We’re working for no tomorrow, today.
Not an extinction scenario or a global catastrophe in the familiar sense, a global takeover by a ruthless totalitarian state could irreversibly mire the world in endless enslavement and crushing brutality. Current disintegration of liberal democracies around the world, as well as the rapid advances in surveillance and data management technologies make this a direction of growing promise."
BTW anyone interested in Kid Swap?
Edit: Also, please don't bring up Chernobyl like that, without any comparison to modern nuclear tech. Modern safe nuclear power is necessary for avoiding dramatic climate change, which would hurt a lot of humans (but not earth).
Modern nuclear tech obviously also could lead to such an outcome, that's why we banned them. But the biggest problem is politics, the assured strike-back policy, which almost destroyed earth a couple of times already.
Plus corruption which led to the current climate crisis, leading to the destruction of the atmosphere. See Mars.
Mars is dead, Earth just not yet.
Wind power works great sometimes, but we need electricity that works all of the the time.
> Nuclear is stagnating at just 10% of global electricity
At the moment the slack is increasingly being picked up by burning coal or oil. That's bad.
About 80% efficiency, and 95% of electricity is stored this way. Burning fossils is of course stupid.
> Pumped storage is by far the largest-capacity form of grid energy storage available, and, as of 2020, the United States Department of Energy Global Energy Storage Database reports that PSH accounts for around 95% of all active tracked storage installations worldwide, with a total installed throughput capacity of over 181 GW.
Pumped storage requires:
a) quite large height differentials
b) a sizeable lake of water to be filled/emptied when needed.
For most places this simply isn't practical.
Even ignoring those safe spots, some forms of life can probably exist in irradiated areas: Chernobyl's dead zone isn't by any means devoid of life.
There are probably shelters that could provide a safe harbor, though I don't trust them functioning for more than a half life or two.
After the collision that created the Moon, I believe some research suggests that the Earth was literally as hot as the surface of the Sun, deduced from evidence of the effect of "earthshine" on the Moon.
If the Chicxulub impactor resulted in a global rain of molten rock, I'd also consider that scale of explosion to be "enough" even though some living things survived.
Also worth noting is that bigger bombs don't scale particularly well in terms of damage. Double a bomb's size, and much of it immediately just goes to outer space. Another large part of it is reflected from the surface of the planet to go, again, to outer space. Damage at radius r ~ E^(1/5).
Is that because of immigration or is it actually capable of sustaining (multi-cellular) life?
I also have heard (from "a reliable source") that one of the best nature preserves in the US is not labeled a nature preserve. It's off limits because it's the area around a nuclear plant.
With no people around, other life forms tend to thrive. Humans are lousy stewards of planet earth more often than not.
We'd have huge cancer rates and a drop in life expectancy, and a massive rise in birth defects, but eliminating the human race? Even substantially wiping out society?
I'm kind of doubtful. We've kept having babies in conditions objectively far worse for our entire history.
If gntm thinks that inadequate I submit they may be letting the worst become the enemy of the bad.
on edit: changed he to they.
The problems with DDT were that (1) it could last a long time before breaking down, (2) it spread much more widely in the environment than was intended, and (3) it was not narrowly targeted to only affect pests.
When you are making a pesticide that is not narrowly targeted , you really want it to break down fast and to not spread much beyond where you specifically apply it.
Just make a pesticide that like DDT spreads far and wide and persists, but unlike DDT make it so one of the things it kills is nitrogen fixing bacteria. That would wipe out almost all of the base of terrestrial animal food chain.
 You make a narrowly targeted pesticide by basing it on the hormones that control the target's life cycle. You find some specific behavior of the target, such as its "mate and die" behavior, that is triggered by a specific hormone, and make your pesticide trigger that. Then all you need to do is apply the pesticide when the insect isn't yet sexually mature or when the weather is too cold for eggs to survive, and the insects mate and die, with no offspring produced.
Same author wrote a short story about a scientist who developed a tailored virus to save the earth from ecological destruction:
"The tape recorder they put by his bed functioned right on through, but if anybody had been around to replay it they would have found little but babbling. “Gaea Gloriatrix,” he crooned, “Gaea girl, queen . . .” At times, he was grandiose and tormented. “Our life, your death!” he yelled. “Our death would have been your death, too, no need for that, no need.”
At other times, he was accusing. “What did you do about the dinosaurs?” he demanded. “Did they annoy you? How did you fix them? Cold. Queen, you’re too cold! You came close to it this time, my girl,” he raved. And then he wept and caressed the bedclothes and was maudlin."
Though -- it's actually a lot of CO2, for starters burning absolute every last bit of fossil fuel would probably contribute to ~0.1% of the amount needed for a runaway greenhouse event.
"Recoverable" coal is about 20 times proven reserves, so burning all that would add 4000 ppm CO2. Now the total would be 4500 ppm CO2, or almost 0.5 percent! Likely to be quite unhealthy.
It's worth noting that the Earth's atmosphere would be incompatible with current life at various past levels of atmospheric carbon.
In the past, Earth's atmosphere was almost entirely nitrogen and carbon dioxide, but at some point some plucky cyanobacteria learned how to photosynthesize and convert CO2 into O2, hugely changing the contents of the atmosphere  and killing a large amount of life that couldn't tolerate the new order.
So if we were to burn all the fossil fuels, it's quite possible that this would cause a climate catastrophe that would kill a large majority of life on earth. But there's a decent chance that the cyanobacteria and friends would survive and, after hundreds of millions of years, restart the evolutionary process.
Note that climate catastrophes take many forms, and the "greenhouse effect" does not even necessarily have to be involved. Take ocean acidification for instance. Atmospheric carbon raises the pH level of the ocean, which can cause cascading ecological collapse.
I think it's worth noting that on this timescale, we don't have forever:
"In about one billion years, the solar luminosity will be 10% higher than at present. This will cause the atmosphere to become a "moist greenhouse", resulting in a runaway evaporation of the oceans. As a likely consequence, plate tectonics will come to an end, and with them the entire carbon cycle... Four billion years from now, the increase in the Earth's surface temperature will cause a runaway greenhouse effect, heating the surface enough to melt it. By that point, all life on the Earth will be extinct." - from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_of_Earth
I submit that this is probably Earth's only chance at a spacefaring civilization, and therefore Earth life's only chance at escaping the planet (and thus surviving the death of the planet). If we flub it and cause a mass extinction without anything to show for it, it is the beginning of the end of Earth's story.
There doesn't seem consensus on whether Earth could truly reach a runaway greenhouse state or would rather just settle at a higher temperature. In any case, only the ecological (and consequently economic) crises and refugees problem are the ones currently living people will be affected by, but that ought to be enough to take action.
In addition to the greenhouse effect, the location of the continents can also have a major influence on the climate due to the influence on ocean and air currents, the albedo, weathering speed of exposed rock in the tropics and different plant cover at different latitudes etc, thus it is hard draw good comparisons (only modelling is possible, and verification is hard).
To be fair, I do not believe we are capable of life extinction on Earth. We are also not able to make the conditions on this planet worse than it is on any other planet we can reach so far. But we can cause a mass extinction easily and make life for ourselves much much harder. Our situation is so optimized for the current conditions that changes will cause great pain. (Just look at the locations of cities, or how agriculture is run.) If we developed with the climate of 500 million years ago we would be just fine with that. The problem is the fast and large change.
PS: One more point: CO2 causes some cognitive issues in humans in concentrations above 1000 ppm, which often occurs in meeting rooms and means the windows need to be opened regularly. It's not bad, you just get a little tired and dumber... so you take a break and open the windows. Now imagine the CO2 concentration outside is 5000 ppm (currently at ~415 ppm). We did not evolve for this.
Because radiation dissipates to the distance squared, we get around 40-50% of the heating Venus does.
As a much nearer term goal, the Earth could be rendered all but sterile by removing and permanently sequestering carbon from the atmosphere to break the carbon cycle .
1) Direct air capture of CO2 from the atmosphere.
2) Conversion of CO2 to carbon with electrolytic hydrogen .
3) Reaction of carbon with silicon dioxide in an electrical furnace to form silicon carbide .
4) Surface storage of ever-increasing quantities of silicon carbide to end the Earth's carbon cycle and life itself.
Bulk silicon carbide is effectively inert to biological or geological decomposition under surface conditions on Earth. It can break down if subducted into high temperature regions of the mantle, so it will need a watchful eye to keep geology at bay until the sun's expansion destroys the Earth completely.
You'll need some basic clanking replicators (e.g. strictly earthbound von Neumann machines) to accomplish this. 99% of the life-elimination process can be finished in mere thousands of years. Either nuclear breeder reactors or paving the world's great deserts with solar panels can provide enough energy for the project.
Silicon carbide can also oxidize in a furnace, so human civilization must be neutralized. But if you have a fleet of von Neumann machines dedicated to eliminating life that's one of the first problems to solve anyway.
"Won't falling atmospheric CO2 trigger a new glacial maximum and greatly retard the rate at which environments can be decarbonized/sterilized, once ice cover impairs carbon cycling to the atmosphere?"
You don't want a lot of frozen water on Earth because that will make it harder for CO2 to circulate through the atmosphere where it's easy to capture. It takes thousands of years for the ocean to fully overturn and exchange with the atmosphere under present climate conditions; there's no sense in making it even slower with sea ice. Nor is hiding soil under glacier cover a sustainable solution to the life problem. But you also don't want to leave CO2 in the atmosphere just to keep things warm and freely circulating.
Some small portion of the replicators' effort can go toward manufacturing potent non-carbon-bearing greenhouse gases such as nitrogen trifluoride or sulfur hexafluoride. They are so much more potent than CO2 that just a bit added to the atmosphere should keep the Earth comfortably warm even as CO2 becomes too scarce to support photosynthetic life.
In only 10,000 years most multicellular life can be eliminated by carbon starvation. Some remnants of life will remain deep underground and near hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor. The machines must continue to eliminate CO2 as it is emitted by natural geological processes and maintain the mountains of silicon carbide so that they remain intact into deep time. Otherwise there could be another large scale outbreak of life before the sun finishes Earth.
You're probably right. I mean, have you seen Factorio?
Death by planetary obesity.
Kind of the opposite of meticulously deconstructing the planet, instead bring more and more mass to Earth - souvenirs, visitors, imports, a few hundred trillion quadrillion kilograms of precious metals... doesn’t matter what, just keep hoarding more and more stuff.
Eventually Earth will either change orbit and sink into the sun, or it will become a sun itself, or it will become a black hole.
Now, the retrieval of such mass to earth is (physically) an inslastic collision. Inellastic collisions usually dissipate energy, so the thermodynamic problem of overheating the Earth's atmosphere will be an issue before orbital changes or spontaneous nuclear fusion.
No, the Earth’s orbit would also be affected over time by the altered gravitational relationship with other bodies as a result of its increased mass.
Of course it's not very practical, and also it'd turn into a star much earlier in the process, at which point it arguably isn't a planet anymore anyway.
It’s fun to think about on a humankind scale how hard it is to destroy (as in obliterate entirely) the earth, while at the same time pretty trivial on a universal scale.
We’d have a pretty hard time blowing this entire rock up ourselves, but the universe sure wouldn’t.
Then again, maybe in 100ish years it becomes trivial for us too. I’d bet someone in the 1800s had a hard time imagining one bomb being able to wipe an entire city off the map.
On other hand Earth is just tiny thing in solar system, which is tiny thing in galaxy which is small thing around general area which is tiny thing in great scale of things...
Don't go down that route - down that route lies the Total Perspective Vortex, and that is something you don't come back from.
I love how this takes an incomprehensibly large number (mass of the earth) and decomposes it into 3 exceptionally large but kind of comprehensible numbers (million tones / second, 30 million seconds / year, 189 million years). The earth is _big_.
When I saw the the headline I immediately remember that I read this when I was in high school (2002-5) and that the phrase came from here. Thank you for making me remember again.
Make random reference to Earth (and its location) in conversation between Ross and Phoebe.
Earth suddenly has massive value to fans of the show. Rabid alien fans swarm in and steal Earth away in flyingsaucer-portable chunks.
Honestly, each season is getting better.
The villains of that show are just disgusting selfish assholes!!! George Martin to the next level.
Plus IT'S REAL!!!
Did I miss something there?
How to destroy the Earth (2006) - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11808723 - May 2016 (44 comments)
How to destroy the Earth (completely) - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1446612 - June 2010 (73 comments)
How to destroy the earth - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=998734 - Dec 2009 (35 comments)
Destroying the Earth is harder than you may have been led to believe - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=121624 - Feb 2008 (3 comments)
In short, I don't believe it's falsifiable or testable. We can just reason about likelihoods.
Relevant to this is solipsism. We also don't have and can't have specific evidence that another being is conscious. At best we can just say that it's likely that they are.
Well, no, Descartes’ argument only applies in the first-person-singular of the person evaluating the argument, not the first-person-plural.
Exit Mundi ... A collection of end-of-world scenarios 
So we set up such a converting lens between the sun and earth and let our downshifted photons blast it to bits over a couple months.
Earth is 4.5B years old, and will likely continue to exist for quite some time. That's called the "Lindy effect" (old things will likely continue to exist).
Likewise when people remark on the fragility of earth when looking at a whole earth image - no, it is we who are fragile, particularly when, as tiny as we are, we could make the earth inhospitable to us.
Everybody knows what is meant when people say this.
I'm a bit autistic when it comes to language.
Any particular species, including humans that lives on Earth is unlikely to survive catastrophic changes - but life will come back and spread into the newly freed and opened niches, just as it did before multiple times.
This summarizes the evidence nicely:
(Assuming you had the resources in-hand) how much time would each one take?
Like, the micro singularity: are we talking minutes, hours, millennia? Longer?
Opinions will vary, I suppose.
Mirrors don't work that way. Mirrors can't focus to a black body temperature higher than that of the the light source.
As you say, The sun has surface area of 6 x 10^18 m^2. Earth has surface area of 5 x 10^14 m^2 for a ratio of 10^4.
IF you reflect all of this energy to the earth, the incoming energy per meter on the earth will be 10^4 higher than the energy per meter leaving the surface of the sun.
The surface of the sun is 5,700K and can use the Stefan–Boltzmann law to describe how hot the earth would have to be to radiate the same amount of energy. Earth would need 57,000K to match the the same output.
That temperature should still be enough to make a fair dent though.
Following that logic, couldn’t you still put a dyson mirror around thesis and earth raising the sun and earth temp above 5700? This would raise the temp of both above 5700.
This is where my understanding of optics and reflections breaks down. How much heat/kinetic energy is transferred to a mirror when it reflects a photon?
From a heat transfer perspective. the dyson sphere has 100,000X the surface area of the sun to radiate heat and 1/100,000 the photon flux hitting it's surface. Based on this I would expect it to be cooler.
The sun is a plasma bound together by gravity and earth does not have enough gravity to retain it's mass?
God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and
multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; rule over
the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every
creature that crawls upon the earth."
- Multiply without limits.
- You are more important than the environment and other species.
- Every species of plants and animals exist for your benefit.
These are profoundly destructive beliefs, and the root cause of how we arrived to our current mess, the Anthropocene extinction event.
There was a time when the Americas were populated by people that believed in living in harmony with the environment, but unfortunately they were all murdered and the ones that remained were forced to convert. 500 years later, a significant portion of what was carefully preserved for 10,000 years is gone.
If humanity is going to survive, you have to abandon such beliefs. You are not here to multiply without limits and, quite honestly, you are not more important than the environment. Stop with the overconsumption, the excessive travelling and all that nonsense. You are not as important as you think.
This now defunct website put it beautifully:
The church forced people to believe in the Geocentric model, they murdered Hypatia of Alexandria, they harassed the fuck out of Galileo, Kepler's family, and countless other scientists. Now they're all about preaching about forgiveness and altruism, but before they ruled people's lives with an iron fist.
You cannot discover gravity if you believe in Geocentrism. Without gravity it's harder to get to the laws of motion. Without laws of motion you have no physics. And so on, so forth.