2210: The Collapse?
Why the Modern Human Species Became Extinct

2210: The Collapse?
Why the Modern Human Species Became Extinct

In general, humanity's sense of self preservation, and intelligence are considered to offer safe-guards against extinction. It is felt that people will find creative ways to overcome potential threats, and will take care of the precautionary principle in attempting dangerous innovations.

The arguments against this are; firstly, that the management of destructive technology is becoming difficult, and secondly, that the precautionary principle is often abandoned whenever the reward appears to outweigh the risk.

No matter what we call it, poison is still poison, death is still death, and industrial civilization is still causing the greatest mass extinction in the history of the planet.
— Derrick Jensen

In the year 2210, scientists uncover the ruins of a great civilisation – so powerful one could argue it dwarfed anything that came before it.

Sifting through the wreckage of cities overtaken by the desert and swallowed up by the sea, they piece together a remarkable story of collapse – the story of what on Earth happened to us.

The fact that the vast majority of the species that have existed on Earth have become extinct, has led to the suggestion that all species have a finite lifespan and thus human extinction would be inevitable.

Dave Raup and Jack Sepkoski found for example a twenty-six-million-year periodicity in elevated extinction rates, caused by factors unknown.

Based upon evidence of past extinction rates Raup and others have suggested that the average longevity of an invertebrate species is between 4-6 million years, while that of vertebrates seems to be 2-4 million years.

The shorter period of survival for mammals lies in their position further up the food chain than many invertebrates, and therefore an increased liability to suffer the effects of environmental change.

A counter-argument to this is that humans are unique in their adaptive and technological capabilities, so it is not possible to draw reliable inferences about the probability of human extinction based on the past extinctions of other species.

Certainly, the evidence collected by Raup and others suggested that generalist, geographically dispersed species, like humans, generally have a lower rate of extinction than those species that require a particular habitat.

In addition, the human species is probably the only species with a conscious prior knowledge of their own demise, and therefore would be likely to take steps to avoid it.

Humans are very similar to other primates in their propensity towards intra-species violence; Jared Diamond's The Third Chimpanzee estimates that 64% of hunter-gather societies engage in warfare every two years.

Although it has been argued (e.g. in the UNESCO Seville Statement) that warfare is a cultural artifact, many anthropologists dispute this, noting that small human tribes exhibit similar patterns of violence to chimpanzee groups, the most murderous of the primates, and one of two of our nearest living genetic relatives.

The "higher" functions of reason and speech are more developed in the brain of Homo sapiens than other primates, but the relative size of the limbic system is a constant in apes, monkeys, and humans. The combination of inventiveness and urge to violence in humans has been cited as evidence against its long term survival.