Is the end of the world really close? What do scientists say?

Well, how do you like 2021? Heatwaves, floods, landslides, fires and the emergence of new variants of the coronavirus paint a truly apocalyptic picture. It seems that the world is approaching either a global flood, or something worse. But what do scientists think about this? Prof. Peter Turchin of the University of Connecticut caught the attention of the general public last year. According to his research on the rise and fall of civilizations, the world will face a period of social upheaval in the next decade. And the idea of ​​2020 as the end of the world has so filled the collective consciousness that people are waiting for the end of time both from an alien invasion and from a zombie apocalypse. Is it any wonder that January 27, 2021, the Doomsday Clock is a metaphorical clock, midnight on which means the beginning of a nuclear war and, in general, the end of our civilization - froze at around 100 seconds to midnight? Unfortunately, the results of recent scientific research are also devoid of optimism - some models predict humanity no more than 20 years of life.

How can human civilization disappear?

The fundamental idea behind our concern for the future of civilization has certainly been the emergence of nuclear weapons. Scientists who worked to create the first atomic bomb later became the authors of Doomsday Clock, which first appeared on the cover of the University of Chicago magazine in 1947. It was then that the hands of the clock were set at 23:53, but they were very quickly moved to 23:57 after the Soviet Union tested its first atomic bomb. It happened in 1949.

The reason, as you might guess, is that unlike all other weapons that humans have ever invented, this weapon was the first one that could end civilization. It is important to note that today the hands of the Clock are moved only after specialists from different fields (including the military, scientists, public policy, etc.) gather in groups to analyze the current threats to humanity. They then present their findings to the Science and Safety Council, which then decides what time should be set on the clock.

"Midnight symbolizes a catastrophe, the end of the world, if you like, and the question is, are we getting closer to it or moving away?" - said Professor Daniel Holtz, a member of the Science and Safety Committee of the Committee. Although the nuclear threat is less visible in the public sphere today than in the 20th century, it remains the focus of the magazine's board of directors. But what about other end times options?

Is it true that humanity has 20 years left?

Amid a cascade of troubling environmental events, from wildfires in the western US and Siberia to floods in Germany, and a report that the Amazon rainforest may no longer be able to act as a carbon sink, a new study predicts that the collapse ecosystems could happen as early as 2040 - provided current trends continue.

The new study analyzed data on mitigating climate change, which confirmed the dire scenarios put forward in MIT's landmark 1972 study, The Limits to Growth, which presents various outcomes of what might happen when the growth of an industrial civilization is confronted with limited resources. 

“From a research standpoint, we felt that validating data from a ten-year-old model based on empirical observations would be an interesting exercise,” the authors of the new study note . In 1972, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said we need to act now to achieve a smooth transition and avoid disaster, ”the researchers write. “It didn’t happen, so we are seeing the effects of climate change.”

In the course of the work, scientists updated the 1972 data (the results can be found here) and came to grim conclusions: the current data is in good agreement with the analysis of the 1970s, which showed that economic growth could end at the end of the current decade , and the collapse will occur in about 10 years (worst case).

As the authors of the study said in an interview with The Guardian, the key conclusion of the work is that "we still have a choice to prevent a scenario in which humanity will disappear from the face of the Earth in 2040."

Note that the new study focused on two scenarios using a range of variables, including population, fertility, mortality, industrial production, food production, services, non-renewable resources, sustainable pollution, human well-being, and the ecological footprint. In a word, the future is vague, but not defined. Do you think our civilization will fall in the near future? We will wait for the answer here , as well as in the comments to this article!


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