Will humans go extinct due to the Covid-19 pandemic?
I have friends and acquaintances who are panicking about the Coronavirus outbreak, some going extreme and saying this is the end of the World, that this is God's way to punish sinners and probably this virus is just the beginning of the Apocalypse.
Calm down! We are safe for now. Will humans go extinct due to the Covid-19 pandemic? No! Will humans go extinct? Yes! However, it is likely that we will be here for a very long period.
99.9% of all species that ever lived are extinct, and probably the human race will follow the pattern, inevitably heading for extinction, maybe in few hundreds or thousand of years. The question without answer is "when?" rather than "if?"
Some species left descendants, some didn't, while others just vanished. Neanderthals, Denisovans, Homo Erectus all vanished, leaving just Homo Sapiens. Was this just natural selection, evolution or subject to climate change? Or maybe a mix of all?
Even if headlines often suggest this extinction is imminent, the threat of pandemics, asteroids and the ongoing menace of the climate emergency are just sources of panic used to keep people's mind busy and to create topics of debate.
Ecological disruptions are affecting the human race, but their aftermaths will be noticed in the long term. Human slow reproduction makes it hard to recover from population crashes, and slows natural selection, making it difficult to adapt to rapid environmental changes, making us vulnerable.
What makes the human race resistant to extinction?
Geographically widespread: Even is humans are vulnerable, the supremely adaptability and the aid of technology makes us resilient. We are geographically widespread which makes us more likely to survive after catastrophes and mass extinction events, being spread on all continents, deserts, tundra, rain-forests and remote islands. Long-term disruptions, like ice ages, might cause widespread conflicts but civilizations could probably survive.
Abundance: To the geographic widespread is added abundance. With nearly 8 billion people, the human biomass exceeds that of all wild mammals, and even is a pandemic or nuclear disasters will wipe out 99% of the populations, the remaining millions would have the capacity to survive and rebuild.
Generalists: The human race is bound to nothing. We explore the unknown and we adapt to whatever is available. We are herbivores, piscivores, carnivores, omnivores and most importantly, we adapt unlike any other species, through behaviour and culture, not DNA. Cultural evolution outpaces even viral evolution. Viral genes can evolve in days but it takes a second to ask someone to wash their hands and keep social distancing.
Inter-connectivity: We support each other, providing food, money, education and moral support for vulnerable people.
Cultural evolution: The human being can reshape the environment instead of adapting to the environment. The adaptability and reshaping the planet can be our worst enemy, because sometimes changing things will change them for the worse and will create new dangers. We are the ones guilty for climate change, pollution, nuclear weapons, pandemics and probably we will be the ones which will be responsible for our own extinction. Until now we kept the change under control, following treaties, pollution control and creating vaccines, modified food and green energy but at one point our methods will fail.
The Covid-19 pandemic made place for pessimistic scenarios leading to widespread breakdown of social order, even the loss of most of the human population, which will create a post-apocalyptic world. Survival sets a pretty low bar and we have to decide whether we want just to survive or whether we can do more than just survive.
Meanwhile, during the lock-down, our day to day habits, including how and what we shop. As the crisis continues, people are often stuck at home, spending time online, and finding new ways to keep busy. New trends emerged and new thing are becoming popular.
Overall alcohol sales in supermarkets raised by 27% since the start of the lock-down, and looks like tequila shots are the new favorites, with sales of tequila increasing by more than 175%
To compensate with bulge eating and less outdoor experience, the sales of gym kit and equipment increased. Yoga mats and ankle weights are almost out of stock, after a 496% sale raise.
Make-up and luxury bedding are also trending. Working from home, more time using social media platforms and video conferences makes people to spend time to look "camera ready". Being at home more means more time in bed and this is why luxury bedding sales doubled.
As a conclusion, I think we are smart enough to avoid any man-made global wipe down of civilization, but when you add greed and the need of absolute power in the mix, definitely things can go wrong.
Progress without limits can be a double edge sword, and raising with movies such as Resident Evil, Terminator and a whole bunch of zombie movies planted some scenarios in my head. Seeing Elon Musk's StarLink project made me think we are closer to SkyNet than ever and makes me wander what will we do when A.I. and technology will outsmart us. Will we adapt or will me make way for Human2.0?
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My author page:PV Mihalache
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