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Into the Mystic: The Possibility of Human Extinction

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  1. Humble Beginnings.
  2. Prerequisites.
    1. Evolution.
    2. Speciation.
    3. Diversity.
    4. Extinction.
  3. Ancestry.
  4. Signs of Aggression.
    1. A Series of Unfortunate Events.
    2. Dominance.
    3. Superiority.
    4. Serendipity.
  5. The Brink of Extinction.
    1. Cause and Effect .
    2. Mass Extinction: The Big Five.
    3. Existential Risks.
    4. Scenarios.
    5. Popular Culture.
  6. A Matter of Opinion and the Importance of Being Earnest.
  7. The Sixth Extinction.
    1. Energy and Resource.

Evolution: In order to understand the next twelve pages of this paper, it is necessary to review the basics of biological evolution and its constituents. Evolution is much more than just change over time. For example, a caterpillar changes into a butterfly and the Earth's tectonic plates move, but they are not considered biological evolution because they do not involve inheritance. ?Biological evolution?is descent with modification? (Caldwell). That is to say, it involves genetic change that affects organisms down to the amino acids of DNA. There are two types of evolution: small-scale and large-scale. The former consists of certain genes in a population and its frequency while the latter encompasses the theory of common descent in which a variety of species is said to have the same, common ancestor. For example, a child who inherits blue eyes from his or her mother and blond hair from his or her father falls under the category small-scale evolution because it is within a species that the changes in genetics occur. However, if a variety of species including moths, centipedes, and spiders is found to have a lineage tracing back to the first arthropod, this is referred to as large-scale evolution (Caldwell). ?Evolutionary change is driven by one thing and one thing only: the failure of a specific population to pass its genetic code down to the next generation? (Feldman). Evolution is a continuous succession of these changes and can only be mapped after something has evolved. Professor David DeGusta of paleoanthropology at Stanford University claims, ?As long as organisms pass on some of their characteristics through some kind of heredity there is going to be evolution. And unless survival and reproduction are random, there will be a ?direction' to that evolutionary change?. What accounts for this direction is the different species that branch to and from a continuous succession of lineages. The root of all biological evolution finds its origins in speciation.

[...] Also, though no such threat has presented itself yet, there exists the possibility of competition, which has the potential to more or less phase out the human race, very much like what modern man did to the Neanderthals. Also, there is a point when too many organisms in too small of an area deplete its surroundings of resources and thus afterwards, die of overpopulation. And the final and most common cause of extinction is when natural habitats disappear and thus the species occupying them have no means of acquiring energy (Palme). [...]


[...] I say this now to the disillusioned majority of the general public: neither is true and human extinction is truly inevitable. When the time comes and we ask ourselves what went wrong and how our rationale and our science failed, we will find no answers. Towards the end, we will know it for it is the curse of intelligence, of knowledge. We will expect it and we'll be waiting for it. It is not going to come as some surprise for the erosion of time will reveal to us the [...]


[...] an area is low in species diversity, it is either because extinction of local populations has occurred or because the area cannot hold more species? (Boulter 139). Extinction: If a certain species were to disappear altogether from the face of the planet, they would be labeled ?extinct?. The death of an entire species is dubbed extinction and although it seems like something that would slow or even reverse evolution, its function is the very opposite. In fact, it is one of the driving forces of evolution: extinctions are an essential stimulus to the evolutionary process the exponential line of diversification must never reach a vertical? (Boulter 183). [...]

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