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Thread: End of the world anxiety?

  1. #1
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    End of the world anxiety?

    Hi guys I'm new here!

    I have this weird problem. I don't know if I am at the right place to discuss this, or perhaps a psychology forum might be a better choice. But since it is space related I thought I would give it a go here.

    I have this recurring fear and anxiety of the end of the world. Not in the sense that it is imminent, or short term; global warming, wars etc.. or anything I would personally witness, because I certainly won't be around for it.

    It has more to do with the evolution of the sun, as the luminosity of the sun increases it will eventually make life on earth unsustainable, or as the star expands even swallow earth.

    The thing that worries me and keeps me up all night at times is that humans don't seem to care about this at all.

    If everything we know has an end, and nothing lasts forever, the same is true for our planet. So why is there so little global effort to develop technologies enabling our species to travel space outside of our solar system and possibly one day settle in another planetary system?

    I know 600 million yeas (for when the real trouble starts) is a long time. But considering the challenges, we should get a move on?!

    It really makes me sad, a glass of wine helps sometimes to calm me a bit. But it is still a horrible feeling.

    Can anyone relate or am I a nutjob?

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    Hi lukesbt. Welcome to CQ.

    I don't think you're a nutjob, and I think there are many good reasons for man to expand beyond the Earth, but I think a lot can happen in 600 million years. To worry to the point that you lose sleep over it seems a little problematic.

    If this is really something that is interfering with your life, you should seek some sort of professional help about it.
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    the dinosaurs were around 60milliion years ago, and since then the human race has evolved from shrew like animals.

    I personally have worried about the running out of fossil fuels, since I was a kid.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lukesbt View Post
    I know 600 million yeas (for when the real trouble starts) is a long time. But considering the challenges, we should get a move on?!
    In 1903, heavier-than-air flight was fantasy.
    66 years later - less than one lifetime - we landed on the moon.

    We can get our poop together when we need to.

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    You're not a nutjob. Welcome to the forums, BTW

    The one final, irrevocable and absolute truth is that one day Earth WILL be destroyed and all life extinguished. That is a fact. It is known.

    The important question is 'how important is this?'.
    If you are certain Earth will die when the Sun ages and expands, then it is not important at all - it won't happen for billions of years. If you believe it will happen due to Human interference - Global warming and the like - it becomes more important; nothing raises need faster than proximity. Can Human civilization survive such a threat? I suspect a better question would be 'What kind of calamity could eradicate these pesky humans?' The answer is 'almost nothing' - civilization might fall, but we're here to stay.

    The thing is, you're combining two worries: the end of the Earth and the end of Humanity. I would personally suggest you don't worry about either. In the former, solar/geological events are simply too big, too massive to be able to do anything about. They are also very precise and have been mapped to within centuries of the Earth's demise. You don't need to worry about Earth dying; it's not going to happen for a long time. You don't need to worry about Humanity's place on it either; we might be having trouble, we might be in serious financial/economic straits, but that has nothing to do with the survival of our species. Speaking sarcastically, we're worse than cockroaches; we're almost unkillable. We'll always find a way to survive.

    The one thing I'm sure of is that when this yellow star gives up and swells into the red giant-ness of age; we'll be long gone, to colonize, populate and annoy the Hell out of the rest of the galaxy.
    But then, I have no scientific background at all. Perhaps someone who does will respond.

    Cheers!
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    Having grown up during the Cold War, my fears were more immediate. But your emotions are just as valid.

    Yes, plenty can happen between now and then. We will no doubt expand beyond Earth. Though that will not help the billions who stay behind on the planet.

    The concept of the gravity tractor can be used to physically move Earth into a more distant orbit. Send a regular stream of heavy objects past the planet over a long period of time, and the gravity of those bodies will slowly alter its movement. Maybe the Sun need not be our end after all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lukesbt View Post

    I know 600 million yeas (for when the real trouble starts) is a long time. But considering the challenges, we should get a move on?!
    How about considering that we are doing something, indirectly. We are working on space elevators, fusion power, new materials, which in 600 million years could easily be sufficient to save us.
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by lukesbt View Post
    Hi guys I'm new here!

    I have this recurring fear and anxiety of the end of the world. Not in the sense that it is imminent, or short term; global warming, wars etc.. or anything I would personally witness, because I certainly won't be around for it.

    It has more to do with the evolution of the sun, as the luminosity of the sun increases it will eventually make life on earth unsustainable, or as the star expands even swallow earth.

    The thing that worries me and keeps me up all night at times is that humans don't seem to care about this at all.
    Welcome to the forum, lukesbt. I would agree that most urban primates are more upset about losing a hour to Daylight Saving Time than about a solar extinction but members here are willing to listen to your posts. Some of the members may even take your concerns to heart and pave that path to getting us off this rock so sit back, read and engage in others discussions so the synergy of the forum can take us out to the deep black.
    Just because you're a genius doesn't make you a smart guy

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    Every star will explode eventually so I'd be concerned more with the sooner than later catastrophes, such as another 1859 CME event, genetically engineered super viruses, nuclear self destruction, or super volcanoes. These won't result in the complete destruction of the Earth or of humanity but life here won't be the same. Sleep well ;-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    If this is really something that is interfering with your life, you should seek some sort of professional help about it.
    Excellent advice. Any time anything is interfering with your life, that's the time for professional help.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    Excellent advice. Any time anything is interfering with your life, that's the time for professional help.
    To quote the antiquities seller from Guardians of The Galaxy "I can't tell if you're being serious or not."

    My brain is parsing that both ways at once.

    Howdy Luke, welcome to the forum.

    600 million years is longer, by nearly half again, since multicellular life evolved beyond the biofilm stage. Life WAS due to be hosed by natural carbon sequestering in roughly 300 million years. Not enough carbon left on the surface to support a biosphere as we know it.

    Since the beginning of the industrial age we've put enough carbon back into play that the carbon crisis has been offset by another 250 million years. Both of those number represent "A hell of a long time".

    What you should be concerned with is YOUR life.

    Do you have enough savings?

    Are you employable?

    How's your retirement potential looking?

    I knew a man, now in his forties, who started putting money away monthly after he graduated *high school* for three things he knew were going to be absolute certainties in his life.

    An engagement ring.

    College tuition for future child A.

    College tuition for future child B.

    He didn't get married until he was twenty-five. The ring he gave his fiancť was so spectacular that when they walked into a party other women would look at their own rings and tsk.

    The extra was rolled over into the two tuition funds. (He also has two fine sons now.)
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    I would recommend that we stop trying to increase Luke's anxiety. It non-trivially bugs me.
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    "It is the duty of the writers to seduce me into suspending my disbelief!" Paul Beardsley

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    Escaping Earth for Mars and constructed habitats is well within our technical ability, and leaving the Solar system is possible, so this doesn't bother me. We'll eventually create ways to go into suspended animation or cryo-freeze so that we can survive trips of hundreds to thousands of years. We have plenty of time and mass and energy to populate this galaxy and a few others. If you want a real existential fear, look up the ultimate fate of the universe. It'll put the fate of Earth into perspective, especially if our life extension and sleeping technologies allow us to "live" long enough to see it.
    Last edited by Ara Pacis; 2017-Mar-13 at 03:08 AM. Reason: mega-typo
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDon View Post
    To quote the antiquities seller from Guardians of The Galaxy "I can't tell if you're being serious or not."

    My brain is parsing that both ways at once.
    Absolutely serious. That's the definition of a condition that needs mental health care--one that's interfering with your day-to-day life. It's on the list of reasons I'm annoyed when people say that conspiracists are "obviously" mentally ill--we only see a small fraction of their lives, and it's not unlikely that they spend most of their time just fine, only spouting nonsense for an hour a day of their spare time as a hobby. That's not a mental illness, even if we don't agree with it. If they're unable to, say, interact with people on a day-to-day basis without ranting about their chosen conspiracy, that's a mental illness.
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    Hi lukesbt and welcome. You should know - you and I are OK; it's everyone else that's weird.

    First, I'm not worried about the earth. It's survived numerous meteor hits over the last few billion years. It can handle nuclear war, climate change and just about anything else. However, man tends to be fragile.

    As several other people here have pointed out; we're well on our way to learning how to branch out in the universe. Maybe man has existed for 60,000 years on this planet, but we only came up with the scientific method maybe 250 years ago. Since then we've invented flight, computers and stuff Billy Mayes sold on TV (But wait; there's more). A hundred years ago (plus or minus a few) man first flew at Kitty Hawk. In 1977, we launched a satellite which left the solar system 3 or 4 years ago.

    As a species, we stumble and grumble about classic rock vs country (it's classic rock, btw) or which sport is better or whatever petty squabble we have. But in terms of the important stuff, like learning to spread out among the stars, I think we're making pretty good progress.
    "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana." - Groucho Marx

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    I accidentally hammered in my real name on my PSN account, not realizing that every other player can see it. Since I play a lot of PvP shooting games, I hear teenager kids scream "<Name>, you suck!". Occasionally, I wake up at 3 am wondering if I really do suck. Then I realized it was the personal nature of the insult that bothers me, and not what the person is saying.

    My teenage boys have a running gag where they try to come up with gamer handles that would actually be worse than my own name. So far, the winner is "Sportacus":

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	sport.jpg 
Views:	5 
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ID:	22196 That would be awesomely bad in COD, Titanfall 2 or Destiny.

    There is actually nothing wrong with being disturbed by things that don't bother other people. As a species, such things probably keep us alive. Personally, I am bothered by lava, bugs and sinking ships. Heaven forbid I was chased onto a lava lake by speedboating spiders.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lukesbt View Post
    Hi guys I'm new here!

    I have this weird problem. I don't know if I am at the right place to discuss this, or perhaps a psychology forum might be a better choice. But since it is space related I thought I would give it a go here.

    I have this recurring fear and anxiety of the end of the world. Not in the sense that it is imminent, or short term; global warming, wars etc.. or anything I would personally witness, because I certainly won't be around for it.

    It has more to do with the evolution of the sun, as the luminosity of the sun increases it will eventually make life on earth unsustainable, or as the star expands even swallow earth.

    The thing that worries me and keeps me up all night at times is that humans don't seem to care about this at all.

    If everything we know has an end, and nothing lasts forever, the same is true for our planet. So why is there so little global effort to develop technologies enabling our species to travel space outside of our solar system and possibly one day settle in another planetary system?

    I know 600 million yeas (for when the real trouble starts) is a long time. But considering the challenges, we should get a move on?!

    It really makes me sad, a glass of wine helps sometimes to calm me a bit. But it is still a horrible feeling.

    Can anyone relate or am I a nutjob?
    It sometimes makes me sad to think that humanity is not eternal. I echo others who advise help if this is really an intrusion on you ability to function.

    If there was a book I've read, that addresses these problems and offers solutions , but just happens to be written by a friend, is that spamming?

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    Quote Originally Posted by lukesbt View Post
    It has more to do with the evolution of the sun, as the luminosity of the sun increases it will eventually make life on earth unsustainable, or as the star expands even swallow earth.
    An unsustainable/unlivable Earth will happen much sooner due to global warming.

    Some humans care about this, but not the ones who are making a ton of money off of fossil fuels and they are the ones who have directly and/or indirectly all the power to do anything that requires a global solution.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lukesbt View Post
    The thing that worries me and keeps me up all night at times is that humans don't seem to care about this at all.
    Some humans do care. Some are trying to do something about it. There are numerous people in the space industries and elsewhere who want to establish a thriving human population off Earth. Scientists and engineers crunch numbers to solve various problems of human survival in space; and there are a lot of hard problems to overcome. But none are insoluble.

    As for human interstellar travel, it will require more advanced technologies than we currently have available; maybe we will centuries from now. But compared to hundreds of millions of years, it won't even be an eyeblink before we have that capacity even if we reset civilization back to low tech a couple of times.
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    Quote Originally Posted by closetgeek View Post
    It sometimes makes me sad to think that humanity is not eternal. I echo others who advise help if this is really an intrusion on you ability to function.

    If there was a book I've read, that addresses these problems and offers solutions , but just happens to be written by a friend, is that spamming?
    It's not. Go ahead.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim View Post
    It's not. Go ahead.
    Thanks Jim. In that case, I recommend​ Astronomy Saves the World by Dan Batcheldor. A lot of the book is laying a foundation for understanding Astronomy so, if you are well studied in the field, it's probably not going to be all that stimulation but he also makes a case for scientific literacy. The parts discussing colonization of other planets, however, just might give you some hope.

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    In case it helps, IFLS reports that end-of-the-world scenarios bring people together, at least in an online video game world.

    Knowing that the virtual world was going to end, however, appeared to have a huge effect on players’ behaviors. Players left quests uncompleted, and although leveling up did occur, far less seemed to focus on it so aggressively. Generally speaking, they banded together a lot more.
    Et tu BAUT? Quantum mutatus ab illo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amber Robot View Post
    An unsustainable/unlivable Earth will happen much sooner due to global warming.Some humans care about this, but not the ones who are making a ton of money off of fossil fuels and they are the ones who have directly and/or indirectly all the power to do anything that requires a global solution.
    No, you're wrong.

    Humans have merely counteracted the Azolla Event. That was the ecological disaster that started the Ice Ages by drawing down and sequestering too much CO2 out of the atmosphere. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azolla_event

    A warmer Earth is a better Earth. Always has been in the past, (with one extreme exception.)

    The absolute highest surface temps since life evolved, due to a much, much higher CO2 content, rendered a five degree band at the equator to experience 140 degree summer temps. And that only happened once, and corrected after about 10,000 years.

    The Industrial Age input of CO2 will cause a disruption that will stabilize in approximately 1,200 years. And we should control any further CO2 input now, of course.

    On that we both agree.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDon View Post
    No, you're wrong.

    Humans have merely counteracted the Azolla Event. That was the ecological disaster that started the Ice Ages by drawing down and sequestering too much CO2 out of the atmosphere. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azolla_event

    A warmer Earth is a better Earth. Always has been in the past, (with one extreme exception.)

    The absolute highest surface temps since life evolved, due to a much, much higher CO2 content, rendered a five degree band at the equator to experience 140 degree summer temps. And that only happened once, and corrected after about 10,000 years.

    The Industrial Age input of CO2 will cause a disruption that will stabilize in approximately 1,200 years. And we should control any further CO2 input now, of course.

    On that we both agree.
    You always bring that up like clockwork.

    The thing to remember is that the Azolla event happened 49 million years ago. Species have adapted to the present environment, and many if not most of the species that were adapted to the previous environment are extinct. A rapid change will devastate many species. Human reactions to it will devastate even more. In the past, species that could migrate often found themselves in refugia, islands of green where the change wasn't severe enough to wipe out the ecosystem completely. Humans have destroyed a lot of wilderness so that the few refugia that exist are already destroyed or unstable or are too widely separated for species to find and inhabit while the general biosphere adapts.

    It's like telling someone that if modern society collapses, people will just go back to 19th century tech. Except we don't have steam-powered locomotives or enough domesticated horses or sail powered cargo ships to fall back on.
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    As fascinating as a deep discussion of Global Warming and the Azolla event may be, OTB is not the place for it.
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim View Post
    As fascinating as a deep discussion of Global Warming and the Azolla event may be, OTB is not the place for it.
    Glad I decided to reload the page before replying!
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    I never belittle anyone's anxieties, but 600,000,000 years is just under 5,000,000 times the longest recorded human lifespan. It is likely longer than eukaryotic life has existed.

    The end of humanity by astronomical event in the far distant future is not something we need to attack with high priority. Species suicide by war is a much more pressing concern, especially with increasing xenophobic regimes in nations with massive nuclear arsenals.

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    End of the world, end of humankind, end of time, end of the sentence, sharp end of the stick, end of the program, end of the day, end of your treatment. Feel better now?
    Just because you're a genius doesn't make you a smart guy

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    Since the OP appears to be a one-post-wonder, perhaps we should have posted a suicide prevention hotline number instead of debating the merits of the topic.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ara Pacis View Post
    Since the OP appears to be a one-post-wonder, perhaps we should have posted a suicide prevention hotline number instead of debating the merits of the topic.
    Sorry for the late reply! Some posts were on the positive side and encouraging. Thank you all. I think I should follow developments of space exploration and value small advances too

    I spoke with a professional and found out it is okay to be a little passionate on the subject, but at the same time we identified some other non related issues in my life that may make me approach things in a non constructive way.

    Apparently I need time to work through it in small steps.

    At any rate I feel a little better and a lot more comfortable with the subject.

    I greatly appreciate the discussion thoughts and ideas. See you guys around.

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