The world is heating up with very hot temperatures seen in Spain and Portugal during 2018. We are experiencing stronger hurricanes and typhoons that cause catastrophic damage. Further, glaciers are melting in the Arctic, and permafrost is melting in Alaska. Assuming that we have already experienced evolution once, global warming is an upcoming evolution that will change homo sapiens and other species, plant and animal alike, forever. For now, the focus will be purely on the human population which could reach some level of extinction.
The concept of evolution differs dramatically from the creationist view. A creationist argues that God has made all things. The biblical account in Genesis defines the way God created all things, and in which order. There are 7 days in which things were made including human beings. This contrasts against the evolution theory.
Evolution has its roots in the ‘tree of life’ concept where all things came from one place. Different species come naturally rather than being created through a divine being. Charles Darwin did work in the Galapagos Islands where he came up to this theory.
In particular, Darwin suggested that species evolve along the lines of ‘survival of the fittest’. Fitness doesn’t refer to the physical health of a species, rather it refers to a species ability to survive and can reproduce. It suggests that over time, species evolve and adapt to their surroundings where they can successfully reproduce. This watered down version of evolution and creationism briefly outlines the difference between the two. But, it doesn’t explain how humans can influence evolution this time round.
Perfect storm of humans and Mother Nature clashing
Humans contributed to the warming of the planet through industrialisation and use of fossil fuels. An example of that would be the use of coal in many industrial processes. Coal is considered a fossil fuel that when burnt emits carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide emission leads to the warming of the planet.
It’s no surprise that continued carbon dioxide emissions have led to the environmental impacts seen so far today. As a result, humans need to cope with the increasing temperatures. At the same time, the human population has grown at the same time. The projection is rapid human population growth in the next few decades. By 2050, the global population is set to reach 9.5 billion people.
Such a projection means that the Earth may not cope with that population volume. Further, the continued warming of the planet suggests that the current environmental effects will continue. At the same time, the world will continue to warm with hurricanes becoming more intense. These storms will continue to wreak havoc across the globe as they strike Asia and the Americas. The storms become more intense as the temperatures continue to rise. A warmer ocean leads to more conducive tropical conditions needed for strong hurricanes or typhoons.
In addition, the mere rise in temperature means that humans may not survive the heat. Extremely hot temperatures in Spain and Portugal this past year demonstrate the fact the heat is rising. This poses a risk to areas where humans are not used to this heat level. Other regions of the world such as the Middle East have adapted life around the heat. This is not to say they are not affected. It merely suggests that some may be better equipped for the heat, at the very least in the short term.
The combination of the heat and the intensified natural disasters lead to adverse effects on the human population and the local economy. Each time a disaster strikes, humans perish, infrastructure crumbles, and the local population must rebuild what it has lost. The loss of human life may lead to long-term consequences.
Reduced population diversity long-term
The threat of global warming’s adverse environmental effects can reduce the global population’s diversity. For example, global warming means that sea levels rise across the global. The rise in sea level can wipe out Scandinavia, parts of sparsely populated Canada, or affect parts of Siberia in Northern Russia.
Other natural disasters or monsoon rains can adversely affect Latin America, the Caribbean, North America, and the Indian peninsula. These storms will wipe out populations over time as the storms become stronger. The sheer strength and global impacts could raise potentially serious consequences for everyone.
Human sub-population extinction entirely possible
Until now, population has been used in two separate contexts — globally and country level. Let’s now introduce a human sub-population. For this purpose, the sub-population refers to a specific nationality.
The possibility of entire nationalities becoming extinct is a real possibility that should be considered. There is strong enough evidence by virtue of the recent hurricane/typhoon activity, and the strength of other natural disasters such as earthquakes, that suggests that the entire nationalities could be extinct. This means that our children may be the very last ones of a specific nationality to survive. Could it could spur a last minute surge in fertility? That is only pure speculation. Nevertheless, some sub-populations’ survival may be extinct or severely threatened and hang in the balance.
The future population landscape
How the future population depends on many factors such as fertility rate, global warming, economic power, and political decisions. Based on current fertility rates, Africa’s population will continue to grow outpacing the rest of the world. It’s expected that the African continent may become the most populous continent in the world as countries’ populations will continue to grow beyond most of the world.
Across the Indian Ocean, India is expected to surpass China, and its neighbour Pakistan is expected to surpass 300 million by 2050. There are other regions whose population will grow too, namely Mexico and Brazil. Of course, the US may have a population that grows, but it may not reach the same levels as Latin American countries or other African countries.
Thus, the population’s main concentrations would take place across India and South Asia, Central and South America, and Africa. This is not to suggest that other populations don’t exist rather they may reach limited numbers. For example, Japan has experienced low fertility rates for decades, so the population may exist, but at a very reduced level. Say there may be only thousands or a few million living on the Islands of Japan. This new distribution of the global population can shift economic factors, future survival, and the way the world works.
Role of politics
Recent scientific pleadings urging Governments to take action may be too late. Even if they aren’t, global warming will affect human populations — it’s almost a certainty. The global weather landscape has changed, the power of natural disasters increased, and the consequences already felt. The only thing remaining to potentially quell the adverse effects may be the Government of certain nations who are at risk of population extinction.
The solution may not be to incentivise the more births by countries’ populations currently experiencing low fertility rates. Rather, Governments may choose to implement technologies to warn citizens of impeding natural disasters. They may also advocate for further movement of citizens between borders. The likelihood of either of these being successful rests upon the political landscape’s evolution towards human rights. Should populism continue to rise with the political right gaining further strength, then this may not work at all.
There is not an attack on the political right as their views may lead to improving the economic situation of some countries and advocate a pro-life. These two pro-right stances may preserve a nationality’s population. Nonetheless, the anti-immigration stance may prove difficult in warding off the devastating effects of natural disasters and global warming as whole.
At the same time, the left has not done much better in warding off global warming. Sure, they may be more environmentally friendly than their right-affiliated opponents, they have not minimised the impact of global warming. In the end, neither the left nor the right have done the job, so a political tribe in the middle taking some of both philosophies may solve the problem and preserve humankind.
Global warming is upon us. There is no doubt. We have not fully realised the potentially devastating effects that it can have on humans as a collective. Irrespective, the impact will show itself in the coming years.
Governments have a duty to protect their respective citizens, but they should also not allow politics to wreak havoc on their own populations. At the very least, a consensus should be reached that certain nationalities may cease to exist in the future. As a consequence, population diversity decreases, and may be skewed in terms of high geographical density. This skewness may have long-term economic impacts that have not yet been understood.