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Could Humans Survive?





Dennise
Let's say another meteor impact, identical to the one 65 million years ago that wiped out the dinos and many other life forms; happened identically again tomorrow.

Could the human life form survive such a catastrophe? How about 100 or 1,000 years after such an event?

Might the various underground bunkers or cave systems save some people that could get into them fast enough in the short term? And long term, would food stores and seed banks e.g. increase the odds against total human extinction?

Surely there are 'survivor' groups today that like to think they are prepared and equipped to live through and carry on after such an impact.

Thoughts?
Bikerman
Yes, we woould almost certainly survive such an impact methinks.
I'm sure this must have been modelled somewhere - I'll dig around and see if I can find anything on it.
Ankhanu
Bikerman wrote:
Yes, we woould almost certainly survive such an impact methinks.
I'm sure this must have been modelled somewhere - I'll dig around and see if I can find anything on it.


Ditto.
That said, I'm pretty sure there would be a massive population reduction to go along with it, but it is likely we would survive. Neat thing about us vs. dinos is that we're not as heavily bound to environmental changes, partially due to our general nature (though there were many generalist dinosaur species), and partly due to our ability to create and use technology. We already survive many environments that we could not, had we not figured out ways to "beat the system" as it were.
Dennise
Ankhanu wrote:
Bikerman wrote:
Yes, we woould almost certainly survive such an impact methinks.
I'm sure this must have been modelled somewhere - I'll dig around and see if I can find anything on it.


Ditto.
That said, I'm pretty sure there would be a massive population reduction to go along with it, but it is likely we would survive. Neat thing about us vs. dinos is that we're not as heavily bound to environmental changes, partially due to our general nature (though there were many generalist dinosaur species), and partly due to our ability to create and use technology. We already survive many environments that we could not, had we not figured out ways to "beat the system" as it were.


But what past environmental catastrophes have humans survived that even comes close to the dino disaster event 65m years ago? Surly not ice ages, regional famines or weather events.
SonLight
Dennise wrote:
Ankhanu wrote:
Bikerman wrote:
Yes, we woould almost certainly survive such an impact methinks.
I'm sure this must have been modelled somewhere - I'll dig around and see if I can find anything on it.


Ditto.
That said, I'm pretty sure there would be a massive population reduction to go along with it, but it is likely we would survive. Neat thing about us vs. dinos is that we're not as heavily bound to environmental changes, partially due to our general nature (though there were many generalist dinosaur species), and partly due to our ability to create and use technology. We already survive many environments that we could not, had we not figured out ways to "beat the system" as it were.


But what past environmental catastrophes have humans survived that even comes close to the dino disaster event 65m years ago? Surly not ice ages, regional famines or weather events.


I'm pretty sure you're right in thinking that humans have never been faced with a disaster of that magnitude before. Presumably 90% or more of humans within a few humdred miles of the collision would be killed immediately, and the dust kicked up would probably insure starvation of half or so of the population worldwide. We are resourceful enough that many would find sources of food though.

The interesting question to me is how much of our technology might we manage to preserve, and how would that vary as a function of the magnitude of the collision?
Bikerman
We'd loose a lot but we would quickly be back to useful levels of tech. I can pretty easily knock up basic machines or circuits. Where it gets hairy is at the bigger end - power production, mining and the like....
ocalhoun
They would survive.

That scenario is more or less the same scenario as the nuclear winter people have planned for at times... and some of those plans are still in place.

As an added bonus, it will only get cold and dark, not radioactive... and that makes things a lot easier.
Dennise
ocalhoun wrote:
They would survive.

That scenario is more or less the same scenario as the nuclear winter people have planned for at times... and some of those plans are still in place.

As an added bonus, it will only get cold and dark, not radioactive... and that makes things a lot easier.


Good point .... i.e. keeping radio-activity out of the scenario.
Insanity
It depends on how much warning we get before such an event. If we have adequate time to prepare, we could easily save a significant amount of people. They would be able to get into shelters that were designed for use in the Cold War, or they could build their own, if they had the time to do so. A lot of places are specifically designed for this -- the White House has a bunker that is enough to protect and sustain the president of the United States and his immediate family. I'd imagine there would be enough supplies in there to last quite a while. There's also a lot of indigenous people who live in caves and such that might offer some sort of protection from an asteroid.

If we had no warning, and an asteroid just came out of nowhere, I'd imagine that a lot of people would die. Most of the people on Earth would, depending on how large the asteroid was.
ocalhoun
Insanity wrote:
There's also a lot of indigenous people who live in caves and such

[citation needed]

I've never heard of any modern indigenous people living in caves.
Most have progressed to various types of tents and huts, at least.

...And just because they live in a cave doesn't mean they would survive an impact-cloud-winter... they likely wouldn't have enough food stored up to last that long.


There's another problem: while caves are naturally extremely good at keeping a constant temperature, a major drop in temperature outside can have disastrous consequences for a 'wet cave'*.

When a cave passage forms during millions of years of constant temperature, it can be vulnerable to drops in temperature that cause water in the rocks to freeze. Suddenly, rocks that have been under low stress for millions of years have a high amount of stress, which can cause breakage, and therefore cave-ins.
While it would take a LONG time for deep passages to change in temperature this much, passages near the cave entrances could change much more rapidly, due to the cave breathing, especially during high-pressure system times when the cave is sucking in cold air from outside.

...Long story short, hiding inside a cave during a drastic global temperature change puts you at a surprisingly high risk of getting sealed in the cave forever by a collapsing entrance.



*By which I mean any cave that still has some water, even if it's just an occasional drip or moisture in the rocks.
(Wind Cave in South Dakota had a problem like this when a new entrance was opened up: it allowed cold winter air to get into passages that hadn't been below freezing for millions of years, and caused several collapses and near collapses of cave passages... necessitating some significant repairs to be done before those passages were safe to travel in again.)
standready
Insanity wrote:
It depends on how much warning we get before such an event.

I don't think an asteroid would be able to sneak up on the planet the way we watch the sky these days. Still were would be a massive reduction in the population when all was done (which would probably be a good thing for the planet).
Bikerman
'Fraid not.
NASA wrote:
With so many of even the larger NEOs remaining undiscovered, the most likely warning today would be zero -- the first indication of a collision would be the flash of light and the shaking of the ground as it hit. In contrast, if the current surveys actually discover a NEO on a collision course, we would expect many decades of warning. Any NEO that is going to hit the Earth will swing near our planet many times before it hits, and it should be discovered by comprehensive sky searches like Spaceguard. In almost all cases, we will either have a long lead time or none at all.

http://impact.arc.nasa.gov/intro_faq.cfm
Blummer
Well, there's nowhere to hide. And if we knew something was about to hit our planet, that would be still inevitable - most people would die, few would survive...It's so hard to discuss this seriously, since we haven't faced anything like this recently and most people judge by stupid Hollywood disaster films.
TheRPGLPer
I'm pretty sure we could do it. I guess we could all go underground.

Of course, we would lose a lot of buildings if that happened, which wouldn't be good.
ocalhoun
TheRPGLPer wrote:

Of course, we would lose a lot of buildings if that happened, which wouldn't be good.


Forget the buildings. The important thing is that you'd lose a lot of crops.

Even if you save everyone from the initial impact, starvation would still take its toll... just imagine the state of the world if for several years in a row, say, 85% of crops failed to produce any food at all.
Dennise
Quote:
Forget the buildings. The important thing is that you'd lose a lot of crops.

Even if you save everyone from the initial impact, starvation would still take its toll... just imagine the state of the world if for several years in a row, say, 85% of crops failed to produce any food at all.


Seed banks - like the Norwegian Svalbard bank - would be critically important. Success would of course depend on post collision atmosphere and soil conditions together with how long those adversities might persist. Still .... there'd be mass starvation as seed bank production would take months or perhaps even longer under even favorable atmospheric and soil conditions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svalbard_Global_Seed_Vault
TheLimey
The thing we have to worry about as a human race is the sun going out
Bikerman
TheLimey wrote:
The thing we have to worry about as a human race is the sun going out

Please explain. As far as I am aware, there is almost no chance of that happening. The sun is at about the mid-point of its lifespan and there isn't, to my knowledge, any physics which would indicate that it will not go on for the full 10billion(ish) years one would expect.
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:
TheLimey wrote:
The thing we have to worry about as a human race is the sun going out

Please explain. As far as I am aware, there is almost no chance of that happening. The sun is at about the mid-point of its lifespan and there isn't, to my knowledge, any physics which would indicate that it will not go on for the full 10billion(ish) years one would expect.

Maybe he's just taking the long view?
The human race (if they still exist and could still be called human at that point -- a big 'if' on that timescale!) will eventually have to worry about that in a few billion years or so.

I'd go as far as to say the sun burning out (or progressing to the red giant stage anyway... which might liberally be called 'burning out') is THE greatest threat to all life on earth!
(But not the most urgent one! ^.^)
Dennise wrote:

Seed banks - like the Norwegian Svalbard bank - would be critically important. Success would of course depend on post collision atmosphere and soil conditions together with how long those adversities might persist. Still .... there'd be mass starvation as seed bank production would take months or perhaps even longer under even favorable atmospheric and soil conditions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svalbard_Global_Seed_Vault


Seed banks would be important to the recovery yes... but no matter how many seeds you have, you can't feed people if the plants won't grow.
milkshake01
If it happens 100 years later, we would probably not have the technology to survive. However, if it happens 1000 years later, technology might help us survive. A possible scenario is the evacuation of all humans on Earth. To get an idea of how technology will be in the future, compare the technology between 1912 and 2012 or 1012 and 2012.
zaxacongrejo
lol nice thread but we dont need nothing coming from the outside to extint us we will do it by ourselfs
because we are a planetary plage is just a question of when or how long
subhan1
It's mostly depends on the theories related to the extinction of Dinosaurs. but in this case I think Yes! they can survive but there will be big loss of population and modernization...
zaxacongrejo
they could survive to the strike right, an than what?
no sun light =very cold temps = no food = dead
wallarookiller
It really depends on how bad it really is. If we lose sunlight for hundreds/thousands of years food would be in very short supply and there would be a good chance of us dying off. But it's possible for us to continue, but as other said, there would be a lot less of us.
_AVG_
IMO, the best thing in such a scenario would be to prepare in advance i.e. if the meteor is detected well in advance then we could send out a missile or something into space to save the planet. Of course, if it does crash into earth then yes there will be few survivors who will have to "start from scratch". Nevertheless, they should be able to start rebuilding technology right away.
zaxacongrejo
wallarookiller wrote:
It really depends on how bad it really is. If we lose sunlight for hundreds/thousands of years food would be in very short supply and there would be a good chance of us dying off. But it's possible for us to continue, but as other said, there would be a lot less of us.


1 year is enought
jajarvin
Man lives on this earth until the sun runs out of energy.
ocalhoun
zaxacongrejo wrote:
wallarookiller wrote:
It really depends on how bad it really is. If we lose sunlight for hundreds/thousands of years food would be in very short supply and there would be a good chance of us dying off. But it's possible for us to continue, but as other said, there would be a lot less of us.


1 year is enought


To wipe out all humans? No, no it's not.

There are existing stockpiles of stored food (survivalists, distribution warehouses, farm silos, what have you) that could easily feed small groups (or even moderately large groups) of humans for over a year.
If some of those groups were forward-thinking enough to save some some seeds of edible plants, humans would likely survive a 1-year freeze.

(For a fun time, google 'the year without a summer' Mankind has already survived one similar (though less intense) disaster, and with much less technology.)
JoryRFerrell
We could preserve quite a bit of our current tech/knowledge with simple computer databases underground. We could even establish redundant emergency bases on the moon, which beam back the data, when needed, in whatever form necessary.

Currently a lot of research is being done on aquaculture/hydroponics. An entire, population of people
(with enough individuals to sustain genetic diversity), would conceivably be sustainable in vast underground colonies, spread throughout the world. There are people throwing around the idea of "reverse-skyscrapers". Building such structures, and manning them with all necessary provisions could be done years ahead of time, once we have warning of an approaching threat. Such structures could rely on enormous geo-thermal generators for power. Power, in turn, would allow us to process water and provide light for growth of flora and fauna.

In the case of a meteorite, the only thing that would remain to worry about is the considerable impact such a body would cause. Would an underground structure manage to survive a yucatan-sized impact, even if it took place on the opposite side of the globe? I don't know. Events like the extinction event 65million years ago can liquify large swaths of earths crust. People underground at the impact site would still be vaporized in such a nuclear-strength event, and the shifting of earths crust would be insanely powerful even on the opposite side of the world. I don't see how any of the resources we'd need to survive afterwards (namely food) would still be available anywhere on the globe above ground.
codegeek
The dinosaurs died because they were ill-equipped to face the changes in the atmosphere and their general habitat. There are many species, for example crocodiles, which adapted to the change and exist even today. Humans, in my view, are the most brilliant species when it comes to adaptation. While the dinosaurs were on the top of the food chain because of their size, we are on the top because of our brains and social structure. So, in my opinion, in case of any such calamity, humans will probably adapt and survive.
mzprox
Dinosaurs went extint in a long period of time, an asteroid event only helped it, maybe changed the climate and they could not adapt. Humans would surely not go extint from such an event, but if the sun were blocked for years due tu dust then probably most of us would die.

However if Earth meets a bigger asteorid, then it's a different story.. there are asteroids so huge there that they can make earth's surface molten again.. it could destroy every life including bacteria.
BigGeek
I personally think that some humans would survive a catastrophe like a comet or asteroid hitting the earth. However my opinion is that the more likely dooms day scenario is a solar flare that is directed toward our planet, not off to the side like most of them are.

FEMA has a plan on their website for this sort of an event and it is pretty scary. NO the movie about it burning up the planet is complete crap, but the real scenario is that it would take out the power grid world wide in one single event. In the US there is only 10% replacement of transformers available to repair the grid so the FEMA plan is to restore power to the hospitals and water facilities and everyone else is going to go without until the rest of the grid is repaired. They estimate up to 10 years to rebuild the grid.

This means no fuel for farming, no pumps at the gas stations running to get fuel. No power no refrigeration .... and the list goes on.

No one would actually die from the event, but the following loss of power and how long it would last means that millions would die from starvation and many other problems created by the instantaneous world wide collapse of the power grid.

One thing I didn't see in their plan was the need to restore power to the factories that make transformers for the grid. One would think that would be a priority in the plan Shocked
SonLight
BigGeek wrote:
I personally think that some humans would survive a catastrophe like a comet or asteroid hitting the earth. However my opinion is that the more likely dooms day scenario is a solar flare that is directed toward our planet, not off to the side like most of them are.

FEMA has a plan on their website for this sort of an event and it is pretty scary.

<snip>

No one would actually die from the event, but the following loss of power and how long it would last means that millions would die from starvation and many other problems created by the instantaneous world wide collapse of the power grid.

One thing I didn't see in their plan was the need to restore power to the factories that make transformers for the grid. One would think that would be a priority in the plan Shocked


As you imply but don't say explicitly, no imaginable solar flare would cause extermination of humans, but might reduce the population to a fraction of what it is today. A solar flare is an event that we could take precautionary actions in advance of. Since we see the flash before the main shock wave comes, we might consider shutting down many power lines temporarily, which would essentially make the flare harmless but inconvenient. It is good that issues like this are discussed, and I think it's proper for FEMA to imagine a worst-case scenario where we fail to protect ourselves. If the risk of such a flare is substantial, it might be worth stockpiling spare transformers as well.
spinout
The modern historians seem to have abandoned the meteorite collision as the cause, but anyhow, bad environment can be quite dangerous. I am talking about heavy radiation and japan is on the way towards that... Sad

But if you think on humans as a species, we have crashed many times before as a civilization and have to restart... So I think we survive but wouldn't it be interesting to actually not crash as a civilization?

Supposingly, humans have been more hi-tech before and still we have failed - right now we are going down again. We do not care, we do not care about the climate, I do not care too as a cause.

yes we survive a meteroite but anyhow we will not make it anyhow as a civilization in the long term!
GuidanceReader
If we manage to not kill ourselves off before such a disaster happens, then yeah, humans as a species probably would find a way to survive - providing the event wasn't severe enough to destroy ALL life on the planet.
Iceaxe0410
I'm a little skeptical that humans would survive a major meteor impact. Obviously anyone within the impact or radius would be annihilated. It's the after effects that would cause the most damage. Assuming the air would become a plume of dark clouds, the sun would literally be cloaked and plants and other life would die. Let's not forget what happened in Japan with their nuclear reactors. Imagine the earthquake and tsunamis such an impact would cause. That adds on even further problems such as structures like dams and levies breaking causing massive floods. A meteor impact can do a lot of damage. I think the only survivors would be insects and marine life.
Bikerman
Clearly it depends on the size of impact. We survive meteor impacts constantly - there are thousands of impacts every day, amounting to a mass of around 100 tonnes.
manongbob
we're all doomed....!!!!!!!! Shocked
zimmer
for sure human will survive.. human has a good instincts in survival.

If it happens then there world be difficult in living.. As of now its hard to live even without no meteor or supernatural happens what if that happens.. lol
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