AFTER US: what will happen to the Earth if humanity dies out

(ORDO NEWS) — 99% of the species of creatures on Earth have already died out. After such a terrible figure, anyone involuntarily thinks about whether it threatens humanity? Oddly enough, but humanity has not yet encountered cataclysms of such a magnitude that could surely wipe us off the face of the Earth. However, experts argue that the end is simply inevitable.

Many experts believe that the extinction of man is not a question of “if,” but a question of “when.” And some are sure that this will happen sooner rather than later. In 2010, prominent Australian virologist Frank Fenner said that people are likely to die out in the next century due to overpopulation, environmental degradation and climate change.

Of course, the Earth will live perfectly without us. Life will continue, and the traces that we leave on the planet will disappear faster than you think. Our cities will collapse, our fields will overgrow. As a result, all that remains of humanity is a thin layer of plastic and radioactive isotopes.

In order to see that nature quickly and effectively sweeps the traces of man, just look at the exclusion zone in Chernobyl. More than 30 years have passed since the accident at the nuclear power plant, and plants and animals thrive there like never before. A 2015 study revealed that wildlife populations in this area suggest that humans pose a much greater threat to local flora and fauna than radiation exposure.

Another example: in 1542, when Europeans first saw the rainforests of Brazil, they reported cities, roads and fields along the banks of large rivers. However, after the population was destroyed by the diseases that the colonialists brought with them, these cities were quickly captured by the jungle.

However, many species of plants and animals have adapted to life near us, which means that in the event of our extinction, they too may suffer. The crops that we specifically plant for food, being dependent on the regular use of pesticides and fertilizers, will quickly be replaced by their wild ancestors.

In turn, the sudden disappearance of pesticides will mean a population explosion for insects. This class is mobile, multiplies rapidly and lives in almost any environment. Such an “explosion” of insects, in turn, will lead to an increase in the population of species that eat them, such as birds, rodents, reptiles, bats and arachnids, and then to the growth of the species that eat these animals, and so on throughout the food chain. However, these populations will be unstable in the long run, as soon as the food left by people disappears.

As for larger animals, before nature enters a new era, the echoes of man will still exist for some time. For example, some breeds of cows or sheep could survive, but most of them were raised as “food machines,” which will die out in huge numbers.

“I think that they will become quick prey for wild carnivores that start to breed,” says Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us. These predators will include pets. And most likely, it will be cats than dogs.

The question of whether intelligent life can evolve again is more difficult to answer. According to one theory, intelligence developed because it helped our early ancestors survive environmental shocks. Also, intelligence helps individuals survive and multiply in large social groups. And yet, intelligence is an indicator of healthy genes. Therefore, it is entirely possible that all three of these factors will converge again in the world after man.

“The next largest brain in primates per unit of body weight is the brain of a baboon, these animals are the most likely candidates,” says Weisman. “They live in forests, but they also learned to live on the fringes. They can collect food in the savannah, they know how to team up against predators. The baboons could do the same as we, but, on the other hand, I see no motivation for them. Life is really good for them as they are. ”

Shocks that would take baboons (or other species) out of their comfort zone can be caused by the disappearance of people. Even if we all disappear tomorrow, many of the consequences of our existence will not go anywhere. It will take tens of thousands of years for greenhouse gases to return to the pre-industrial level. In addition, there is the problem of nuclear power plants.

The Chernobyl data indicate that ecosystems can recover from radiation emissions, but there are about 450 nuclear reactors in the world that will start to overheat as soon as the fuel runs out in emergency generators supplying them with coolant. Now it is absolutely impossible to understand how such a huge, sharp release of radioactive substances into the atmosphere can affect the ecosystems of the planet.

And this is not all the problems! Decades after humans will be marked by devastating oil spills, leaks of chemicals and explosions of various sizes – all these are ticking time bombs that humanity has left behind. Some of these events can lead to fires that will burn for decades.

However, if you thought that over time everything will be destroyed, and all that we leave from ourselves is just an environmental disaster, then this is not entirely true. Yes, microbes evolve to absorb the plastic that we left behind. Roads will eventually be buried or destroyed by natural forces.

However, many pieces of art can be the last evidence that we existed. Ceramics, bronze statues and monuments will be one of our most enduring legacies. And something else …

Namely, our radio signals. Throughout its history, mankind has transmitted a huge number of signals to space. These waves will persist for several million years, moving farther and farther from the Earth, until, in the end, they become so weak that they cannot be distinguished from the background noise of space.

But even when the radio waves can no longer be distinguished, the Voyager probe launched in 1977 will still be carried away from the solar system at a speed of almost 60,000 kilometers an hour. And most likely, if he does not crash into anything, then he will survive even the fatal meeting of the Earth with the Sun in 7.5 billion years.

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