Extinction Level Events

Janx

Hero
But if dino-scientists could, maybe this is why humans occasionally found low-production fields?

Look, it's not dino-surgery. Before the dinosaurs lived, for millions of years plants and plankton and wiggly things lived and died in huge mosh pits at the worlds largest rock concert. Shoggoth and Ktulu were the biggest act back then. Old news by the time the dinosaurs came about, of course. I mean who listens to Elder Metal these days? Anywho, a terrible accident happened when the massive stack of Marshall amps fell over, crushing the audience. Nobody cleaned it up, in order to honor their memory. Fast forward to the Jurasik period and they discovered oil! Soon dinosociety was zipping around on scooters and polluting the air with their jacked up monster trucks. The sky got so dark from soot it blocked out the sun. Then it got cooler, and well, you can imagine the rest.
 

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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Fast forward to the Jurasik period and they discovered oil!

??????
Peter_Jurasik_Crom.jpg
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Haven't gone through the whole thread yet, but... The OP has mis-characterized what science considers an "extinction level event".

An ELE is *not* an event that causes the extinction of the human race. Or of any particular species. An ELE is an event which causes the extinction of most of the species of life on the planet, or otherwise vastly reduces biodiversity on the planet.

It seems a little strange to me to say that an asteroid strike or major volcanic event are "probably not" ELE in the OP, when we can associate several historical extinction events to asteroid impacts and volcanic activity.

Humans have this weird way of looking at risk. It is true that the vast majority of meteoric impacts on Earth are not really a big deal. But, is it also true that the impact of something a couple of kilometers across will cause an extinction event, pretty much guaranteed. Those impacts are rare, but their results are not negotiable.

Of course, we seem to be within an ELE right now - and not due to climate change - the rate of species extinction has been at about 1000 times its normal background level since about the year 1900 (on geologic timescales, something that takes a couple of centuries is still an event). Human industrialization and expansion is driving extinctions far more quickly than it is driving speciations. We haven't yet reached the point of removing half the species on the planet, but if we don't change our behavior, it is only a matter of time.
 


Janx

Hero
Haven't gone through the whole thread yet, but... The OP has mis-characterized what science considers an "extinction level event".

An ELE is *not* an event that causes the extinction of the human race. Or of any particular species. An ELE is an event which causes the extinction of most of the species of life on the planet, or otherwise vastly reduces biodiversity on the planet.
...snip...

so, with this correct definition of an ELE, given a specific type that isn't earth blowing up. Would you rather try to save Humanity on Earth or Mars?
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
so, with this correct definition of an ELE, given a specific type that isn't earth blowing up. Would you rather try to save Humanity on Earth or Mars?

I think that is the wrong question. You are comparing the cost of one specific local solution to the cost of a *general* solution.

Moreover, the specific solutions likely won't happen, because they are cost sinks - you create and maintain the solution forever, but it never gets you anything in return. Local solutions for ELEs are like buying insurance - you keep paying and paying, and maybe eventually you need it.

If you move folks to Mars, the advances in science and tech alone will likely pay for the endeavor, even in the short-medium term, certainly in the long run. Saving the human race from all but stellar-based ELEs you get as a side benefit.

So, when looked at from the larger view, establishing a permanent, self-sustaining colony on Mars is a better choice of solution for the overall issue of ELEs.
 

Ryujin

Legend
I think that is the wrong question. You are comparing the cost of one specific local solution to the cost of a *general* solution.

Moreover, the specific solutions likely won't happen, because they are cost sinks - you create and maintain the solution forever, but it never gets you anything in return. Local solutions for ELEs are like buying insurance - you keep paying and paying, and maybe eventually you need it.

If you move folks to Mars, the advances in science and tech alone will likely pay for the endeavor, even in the short-medium term, certainly in the long run. Saving the human race from all but stellar-based ELEs you get as a side benefit.

So, when looked at from the larger view, establishing a permanent, self-sustaining colony on Mars is a better choice of solution for the overall issue of ELEs.

The "not all your eggs in one basket" approach. You can't wipe out humanity, if humanity isn't just in one place. Unless we're talking solar expansion (maybe 3-4 billion years in the future), or a rogue black hole. L5 colonies, Io, Mars..... Spread the wealth.
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
The "not all your eggs in one basket" approach. You can't wipe out humanity, if humanity isn't just in one place. Unless we're talking solar expansion (maybe 3-4 billion years in the future), or a rogue black hole. L5 colonies, Io, Mars..... Spread the wealth.

Yeah. Spreading out in our solar system won't save humanity from things that have impact on the scale of the solar system - the Sun's eventual expansion, or nearby supernovae giving anyone without SPF 1,000,000 a really bad day, f'rex. But it is good for most other things.

L5 colonies are not really safe unless you pair that with asteroid mining. Long term survival requires the ability to acquire resources.
 

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