Human extinction

Human extinction

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Human extinction is the end of the human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

. Various scenarios have been discussed in science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

, popular culture
Popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...

, and religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 (see End time). The scope of this article is existential risk
Existential risk
Existential risks are dangers that have the potential to destroy, or drastically restrict, human civilization. They are distinguished from other forms of risk both by their scope, affecting all of humanity, and severity; destroying or irreversibly crippling the target.Natural disasters, such as...

s. Humans are very widespread on the Earth, and live in communities
Community
The term community has two distinct meanings:*a group of interacting people, possibly living in close proximity, and often refers to a group that shares some common values, and is attributed with social cohesion within a shared geographical location, generally in social units larger than a household...

 which (whilst interconnected) are capable of some kind of basic survival in isolation. Therefore, pandemic and deliberate killing aside, to achieve human extinction, the entire planet would have to be rendered uninhabitable, with no opportunity provided or possible for humans to establish a foothold beyond earth. This would typically be during a mass extinction event, a precedent of which exists in the Permian–Triassic extinction event among other examples.

In the near future, one anthropogenic extinction scenario exists: global nuclear annihilation
Mutual assured destruction
Mutual Assured Destruction, or mutually assured destruction , is a doctrine of military strategy and national security policy in which a full-scale use of high-yield weapons of mass destruction by two opposing sides would effectively result in the complete, utter and irrevocable annihilation of...

; and two possible natural ones: bolide impact and large scale volcanism
Volcanism
Volcanism is the phenomenon connected with volcanoes and volcanic activity. It includes all phenomena resulting from and causing magma within the crust or mantle of a planet to rise through the crust and form volcanic rocks on the surface....

 or other catastrophic climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

. Both natural causes have occurred repeatedly in the geologic past and there is no reason to consider them unlikely in the future. As technology develops, there is a possibility that humans may be deliberately destroyed by the actions of a rogue state or individual in a form of global suicide attack
Suicide attack
A suicide attack is a type of attack in which the attacker expects or intends to die in the process.- Historical :...

, but this is balanced by the possibility that technological advancement may resolve or prevent potential extinction scenarios. Another scenario is the emergence of a pandemic of such virulence and infectiousness that very few humans survive the disease. While not actually a human extinction event, this may leave only very small, very scattered human populations that would then evolve in isolation. It is important to differentiate between human extinction and the extinction of all life on Earth. Of possible extinction events, only a pandemic is selective enough to eliminate humanity while leaving the rest of complex life on earth relatively unscathed.

Possible scenarios


Severe forms of known or recorded disasters

  • War
    War
    War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

    fare, whether nuclear
    Nuclear warfare
    Nuclear warfare, or atomic warfare, is a military conflict or political strategy in which nuclear weaponry is detonated on an opponent. Compared to conventional warfare, nuclear warfare can be vastly more destructive in range and extent of damage...

     or biological
    Biological warfare
    Biological warfare is the use of biological toxins or infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi with intent to kill or incapacitate humans, animals or plants as an act of war...

    , or conventional (although nuclear weapons and biological agents are likely to be used); see World War III
    World War III
    World War III denotes a successor to World War II that would be on a global scale, with common speculation that it would be likely nuclear and devastating in nature....

    .
  • Pandemic
    Pandemic
    A pandemic is an epidemic of infectious disease that is spreading through human populations across a large region; for instance multiple continents, or even worldwide. A widespread endemic disease that is stable in terms of how many people are getting sick from it is not a pandemic...

     involving an antibiotic
    Antibiotic
    An antibacterial is a compound or substance that kills or slows down the growth of bacteria.The term is often used synonymously with the term antibiotic; today, however, with increased knowledge of the causative agents of various infectious diseases, antibiotic has come to denote a broader range of...

    -resistant bacterium
    Bacteria
    Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

    , antifungal-resistant fungus
    Fungus
    A fungus is a member of a large group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds , as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, Fungi, which is separate from plants, animals, and bacteria...

    , prion
    Prion
    A prion is an infectious agent composed of protein in a misfolded form. This is in contrast to all other known infectious agents which must contain nucleic acids . The word prion, coined in 1982 by Stanley B. Prusiner, is a portmanteau derived from the words protein and infection...

    , or antiviral
    Antiviral drug
    Antiviral drugs are a class of medication used specifically for treating viral infections. Like antibiotics for bacteria, specific antivirals are used for specific viruses...

    -resistant virus
    Virus
    A virus is a small infectious agent that can replicate only inside the living cells of organisms. Viruses infect all types of organisms, from animals and plants to bacteria and archaea...

    . In practical terms this is unlikely as not all individuals and communities are likely to be exposed to a disease, and not all individuals die when exposed to infections.

Environmental collapses

  • Loss of a breathable atmosphere
    Earth's atmosphere
    The atmosphere of Earth is a layer of gases surrounding the planet Earth that is retained by Earth's gravity. The atmosphere protects life on Earth by absorbing ultraviolet solar radiation, warming the surface through heat retention , and reducing temperature extremes between day and night...

    , for example due to an anoxic event
    Anoxic event
    Oceanic anoxic events or anoxic events occur when the Earth's oceans become completely depleted of oxygen below the surface levels. Although anoxic events have not happened for millions of years, the geological record shows that they happened many times in the past. Anoxic events may have caused...

    .
  • Occurrence of a large-scale volcanism, possibly a supervolcano
    Supervolcano
    A supervolcano is a volcano capable of producing a volcanic eruption with an ejecta volume greater than 1,000 cubic kilometers . This is thousands of times larger than most historic volcanic eruptions. Supervolcanoes can occur when magma in the Earth rises into the crust from a hotspot but is...

     (250 million years ago, after the Permian-Triassic extinction event
    Permian-Triassic extinction event
    The Permian–Triassic extinction event, informally known as the Great Dying, was an extinction event that occurred 252.28 Ma ago, forming the boundary between the Permian and Triassic geologic periods, as well as the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras...

     life on land took 30 million years to recover).
  • Extreme ice age
    Ice age
    An ice age or, more precisely, glacial age, is a generic geological period of long-term reduction in the temperature of the Earth's surface and atmosphere, resulting in the presence or expansion of continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and alpine glaciers...

     leading to prolonged global drought . An ice age can be a result of a nuclear winter
    Nuclear winter
    Nuclear winter is a predicted climatic effect of nuclear war. It has been theorized that severely cold weather and reduced sunlight for a period of months or even years could be caused by detonating large numbers of nuclear weapons, especially over flammable targets such as cities, where large...

     or natural forces .
  • Loss of natural resources, such as mass deforestation
    Deforestation
    Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use....

     or contamination of all fresh water
    Fresh Water
    Fresh Water is the debut album by Australian rock and blues singer Alison McCallum, released in 1972. Rare for an Australian artist at the time, it came in a gatefold sleeve...

    .

Long-term habitat threats

  • Within a million years, the hypergiant
    Hypergiant
    A hypergiant is a star with a tremendous mass and luminosity, showing signs of a very high rate of mass loss.-Characteristics:...

     Eta Carinae, which is 7500 light years from the Sun, may go hypernova.
  • In 1.4 million years Gliese 710
    Gliese 710
    Gliese 710 is a variable orange dwarf star in the constellation Serpens Cauda, with visual magnitude 9.66 and a mass of 0.4–0.6 solar masses....

     will be only 1.1 light years from Earth and might catastrophically perturb the Oort cloud
    Oort cloud
    The Oort cloud , or the Öpik–Oort cloud , is a hypothesized spherical cloud of comets which may lie roughly 50,000 AU, or nearly a light-year, from the Sun. This places the cloud at nearly a quarter of the distance to Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the Sun...

    , possibly resulting in a comet shower.
  • In about 3 billion years, our Milky Way galaxy is expected to collide with the Andromeda galaxy
    Andromeda-Milky Way collision
    The collision seen from a hypothetical extragalactic planet. The galaxies will be at this relative angleThe Andromeda–Milky Way collision is a predicted galaxy collision that could possibly take place in approximately 3 to 5 billion years' time between the two largest galaxies in the Local...

    . Collisions of individual bodies will likely be scarce; however, the consequences for orbits of stars and planets are unclear, and impossible to predict for individual stellar systems.
  • In 5 billion years hence the Sun
    Sun
    The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

    's stellar evolution
    Stellar evolution
    Stellar evolution is the process by which a star undergoes a sequence of radical changes during its lifetime. Depending on the mass of the star, this lifetime ranges from only a few million years to trillions of years .Stellar evolution is not studied by observing the life of a single...

     will reach the red giant
    Red giant
    A red giant is a luminous giant star of low or intermediate mass in a late phase of stellar evolution. The outer atmosphere is inflated and tenuous, making the radius immense and the surface temperature low, somewhere from 5,000 K and lower...

     stage, in which it will expand and possibly engulf Earth. But before this happens it will already have changed Earth's climate and its radiated spectrum may alter in ways Earth-bound humans could not survive.

Evolution

  • Evolution
    Evolution
    Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

     of humanity into a posthuman life-form or existence
    Existence
    In common usage, existence is the world we are aware of through our senses, and that persists independently without them. In academic philosophy the word has a more specialized meaning, being contrasted with essence, which specifies different forms of existence as well as different identity...

     by means of technology
    Technology
    Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. The word technology comes ;...

    , leaving no trace of original humans. The chances of a genetic change of humanity to replace its ancestral predecessor is low in the short term, but possible over the course of millions of years.
  • Commentators such as Hans Moravec
    Hans Moravec
    Hans Moravec is an adjunct faculty member at the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University. He is known for his work on robotics, artificial intelligence, and writings on the impact of technology. Moravec also is a futurist with many of his publications and predictions focusing on...

     argue that humanity will eventually be supplanted and replaced by artificial intelligence
    Artificial intelligence
    Artificial intelligence is the intelligence of machines and the branch of computer science that aims to create it. AI textbooks define the field as "the study and design of intelligent agents" where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its...

     or other forms of artificial life
    Artificial life
    Artificial life is a field of study and an associated art form which examine systems related to life, its processes, and its evolution through simulations using computer models, robotics, and biochemistry. The discipline was named by Christopher Langton, an American computer scientist, in 1986...

    ; others such as Kevin Warwick
    Kevin Warwick
    Kevin Warwick is a British scientist and professor of cybernetics at the University of Reading, Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom...

     point to the possibility of humans evolving by linking with technology; while others have argued that humanity will inevitably experience a technological singularity
    Technological singularity
    Technological singularity refers to the hypothetical future emergence of greater-than-human intelligence through technological means. Since the capabilities of such an intelligence would be difficult for an unaided human mind to comprehend, the occurrence of a technological singularity is seen as...

    , and furthermore that this outcome is desirable (see singularitarianism
    Singularitarianism
    Singularitarianism is a technocentric ideology and social movement defined by the belief that a technological singularity—the creation of a superintelligence—will likely happen in the medium future, and that deliberate action ought to be taken to ensure that the Singularity benefits...

    ).
  • Transhumanist
    Transhumanism
    Transhumanism, often abbreviated as H+ or h+, is an international intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human...

     genetic engineering
    Genetic engineering
    Genetic engineering, also called genetic modification, is the direct human manipulation of an organism's genome using modern DNA technology. It involves the introduction of foreign DNA or synthetic genes into the organism of interest...

     could lead to a species unable to inter-procreate, accidentally resulting in actual (rather than pseudo
    Pseudoextinction
    Pseudoextinction of a species occurs where there are no more living members of that species, but members of a daughter species or subspecies remain alive. As all species must have an ancestor of a previous species, much of evolution is believed to occur through pseudoextinction...

    ) extinction. Isaac Asimov
    Isaac Asimov
    Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000...

    's The Last Question
    The Last Question
    "The Last Question" is a science fiction short story by Isaac Asimov. It first appeared in the November 1956 issue of Science Fiction Quarterly and was reprinted in the collections Nine Tomorrows , The Best of Isaac Asimov , Robot Dreams , the retrospective Opus 100 , and in Isaac Asimov: The...

    , Greg Bear
    Greg Bear
    Gregory Dale Bear is an American science fiction and mainstream author. His work has covered themes of galactic conflict , artificial universes , consciousness and cultural practices , and accelerated evolution...

    's Blood Music, and Arthur C. Clarke
    Arthur C. Clarke
    Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE, FRAS was a British science fiction author, inventor, and futurist, famous for his short stories and novels, among them 2001: A Space Odyssey, and as a host and commentator in the British television series Mysterious World. For many years, Robert A. Heinlein,...

    's Childhood's End
    Childhood's End
    Childhood's End is a 1953 science fiction novel by the British author Arthur C. Clarke. The story follows the peaceful alien invasion of Earth by the mysterious Overlords, whose arrival ends all war, helps form a world government, and turns the planet into a near-utopia...

    provide diversions on this theme.
  • Evolution
    Evolution
    Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

     of humanity into another hominid species. Humans will continue to evolve via traditional natural selection over a period of millions of years, and homo sapiens will gradually transition into one or more new species. This mechanism for the extinction of Homo sapiens would, however, require that regional interbreeding ceases for tens of thousands of years.
  • Dysgenics
    Dysgenics
    Dysgenics is the study of factors producing the accumulation and perpetuation of defective or disadvantageous genes and traits in offspring of a particular population or species. Dysgenic mutations have been studied in animals such as the mouse and the fruit fly...

     among humanity resulting in a less intelligent species. (See Idiocracy
    Idiocracy
    Idiocracy is a 2006 American film, a satirical science fiction comedy, directed by Mike Judge and starring Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard, and Terry Crews....

    .)
  • Evolution of another species that out-competes humans for food, habitat or hunts as prey.

Population decline



  • Preference for fewer children; if developed world demographics
    Demographics
    Demographics are the most recent statistical characteristics of a population. These types of data are used widely in sociology , public policy, and marketing. Commonly examined demographics include gender, race, age, disabilities, mobility, home ownership, employment status, and even location...

     are extrapolated they mathematically lead to 'soft' extinction before 3000 CE. (John A. Leslie
    John A. Leslie
    John Andrew Leslie is a Canadian philosopher. He was educated at Wadham College, Oxford, earning his B.A. in English Literature in 1962 and his M.Litt. in Classics in 1968...

     estimates that if the reproduction rate drops to the German
    Germany
    Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

     level the extinction date will be 2400.)
  • Political intervention in reproduction has failed to raise the birth rate above the replacement level in the rich world, but has dramatically succeeded in lowering it below the replacement level in China
    China
    Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

    (see One child policy). A World government
    World government
    World government is the notion of a single common political authority for all of humanity. Its modern conception is rooted in European history, particularly in the philosophy of ancient Greece, in the political formation of the Roman Empire, and in the subsequent struggle between secular authority,...

     with a eugenic or small population policy could send humanity into 'voluntary' extinction.
  • Infertility
    Infertility
    Infertility primarily refers to the biological inability of a person to contribute to conception. Infertility may also refer to the state of a woman who is unable to carry a pregnancy to full term...

    : Caused by hormonal
    Hormone
    A hormone is a chemical released by a cell or a gland in one part of the body that sends out messages that affect cells in other parts of the organism. Only a small amount of hormone is required to alter cell metabolism. In essence, it is a chemical messenger that transports a signal from one...

     disruption from the chemical/pharmaceutical industries, or biological
    Biological process
    A biological process is a process of a living organism. Biological processes are made up of any number of chemical reactions or other events that results in a transformation....

     changes, such as the (controversial) findings of falling sperm cell
    Spermatozoon
    A spermatozoon is a motile sperm cell, or moving form of the haploid cell that is the male gamete. A spermatozoon joins an ovum to form a zygote...

     count in human males. (See The Children of Men
    The Children of Men
    The Children of Men is a dystopian novel by P. D. James that was published in 1992. Set in England in 2021, it centres on the results of mass infertility...

    (novel) or Children of Men
    Children of Men
    Children of Men is a 2006 science fiction film loosely adapted from P. D. James's 1992 novel The Children of Men, directed by Alfonso Cuarón. In 2027, two decades of human infertility have left society on the brink of collapse. Illegal immigrants seek sanctuary in England, where the last...

    (film).)
  • A disruption, chemical, biological, or otherwise, in humans' ability to reproduce properly or at all.
  • Voluntary extinction
    Voluntary Human Extinction Movement
    The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, or VHEMT , is a movement which calls for the voluntary gradual self-extinction of the human species through abstaining from reproduction. VHEMT's motto is "May we live long and die out."...

    , activists may strive for this form of extinction.

Scientific accidents

  • In his book Our Final Hour
    Our Final Hour
    Our Final Hour is a 2003 book by the British Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees. The full title of the book is Our Final Hour: A Scientist's Warning: How Terror, Error, and Environmental Disaster Threaten Humankind's Future In This Century - On Earth and Beyond...

    , Sir Martin Rees claims that without the appropriate regulation, scientific advancement increases the risk of human extinction as a result of the effects or use of new technology. Some examples are provided below.
    • Uncontrolled nanotechnology (grey goo
      Grey goo
      Grey goo is a hypothetical end-of-the-world scenario involving molecular nanotechnology in which out-of-control self-replicating robots consume all matter on Earth while building more of themselves, a scenario known as ecophagy .Self-replicating machines of the macroscopic variety were originally...

      ) incidents resulting in the destruction of the Earth's ecosystem (ecophagy
      Ecophagy
      Ecophagy is a term coined by Robert Freitas that means the literal consuming of an ecosystem. It derives from the Greek "οικος" or Late Latin "oeco-", which refers to a "house" or "household", and Greek φᾰγεῖν phagein "to eat"...

      ).
    • Creation of a "micro black hole
      Micro black hole
      Micro black holes are tiny black holes, also called quantum mechanical black holes or mini black holes, for which quantum mechanical effects play an important role....

      " on Earth during the course of a scientific experiment, or other foreseeable scientific accidents in high-energy physics research, such as vacuum phase transition or strangelet
      Strangelet
      A strangelet is a hypothetical particle consisting of a bound state of roughly equal numbers of up, down, and strange quarks. Its size would be a minimum of a few femtometres across . Once the size becomes macroscopic , such an object is usually called a quark star or "strange star" rather than a...

       incidents. There were worries concerning the Large Hadron Collider
      Large Hadron Collider
      The Large Hadron Collider is the world's largest and highest-energy particle accelerator. It is expected to address some of the most fundamental questions of physics, advancing the understanding of the deepest laws of nature....

       at CERN
      CERN
      The European Organization for Nuclear Research , known as CERN , is an international organization whose purpose is to operate the world's largest particle physics laboratory, which is situated in the northwest suburbs of Geneva on the Franco–Swiss border...

       as it is feared that collision of protons at a speed near the speed of light will result in the creation of a black hole, but it has been pointed out that much more energetic collisions take place currently in Earth's atmosphere.
    • The world's food supply being threatened and extinguished as a result of scientific tampering, due to genetic engineering encouraging more prevalent plant diseases, or the interference of pesticides contributing to the destruction of crops due to the effect on bees (See colony collapse disorder
      Colony Collapse Disorder
      Colony collapse disorder is a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive or European honey bee colony abruptly disappear. While such disappearances have occurred throughout the history of apiculture, the term colony collapse disorder was first applied to a drastic rise in the number of...

      .)

Scenarios of extraterrestrial origin

  • Major impact event
    Impact event
    An impact event is the collision of a large meteorite, asteroid, comet, or other celestial object with the Earth or another planet. Throughout recorded history, hundreds of minor impact events have been reported, with some occurrences causing deaths, injuries, property damage or other significant...

    s.
  • If a rogue black hole
    Black hole
    A black hole is a region of spacetime from which nothing, not even light, can escape. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass will deform spacetime to form a black hole. Around a black hole there is a mathematically defined surface called an event horizon that...

     passed near the Sun, it could disrupt Earth's orbit. (See "A Pail of Air
    A Pail of Air
    "A Pail of Air" is a science fiction short story by Fritz Leiber which appeared in the December 1951 issue of Galaxy Magazine and was dramatized on the radio show X Minus One in March 1956.-Plot:...

    ".)
  • Gamma-ray burst in our part of the Milky Way
    Milky Way
    The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains the Solar System. This name derives from its appearance as a dim un-resolved "milky" glowing band arching across the night sky...

    . (Bursts observable in other galaxies are calculated to act as a "sterilizer", and have been used by some astronomer
    Astronomer
    An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars and galaxies.Historically, astronomy was more concerned with the classification and description of phenomena in the sky, while astrophysics attempted to explain these phenomena and the differences between them using...

    s to explain the Fermi paradox
    Fermi paradox
    The Fermi paradox is the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the lack of evidence for, or contact with, such civilizations....

    .) The lack of fossil record interruptions, and relative distance of the nearest Hypernova
    Hypernova
    Hypernova , also known as a type 1c Supernova, refers to an incredibly large star that collapses at the end of its lifespan...

     candidate make this a long term (rather than imminent) threat.
    • Wolf-Rayet star
      Wolf-Rayet star
      Wolf–Rayet stars are evolved, massive stars , which are losing mass rapidly by means of a very strong stellar wind, with speeds up to 2000 km/s...

       WR 104
      WR 104
      WR 104 is a Wolf-Rayet star discovered in 1998, located 8,000 light years from Earth. It is a binary star with a class OB companion. The stars have an orbital period of 220 days and the interaction between their stellar winds produce a spiral "pinwheel" outflow pattern over 200 astronomical units...

      , which is 8000 light years from the Sun, may produce a gamma ray burst aimed at the Sun when it goes supernova.
  • Invasion
    Invasion
    An invasion is a military offensive consisting of all, or large parts of the armed forces of one geopolitical entity aggressively entering territory controlled by another such entity, generally with the objective of either conquering, liberating or re-establishing control or authority over a...

     by militarily superior aliens (see alien invasion
    Alien invasion
    The alien invasion is a common theme in science fiction stories and film, in which extraterrestrial life invades Earth either to exterminate and supplant human life, enslave it under a colonial system, harvest humans for food, steal the planet's resources, or destroy the planet altogether.The...

    ) — often considered to be a scenario purely from the realms of science fiction
    Science fiction
    Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

    , professional SETI researchers
    SETI
    The search for extraterrestrial intelligence is the collective name for a number of activities people undertake to search for intelligent extraterrestrial life. Some of the most well known projects are run by the SETI Institute. SETI projects use scientific methods to search for intelligent life...

     have given serious consideration to this possibility, but conclude that it is unlikely.
  • Gerard O'Neill
    Gerard O'Neill
    Gerard Kitchen O'Neill was an American physicist and space activist. As a faculty member of Princeton University, he invented a device called the particle storage ring for high-energy physics experiments. Later, he invented a magnetic launcher called the mass driver...

     has cautioned that first contact
    First contact (science fiction)
    First contact is a common science fiction theme about the first meeting between humans and extraterrestrial life, or of any sentient race's first encounter with another one....

     with alien intelligence may follow the precedent set by historical examples of contact between human civilizations, where the less technologically-advanced civilization has inevitably succumbed to the other civilization, regardless of its intentions.
  • Solar flare
    Solar flare
    A solar flare is a sudden brightening observed over the Sun surface or the solar limb, which is interpreted as a large energy release of up to 6 × 1025 joules of energy . The flare ejects clouds of electrons, ions, and atoms through the corona into space. These clouds typically reach Earth a day...

    s may suddenly heat the earth, or the light from the sun may be blocked by dust, slowly freezing it (e.g. the dust and vapour may come from a Kuiper belt
    Kuiper belt
    The Kuiper belt , sometimes called the Edgeworth–Kuiper belt, is a region of the Solar System beyond the planets extending from the orbit of Neptune to approximately 50 AU from the Sun. It is similar to the asteroid belt, although it is far larger—20 times as wide and 20 to 200 times as massive...

     disturbance).
  • A vacuum phase transition
    False vacuum
    In quantum field theory, a false vacuum is a metastable sector of space that appears to be a perturbative vacuum, but is unstable due to instanton effects that may tunnel to a lower energy state. This tunneling can be caused by quantum fluctuations or the creation of high-energy particles...

     could destroy the universe.
  • Biological contamination
    Back-contamination
    Back-contamination is the informal but widely employed name for the hypothetical introduction of microbial extraterrestrial organisms into Earth's biosphere. It is assumed that any such contact will be disruptive or at least have consequences over which human beings will have little control...

     upon contact with extraterrestrial life.

Attitudes to human extinction


Attitudes to human extinction vary widely depending on beliefs concerning spiritual
Spirituality
Spirituality can refer to an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop...

 survival (souls, heaven, reincarnation
Reincarnation
Reincarnation best describes the concept where the soul or spirit, after the death of the body, is believed to return to live in a new human body, or, in some traditions, either as a human being, animal or plant...

, and so forth), the value of the human species, whether the human species evolves individually or collectively, and many other factors. Many religions prophesy an "end times
End times
The end time, end times, or end of days is a time period described in the eschatological writings in the three Abrahamic religions and in doomsday scenarios in various other non-Abrahamic religions...

" to the universe
Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

. Human extinction is therefore a part of the faith
Faith
Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing, or a belief that is not based on proof. In religion, faith is a belief in a transcendent reality, a religious teacher, a set of teachings or a Supreme Being. Generally speaking, it is offered as a means by which the truth of the proposition,...

 of many humans to the extent that the end time means the absolute end of their physical humanity but perhaps not an eternal soul.

However not all faiths connect human extinction to the end times, since some believe in cyclical regeneration, or that end times actually means the beginning of a new kind of existence (see eschatology
Eschatology
Eschatology is a part of theology, philosophy, and futurology concerned with what are believed to be the final events in history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity, commonly referred to as the end of the world or the World to Come...

 and utopianism).

Perception of human extinction risk


The general level of fear about human extinction, in the near term, is very low, despite the pronouncements of some fringe groups. It is not an outcome considered by many as a credible risk. Suggested reasons for human extinction's low public visibility:
  1. There have been countless prophecies of extinction throughout history; in all cases the predicted date of doom has passed without much notice, making future warnings less frightening
    Cry Wolf
    Cry_Wolf is a 2005 American horror/slasher murder mystery directed by Jeff Wadlow after he won $1,000,000 at the 2002 Chrysler Million Dollar Film Festival.-Plot:...

    . However, a survivor bias would undercut the credibility of accurate extinction warnings. John von Neumann
    John von Neumann
    John von Neumann was a Hungarian-American mathematician and polymath who made major contributions to a vast number of fields, including set theory, functional analysis, quantum mechanics, ergodic theory, geometry, fluid dynamics, economics and game theory, computer science, numerical analysis,...

     was probably wrong in having “a certainty” that nuclear war would occur; but our survival is not proof that the chance of a fatal nuclear exchange was low (or indeed that such an event could not occur in the future).
  2. Extinction scenarios (see below) are speculative, and hard to quantify. A frequentist approach to probability cannot be used to assess the danger of an event that has never been observed by humans.
  3. Nick Bostrom
    Nick Bostrom
    Nick Bostrom is a Swedish philosopher at the University of Oxford known for his work on existential risk and the anthropic principle. He holds a PhD from the London School of Economics...

    , head of the James Martin 21st Century School Future of Humanity Institute
    Future of Humanity Institute
    The Future of Humanity Institute is part of the Faculty of Philosophy and the James Martin 21st Century School at University of Oxford, England...

    , has suggested that extinction risk-analysis may be an overlooked field because it is both too psychologically troublesome a subject area to be attractive to potential researchers and because the lack of previous human species extinction events leads a depressed view of the likelihood of it happening under changing future circumstances (an 'inverse survivorship bias
    Survivorship bias
    Survivorship bias is the logical error of concentrating on the people or things that "survived" some process and inadvertently overlooking those that didn't because of their lack of visibility. This can lead to false conclusions in several different ways...

    ').
  4. There are thousands of public safety
    Public Safety
    Public safety involves the prevention of and protection from events that could endanger the safety of the general public from significant danger, injury/harm, or damage, such as crimes or disasters .-See also:* By nation...

     jobs dedicated to analyzing and reducing the risks of individual death. There are no full-time existential safety commissioners partly because there is no way to tell if they are doing a good job, and no way to punish them for failure. The inability to judge performance might also explain the comparative governmental apathy on preventing human extinction (as compared to panda
    Panda
    Panda or Panda bear most often refers to:*Giant panda, an animal in the Bear familyPanda may also refer to:*Red panda, the only living member in the Ailuridae family-In biology:* Species related to the Giant panda...

     extinction, say).
  5. Some anthropologists
    Anthropology
    Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

     believe that risk perception is biased by social structure; in the "Cultural Theory of risk
    Cultural Theory of risk
    The Cultural Theory of risk, often referred to simply as Cultural Theory , consists of a conceptual framework and an associated body of empirical studies that seek to explain societal conflict over risk...

    " typography "individualist" societies predispose members to the belief that nature operates as a self-correcting system, which will return to its stable state after a disturbance. People in such cultures feel comfortable with a "trial-and-error" approach to risk, even to unsuitably rare dangers (such as extinction events).
  6. It is possible to do something about dietary or motor-vehicle health threats. Since it is much harder to know how existential threats should be minimized, they tend to be ignored. High technology societies tend to become "hierarchist" or "fatalist" in their attitudes to the ever-multiplying risks threatening them. In either case, the average member of society adopts a passive attitude to risk minimization, culturally, and psychologically
    Psychology
    Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

    .
  7. The bias in popular culture is to relate extinction scenario stories with non-extinction outcomes. (None of the 16 'most notable' WW3 scenarios in film are resolved by human extinction, for example.)
  8. The threat of nuclear annihilation actually was a daily concern in the lives of many people in the 1960s and 1970s. Since then the principal fear has been of localized terrorist
    Terrorism
    Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

     attack, rather than a global war of extinction; contemplating human extinction may be out of fashion.
  9. Some people have philosophical reasons for doubting the possibility of human extinction, for instance the final anthropic principle, plenitude principle
    Plenitude principle
    The plenitude principle or principle of plenitude asserts that everything that can happen will happen.The historian of ideas Arthur Lovejoy was the first to discuss this philosophically important Principle explicitly, it back to Aristotle, who said that no possibilities which remain eternally...

     or intrinsic finality
    Intrinsic finality
    Intrinsic finality is the idea that there is a natural good for all beings, and that all beings have a natural tendency to pursue their own good. It is an underlying principle of both teleology and moral objectivism...

    .
  10. Tversky
    Amos Tversky
    Amos Nathan Tversky, was a cognitive and mathematical psychologist, a pioneer of cognitive science, a longtime collaborator of Daniel Kahneman, and a key figure in the discovery of systematic human cognitive bias and handling of risk. Much of his early work concerned the foundations of measurement...

     and Kahneman
    Daniel Kahneman
    Daniel Kahneman is an Israeli-American psychologist and Nobel laureate. He is notable for his work on the psychology of judgment and decision-making, behavioral economics and hedonic psychology....

     have produced evidence
    Experimental economics
    Experimental economics is the application of experimental methods to study economic questions. Data collected in experiments are used to estimate effect size, test the validity of economic theories, and illuminate market mechanisms. Economic experiments usually use cash to motivate subjects, in...

     that humans suffer cognitive bias
    Cognitive bias
    A cognitive bias is a pattern of deviation in judgment that occurs in particular situations. Implicit in the concept of a "pattern of deviation" is a standard of comparison; this may be the judgment of people outside those particular situations, or may be a set of independently verifiable...

    es which would tend to minimize the perception of this unprecedented event:
    1. Denial is a negative "availability heuristic
      Availability heuristic
      The availability heuristic is a phenomenon in which people predict the frequency of an event, or a proportion within a population, based on how easily an example can be brought to mind....

      " shown to occur when an outcome is so upsetting that the very act of thinking about it leads to an increased refusal to believe it might occur. In this case, imagining
      Imagination
      Imagination, also called the faculty of imagining, is the ability of forming mental images, sensations and concepts, in a moment when they are not perceived through sight, hearing or other senses...

       human extinction probably makes it seem less likely.
    2. In cultures where human extinction is not expected the proposition must overcome the "disconfirmation bias" against heterodox theories.
    3. Another reliable psychological
      Psychology
      Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

       effect relevant here is the "positive outcome bias".
    4. Behavioural finance has strong evidence that recent evidence is given undue significance in risk analysis
      Risk analysis (Business)
      Risk analysis is a technique to identify and assess factors that may jeopardize the success of a project or achieving a goal.This technique also helps to define preventive measures to reduce the probability of these factors from occurring and identify countermeasures to successfully deal with these...

      . Roughly speaking, "100 year storms" tend to occur every twenty years in the stock market
      Stock market
      A stock market or equity market is a public entity for the trading of company stock and derivatives at an agreed price; these are securities listed on a stock exchange as well as those only traded privately.The size of the world stock market was estimated at about $36.6 trillion...

       as traders become convinced that the current good times will last forever. Doomsayers who hypothesize rare crisis-scenarios
      Stock market crash
      A stock market crash is a sudden dramatic decline of stock prices across a significant cross-section of a stock market, resulting in a significant loss of paper wealth. Crashes are driven by panic as much as by underlying economic factors...

       are dismissed even when they have statistical evidence behind them. An extreme form of this bias can diminish the subjective probability of the unprecedented.


In general, humanity's sense of self preservation
Self preservation
Self-preservation is behavior that ensures the survival of an organism. It is universal among living organisms. In some vertebrates, pain and fear are parts of this mechanism. Pain causes discomfort so that the organism is inclined to stop the pain...

, and intelligence are considered to offer safe-guards against extinction. It is felt that people will find creative
Creativity
Creativity refers to the phenomenon whereby a person creates something new that has some kind of value. What counts as "new" may be in reference to the individual creator, or to the society or domain within which the novelty occurs...

 ways to overcome potential threats, and will take care of the precautionary principle
Precautionary principle
The precautionary principle or precautionary approach states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those...

 in attempting dangerous innovations. The arguments against this are; firstly, that the management of destructive technology is becoming difficult, and secondly, that the precautionary principle is often abandoned whenever the reward appears to outweigh the risk. At least one instance where the principle may have been overruled was when prior to the Trinity
Trinity test
Trinity was the code name of the first test of a nuclear weapon. This test was conducted by the United States Army on July 16, 1945, in the Jornada del Muerto desert about 35 miles southeast of Socorro, New Mexico, at the new White Sands Proving Ground, which incorporated the Alamogordo Bombing...

 nuclear test, one of the project's scientists (Teller
Edward Teller
Edward Teller was a Hungarian-American theoretical physicist, known colloquially as "the father of the hydrogen bomb," even though he did not care for the title. Teller made numerous contributions to nuclear and molecular physics, spectroscopy , and surface physics...

) speculated that the fission
Nuclear fission
In nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry, nuclear fission is a nuclear reaction in which the nucleus of an atom splits into smaller parts , often producing free neutrons and photons , and releasing a tremendous amount of energy...

 explosion might destroy New Mexico and possibly the world, by causing a reaction in the nitrogen of the atmosphere. A calculation by Hans Bethe
Hans Bethe
Hans Albrecht Bethe was a German-American nuclear physicist, and Nobel laureate in physics for his work on the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis. A versatile theoretical physicist, Bethe also made important contributions to quantum electrodynamics, nuclear physics, solid-state physics and...

 proved such a possibility theoretically impossible, but the fear of the possibility remained among some until the test took place.

Observations about human extinction


The fact that the vast majority of the species that have existed on Earth have become extinct, has led to the suggestion that all species have a finite lifespan and thus human extinction would be inevitable. Dave Raup and Jack Sepkoski found for example a twenty-six-million-year periodicity in elevated extinction rates, caused by factors unknown (See David M. Raup
David M. Raup
David M. Raup is a University of Chicago paleontologist. Raup studied the fossil record and the diversity of life on Earth. Raup contributed to the knowledge of extinction events along with his colleague Jack Sepkoski...

. "Extinction: Bad Genes or Bad Luck" (1992, Norton). Based upon evidence of past extinction rates Raup and others have suggested that the average longevity of an invertebrate species is between 4-6 million years, while that of vertebrates seems to be 2-4 million years. The shorter period of survival for mammals lies in their position further up the food chain than many invertebrates, and therefore an increased liability to suffer the effects of environmental change. A counter-argument to this is that humans are unique in their adaptive and technological capabilities, so it is not possible to draw reliable inferences about the probability of human extinction based on the past extinctions of other species. Certainly, the evidence collected by Raup and others suggested that generalist, geographically dispersed species, like humans, generally have a lower rate of extinction than those species that require a particular habitat. In addition, the human species is probably the only species with a conscious prior knowledge of their own demise, and therefore would be likely to take steps to avoid it.

Humans are very similar to other primate
Primate
A primate is a mammal of the order Primates , which contains prosimians and simians. Primates arose from ancestors that lived in the trees of tropical forests; many primate characteristics represent adaptations to life in this challenging three-dimensional environment...

s in their propensity towards intra-species violence
Violence
Violence is the use of physical force to apply a state to others contrary to their wishes. violence, while often a stand-alone issue, is often the culmination of other kinds of conflict, e.g...

; Jared Diamond
Jared Diamond
Jared Mason Diamond is an American scientist and author whose work draws from a variety of fields. He is currently Professor of Geography and Physiology at UCLA...

's The Third Chimpanzee
The Third Chimpanzee
The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal is a wide-ranging book by Jared Diamond, professor of geography and physiology at the University of California, Los Angeles , which applies insights from biology, anthropology, and linguistics to questions such as why one species...

 (ISBN 0-09-980180-9) estimates that 64% of hunter-gather societies engage in warfare every two years. Although it has been argued (e.g. in the UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 Seville Statement) that warfare is a cultural artifact, many anthropologists
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

dispute this, noting that small human tribes exhibit similar patterns of violence to chimpanzee
Chimpanzee
Chimpanzee, sometimes colloquially chimp, is the common name for the two extant species of ape in the genus Pan. The Congo River forms the boundary between the native habitat of the two species:...

 groups, the most murderous of the primates, and one of two of our nearest living genetic
Genetics
Genetics , a discipline of biology, is the science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms....

 relatives. The "higher" functions of reason and speech are more developed in the brain of Homo sapiens
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

than other primates, but the relative size of the limbic system
Limbic system
The limbic system is a set of brain structures including the hippocampus, amygdala, anterior thalamic nuclei, septum, limbic cortex and fornix, which seemingly support a variety of functions including emotion, behavior, long term memory, and olfaction. The term "limbic" comes from the Latin...

 is a constant in ape
Ape
Apes are Old World anthropoid mammals, more specifically a clade of tailless catarrhine primates, belonging to the biological superfamily Hominoidea. The apes are native to Africa and South-east Asia, although in relatively recent times humans have spread all over the world...

s, monkey
Monkey
A monkey is a primate, either an Old World monkey or a New World monkey. There are about 260 known living species of monkey. Many are arboreal, although there are species that live primarily on the ground, such as baboons. Monkeys are generally considered to be intelligent. Unlike apes, monkeys...

s, and human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

s. The combination of inventiveness and urge to violence in humans has been cited
Citation
Broadly, a citation is a reference to a published or unpublished source . More precisely, a citation is an abbreviated alphanumeric expression Broadly, a citation is a reference to a published or unpublished source (not always the original source). More precisely, a citation is an abbreviated...

 as evidence against its long term survival.

Omnicide


Omnicide is human extinction as a result of human action. Most commonly it refers to extinction through nuclear warfare
Nuclear warfare
Nuclear warfare, or atomic warfare, is a military conflict or political strategy in which nuclear weaponry is detonated on an opponent. Compared to conventional warfare, nuclear warfare can be vastly more destructive in range and extent of damage...

, but it can also apply to extinction through means such as global anthropogenic ecological catastrophe
Environmental disaster
An environmental disaster is a disaster to the natural environment due to human activity. It should not be confused with the separate concept of a natural disaster.-History:...

.

Omnicide can be considered a subcategory of genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

. Using the concept in this way, one can argue, for example, that:
As this claim illustrates, the concept of omnicide raises issues of human agency
Human agency
In philosophy and sociology, agency is the capacity of an agent to act in a world. In philosophy, the agency is considered as belonging to that agent even if that agent represents a fictitious character, or some other non-existent entity...

 and, hence, of moral responsibility
Moral responsibility
Moral responsibility usually refers to the idea that a person has moral obligations in certain situations. Disobeying moral obligations, then, becomes grounds for justified punishment. Deciding what justifies punishment, if anything, is a principle concern of ethics.People who have moral...

 in discussions about large-scale social processes like the nuclear arms race
Nuclear arms race
The nuclear arms race was a competition for supremacy in nuclear warfare between the United States, the Soviet Union, and their respective allies during the Cold War...

 or ecologically destructive industrial production. That is, part of the point of describing a human extinction scenario as 'omnicidal' is to note that, if it were to happen, it would result not just from natural, uncontrollable evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

ary forces, or from some random catastrophe like an asteroid impact, but from deliberate choices made by human beings. This implies that such scenarios are preventable, and that the people whose choices make them more likely to happen should be held morally accountable for such choices. In this context, the label 'omnicide' also works to de-normalize
Normalization (sociology)
Normalization refers to social processes through which ideas and actions come to be seen as "normal" and become taken-for-granted or 'natural' in everyday life. In sociological theory normalization appears in two forms....

 the course of action it is applied to.

Omnicide also refers to the destruction of everything.

In popular culture


The book The World Without Us
The World Without Us
The World Without Us is a non-fiction book about what would happen to the natural and built environment if humans suddenly disappeared, written by American journalist Alan Weisman and published by St. Martin's Thomas Dunne Books. It is a book-length expansion of Weisman's own February 2005 Discover...

by Alan Weisman
Alan Weisman
Alan H. Weisman is an American author, professor, and journalist.- Education and career :Weisman holds both a bachelor's and master's degree in literature from Northwestern University...

 deals with a thought experiment
Thought experiment
A thought experiment or Gedankenexperiment considers some hypothesis, theory, or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences...

 on what would happen to the planet and especially human-made infrastructures if humans suddenly disappeared. The Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel is an American satellite and cable specialty channel , founded by John Hendricks and distributed by Discovery Communications. It is a publicly traded company run by CEO David Zaslav...

 documentary miniseries The Future Is Wild
The Future is Wild
The Future Is Wild was a 2002 seven-part documentary television miniseries. Based on research and interviews with several scientists, the miniseries shows how life could evolve in the future if Homo sapiens became extinct; the Discovery Channel broadcast changed this outlook by stating the human...

shows the possible future of evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

 on Earth without humans. The History Channel's special Life After People
Life After People
Life After People is a television documentary series where scientists and other experts speculate about what the Earth might be like if humanity no longer existed, as well as the impact humanity's disappearance might have on the environment and the artificial aspects of civilization...

examines the possible future of life on Earth without humans, and was made into a series of the same name. The National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel, also commercially abbreviated and trademarked as Nat Geo, is a subscription television channel that airs non-fiction television programs produced by the National Geographic Society. Like History and the Discovery Channel, the channel features documentaries with factual...

's special Aftermath: Population Zero
Aftermath: Population Zero
Aftermath: Population Zero is a two-hour Canadian special documentary film that premiered on Sunday, March 9, 2008 on the National Geographic Channel...

envisions what the world be like if all humans suddenly disappeared. The British science-fiction drama Primeval
Primeval
Primeval or primæval may refer to:* Primeval, a British science fiction television series.* Primeval , a 2007 film* Primeval , a score of music from the BBC TV series Doctor Who...

also puts forward an alternative view of Earth after the extinction of humans: how other species of animals, such as rodents and insects will evolve to fill niches left by humans.

See also

  • Doomsday event
    Doomsday event
    A doomsday event is a specific, plausibly verifiable or hypothetical occurrence which has an exceptionally destructive effect on the human race...

  • Extinction
    Extinction
    In biology and ecology, extinction is the end of an organism or of a group of organisms , normally a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species, although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point...

  • Extinction event
    Extinction event
    An extinction event is a sharp decrease in the diversity and abundance of macroscopic life. They occur when the rate of extinction increases with respect to the rate of speciation...

  • Holocene extinction event
    Holocene extinction event
    The Holocene extinction refers to the extinction of species during the present Holocene epoch . The large number of extinctions span numerous families of plants and animals including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and arthropods; a sizeable fraction of these extinctions are occurring in the...

  • Mutual assured destruction
    Mutual assured destruction
    Mutual Assured Destruction, or mutually assured destruction , is a doctrine of military strategy and national security policy in which a full-scale use of high-yield weapons of mass destruction by two opposing sides would effectively result in the complete, utter and irrevocable annihilation of...

  • 2012 phenomenon
    2012 phenomenon
    The 2012 phenomenon comprises a range of eschatological beliefs that cataclysmic or transformative events will occur on December 21, 2012. This date is regarded as the end-date of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar...

     (Numerologically derived eschatology
    Eschatology
    Eschatology is a part of theology, philosophy, and futurology concerned with what are believed to be the final events in history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity, commonly referred to as the end of the world or the World to Come...

    , with arbitrary extinction mechanism.)
  • Risks to civilization, humans and planet Earth
    Risks to civilization, humans and planet Earth
    Various existential risks could threaten humankind as a whole, have adverse consequences for the course of human civilization, or even cause the end of planet Earth.-Types of risks:...

  • Space and survival
    Space and survival
    Space and survival is the relationship between outer space and the long-term survival of the human species and civilization. Its investigation is justified by the fact that space colonization and space science could prevent many human extinction scenarios...

  • Voluntary Human Extinction Movement
    Voluntary Human Extinction Movement
    The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, or VHEMT , is a movement which calls for the voluntary gradual self-extinction of the human species through abstaining from reproduction. VHEMT's motto is "May we live long and die out."...


Further reading