much plankton. We are simply one part of one large mechanizm that will do whatever it needs to make corrections.

It is only our hubris that allows us to think we are part of the system, yet somehow unique.

We are not unique and it is just a matter of time before the system tosses off what it feels is the source of a major problem.

All life on earth is doomed without advanced tech (1)

sanermind (512885) | more than 7 years ago | (#16494005)

The earth will be engulfed (or superheated) [cornell.edu] by the sun when it eventually expands into a red giant. Billions of years of evolution will all have been for nothing in the end, unless a technologically advanced civilization is able to colonize space with bits of protected ecosystem. Humanity (intelligent life) is the high-point amongst the achievements of evolution, and it will be necessary if any life from earth is to perservere.

Dinosaurs said all this before.. (1)

zytheran (100908) | more than 7 years ago | (#16494007)

This is exactly what the dinosaurs said 65M years ago.
"You just watch Cyril, we might only have been advanced for 300 thousand years but if by some fluke we kill ourselves off, the only trace will be the layer of iridium from our iridium reactors as they all melt down. Apart from that and a few lucky bones and they'll never know our advanced society even existed!"

"will" forget us? (1)

ottffssent (18387) | more than 7 years ago | (#16494009)

Not "would" forget us?

Does this man know something the rest of us don't?

Does he, perhaps, have some mad scientist aspirations his fellow planet-mates might like to know about before we read about it in our obituaries? :)

yeah yeah (1)

mackil (668039) | more than 7 years ago | (#16494015)

The Earth will forget us until it needs us to destroy an asteroid that is hurtling towards it.

Nuclear energy is environmentally friendly! (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 7 years ago | (#16494027)

Chernobyl gives hope to this end. 'I really expected to see a nuclear desert there,' says Ronald Chesser, an environmental biologist. 'I was quite surprised. When you enter into the exclusion zone, it's a very thriving ecosystem.'


For all you pro-nuclear guys trying to figure out what argument would bring the environmentalists around to your side, I believe this is the one. Just be sure to design the reactors to be as unsafe as possible. ;^)

100,000 years a short time? nah. (1)

blueadept1 (844312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16494033)

When was the last time you saw any evidence of the previous existance of the carribbian monk seal? We cleaned them up real good in just 46 years. Take that Earth, take that.

WTF is this doing on slashdot? (1)

Orgasmatron (8103) | more than 7 years ago | (#16494049)

Aren't there enough places on the web for this type of crap?

Let me say this once so we are all clear: the survival and progress of the human species is the ultimate in morality, and work towards those ends is the highest obligation of every member of the species. The struggle to make the most of our potential is the only proper way to show respect to our creator and to our ancestors, regardless of who you personally believe that creator to be.

If some people are so deranged that they think their own species is a curse upon the universe, they should have the decency to sneak off to kill themselves while the rest of us get on with things.

This is not news for nerds, and it certainly isn't stuff that matters. This is pathetic and not worthy of a headline.

George Carlin on "saving the planet" (2, Funny)

hellfire (86129) | more than 7 years ago | (#16494067)

"The planet is doing just fine... it's the people who are fucked."

Fiction (1)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 7 years ago | (#16494071)

As a kid I used to read a lot of science fiction - Bradbury, Heinlein, Zelazny, Niven, etc.. Like a Slashdot users, I grew up with Star Trek and Buck Rogers. Though the article is new, SF has been asking these questions for a long time. When nuclear power first came about I imagine that lots of folks, maybe listening to a PSA about "What to do in the event of a nuclear strike", wondered what would happen if people were wiped out. Whether it's through an atom bomb or the Sun going supernova or the heat death of the Universe, our species is not immortal. We will die. So maybe it's no different from the ancient stories of the Cyclops. They know their death and this makes them look inward, look outward, maybe develop some Eastern approach to life and morality and mortality. Maybe they are like the Tolkien's elves who know their time will end... Or maybe like that civilization in Star Trek that built a machine to hold the memories of their race. Or heck, we may create a God and an Afterlife.... In any case, it's good that we think about these things once in a while between the day to day drudgery of work.

I'm typing this from bed. I'm sick right now... nothing serious, but my back is aching, my throat is burning, and I have 12 Monkeys showing on the tv screen (I was going to say I have "12 Monkeys playing on my laptop" but that just sounded weird). So yeah, the slow decay of my once proud Adonis-like figure (yeah, right) leads to these introspections.

Or maybe it's the cough medicine.
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