Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Confusing "Civilization" With "Species"

There is a tendency to think that the catastrophe of global warming is an extinction threat to the human species.

The threat however, in the sequence of events, is the extinction of human civilization, not the human species.

Civilization can go down with a billion or so human survivors still remaining, yet only being taken back into the dark ages by a "time machine" built by the civilization that erased itself from the face of the earth.

One of the global warming factors which may make that easier to see is the potable water problem:
All this talk about global warming raising the depth of the ocean yet there being less and less drinking water, makes one think of the "water water everywhere, nor any drop to drink" saying of old.
(Global Warming & Potable Water). There will not be enough of this or enough of that for civilization, however, there will be plenty of water to support groups of human beings and other species around the globe:
World civilization means the nations of the world interconnected by trade, travel, treaties, and international commerce.

So, when climate change scientists talk about dangers to the existence of civilization they do not mean that the population of human beings as a species is going to become extinct.

In other words, the human species would live on even if civilization ended.
(What Do You Mean - World Civilization?). That is not ultimately comforting, however, it is better than what would result if we got into an all-out nuclear war.

That scenario could bring the wrath of heat that will destroy the earth environment way, way before its time.

If some live on through the global warming catastrophes, they will have the wisdom which world civilization ignored, and we can hope they will develop a new and wiser civilization.

One that will have a better go at finding a new home world before the real heat is put on this planet.


  1. Global warming won't necessarily mean the extinction of the species. On the other hand, we've probably only bugun to consider the possible side effects of catastrophic climate change, so who knows? Some of the worst effects are sure to be entirely man made; i.e., wars over remaining resources until population levels drop.

    Consider the effects of modern day adapted human immune systems if modern medical technologies were to be knocked out overnight. That's why I don't put a greaty deal of stock in the so-called survivalist groups, who think stockpiling canned goods and ammunition is gonna get them through the next apocalypse. We're really poorly adapted to stepping back 300-400 years overnight. Most people would probably just kill themselves IMO after a few months rather than press on through what would surely be a most traumatic situation.

  2. disaffected,

    Yep, different strokes for different goats.

    Ever see those goats that fall down, paralysed by fear evidently, upon hearing a strange sound?

    The survivors will be from the more "uncivilized" parts of the world today more likely than not.

    I suppose the story could be called "Civilization is coming to a Neanderthal near you" or something similar.

  3. Ah yes. The 'fresh water' problem. I've been saying for some time that this is going to be the next 'issue' between Canada and the US, as water becomes more valuable than oil, etc. (I hope I'm around to play a part.) The 'thin edge of the wedge' will be residential use, specifically regarding one of the most abhorrent elements of modern North American life: the lawn. Bleurgh.

  4. Yes, drinking water scarcity may be a big deal very soon as well.

    Global Warming & Potable Water

  5. Interesting blog.

    While it's possible that even large pockets of people will survive the fall of civilization for a while, how will they deal with more that 400 nuclear power plants? If not maintained, they are bound to eventually release enough radiation to kill not only human species, but also everything else.

    Or am I wrong?

  6. Anonymous,

    Don't know about others, but I can't say that the scenario you bring up is not possible.

    One would think that during a phased meltdown of civilization they would take them off line, say over a 20 year time frame.

    But conceivably a quick sequence of events could thwart a sensible sequence of events.

  7. There are so many guns and so much ammo floating around the USA that there's no doubt a series of civil wars would occur across the cotinent, with efforts by armed militias to grab subsistence resources from cooler Canada and Mexico.