Nothing is forever. It's a grim reality but no matter how hard we try and ignore it, our inevitable demise looms ahead on the horizon.
And while we individually have our unknown expiration dates, the fate of the human race is an unfathomable mystery that will continue to elude us.
Hopefully, the fateful event is thousands of years beyond our lifetime.
Curious to hear people's predictions, Redditor Nuggl3s7 asked:
"What will be the reason for human extinction?"
Redditors had their sci-fi theories.
Remember Pixar's WALL-E?
"Im gonna have to go with the WALL-E theory that we will turn our planet into a giant waste basket."
We Are Not Alone
"Something from space probably, there is some scary stuff in the void."
An AI Revolution
"We merge with AI end become a different species, thus ending homo sapiens."
It might take one huge impact.
We Would Never See This Coming
"Either a massive space object colliding with Earth, or Mother Nature finally gets tired of our sh*t and concocts a virus 10 times more contagious than COVID and several times more fatal than Ebola."
A Big Bang Theory
"A Coca-Cola truck hits a Mentos truck."
"Every human simultaneously stubs their toe at the same time. R.I.P."
Some speculate the big disaster will be one of our own making.
"Generous of you to assume it will be error. Right now there's a large percentage of the decision makers in the world operating by 'This will have catastrophic effects if everyone does it, but it will be profitable if I do it. So everyone else needs to stop, but I'm not going to, and also I'll be dead by the time the really bad consequences happen so f'k all y'all I guess.'"
"For realz tho…no big catastrophe….just a slow drip of f'k you gimme your money while I ruin the world and whattya gonna do about it brah? Nothing, that’s what. If you can’t stop me I’m gonna do it indefinitely. Big fish eat the little fish. Then eventually no little fish left and big fish go bye bye 👋"
There's A Sad Pattern
"Considering how poorly humanity as a whole dealt with this time's pandemic, and how much we overestimated their intelligence, yeah. 5 centuries is a generous amount of time, I give it 3 centuries."
"This, I think it will be our fault and only our fault."
Growing Lack Of Intelligence
"Gross stupidity. In less than 500 years max."
Many Redditors speculated our own shortcomings would inevitably be the end of us instead of a meteor shower or a hostile takeover of extra-terrestrials.
It says a lot about our lack of humanity, doncha think?
Nothing lasts forever.
While we know this to be true, it hits home after we actually realizing something is gradually fading from existence.
Oftentimes, however, we realize the things we took for granted have already slipped away from our grasp.
"What is slowly dying off or disappearing?"
Habitat loss and poaching sadly contributes to these rapidly decreasing species.
"Amphibians. It's a worldwide phenomenon."
"[Due to] Habitat fragmentation, pollution, decrease in mosquito populations, drought & climate change, pesticides, chrytid fungi...take your pick."
Too Much Poaching
"Giraffes - they've become an endangered species."
"I was looking for this comment. I work with two giraffes: a Masai giraffe & a Reticulated giraffe. Both subspecies are endangered. I love them so much, & it's so sad seeing what's happening."
"They have unique personalities and are generally fun animals to be with. They never fail to make me laugh and/or smile when I'm working with them. I really hope I don't end up in a world without them, or where they're extinct in the wild."
Winged Points Of Light
"They mostly rely on the bioluminescence of their fellow species in order to attract for mating. However, due to increasing urbanization which is also increasing use of artificial lighting (street lamps), their presence are dwindling."
Our slowly changing environment is slowly taking a toll on our existence.
A "Necessary Nutrient"
"Iodine in Salt. Seriously, go to the grocery store and see how many brands of salt show 'this salt does not provide Iodine, a necessary nutrient.'"
The Importance Of Iodine
"Northeast Ohio here, I had to explain to my kids what iodine was and why we need it, and then I showed them old times pictures of goiters. It was a good day."
"This is a huge problem and this comment needs to be higher. I went snorkeling 5 years ago and the coral was abundant with life. Went back 2 years later (3 years ago) and it was like half dead. This was in Puerto Rico."
Upon reflection of their daily lives, these Redditors were disappointed after noticing the following have begun to fade from reality.
"It's funny that there are so much laws n sh*t that say they 'value' our privacy while in reality some sh*t ass Facebook will still steal your data even though that's against your privacy."
"Free parking. Even the smaller suburbs in their town center started charging for parking."
"I was born in '83 and I can remember going to one every year for both sides of my pop's family and just one side of my mom's."
"It's definitely a dying tradition since now you can keep up with everyone online."
A Favorite Pasttime
"Arcades, but more specifically, arcade games. Now in arcades it's just rigged claw games which only drops a plush if you put enough money in, sad to see really."
The passionate audiophile in me has been grieving for a while now over vanishing media.
Vinyl albums are retro and cool, which is why they made a comeback to satiate a niche audience.
But when CDs have slowly disappeared from the aisles at Best Buy and Target, I was a little sad.
The amateur listener wouldn't be able to distinguish between the sound quality of streamed music compared to the rich, full sound from a good CD sound system, and that's fine.
For me, it's a bummer because I can tell the difference, and I miss the tangible paraphernalia that comes along with a packaged CD.
Cue the violins, I suppose.
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Humans, as a species, seem pretty intent on ending our own existence sometimes. Between obvious things like nuclear weapons and more complicated issues like climate change, there are plenty of ways we might manage to wipe ourselves off the planet.
Reddit user u/SmokoMan asked:
Some of the answers are pretty out there, but many seem startlingly plausible.
What's the strangest way you think humans could die out?
A new United Nations assessment has concluded that humans have now put 1 million animal and plant species at risk of extinction, confirming the "unprecedented" effect of human activity on the planet at large.
The 1,500 page report, approved by representatives from the United States and 131 other countries, was released yesterday in Paris.
Robert Watson, chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which was established in 2012 by the United Nations Environment Programme, said in a statement:
"The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide."
"For a long time, people just thought of biodiversity as saving nature for its own sake. But this report makes clear the links between biodiversity and nature and things like food security and clean water in both rich and poor countries."
Among the report's key findings:
- 25 percent of mammals, more than 40 percent of amphibian species, nearly 33 percent of sharks and 25 percent of plant groups are threatened with extinction.
- The average abundance of native plant and animal life has fallen by 20 percent or more.
- Global warming has accelerated wildlife decline.
- Biodiversity loss is projected to accelerate through 2050 unless countries make strong commitments to conservation.
- Approximately 1 million animal and plant species could die out "within decades."
- Changes in land use, pollution, poaching, overfishing and climate change are the primary threats to the planet's biodiversity.
The human impact on nature has been so devastating that the study's authors call for "transformative changes" to either halt or reverse the threat to biodiversity.
Watson says governments must make this a priority as climate change:
"Loss of biodiversity is just as important as climate change for the future of mankind. The two are highly coupled. You can't deal with climate change without dealing with biodiversity."
Many policymakers are calling for changes in the wake of the report.
The U.N.'s report comes as the world grapples with a sixth mass extinction, according to a study published in the peer-reviewed Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The publication blames human overpopulation and overconsumption for the "biological annihilation" of wildlife in recent decades.
In February, an alarming study published in the journal Biological Conservation found that 40 percent of insect species on the planet are in population decline as a result of climate change, pesticide usage, and the introduction of invasive species that "could have catastrophic consequences for both the planet's ecosystems and for the survival of mankind."
You can read a summary of the U.N. report's findings HERE.
That's the phrase buzzing around the internet since the first global scientific review of insect population decline was published this week in the journal Biological Conservation.
Insects are superlative and have a crucial role in food webs and ecosystems. But they're dying out quite fast.
According to the study's authors:
"The pace of modern insect extinctions surpasses that of vertebrates by a large margin.
We estimate the current proportion of insect species in decline ... to be twice as high as that of vertebrates, and the pace of local species extinction ... eight times higher. It is evident that we are witnessing the largest [insect] extinction event on Earth since the late Permian and Cretaceous periods."
Overall, 40 percent of insect species on the planet are declining. Another third are considered endangered. The review's authors concluded that the total mass of insects worldwide is declining by 2.5 percent annually.
The numbers in this insect apocalypse metastudy are nightmarish: - Total mass of insects falling by 2.5% *a year*… https://t.co/rGBHrDEkSp— Alice Ross (@Alice Ross) 1549886150.0
"It is very rapid. In 10 years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you will have none," study co-author Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, an environmental biologist at the University of Sydney, Australia, told The Guardian. "If insect species losses cannot be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet's ecosystems and for the survival of mankind."
Habitat loss is largely responsible for the decline in insect populations. Pesticides, climate change, and invasive species all play a significant role in hastening the decline, too.
"Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades," the review's co-authors wrote. "The repercussions this will have for the planet's ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least."
Fairly strong words for a scientific paper, & it all comes down to what we eat... “Unless we change our ways of pro… https://t.co/s4eH4sLJrL— Louise Gray (@Louise Gray) 1549880247.0
The researchers note:
The repercussions this will have for the planet's ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least, as insects are at the structural and functional base of many of the world's ecosystems since their rise at the end of the Devonian period, almost 400 million years ago.
People responded with alarm:
This collapse of insect numbers is another sign that our planet is in crisis and we need urgent action to protect n… https://t.co/B7VXdIHP9A— WWF Cymru (@WWF Cymru) 1549884382.0
Crazy to think “Earth’s bugs outweigh humans 17 times over and are such a fundamental foundation of the food chain.… https://t.co/yr2DgDKEN1— Mustafa Suleyman (@Mustafa Suleyman) 1547743736.0
This headline alone is the gravest I have read in years... Plummeting insect numbers 'threaten collapse of nature' https://t.co/r8CkVcaxrJ— Sebastian Roché (@Sebastian Roché) 1549885213.0
The study is imperfect, however. Scientists do not know how many species of insect exist and lack adequate population data for all of them. Much of the data also comes from "developed" countries like the United States and those in Europe. The study lacks information from tropical regions, which are areas where new species of insect keep being discovered.
As a result, people like scientist and researcher Christian Schwägerl responded with skepticism.
I've written about insect populations and their decline for many years, trying to improve knowledge and raise aware… https://t.co/OEDid8TFGu— Christian Schwägerl (@Christian Schwägerl) 1549873842.0
(1) Despite widespread, worrying declines in many parts of world, total insect diversity/abundance are far from kno… https://t.co/xDIkPBDhA4— Christian Schwägerl (@Christian Schwägerl) 1549873842.0
For context, I was one of first journalists to cover Krefeld study in Germany, in @FAZ_Wissen, then @YaleE360… https://t.co/iK28dJ033X— Christian Schwägerl (@Christian Schwägerl) 1549901736.0
The Guardian, the first publication to report the news, later posted a grave warning from its editorial board that serves as an indictment against what they refer to as "unchecked human greed":
The chief driver of this catastrophe is unchecked human greed. For all our individual and even collective cleverness, we behave as a species with as little foresight as a colony of nematode worms that will consume everything it can reach until all is gone and it dies off naturally. The challenge of behaving more intelligently than creatures that have no brain at all will not be easy. But unlike the nematodes, we know what to do. The UN convention on biodiversity was signed in 1992, alongside the convention on climate change. Giving it the strength to curb our appetites is now urgent. Biodiversity is not an optional extra. It is the web that holds all life, including human life.
The clock is ticking.