Canidates for Earliest PoD Leading to Our Extinction

Disclaimer: Some of the answers might go into prehistory, though probably only within the existence of Homo Sapiens thus not touching on evolution. Therefore, I strongly believe this is the right place for this. One or two answers might surprise me. My suggestion is to treat this question like those that straddle the border of 1900, for example Nicholas the 2nd marries someone else, even though many consequences might come in WW2.

Basically, I think about 95% of the answers belong here, therefore, I'm putting it here.

Question: It is reasonably likely our species will go extinct within the next century or three. How likely is another debate, (save it), but I think everyone would fit in the range of something between 10% possiblity to "we are so fucked". So just take it as reasonable. Assume this happens for the sake of this argument. What points that have already happened which could be pointed to as the beginning of the end. Some examples I could think of:

Human-caused extinction of certain "Keystone Species": probably the earliest being the Mammoths. Yeah, it hasn't killed us yet, but it was the end of the Mammoth Steppe, seems to effect carbon levels and just maybe someone could come up with an argument going back that far arguing for a 'slow killer'. This is one I see as people pointing at mostly as climate change as looking for excuses. Yeah, it was our "oops, oh well, pass the barbecue rub".

Advent of Agriculture and/or Herding: Population sizes increase substantially, straining the environment.

Post-Columbian interchange: Contact between the Americas led to diseases having a field day, but also the spread of New World Crops and the start of the increase in human survival.

Industrial Revolution: Huge increase Carbon footprint.

Increasing lethality of War: Self explainitory. Many would say the Atomic bomb is the tipping point on this one.

Green Revolution: Allowed for the massive increase in population, where we were straining the natural barriers, pouring nitrates into the oceans etc.

I could go on, but I'm curious what others would say.
 
Cain kills Abel, then turns around and kills his three sisters, wife but I repeat myself, Adam, and Eve. Leaving him the last human.
 
Cain kills Abel, then turns around and kills his three sisters, wife but I repeat myself, Adam, and Eve. Leaving him the last human.
The point is the extinction hasn't happened yet. We are looking for what causes a hypothetical post-mortum would point to.

And mythological characters are ASB.
 
And mythological characters are ASB.
Let's nip the theological argument in the bud before it gets out of control.

As for when humanity could have gone extinct, I think the Mount Toba eruption would be as solid of a candidate as any. It already created a genetic bottleneck for humanity, so it would only take slightly worse conditions to get to the point of human extinction 74,000 years ago.
 
Let's nip the theological argument in the bud before it gets out of control.

As for when humanity could have gone extinct, I think the Mount Toba eruption would be as solid of a candidate as any. It already created a genetic bottleneck for humanity, so it would only take slightly worse conditions to get to the point of human extinction 74,000 years ago.
You brought up the theological argument.

Like I said TWICE, it's future human extinction based on past events. So the the extinction 74kya would not count, but a reaction, say to toxics we create and don't have the genes to combat, maybe because of Toba, could be part of it.
 
Like I said TWICE, it's future human extinction based on past events. So the the extinction 74kya would not count, but a reaction, say to toxics we create and don't have the genes to combat, maybe because of Toba, could be part of it.
So you're basically not asking a question about alternate history, but the causes of a hypothetical future event? If so this is a bit of a weird forum to ask that in.

Setting that aside, assuming humanity goes extinct, it would most likely be due to nuclear war, so you'd probably be able to trace human extinction back to the Manhattan Project. Even that's a huge if though. I'm not the biggest fan of having the Damocles sword of nuclear annihilation dangling over us, but I do think that MAD is a strong enough force to prevent us from completely destroying each other. As bad as environmental degradation might get, I don't think it would lead to our extinction; living conditions would be far from optimal, but humans are very adaptable when need be. Ultimately I don't find the argument that we'll go extinct in 100-300 years all that convincing. As a very short estimate, I'd give us around another 10,000 years. If we become an interstellar species I don't even know if we will go extinct, or at least it would take millions of years for that to occur.
 
As bad as environmental degradation might get, I don't think it would lead to our extinction; living conditions would be far from optimal, but humans are very adaptable when need be. Ultimately I don't find the argument that we'll go extinct in 100-300 years all that convincing. As a very short estimate, I'd give us around another 10,000 years.

Agreed. All the doomongering over this, that and the other causing human extinction, be that nuclear war, climate change, the next big pandemic or something else just demonstrates that those spouting it haven't understand what they're talking about and can be safely ignored. Saying that such things could cause the collapse of modern civillisation is, of course, an entirely different kettle of fish, and far more plausible, but wiping out an entire species, especially one that can adapt to a changing environment within a single generation, instead of relying on an appropriate chance mutation coming along, is a far higher bar to clear.
 
The point is the extinction hasn't happened yet. We are looking for what causes a hypothetical post-mortum would point to.

And mythological characters are ASB.
The Toireh is the most attested to document in history and its giving is the most attested to event until the advent of mass media. More people witnessed the Toireh than many other events you take as fact.

Disagree or agree you can't call it a myth.
 
Question: It is reasonably likely our species will go extinct within the next century or three.
That's quite the prior assumption for this question. Rolling with it anyways...

Invention of the radio: Once we started broadcasting it became inevitable that aliens would discover us and (either because of Dark Forrest logic or just because they think our media is cringe) kill us all.
 
Wait, are we supposed to talk about the early Paleolithic or not? Because I think the only reasonably way for our species to go extinct outside the deep future is before "behavioral modernity", maybe the Toba Eruption is the latest event where you could argue we were the closest to going extinct, even if we weren't actually that close if you look beyond sensationalized headlines.
 
That's quite the prior assumption for this question. Rolling with it anyways...
It's interesting. I took this premise for granted/self-evident, at least since 1945. I really didn't expect the pushback.

Walle Ras, since you don't believe in the premise, do what I do when I don't like a premise. Ignore it.

Seems I was a bit naive.

Thinking about waiting for this to die down, should put some thought into the context to talk about the wildly different assumptions people have for what is possible. For example, a while back, I heard someone suggesting the earth could hold 80 billion people with a 1st world standard of living with a straight face. Me and others thought that was absurd. Others are coming here thinking my premise is absurd. But approaching that subject is a topic for another time.

But on the topic- Perhaps the assumption/meme that we are innovative, smart enough, convinced of our own invincibility etc to get through anything, we are delay and/or are blindsided from taking action until it is too late due to our own arrogance?
Wait, are we supposed to talk about the early Paleolithic or not? Because I think the only reasonably way for our species to go extinct outside the deep future is before "behavioral modernity", maybe the Toba Eruption is the latest event where you could argue we were the closest to going extinct, even if we weren't actually that close if you look beyond sensationalized headlines.

I suspect behavioral modernity may get us killed i.e. if we were stupider, we would not invent all sorts of interesting ways of killing ourselves.

But my mention of the paleolithic, I was going back as far as I could plausibly think that some ignorant action that could, down the long road, cause our extinction, paving the way perhaps for our momentary success (in geologic terms) but bringing us down in the end.

Thought on the subject.
 
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I took this premise for granted/self-evident, at least since 1945. [snip] Perhaps the assumption/meme that we are innovative, smart enough, convinced of our own invincibility etc to get through anything, we are delay and/or are blindsided from taking action until it is too late due to our own arrogance?
Don't mistake pessimism for realism.
 
Thinking about waiting for this to die down, should put some thought into the context to talk about the wildly different assumptions people have for what is possible. For example, a while back, I heard someone suggesting the earth could hold 80 billion people with a 1st world standard of living with a straight face. Me and others thought that was absurd. Others are coming here thinking my premise is absurd.
Both premises are absurd. We won’t be extinct by 2122, but obviously Earth won’t be able to sustain a population of 80 billion under first world conditions. As far as Earth is concerned, population levels will level out once the Earth reaches its capacity - I’m not a biologist so I forget the specific terminology, but this is seen in nature with the population rates of predators and prey. Once humanity starts exceeding that limit, we’ll expand our influence beyond Earth and find new worlds to keep expanding our species.
But on the topic- Perhaps the assumption/meme that we are innovative, smart enough, convinced of our own invincibility etc to get through anything, we are delay and/or are blindsided from taking action until it is too late due to our own arrogance?
When I speak about our ability to adapt, I don’t mean the ability to stick our heads in the sand until a problem is too late to be fixed, although that’s clearly also a trait found too commonly within our species. I mean that when the need arises, people will innovate and adapt to their new surroundings, because that’s what sapient species do in times when their very survival is at risk. It may not be what we consider first world conditions, but humanity will survive. If we stay on Earth then obviously we’ll eventually go extinct, but if we do become a sufficiently large interplanetary species then I’m not so sure. After all, our assumptions surrounding evolution and extinction up until the present have revolves around the idea of everything taking place on a single planet with limited resources. With an entire galaxy potentially at a species’ disposal, who knows how long that species could survive?
 
It may have already happened given the most likely threats--and really only plausible threats--are some sort of bioengineered hyperlethal plague (maybe it starts as something benign like a novel sort of vaccination method), rogue AI, or some sort of genetic engineering that leaves humans extinct (i.e. the "elite" sterilize most people and then modify themselves into some sort of sentient creature we wouldn't recognize as human). The root cause of this is computers (for how they've revolutionized science) and the sort of globalized world since 1945 (arguably since the late 19th century) that demands military and scientific competition. I don't think any social system would be immune to this--extreme monarchists, communists, or capitalists (as OTL) are equally likely to engage in this sort of dangerous experimentation lest their rivals gain an advantage. Maybe even under some (many?) types of anarchism this might happen. This would presumably be a threat for as long as humanity exists (hence why leaving the solar system is a very bad idea, because a "daughter civilization" might not share our hesitation toward that research).

In the far future I would add physics research that might destroy the universe (see false vacuum collapse).

Whether it's more than a 10% chance I don't know. But I do know that since the Paleolithic, only humanity can cause humanity's extinction. It's different to make humanity extinct than collapse civilization, which is far, far easier.
obviously Earth won’t be able to sustain a population of 80 billion under first world conditions.
It's not absurd at all. 80 billion people could definitely live in first world conditions if we had seasteading, nuclear fusion, artificial carbon capture, and asteroid mining. I'm assuming OP was referring to a recent thread in the future history section here, and I didn't see a single good argument why 80 billion people couldn't love on Earth with technology that exists now/within a few decades if we funded it enough. With more futuristic technology (like cheap access to space and tall towers to export waste heat and hold the vast population) then we could have hundreds of billions living in incredibly luxurious conditions here on Earth.
 
Don't mistake pessimism for realism.

Question, how is saying we have a 10% chance causing our own extinction in the next 300 years particularly pessimistic? Saying the range of opinion went from something like that to people who quietly think we're already fucked seemed reasonable.

To me, saying we don't have any chance of screwing up seems like insane, la la land levels of optimism?

I'm (I felt) a reasonable person living under reasonable assumptions. Not a prepper or particularly fringe. I felt, I suspect, a little like a German circa 1942, who is beginning to suspect that war isn't going so well.
 
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Question, how is saying we have a 10% chance causing our own extinction in the next 300 years particularly pessimistic? Saying the range of opinion went from something like that to people who quietly think we're already fucked seemed reasonable.
Because "extinction" is conflated with "the end of civilisation as we know it" which in large part is due to pop culture from the Cold War which has carried on into today (we just supplemented nuclear war with climate change). The latter is easy to cause with human events, the former is borderline impossible. It would practically require the latter and a major asteroid on top of things. Disasters such as pandemic (even biowarfare outside of a very particular sort of engineered disease), nuclear war, or climate change simply cannot cause every single human being to die, and very likely can't even reduce the human population under 100K.
To me, saying we don't have any chance of screwing up seems like insane, la la land levels of optimism?
That depends on your perspective of "screwing up." By far the most likely cause of human extinction is "victims of our own success" such as dangerous AI, grey goo, or we end up turning into the Borg/some transhuman abomination/god knows what. But up until that point, I wager people would be living far more comfortably than today. Incidentally, we're headed toward that danger, because the more technology means the more destructive power we have, given the 20th century was the first time we could actually destroy civilisation as we knew it.
 
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I don't know of anything that can wipe humans out that isn't completely independent of human action (comet, gamma ray, whatever).
 
Walle Ras, since you don't believe in the premise, do what I do when I don't like a premise. Ignore it.
Your posting in pre 1900 wanting the earliest human extinction. I gave it. You are the one getting upset because apparently you want future history?

Post in the right forum.

Also why didn't you ignore my post then?
 
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