All living things have limitations as to what they can do. We humans have expanded our limits of action in this past century beyond even the wildest expectations of previous eras, and yet there are still ultimate limits within which we must live. Presently we have gone to the Moon, (I have spoken to Buzz Aldrin), and have rovers currently operating on Mars. I frequently go to today’s photo downloads, but physically going to even the nearest star is currently impossible. Yes, the impossible takes a little longer, but that impossible’s little longer is much longer than you will live to see, so you might as well write it off as impossible. SETI has a hope of listening in on a galactic radio broadcast, but if that contact was within 100 light years there is a good chance it might already have been found. Therefore, unless you are able to live longer than 100 years, you will never know of any two-way conversation having taken place. There may already be an intra-galactic communication network but our access to it will take a while even if it does exist. So, humanity being saved by some extraterrestrial suggestions on how to get by is not impossible but it is unlikely. The obvious conclusion is that if humanity is to survive and thrive on this planet we must figure out how to do that with our own physical and mental resources.
Surviving on our planet as a human species would probably be possible in the million-year range if we were living wild such as chimpanzees because when living that wild way our species’ ancestors did survive and so did some of our near relatives. Even if humans were living as we did during Roman times around 1 AD, we could live for quite a long time, thousands of years, before consuming all available resources and be forced to revert to a more garden-like culture. The methods of consumption and those of making war available at that time could not destroy the Earth’s habitability to the point where chimpanzees could not survive, and therefore to the point where humans could not survive either. The point is that human survival was not a problem until quite recently.
With the advent of what are usually called WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction) humanity is at risk. But, we need a new term, WOEs (Weapons of Extermination), because since the advent of the atomic bomb in 1945 our scientists have been able to create even more deadly things. The difference between the A-bomb and the H-bomb is like the difference between a conventional bomb and an A-bomb. The H-bomb is a thousand times more powerful than an A-bomb and that is a thousand times more powerful than a TNT bomb, which while I am comparing is a thousand times bigger than a typical IED (improvised explosive device). Adding all those zeros to this excessively generalized computation does make a noticeable difference even if no one seems to notice it.
Possibly the almost inevitable exploding of those thousands, sorry there’s another bunch of those pesky zeros, wouldn’t mean the end of the human species. Many species survived the various extinctions in Earth’s past and they didn’t have the human intelligence, forethought or resources to hole up in a cave for a couple of years. Those extinction events released more energy than all of our bombs put together, but without so much radioactivity. Anyway, dear reader, unless you live in Tierra del Fuego you aren’t going to survive, so don’t worry – I don’t.
The usual list of WMDs are really bad but most of them don’t measure up to the WOEs. Along with H-bombs our wise men (homo sapiens) have now created designer diseases. Those are diseases which are modified to be more effective in killing specific living things like people, or sometimes other pesky things like rabbits in Australia or rats in university labs. Disease has probably killed more people over the last 100,000 years than any other thing, so it’s nothing to be sneezed at and even plain old modified insecticides might get you.
Even a really nice guy like Dr. Seuss can get into the game.