DailyDirt: The End Of The World As We Know It

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Predicting the end of the world has been a famously difficult calculation. Population growth trends have not proven to follow a continuously exponential path, so we’ve easily avoided previous calls of Malthusian catastrophe. However, it’s still possible that we’ve only managed to postpone the sixth major extinction event, and our technological cleverness won’t be able to save us next time. Here are just a few modern predictions of doom that could ruin some retirement plans.

If you’d like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.

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Comments on “DailyDirt: The End Of The World As We Know It”

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Anonymous Coward says:


is the mother of all invention.

Humanity does not solve a problem until it shows up. We ultimately will not give a shit till people start dying. The problem with the left is that these problems are used to generate religious fundamentalism. The problem with the right is overt ignorance in preference of just making money and to hell with it all.

Both sides are so fully of sheeple there is no hope.

NobodyCared says:

Re: Necessity...

The problem with the left is that these problems are used to generate religious fundamentalism.

Explain how religious fundamentalism is a result of progressive/liberal policies. Because everytime I see the words “religious fundamnetalism” I think of the Taliban and those that would want to make this country a Theocracy. Typically both are of the Conservative camp.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The Y2038 problem isn’t fixed by upgrading hardware (and upgrading hardware isn’t required to fix it). It’s a cousin of the Y2K problem — a software issue resulting from design tradeoffs.

It’s also not likely to present anything like a disaster, since people aren’t ignoring the problem and there remains time to resolve it in a considered way. Worst case, it will be like the Y2K issue: it will cost money, but the sky won’t fall.

JWW (profile) says:


You almost suckered me into reading that Scientific American piece, until I noticed it was by Michael Mann. He’s out there selling his hockey stick again. He is a fraud, the climate science community would do well to turn it’s back on him.

Oh and the feeding the world bit? GMOs will help us be able to feed the world, not keep us from being able to do so. It’s sickening to see the anti GMO crowd condemning kids is Asia to blindness because of their fear mongering about golden rice.

Is tech dirt becoming a progressive blog now, or is it still about copyright and patent issues in technology?

Conrad Dunkerson says:

Re: Dang

You do realize that the ‘hockey stick’ has been confirmed by dozens of subsequent studies over the past fifteen years, right?

It’s amazing how some people will cling to a lie (e.g. ‘the hockey stick was fraud’) even after it has been found false by multiple investigations AND further research.

Urgelt (profile) says:

Density of Errors

Okay, I’m impressed. The density of misconceptions and errors in this paragraph-length post is nearly unprecedented. Amazing, truly.

The article says, “Population growth trends have not proven to follow a continuously exponential path…”

That is true if we regard only short-term trends (year by year). But Malthus was talking about generations, not years. This is exactly like saying that you can divine climate truths out of short-base analyses. Problem: you can’t.

Plotted on the larger time-scale represented by generations – which is to say, over a course of centuries – population growth has indeed been exponential. It’s a grave error to get lost in the noise of year-by-year changes in the rate of growth, just as it’s a grave error to think that the world is warming because it’s snowing.

The article continues, “…so we’ve easily avoided previous calls of Malthusian catastrophe.”

Um, no. The reason we have *thus far* averted Malthusian catastrophe is food production and distribution has kept pace with population growth, more or less. Not perfectly, but well enough. Avoiding a population die-back has nothing to do with short-base trending and everything to do with food.

The article continues, “However, it’s still possible that we’ve only managed to postpone the sixth major extinction event…”

The author clearly thinks that the 6th major extinction event involves people dying off, and since we haven’t died off yet, we’ve postponed it. This is frighteningly ignorant.

The extinction event is well underway, and it refers not to a single species but to a great many of them. Species are being extinguished at a rate which is matched only by five previous extinction rates in the geological record.

Then the article says, “…and our technological cleverness won’t be able to save us next time.”

Technological cleverness might save *our* species, for a while. It’s very unlikely to save *all* species. We’re notoriously bad at preserving ecosystem diversity, and more tech almost certainly isn’t going to affect ecosystem diversity in a positive direction.

Please, Techdirt. I like your site, but if you are going to write about subjects with which you are unfamiliar, then at least consult some subject matter experts before you publish. Otherwise you will spread misinformation, and that doesn’t help at all.

CK20XX (profile) says:

Re: Density of Errors

On the subject of extinction events, it’d be nice to see some research about how the mass die-off of species that’s occurring now will come back to bite humans in the rear and help us go the way of the dodos we’ve sent packing. One reason that may happen is because the less species diversity there is in the world, the easier it is for pathogens to spread. You know how computer viruses can infect more computers when they all have the same OS and the same security holes? Biological viruses work the same way!

Anonymous Coward says:

The tighter the energy policy ==> the greater the already disproportionately male deaths at the bottom of the economy from higher living costs.

Michael Ho doesn’t care how many more innocent boys at the margins of society die right now just so long he personally can feel better about the lives of strangers far in the future.

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