HUMAN EXTINCTION IS NOT POSSIBLE
A Thought Experiment
Harvey W Austin, MD
Consider that human extinction is impossible ― as long as any biologic life exists on earth.
Humans are so adaptable that, as long as biologic life remains ― in any form whatsoever― humans will survive as a species. Adaptability is perhaps our most prominent trait. Humans can live from the coldest to the hottest climes, from the driest to the wettest. We can live underground, in the trees, in caves, in the mountains and on the plains. We can eat anything from algae to elephants.
It will not take many of us to survive, merely a few hundred breeding pairs. That’s all it took last time, scientists tell us. If Life itself survives so then will human beings. Perhaps a more appropriate name for us than Homo sapiens sapiens might be Homo adaptans.
Let’s play a simple numbers game.
Question: How many people would have to survive a global holocaust to match the size of the group ― the source of us all ― that survived the last ice age.*
While no one knows the actual size, science’s best guess is “a few hundred.” To make the math easy, let’s say it might take 350 breeding pairs. Perhaps fewer if all lived in the neighborhood. (Way more than enough: technically it requires but one.) If scattered, a total earth population of 350 couples could repopulate the earth from a few hundred locations around the globe.
Our 2016 world population is 7,400,000,000 (7.4 billion).
If we lost 90% in a holocaust, 740 million would remain, roughly the population of the world in 1750, 250 years ago.
If we were to lose 99%, we would still have 74,000,000.
If 99.9% = 7,400,000
99.99% = 740,000
99.999% = 74, 000
99.9999% = 7400
99.99999% = 740 human beings survive ― 370 couples.
CONCLUSION: If only one in ten million of us survived, humans would still have 370 breeding pairs ― 370 “Eves” ― more than enough mothers for our species to survive, evolve and thrive.
Next time, assuming the Phoenix of humanity will again rise from the flames, perhaps we shall evolve into our Elderhood without lingering so long in our dangerous adolescent stage.
* “In human genetics, Mitochondrial Eve is the matrilineal most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of all currently living humans. This is the most recent woman from whom all living humans today descend, in an unbroken line, on their mother’s side … back until all lines converge on one woman, who is estimated to have lived approximately 100,000–200,000 years ago. Wikipedia.