LoBaron -> RE: OT: The end of the human race (8/24/2012 2:12:19 PM)
It's human negative bias. We spent thousands of years in an environment where there were many things that could kill us at every turn. Learning to look out for potential hazards actually did pay off. So we worry about what might befall us in the future.
For people in the industrialized world, we've never been safer. Though the US and some other industrialized countries have been in small wars (relative to past wars) for the last decade, there are fewer wars in the world than there used to be. Despite some horrific crimes splashed on the news, the violent crime rate has been dropping for the last 15 years. The economy is bad, health care in the US is still overly expensive, and a lot of other ills. However, life expectancy in the developed world has never been higher and the diseases that killed most of our great grand parents (and for some our grand parents or parents) have gone from constant threats to rare, or we have come up with ways to mitigate them.
Despite things getting better in general, we still find all the flaws. I could easily name a bunch of negative things about the world that went through my head writing this that I didn't mention. The negative bias to find the flaws is active in all of us.
Doomsday scenarios are part of that negative bias. We have this niggling feeling that if things are going OK, they must be a sabre toothed tiger around here somewhere and we're its next meal. Because sabre toothed tigers are extinct (and we're not!), we scare ourselves with the dangers that could conceivably happen.
Donīt get me wrong, I am not buying any of that Sci-Fi day-after-tomorrow-crap. It is rubbish, and the problem is that its exactly this rubbish which
- in one variant or the other - is sold the loudest.
Doomsday scenarios sell better, thats why every publicity-eager wannabe expert likes to discuss them.
But doomsday scenarios are the extreme variant of less frightening but much more likely sociopolitical collapse scenarios.
In our generation the global behaviour of humanity as a whole is one of increasingly massed exploitation of rapidly decreasing non-renewable ressources - trying to
satisfy the needs of an ever increasing percentage of total population. With the new global players China and India only in their teens from a living standard perspective,
and countries with delicate regions of immense ecological importance - like Brazil- following suit, the short to mid-term outlook for a toning down of this global spiral is exactly zero.
This very likely will not lead to a Doomsday scenario ending humanity as a whole. But I rate the chances of this leading to a partial or complete collapse of the current world order,
a globally felt economical crisis, famine in regions where the word is not yet known, wars fought over increasingly rare ressources, and a notable overall decrease of human population
as a result, pretty high.
I do not need to have a negative bias for that prediction, just deduce from current events and tendencies.
My personal bet is that the percentage of world population able to hold our current western hemisphere living standard will be only a tiny fraction in 2-3 generations.
This is why I will try to teach my child not to take the current omnipresent luxury for granted, which is pretty tough in our society based on consumption.
If this turns out to be incorrect then I am extremely happy to have been proven wrong. But those who say humanity is not very close to a very hard to stop downward
spiral is looking in the wrong direction IMHO.