Stepehen Hawking's take
Listen, people of Earth: Everything’s going to be fine. All we have to do is survive another century or two without self-destructing as a species. Then we’ll get off this rock, spread throughout space, and everything will be all right.
Humanity Will Survive Longer Than Earth – The Odds
1. Humanity goes extinct before ever living off our Earth.
2. Humanity is able to develop communities in space, but they all also die before Earth disappears.
3. A steller/galactic event causes both Earth and humanity to perish simultaneously.
4. Humanity develops habitats off of space, which continue to prosper after the Earth is gone.
An extinction level event is a catastrophic occurrence which has the potential to terminate entire species of animals and plants: eg, to cause a mass extinction. Such events are decidedly rare, but geological evidence shows that they have happened on many occasions since multicellular life became abundant on the planet almost a billion years ago.
Today, many scientists think the evidence indicates a sixth mass extinction is under way. The blame for this one, perhaps the fastest in Earth's history, falls firmly on the shoulders of humans.
Mass extinctions include events in which 75 percent of the species on Earth disappear within a geologically short time period, usually on the order of a few hundred thousand to a couple million years.
That gives Earth between three and 22 centuries to reach the point of mass extinction if nothing is done to stop the problem. (The wide range is a factor of the uncertainty in the data and different rates of extinction found in various species.) The good news, Barnosky said, is that the total loss so far is not devastating. In the last 200 years, the researchers found, only 1 to 2 percent of all species have gone extinct.
So can we fix it? Yes, there's time to cut dependence on fossil fuels, alleviate climate change and commit to conservation of habitat, the study scientists say. The more pressing question is, will we?
The risk of a child born today suffering an early death due to nuclear war is at least 10 percent,
In fact, all of these threats were present in 1950..
The precise number of nuclear weapons in the world’s arsenals is not known. More than 128 000 nuclear warheads have been produced since 1945.
A mass extinction event would occur, similar to that which wiped out the dinosaurs and 70% of all other species 65 million years ago.
Novichoks are nerve agents. To make them, two ordinary chemicals are mixed to form a toxic product. As recently as 1990, at least three novichoks existed (novichok-5, novichok-#, and novichok-7), but whether large quantities exist today is unknown. All novichok agents are more toxic than VX. Some may be up to 10 times more toxic [source: Stewart]. They may also work differently than the nerve agents listed here, possibly rendering existing antidotes ineffective. The Soviet Union began making novichoks in the 1980s.
In a few decades, enhanced versions of current propulsion technology could reduce travel time to Mars from about a year to a few months…
The Point of No Return
Pre-industrialization carbon dioxide levels were 270 ppm; today they are 390 ppm and predicted to to between 540 and 970 ppm by 2100, unless we change our ways. Tellingly, the last five extinction were associated with both high levels carbon dioxide and temperatures.
As a consequence, habitats are rapidly being destroyed and polluted with over 50% of tropical rainforests and their rich biodiversity decimated. Moreover, we are now feeling the cumulative affect of 200 years of burning fossil fuels as glacial and polar ice begin to melt and the planet’s climate quickly shifts.
As of now, scientists are suggesting that we just might be in the early years of a mass extinction that will occur over the course of maybe a few hundred thousand years.
Also, it's escalation is preventable
Mankind faces extinction, the Prince of Wales has warned, unless humans transform our lifestyles to stop mass consumption, run away climate change and destruction of wildlife.
Referring to himself as “an endangered species”, he warned that the world is already in the “sixth extinction event”, with species dying out at a much faster rate than at any time since the death of most of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
There is not sufficient evidence that we are that close to collapse. The world still functions.
The quality of this debate was astounding, and as I read both individuals positions, I knew it would be very hard to decide a winner. While a very speculative topic, both opponents took their stances and followed through from start to end, never wavering their positions, and as a result, created a very interesting debate to read.
Now the hard part, deciding a winner.
PartrickGarrow17 opened strongly, presenting a series of ideas, and choose one to focus on. He very cleverly left himself plenty of "wiggle room" for the rest of the debate by presenting realistic possibilities.
SonoftheSun opened with the theory of facing a sixth extinction event, but was a bit weak on explaining the nature of the the previous five, which would have strengthened his position, and could have added a bit of detail about extraterrestrial impactors. He does promise the reader wanting more information, by addressing other methods of human extinction: nuclear war, pandemics, and climate change.
Patrick narrowly wins round one.
Patrick continues the next round countering his opponent nicely, stating that mass extinctions occur rather slowly, and gives the impression that humanity could "fix" things given the time. He goes on to refute his opponent by stating an 85% survival rate for nuclear war, that pandemics don't hinder tech development, and that climate change is not an immediate threat to our existence. He relies heavily on the assumption that technology will be developed to save us, and will continue to advance.
Son counters well by insisting that we may not have the time to correct our mistakes. He goes on to state that a nuclear holocaust is only one warhead, in the wrong hands, away. He furthers his position by bringing up the issue of a pandemic, but de-rails it slightly with a slant towards biological warfare, a larger possibility IMO, in the hands of terrorists. He does well to refute the complications to living in space for extended periods, which definitely hurts his opponent's stance.
Son narrowly wins round two.
Partrick finishes out the debate optimistically, stating the current rates of tech advancement is sufficient for off-world growth, re-enforcing his original stance. He presents cutting edge and realistic possibilities: nanotech, quantum computing, and 3-d printing, all of which are being heavily researched. Missing, however, from his presentation is the privatization of space travel, which will make it much more cost effective to travel to space, and the possibilities of finding raw resources that would fund such private endeavors. Possible propulsion systems are not overlooked, however, and he is correct in his position that the development is still in progress. He finishes his position with this noteworthy quote: "It would take a cataclysm much greater than a war, pandemic, or natural disaster that kills a few billion people. Even such a disaster at that level is not likely." He gives the inspiration that humanity cannot be held back.
Son finishes with a hard reality check, stating that our chances for survival are slim. He places the blame squarely on where it needs to be placed, on humanity's shoulders. His statements on overpopulation, however, lead me towards Patrick's stance, that we need to get off this rock, and expand. I find his limit of 500 years to be quite limiting, given his opponent's position of a growing trend of advancement in technology. He tries to re-enforce his climate change position but, no disrespect intended, I did a *facepalm* when he quoted Prince Charles as an authority. He might as well have used a quote from Al Gore. Not a good way to finish a debate.
Round three to Patrick, and thus, the debate.
This was a very hard debate to judge due to its speculative nature and dependence on probabilities. PatrickGarrow17's positions are completely hinged on the potential technological advancement of the human race and that one day we may be able to venture off this planet before the race is wiped-out. SonoftheSun's argument incorporates a much broader list of dangers to the human race and delves into the reality that the extinction of species has and will continue to occur. Since we are talking about a debate based on probabilities, I have to give the debate to SonoftheSun. I believe he was able to provide numerous examples in which Mankind may not have the time to advance technologically and leave Earth before one danger or another takes us out. Great debate!
So I read over the debate, and I really hate to say this, especially after both people poured alot into that debate, but I think it should be a tie. Here's why. Both people presented valid arguments for their case. They both backed up there opinions and statements well, and provided real life examples as to why there opinion should stand. I should say too that both competitors lacked in the rebutle catagory. Niether one took the time to show why their information outwieghed the opponents. In this scenario neither of the combatants managed to sway my opinion to one or the other, and since I believe they both had the same weeknesses that this should end up a tie.
But because I have to swing one way or the other it would be towards PatrickGarrow17. I felt that he had a stronger basis in reality, most of the points that SonofSun brought about were simply too theroretical. Not enough basis around the world that we live in.