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(New Scientist)   Imagine Earth without people   ( newscientist.com) divider line
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27979 clicks; posted to Main » on 12 Oct 2006 at 8:12 AM (12 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2006-10-12 11:47:26 AM  
...Starcraft did it better.

Anyways, first thing I thought of:

"Did the lungfish refuse to breathe air? It did not. It crept forth boldly while its brethren remained in the blackest ocean abyss, with lidless eyes forever staring at the dark, ignorant and doomed despite their eternal vigilance. Would we model ourselves on the trilobite? Are all the accomplishments of humanity fated to be nothing more than a layer of broken plastic shards thinly strewn across a fossil bed, sandwiched between the Burgess shale and an eon's worth of mud?"

Good ol' Wally.
 
2006-10-12 11:47:32 AM  
Fantastic article.

Thanks, submitter.
 
2006-10-12 11:52:11 AM  
claptrap = pretentious but insincere or empty language

awww :(

But isn't a rule a structure in and of itself? And if all the sciences boil down to physics then doesn't everything have a basic level of structure?

Not that I actually think that, I really have no idea. Long ago I stopped making assertions about what the universe is when I realised I had been thinking of the universe as basically outer space. When I realised I was living in the universe right now and really had no idea what any of this was either I just let go of trying. One has to wonder though, if structure is just a by-product of the human brain, does nature individuate? Do objects exist in and of themselves anywhere other than when we give them names?
 
2006-10-12 12:04:24 PM  
I think they really missed the impact of forest/grassland fires. 5000 years ago most of the great plaines of the US would light up every 7 to 12 years and most temperate forest burned every 30-50 years. Even the glass buildings would have some trouble with that. I suspect that within the first 10-20 years most wooden and glass structures would be gone only leaving concrete and metal structures left and slowly losing ground to the kudzu and crabgrass. Smokey the bear damn you!!1!1!

/Likes humans too much to see them gone
 
2006-10-12 12:09:31 PM  
That article made me want to kick a hippy in the shins.
 
2006-10-12 12:16:56 PM  
I liked this article.

Okay, an existential question for all of you, courtesy of your local Chuck:

THE World is going to end. It's going to end quickly, and it's going to end dramatically. You have two choices. You can choose to have it end at noon on your fortieth birthday, or three days after your seventy-fifth birthday. Which do you choose?

/sorry if you're over 40 already. Pretend you're 31, like me.
 
2006-10-12 12:21:32 PM  
THE World is going to end. It's going to end quickly, and it's going to end dramatically. You have two choices. You can choose to have it end at noon on your fortieth birthday, or three days after your seventy-fifth birthday. Which do you choose?


Depends on how quickly I could arrange DDT foggers for the amazon river basin. Then there's the oil spills to plan, the nuclear waste to spread and all the CFC to pump into the upper atmosphere.
 
2006-10-12 12:25:05 PM  
I have a question for any archaeologists goofing off and reading FARK.

Relics from ancient Egypt or Sumer look pretty tatty at ~5000 years old. Stone age tools are nearly indistinguishable from odd shaped stones to the untrained eye. Just how far back could a civilization still leave behind evidence of its existence? with modern or future archaeological technology?

Suppose an intelligent race came and went 200k years ago, or was an offshoot of dinosaurs 65-230M years ago. This seems no less plausible than primates evolving into "people". Being an omnivore that raises one's young with something akin to hands seems to do the trick. Would an ice age wipe clean all artifacts?
Would changes in atmosphere evidenced in ice or soil cores be blamed on meteors or the ice ages themselves?

An old Star Trek Voyager episode explored this idea and tried really hard to make it plausible if not realistic.
 
2006-10-12 12:25:33 PM  
I'm really torn. On the one hand, gas is expensive and I'm a poor student, so I bike a lot and would like to get a hybrid to save money. On the other hand, doing so is beneficial to the environment. If only they would make a car that burned less fuel, but created the same amount of emissions. Then I'd be set.

/hates hippies
//got drunk and went on a tyrade to his roommate wednesday
///"You don't know hippies until you've hippied some of the hippies that I've hippied."
////Doesn't know how you hippy someone, but would like to find out
//slashy of doom!
 
2006-10-12 12:31:09 PM  
Should all this come about, I believe that Apes will take their rightful place as the dominant species, and the only significant trace of our existance will be a partially submerged Statue of Liberty.

Damn you ... Damn you all to hell!
 
2006-10-12 12:33:12 PM  
The truly hilarious thing in this thread is that those offended by the article actually imagine that they (or the human race in general) are important or worthwhile or are more deserving of existence on Earth than a Grizzly Bear or a mosquito or a Blue-Footed Booby. What a howler.

Guess what? You're wrong.

God didn't create the Earth for you. You aren't superior to, or even more interesting than, any other life form. You have no more value or worth than anything else, but you do have gigantic egos and a twisted perspective.

When you die or Homo sapiens goes extinct, it won't mean anything and will have no more cosmic significance than the extinction of the Dodo Bird. In fact, the persons who are offended by this article are the least rational among us, and therefore the most animalistic, the most degraded, and the least "superior" to other life forms. Ooga Booga!

What irony! Did you know that you're walking cartoons?

Hahahahahah!
 
2006-10-12 12:34:00 PM  
freudianslip84,

Hippies never put their money where their mouth is. Honda cannot give away their Insight hybrid that gets 66mpg. In 2005 they sold 666 of them, yes, 666 like the devil.

Aromatic hydrocarbons from weed and what happens when lentils get to the large intestine are way worse than me eating meat and driving pickup.
 
2006-10-12 12:43:50 PM  
I couldn't care less about the world if there's no one on it. There's no one on Mars either. What's the point of the article? If there are no people, the other parts of nature will be all that's left. Oh, great thought, there, how much are they paying you? Oh, the point was that it's better without humans? Why? Why are lush green forests and frolicking bunnies better than barren rock and acid rain? The only reason I can think of is because the former is better for us to live in!
 
2006-10-12 12:52:40 PM  
Imagine all the people
Getting the Fark out
 
2006-10-12 12:55:32 PM  
TFA was an interesting intellectual and creative exercise, but I found the tone was very old-fashioned, since it kep talking about whether things would go "back to nature" slowly, quickly, or not at all, especially in terms of introduced species.

Nature's a moving target. Invasive species have been introduced by geology and biology as well as by human intervention, and countless native species - including many of our own prototypes - have gone extinct. That's just the way she goes.

I consider myself an environmentalist, but I am no believer in natural utopias. We are part of nature, and it's up to us to use our unique intellectual capacity to find ways to live more sustainably within our naturally technological world for our own sakes, and preserve biodiversity for our own sakes, rather than imaginging a return to some kind of perfect, static, and unnatural Eden.
 
2006-10-12 12:56:06 PM  
The truly hilarious thing in this thread is that those offended by the article actually imagine that they (or the human race in general) are important or worthwhile or are more deserving of existence on Earth than a Grizzly Bear or a mosquito or a Blue-Footed Booby. What a howler.


Did it ever occur to you that God put us here to test his creation? Our reason for existence is to weed out the weak and non-viable lifeforms.
 
2006-10-12 12:56:12 PM  
These guys obviously didn't take into account the structural changes we've made to the earth via mining. Large open pit mines on the scale of the Berlkey Pit in Butte (and larger) will exist until we remove them or the world ends, and they're visible from orbit.
Also, advanced civilizations will find their metals here deposited in pockets that will be far too pure to have been naturally occuring (see used car lots & junk yards).
And then there's Anna Ni. Smith's breasts of steel which will be around for eaons.

/believes we can still pull out of this
//but only if Bush either gets smart or leaves office
///and if N.K. doesn't start WWIII
 
2006-10-12 12:57:18 PM  
(Sorry for the typos.)
 
2006-10-12 01:01:09 PM  
Fiscal Hermit Crab
Do objects exist in and of themselves anywhere other than when we give them names?

Yes. They do.

You're giving yourself and your ability of perception too much credit. Fact is, you don't matter that much. No one does.

Stuff exists because that's the way it is. Your perception, your organization of things into a structure, and your struggle to define what 'is' really don't matter.

A tree falling in the forest with no one there does make a noise. To say it doesn't because you didn't hear it, or to say things don't exist because you havn't seen them yet suggests you have a completely delusionsal view of your place in the scheme of things.
FACT: the scheme of things doesn't need you.
 
2006-10-12 01:04:56 PM  
 
2006-10-12 01:05:15 PM  
Weaver95

There is no "reason" for the existence of anything. Searching for a "reason" for reality is no different than running from a lightning bolt, or any other instinctive action taken in the interest of self-preservation. It merely represents the desire to continue to exist. That is the genesis of all superstition.
 
2006-10-12 01:14:33 PM  
Sigh. It's a pleasant fantasy, but unfortunately the rest of you assholes breed like rabbits.
 
2006-10-12 01:19:25 PM  
lollyadverb

Sorry, wasn't being clear again. I'm not doubting the notion of an object existing, actually its the compartmentalisation of the totality of existence into separated objects.

Think of it this way: what is structure? Let's use a working definition of structure as a 'thing' which can be separated into distinct 'parts' that function together to form that total thing. If there is no structure then there are no parts. If there are no parts then we cannot differentiate one thing from another because everything will then become a part of the totality of existence which we cannot break down further.

So what I'm saying is that if you negate the concept of structure then you negate the ability to say something is different from something else, you cannot sepaarate two things because it is structure (used at any level) that ascribed the criteria that allow us to say one thing is something and not another thing.
 
2006-10-12 01:24:26 PM  
And, just as an aside because this is fun and I like asides, it seems more likely that believing in objects gives too much credit to the perceptual system. I'm not saying I don't believe in the existence (as is generally defined) of objects, but what reason do we have to believe in objects that exists OUTSIDE of the reasons provided by our perceptual system? So how can we know that the percetual system is functining in a way that matches the existence of an objective reality?
 
2006-10-12 01:28:25 PM  
I would like to change "Imagine Earth without people" to "Imagine earth after the Zombie Apocalypse". It fits perfectly with the article, and it makes things so much more interesting. Plus I get to kill zombies, which is the ultimate goal of all nerds.

Beside kissing a girl.
 
2006-10-12 01:28:43 PM  
Nothing_Happens: Should all this come about, I believe that Apes will take their rightful place as the dominant species, and the only significant trace of our existance will be a partially submerged Statue of Liberty.

That might make a decent movie. No, a whole series of movies. The first one pretty good, the next 4 each progressively worse.
 
2006-10-12 01:30:55 PM  
I'd like to say I'm shocked by the number of people who seem to think its perfectly fine to shiat where you eat.

But I'm not.

It seems to fulfill some primal right-wing "Money now; fark the future" urge, part of a suite of infectious sociopathic ideas that makes up the neoconservative movement.
 
2006-10-12 01:34:44 PM  
Late to the party as usual, but the article made me think of an obscure Sara Teasdale poem Ray Bradbury used in a short story of the same name:

There Will Come Soft Rains

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white;

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

-- Sara Teasdale
 
2006-10-12 01:39:17 PM  
Pretty stupid article. The guy doesn't even mention the numerous species that would snuff it because they depend on human beings. He gripes about "introduced" species as if no bird ever ate a seed on one side of a mountain and shiat it out on the other.

Without people, the earths systems would truck along same as they do today. Species would rise, specialize, go extinct, etc. Most likely, given history, there would eventually be a large extinction event that would reduce the diversity we currently see to a fraction, at which point it'd start diversifying again.

Evolution produced humanity, just like it produced all of the other animals on this planet. By the same methods. We are part of the system, not outside of it. Simply because we've got enough neurons hooked together in a network that is complex enough to give birth to an emergent consciousness doesn't really make us all THAT special.

/stop the pollution of cockroach shiat... its everywhere!
 
2006-10-12 01:40:15 PM  
Is it okay if I just imagine the world without certain people in it? Like whack-job liberal enviromentalist assclowns?

/Ahhhhhh......
 
2006-10-12 01:42:51 PM  
They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you... my only son.
 
2006-10-12 01:48:10 PM  
What the... I thought this was a intresting and inoffensive "what if" -article, although there have been several pretty much like this lately. But what do I find in the comments: people getting their tampon sideways about hemp-wearing environmentalist alarmist wackjobs, basing their knee-jerk on overanalysing semantics.

...oh, wait, Fark. Never mind.
 
2006-10-12 02:02:24 PM  
eh you don't really even need to imagine, just go into an urban area at 4am, you can do anything really because nobody's around (still security cameras though, and the occasional police man)

but you can walk into the middle of the street, you can do jumping jacks, dance, run, climb on shiat, yell as loud as you can, etc. it's pretty liberating really (for someone like me who lives in a downtown area)
 
2006-10-12 02:03:43 PM  
*tear* I'm gonna miss us. Before Fark I wasn't even aware we were leaving.
 
2006-10-12 02:12:12 PM  
I'm saying is that if you negate the concept of structure then you negate the ability to say something is different from something else

And this matters to the Universe, the Earth, or even the room you're sitting in ... how?

You keep going back to the idea that your method of categorizing perceptions matters to anyone but you.

it doesn't. Just be happy that you can. But none of it matters on any level beyond the philosophic. You can wonder all you want, but your wonders do not make it to the level of reality.

No you can't have a universe.
not yours.
 
2006-10-12 02:15:07 PM  
I just came into say: I broke the dam.

/because, for whatever reason, no-one had
 
2006-10-12 02:20:39 PM  
Letter to the Voluntary Extinction Movement:

I understand that you believe that humans are the most serious danger facing our planet, and you liken humans to a virus that will someday destroy the host on which it lives. Apparently you are unaware that Earth is as sentient as you are. Moreover, there is a simple procedure for communicating with Earth, who goes by the name of Gaia.
One thing I learned from this communication is that Gaia is not the lifeless rock comprising the planet: she is the collective life on the planet, including everything from the smallest microbe to the largest whale. Your concern makes it plain you suspect this already, since it's absurd to think that humans would destroy the raw material of which the object called "Earth" is composed. Rather, you are concerned that humans are an infectious virus that may destroy the biosphere, the delicate film of life that resides on the planet.
However, Gaia says that you are seriously mistaken. Humans are not a virus infecting the biosphere, but its reproductive organs.
Sure, there is some effort and cost involved in reproducing, but the alternative is the eventual extinction of all life. Surely you have noticed that there is no evidence of life elsewhere? And you do realize that all life on Earth will eventually (but inevitably) be destroyed by natural processes? How else will life spread to other planets? The only hope for the continuation of life is for humanity to spread it.
Our purpose is to spread life invasively. Yes, this stirs up the ecosystem somewhat, but this phase is negligibly brief. Using the most generous definition of "human," we have only been causing any significant ecological disruption for a few thousand years. Gaia considers anything less than fifty million years unnoticeable. No ecosystem can remain the same forever in any case, and stress that does not sterilize is actually desirable, selecting for more flexible species.
Gaia emphatically requests that you not impose your anthropomorphic moral viewpoint on others. In her words, "What consenting ecosystems do in the privacy of their own biospheres is none of your business."

----------------------------------------------------

Critics say that humans have no right to radically adjust their environment to suit themselves. But isn't that exactly what the environmentalists are trying to do? They generally want the halt the "changing of the environment" by naturally occuring species that have, as part of their nature, the tendency to do just that.
For instance, they decry the spread of invasive species. But the most successful species are designed to be invasive. True, there are backwater places that accidentally cut off from competition and become unique. However, from Gaia's point of view this is an interesting, but trivial and ultimately undesirable circumstance that temporarily prevents those areas from evolving at the same pace as the rest of the planet.
 
2006-10-12 02:22:09 PM  
Weaver95

Did it ever occur to you that God put us here to test his creation? Our reason for existence is to weed out the weak and non-viable lifeforms.

Did it ever occur to you that you may need psychiatric help if you actually believe an invisible ALL-KNOWING sky wizard put you here to test his creations and weed out the weak ones, because- apparently, despite his omnipotence- he needs us to do silly little jobs for him instead of just designing things that don't need "weeding out" in the first place?

The circular logic of the theists is sometimes hard to believe. How anyone can spend their entire 80-100 years on Earth doing the spiritual equivalent of chasing their own tail is beyond me.

Good luck with that crusade against the weaker species, dude. I'll be sure to recite your question at your funeral if you're ever killed by an animal, insect, or virus, and answer with "apparently, his God made him one of those weak life forms he was always talking about."

Do they give you a fruit basket when you get to Heaven? And will you have to live in a golden house down the street from the aborted fetus ghetto?

/I'm rolling my eyes.
//If you could only hear yourself from a non-indoctrinated POV.
 
2006-10-12 02:25:54 PM  
/I'm rolling my eyes.
//If you could only hear yourself from a non-indoctrinated POV.


Oh I don't know....I seem to have nailed you pretty good.
 
2006-10-12 02:42:56 PM  
"otakucode - Pretty stupid article. The guy doesn't even mention the numerous species that would snuff it because they depend on human beings."

Now this is what I call irony ;)
 
2006-10-12 03:19:18 PM  
A world without people?

[image from i19.photobucket.com too old to be available]

Where would Coyote get all the good garbage?

Though... Not getting hunted constantly for existing would be a good thing...
 
2006-10-12 03:28:30 PM  
Imagine,

No more extinctions, because we know extinctions didn't start to happen until, we evil humans appeared. Heck if it wasn't for us the dinosaurs would still be at it.

And heck climate change would stop too, because the Earth was always the perfect tempature with no fluctuation, until we humans infested it and caused the Earth to experiance climate change.
 
2006-10-12 03:44:09 PM  
I heard the last creation of humanity to erode away if we all suddenly disppeared would be...

... The Golden Gate Bridge? Nope.

... pit mines? Get real.

... Hoover Dam? Nuh-uh.

...

would be The Great Pyramids of Giza.
 
2006-10-12 03:48:03 PM  
lollyadverb

Some research suggests the book is "Space Traders" by Derrick Bell.

-- Richard Zeien
 
2006-10-12 04:56:52 PM  
But if we're not here... why should we give a flying fark about the inspiring reclamation of everything by wheatgrass or centipedes or whatever the hell.

/Off my lawn, damned hippies.
 
2006-10-12 05:10:43 PM  
Heh, it's always funny to see someone you're arguing against in another thread who you pretty much completely agree with in this one, Blindman.
 
2006-10-12 05:26:49 PM  
 
2006-10-12 06:03:39 PM  
AdamK: eh you don't really even need to imagine, just go into an urban area at 4am, you can do anything really because nobody's around (still security cameras though, and the occasional police man)
but you can walk into the middle of the street, you can do jumping jacks, dance, run, climb on shiat, yell as loud as you can, etc. it's pretty liberating really (for someone like me who lives in a downtown area)


So you're the idiot yelling outside my window in the middle of the night!

Hey, shut the fark up, I'm trying to sleep here!

/actually I'm probably FARKing
//but if I had a job, I'd be sleeping
///maybe
 
2006-10-12 06:32:57 PM  
Taleya: We're not killing the earth. We're simply effecting changes that will make it unlivable for ourselves. Millions of years ago, plants started to release a corrosive gas that damaged life forms and wiped many of them out when they breathed it. It's called "oxygen" :P

There'll still be a biomass. We may not recognise it, or be able to live on it, it may be full of mutated bacteria and gerbils with wings, but life can adapt to a whole lotta shiat. We're only screwing what we recognise as being "life".


Well, yeah. "The end of the world" is just shorthand for "the end of the world supporting human life as we know it."

It's interesting, though, thinking about mass cataclysm of whatever variety, even if it doesn't kill every last human off (or make them leave or whatever). I'll admit, I'm a fan of "end of the world" science fiction, it's interesting thought experiments. I also like looking at modern ruins photography.

The social upheavals are interesting, also just how quickly values change around and money becomes meaningless, etc, in so many of the stories, and how quickly the power goes out, what the abandoned cities are like, how things that are a dime-a-dozen when the world is functional suddenly become items that will never be made again, and thus scarce.

All good, in a nice fat fiction story.
 
2006-10-12 06:40:26 PM  
The Icelander
I've often wondered: If there was a technological civilization on Earth millions of years ago, would any evidence have survived of their presence?

And you really think it was a meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs?
 
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