The earth has existed for a couple billion years. That’s a couple thousand million years. That’s about 2.250.000 times longer than the 2018 years we’ve counted until now. The human species has just been around on this planet for about 200.000 years. So the earth is about 22.700 times older than our species. Nonetheless, we just have one earth, so we are depending on it and its capability of letting us live there. Therefore, we need to take care of it.
Around 15.000 years ago we started with agriculture and domestication of animals. This has changed things. Since then human population has exploded. Since a couple hundred years, we’ve invented new technologies that made the human population grow to an even bigger number. And we are now in the middle of an extinction event.
So what do we do now? We’ve made the climate change. Good job! We have more power than we think. In the coming hundreds of years, lots of animals will become extinct, or at least, will not be able to live in their natural habitat due to climate change and environmental change.
What may follow is that we may go extinct ourselves. We are already degrading because, as generations pass, we are unlearning the ways our ancestors used to survive. We are quickly becoming dependent on very new technologies. These technologies didn’t withstand the test of time yet. We may not be able to depend on them forever because we don’t know if they will proof to be sustainable the way they are now. Therefore, it may be a very very bad move to depend on them so much now.
I don’t want humans to go extinct. Some people don’t care, but I don’t want to. I don’t want Artificial Intelligence to rule the world. I don’t want humans to go extinct and let the cockroaches take over. I don’t want to go to mars. So what’s the answer? Well… In my opinion, there are two ways that would work, together with one strategy that we always need to master as a species:
Climate-control: Create technology that is able to control the climate, and make the climate the way it used to be. Then sustain environments that are able to home many species to create a sustainable ecosystem.
Evolution-control: Create technology that is able to change our DNA and the DNA of other species (animals & food we grow) to be able to live in a changed climate (possibly much hotter or more extreme).
There are people (many of which I admire) that have some different answers to the end of the world. Some of them are:
Become multiplanetary: Elon Musk thinks that we can escape this mess.
Although it’s probably possible, I think it would not be good to let a failing species escape. I don’t like viruses that are bad for me and also are easy to catch onto others. I don’t want humans to become that kind of virus to other planets. Let’s first improve ourselves and become a positive species. Nevertheless, I totally support this strategy because we may still fuck up. Edit: This is no fact, he just thinks we can create a colony on Mars. Nobody every said he wants to escape Earth.
Let AI become smarter than us, and let them think of an answer. Although this may work, it’s way to risky for me. We don’t know if they will ever be friendly. They will probably help us, but in the end, only an AI that cares about themselves will make sure they exist forever, and when it becomes competitive, the most aggressive & effective species wins.
Wipe out most humans and start over. This will probably still work. It’s probably not too late. If we throw a few atom bombs across the globe and wipe out 99% of humans, I think that most important species will survive but it’s not very ethical.
So yeah. I don’t think the above 3 ways are the best approach. I think it will be great to focus on climate-control and evolution-control first. And on top of that, we also need to control ourselves. Our population. And become a species that won’t crash out of control. If we always try to expand we end up becoming unsustainable (unless we are multiplanetary). Population-control is something I will also talk about. Population-control is the main strategy the human species needs to master too, to not become a chaotic cancerous mess.
Evolution-control is a great way to live in the mess we made, but it will mean that we may have to adapt and change our DNA, and the DNA of species (animals and foods) we rely on to live in a climate that we have never seen before. We’re not even sure if biological life can sustain in such a climate because we’ve never seen it before and we don't know exactly what it will be like in a couple centuries. Well, we will see if this is a possibility that works in the coming centuries, but, for now, it’s a risky one. It’s a big bet, and we’re at stake.
So let’s talk about climate control. I think this is still the easiest one. We can return CO2 values back to normal, become a zero-emission society, and voila: we did it. There’s only one problem. We live in a world with a strong economic pull. Without economic advantage things won’t happen that fast. Only when the government sees the urge of it, it will happen, but not everywhere in the world, and often too slow. If we want to do this, we better do it fast.
So how to do it fast? Create technologies that are good for the planet (in other words, undo the harm we’ve done it) while also making money (be a product people want. It may be hard to find a product like that, but this is the way to solve it. Or, we should become communists and throw away capitalism all together...
So many options….
EDIT June 2018 I don't agree with what I said in March. Creating AI smarter than humans is super scary but it will be regulated once it gets this far, in favor of human survival. Futhermore, it's never said that Elon Musk wants to escape Earth. He thinks it's the only future that's exciting and I have to give him that; it's freaking awesome if we would go to Mars! Also it improves the chances of the human species to survive in the far future, if we can't control ourselves and the climate.