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Indagare
2013-Jul-01, 04:47 PM
I was thinking of putting this in Science and Technology, but I thought it might be safer to put it here instead since there's a lot of speculation that's going to be involved.

The premise: while looking for proof of alternate dimensions, scientists accidentally open a gate into one. This gate seems stable (it's big enough for a human to traverse but isn't growing or shrinking). On the other side of the gate is another Earth, however, there are no hominids or other intelligent life forms. Basically it's got non-human animals and plants.

So, what would this world be like? I'm looking for:

1) Species: Extinct species that would still be around since no one hunted them down, destroyed or altered their environment. Also, what other species might be more numerous? Plants and animals can be included.

2) Climate: How would the climate be different than what we have? There would likely be cooler weather, but would the Sahara be the same size as it is here? What about other deserts and forests?

3) Anything else, including how scientists might get data from this world and what might happen once it's reported.

Swift
2013-Jul-01, 05:21 PM
I actually think the differences would be relatively minor. Humans have only had an sort of impact on the environment for at most a few 10s of thousands of years, and the biggest impact has been in the last 100 years or so. Its not like there would be dinosaurs roaming around.

The difference between your parallel Earth and our Earth 100 years from now will be much greater, as I suspect we will see some significant climate change and species extinctions.

Indagare
2013-Jul-01, 05:33 PM
I actually think the differences would be relatively minor. Humans have only had an sort of impact on the environment for at most a few 10s of thousands of years, and the biggest impact has been in the last 100 years or so. Its not like there would be dinosaurs roaming around.

The difference between your parallel Earth and our Earth 100 years from now will be much greater, as I suspect we will see some significant climate change and species extinctions.

Well, if this (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_extinction) Wikipedia article is accurate, there are a number of plants and animals that would still be around if we were not. Also, I'm not sure we've as little to do with climate change over time as all that, but I do think you're right that the brunt of what we're doing will come to a head within the next 100 years. Unfortunately, I think it's already too late to do anything and the best we can hope for is to adapt while trying to lower our carbon output so that future generations won't have to worry about living on Venus.

galacsi
2013-Jul-01, 05:50 PM
I actually think the differences would be relatively minor. Humans have only had an sort of impact on the environment for at most a few 10s of thousands of years, and the biggest impact has been in the last 100 years or so. Its not like there would be dinosaurs roaming around.

The difference between your parallel Earth and our Earth 100 years from now will be much greater, as I suspect we will see some significant climate change and species extinctions.

Relatively minor differences ? You are not taking into account the massive landscape transformations done by our ancestors with the development of agriculture.Forests has been destroyed , soils have been eroded ,swamps have been drained ,great areas transformed in cultivated fields or grazing lands. Big animals like elephants ,rhinoceros, bufaloes, lions ,bears .. . have been hunted to extinction and so on and so on.
Writing this I understand it is truer in the old world and particularly in Eurasia than in America.
Comming back to the OP ,I think if you believe in evolution ,a planet without a dominant hominid or an other sentient species is difficult to accept.

Swift
2013-Jul-01, 06:02 PM
Relatively minor differences ? You are not taking into account the massive landscape transformations done by our ancestors with the development of agriculture.Forests has been destroyed , soils have been eroded ,swamps have been drained ,great areas transformed in cultivated fields or grazing lands. Big animals like elephants ,rhinoceros, bufaloes, lions ,bears .. . have been hunted to extinction and so on and so on.
Writing this I understand it is truer in the old world and particularly in Eurasia than in America.
Comming back to the OP ,I think if you believe in evolution ,a planet without a dominant hominid or an other sentient species is difficult to accept.
First, it gets into a debate of relative... yes, there are numerous species that would be alive today if not for humans. But, to date, IMO, it is still a fairly small percentage. I also think the hypothesis that humans contributed significantly to the Holocene extinction is still a matter of debate.

But all that I think will pale in comparison to what will happen in the next 100 years (last I checked "elephants ,rhinoceros, bufaloes, lions ,bears" were not extinct yet). I suspect in the next 100 years we may see entire ecosystems wiped out. We are at the very beginning of the next great mass extinction event, and have hardly felt the effects yet (LINK (http://www.livescience.com/13038-humans-causing-sixth-mass-extinction.html)).

So, compared to NOW (which is what I assume the OP is making the comparison to), the changes are still relatively minor, in my opinion.

redshifter
2013-Jul-01, 06:17 PM
I can think of a few animal species that would probably have vastly different populations if humans had never existed (and no other changes in climate, natural disasters, etc.):

More:
1) Whales
2) Buffalo
3) Primates
4) Fish that humans eat such as salmon, halibut, tuna, etc.
Less:
1) Animals raised for food - cows, chickens, pigs, etc.
2) Domestic animals such as dogs and cats, esp. those breeds we created.

Although I agree with Swift: 100 years from now, we could be seeing drastic consequences because of human centric forcings.

SkepticJ
2013-Jul-01, 06:58 PM
Comming back to the OP ,I think if you believe in evolution ,a planet without a dominant hominid or an other sentient species is difficult to accept.

Earth was without either for most of its history.

If the Mt. Toba eruption had been a bit worse, Homo sapiens wouldn't be here now.

Indagare
2013-Jul-01, 07:12 PM
Although I agree with Swift: 100 years from now, we could be seeing drastic consequences because of human centric forcings.

I'm not trying to disagree with the idea that in 100 years things will be much different climatically. What I'm trying to figure out is how much different on a no-human Earth things would be now as compared to our planet. Basically I figured it would be like one of those base test groups but for the planet: Here's our planet, now, with everything we've done to it and here's this other planet which is exactly the same in every way except we and our kindred aren't there and there's nothing else that took our role.

Swift
2013-Jul-01, 07:42 PM
Wikipedia: Animals made extinct by humans (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Species_made_extinct_by_human_activities)
I didn't count, but they say they list 60 species.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity (http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of_biodiversity/extinction_crisis/):

In the past 500 years, we know of approximately 1,000 species that have gone extinct — but this doesn’t account for thousands of species that disappeared before scientists had a chance to describe them [4].

Swift
2013-Jul-01, 07:50 PM
I'm not trying to disagree with the idea that in 100 years things will be much different climatically. What I'm trying to figure out is how much different on a no-human Earth things would be now as compared to our planet. Basically I figured it would be like one of those base test groups but for the planet: Here's our planet, now, with everything we've done to it and here's this other planet which is exactly the same in every way except we and our kindred aren't there and there's nothing else that took our role.
To some extent, it would depend upon how hard you look. Heck, we don't have a listing of every species on our Earth, and we've been looking for a long time. It would take a very long time to catalog Earth II.

But, if you just popped out of the wormhole for a few minutes and just "looked around", depending on where you popped out, I don't think it would look all that much different. Sure, if your wormhole exit was in the middle of where downtown Tokyo would have been, it would look a lot different. But if it was in the middle of Siberia or the Pacific ocean, maybe not so much.

Could you find differences - absolutely. No man-made air pollutants, no man-made radioactives, etc., etc.

But here is another idea... if hominids didn't evolve, might the random chance of evolution led to something unexpected. Maybe bears would now be just developing tool making?

Jens
2013-Jul-02, 12:51 AM
Without intelligent species, I think a major difference would be in the types of plants and animals you'd find. There wouldn't be nearly as much wheat, rice, and maize, and there would be much fewer chickens, pigs, and cows. North America would still be populated by wolves and bears, and you'd still have bears and maybe lions in Europe.

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-02, 05:08 AM
We've eliminated many members of many species, but those species still hang on with minimal numbers, so our hit to kill ratio looks kinda low.

galacsi
2013-Jul-02, 10:38 AM
Wikipedia: Animals made extinct by humans (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Species_made_extinct_by_human_activities)
I didn't count, but they say they list 60 species.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity (http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of_biodiversity/extinction_crisis/):

Well ,reading back the OP I understand I answered too fast ,a little out of the topic. So I agree with you about animals.

About climate it is a matter of debate. Because ecological changes made by humanity are very large and affect the water cycle , the albedo and what else ? There are so many retroactions.
Some say our ancestors may have created or agrave deserts. I don't think there is a definite answer to these kinds of question.

TJMac
2013-Jul-04, 04:04 PM
I don't have the answer to the OP, but, I want to go there. :)

TJ

Delvo
2013-Jul-06, 09:28 PM
The biggest differences would be from agriculture and the existence of cities. Every single square inch of ground that is presently covered in city or farm was originally something else. We've usually gone for relatively low, flat ground, where the wild habitat would have originally been grassland or forest. (The older books of the Old Testament still mention shady timber-rich forests and bears and deer as present things, not just memories like modern Lebanon's "Cedar Revolution" and flag with a big tree on it that isn't a palm tree.) We've not only cut or burned down those habitats, but also irrigated some arid or semi-arid bush/scrublands, sometimes at the expense of drying out another next door. (And that doesn't just mean turning one land habitat into a slightly drier land habitat, but also in some cases means even turning most of a body of water into dry land.) But we've also, by salination/salinization and accelerated erosion, accidentally damaged the soil under some of our own farms enough that we've abandoned them and the original ecosystem couldn't grow back.

Including all of the different ways we've completely replaced one kind of ecosystem with another (or practically nothing at all), it's fair to say we've probably done it to most of the world's land area that we could possibly do it to. (Actually about 38% of all land is farmland, but "all land" includes places that we never could have farmed or built on anyway, and some of the non-farmland is also places that we have converted in other ways, such as damaged & abandoned former farmland, places water was diverted away from for farming elsewhere, pavement, garbage dumps, buildings, and parks.)

Hlafordlaes
2013-Jul-07, 03:16 PM
Let's see:

No plastic floating in oceans and sitting in landfills.
Fewer invasive species in places they never would have reached otherwise.
Fewer rats, cockroaches and pigeons.
No lab animals being mistreated.
No hunting for 'sport' only.
No horror episodes of animals encountering deadly and incomprehensible human artifacts.
No reality TV.

Earth II sounds like a nice place.

Ara Pacis
2013-Jul-07, 03:50 PM
Let's see:

No plastic floating in oceans and sitting in landfills.
Fewer invasive species in places they never would have reached otherwise.
Fewer rats, cockroaches and pigeons.
No lab animals being mistreated.
No hunting for 'sport' only.
No horror episodes of animals encountering deadly and incomprehensible human artifacts.
No reality TV.

Earth II sounds like a nice place.

Some animals have been seen to hunt for sport, IIRC.

As for plastic. Maybe the Earth needed plastic, but didn't know how to make it. It needed us. :)

Hlafordlaes
2013-Jul-07, 04:43 PM
Some animals have been seen to hunt for sport, IIRC.

Yeah, I though about chimps a bit before writing that, but I am not quite sure if what they do is ever pure sport. Killer whales are known to tease and play with their catch, as are many hunters, but the play always ends in a meal, iirc.


As for plastic. Maybe the Earth needed plastic, but didn't know how to make it. It needed us. :)

I see you've heard Carlin's routine. ;)

Oh, and let's add:

"No deep-fried food stands at the Iowa State Fair."

Nearly puked non-stop when there, but was on a job interview and had to show enthusiasm at the time. Was also hiding a freshly and totally herniated disc from the group I was with, as we walked endlessly around. Toughest day on Earth for me, that one.