Scientists at Stanford University have predicted that global society as we know it today will “disappear” in the coming decades. The researchers met on CBS’s ’60 Minutes’ program to talk about the difficulties humanity will face in the coming years. And the forecasts were not positive at all.
Global extinction crisis
Tony Barnosky, a Stanford biologist who works on using the fossil record to map ecosystem changes, noted that his work suggests that current extinction rates are moving 100 times more than the average observed in all of Earth’s history.
According to Barnosky, such rapid population loss means the planet is currently experiencing the worst mass extinction event since the dinosaurs. And while the Earth itself has repeatedly recovered from such events, the vast majority of life on our planet has not.
“I and the vast majority of my colleagues believe that we’ve had it,” Barnosky’s Stanford colleague Paul Ehrlich told reporter Scott Pelley, “that the next few decades will be the end of the kind of civilization we’re used to.”
The risk of chaos
The scientists point out that this reality would mean that even if humans manage to survive somehow, the far-reaching impacts of mass extinction, including habitat destruction, failures in the natural food chain, soil infertility and more, would cause a collapse of society.
“I would say that it is too much to say that we are killing the planet, because the planet is going to be fine,” Barnosky said. “What we are doing is killing our way of life. Humanity is not sustainable. To maintain our lifestyle for the entire planet, you would need five more Earths,” Ehrlich said in the interview. “Humanity is very busy sitting on a branch that we are cutting,” he concluded.