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When will mankind die?

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November 24, 2010 8:40AM

There is some evidence that our sun has reached "midlife" with estimates that it is about 4.6 billion years old.

There are estimates that the sun will survive for another 4 to 5 billion years, then it will pass through a red giant phase and eventually die as a white dwarf.

It is unlikely that life will be able to survive on Earth through those phases, although perhaps if humans colonized Europa, Ganymede or Callisto, they would be relatively unaffected at least by the sun going through a red giant phase.

That is a very long time in the future if you consider the theory of evolution with:

Bacteria developing about 4 billion years ago.

Eukaryotes, plants, and multicellular organisms developing about 2 billion years ago.

The First mammals developing about 200 million years ago.

The First hominids developing about 5 million years ago.

Homo sapiens and "Mitochondria Eve" about 200,000 years ago.

"Y Chromosome Adam" about 60,000 years ago.

Virtually all known advanced development during the Holocene Epoch during the last 10,000 years

With the majority of development in the last few hundred years.

Oddly the chromosomes are showing that a single male lineage likely spread to all of humanity much later than the human species is believed to have broken off from other hominids.

It is likely that the human or homo sapien species will continue to evolve over time, although what direction it will take or what the stimuli for change will be is hard to know.

Humans, of course, have the technology to wipe out all of humanity, and our military expertise will likely increase over time. Whether our restraints will improve simultaneously is unknown.

Within a few hundred, perhaps a few thousand years we will likely virtually exhaust petroleum reserves on Earth, and we could experience a critical population density crisis. Perhaps other resources will be exhausted, or difficult to mine. One can hope for infinite resources in the future, but that may never come to fruition, or could come at some extreme cost.

There is, of course, the risk posed by a large object striking the earth, or some large cosmic action ejecting the earth from the sun's orbit.

Some predictions indicate that earth's climate could also destabilize in the next billion years. If humanity continues to build technology, I have no doubt that there will be technical solutions to the coming climate crisis.

The distances between stars are truly astronomical. We don't know if we will ever develop faster than light travel. Without the ability to travel faster than light, any travel to another habitable star might take hundreds or thousands of years. And, once there, colonization would be a daunting task including changing any atmosphere from what is "found" to a mixture that is breathable by humans.

So, if humans manage to survive and resist the urge to kill ourselves, and earth avoids any cosmic collisions, it is possible that the species could endure on earth for several billion years. It is likely that the species will continue to evolve to something unexpected.

Surviving beyond that will depend on whether as a species we will be able colonize planets other than Earth, and travel to and colonize other star systems.

But that all depends on whether we achieve self annihilation.