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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  1.  
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    Rekrul, Mar 26th, 2014 @ 5:20pm

    By the time any of those things come to pass, we'll all be dead from the poisoned water produced by fracking, chemical spills, pollution, etc. It's obvious that none of these corporations care what they do to the environment just as long as they get some money in their pockets today.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2014 @ 6:16pm

    Necessity...

    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.

     

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  3.  
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    allengarvin (profile), Mar 26th, 2014 @ 6:23pm

    'Our planet could cross a dangerous threshold in 2036'

    Fortunately, I should be retired by then. Heck, given my drinking habits and weight, I might well be dead. And, given my career as a Unix Administrator, I'll be thankful I don't have to deal with the Y2038 problem.

    Deal with it, youngsters!

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2014 @ 6:49pm

    Differing Societies

    Some societies see things a bit different that us Westerners. Take India and China, and I am sure a bunch of others I am unaware of. The balance of population growth will be uneven.

    Interesting thought. How will aid agencies react as things get worse?

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2014 @ 7:01pm

    Killing the bee's will end us sooner than later.

     

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  6.  
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    Vincent Giannell, Mar 26th, 2014 @ 7:31pm

    The end of the world. What a joke. So far, those past predictions about it didn't come true. Not even the event of 2012. I doubt the world will end in 2036.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2014 @ 8:02pm

    The behavior of the 1% makes a lot more sense if you give them enough credit to believe they understand perfectly well what these models are saying.

     

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  8.  
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    JWW (profile), Mar 26th, 2014 @ 8:31pm

    Dang

    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?

     

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  9.  
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    Urgelt (profile), Mar 26th, 2014 @ 8:37pm

    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.

     

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    CK20XX (profile), Mar 27th, 2014 @ 12:18am

    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!

     

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  11.  
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    NobodyCared, Mar 27th, 2014 @ 2:07am

    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.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2014 @ 2:16am

    U R right

    The world won't end in 2036.

    Earth will still exist. Human beings being alive on the Earth or anyplace else in the cosmos? That is the crapshoot.

     

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  13.  
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    Conrad Dunkerson, Mar 27th, 2014 @ 4:52am

    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.

     

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  14.  
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    Darnoc Ben Reknud, Mar 27th, 2014 @ 5:44am

    Re: Re: Dang

    What was the ahh.... test a few years ago? Put in sports statistics and you got the hockey stick. Put in random numbers and you get the hockey stick. Put in any numbers and you get the hockey stock.

    Mann was right, you always get the hockey stick.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2014 @ 6:48am

    climate change

    What if it's a big hoax and we make the planet a better place for nothing?

    (/s jic)

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2014 @ 8:14am

    Re:

    "Y2038 problem"

    You would hope that most hardware will be 64-bit compatible by then and that the more archaic hardware has long been replaced.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2014 @ 9:34am

    Re: climate change

    The problem is that it doesn't cost nothing to implement this technology. It would have a huge impact on economic growth. Not to mention agw reject occam's razor so every time their models come up incorrect they just add another hypothesis to save them.

     

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  18.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 27th, 2014 @ 9:43am

    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.

     

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  19.  
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    Spano, Mar 27th, 2014 @ 9:55am

    Population bomb

    Paul Erich's prediction was a little off and we are still here. We will still be here regardless of what cataclysm happens. We are fairly resilient.

     

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  20.  
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    ChrisB (profile), Mar 27th, 2014 @ 11:19am

    Re: Re: Density of Errors

    Humans will never die off. We are the only creatures that can survive almost anywhere on the planet. Short of a meteor, we will be here in great numbers for another 200,000 years.

     

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  21.  
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    CK20XX (profile), Mar 27th, 2014 @ 7:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Density of Errors

    The funny thing is, if that's a fact, it's not a very happy one.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 28th, 2014 @ 10:06am

    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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