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The ultimate value for the human species, defined in a Darwinian sense, would be to survive. For a species to survive for a long time means either for it to exist in an extremely stable environment, such as at extreme depths of the ocean, or to adapt quicker than its competitors do in a more typically changeable near-surface situation. A species in a volatile environment will do better if it is geographically widespread such that a change in some local area will not be an extinction event.

The long-term goal of humanity should be to avoid extinction. That is obvious, but it doesn’t seem to be a foregone conclusion at the moment. Humans do have some distinct advantages as a species, such as being widespread through many environments, but that may be fictional because many of those extreme situations are dependent on the world society to support them. The South Pole station would be an extreme example, but people living in cities are also very dependent on outside support and a major failure of oil distribution would bring a worldwide famine within a few months.

Another advantage humans have is the ability to think ahead and thus to prepare for adverse future situations. The oil crisis mentioned above wouldn’t be an extinction event, only a vast diminishing of the human population, but a major atomic war might bring on a near extinction event. That war would certainly mean extinction for a great many other species, but some humans with well-stocked shelters in remote places could survive. One of the downsides of modern technology, especially CRISPR, is the ability to intentionally design pathogens that might be very deadly. A single one of these probably wouldn’t kill everyone, but if hundreds or thousands of diseases were created and released at one time it could be an extinction event.

When I consider these options the only multi-hundred-year human species survival strategy is the creation of a Lifehaven for people and an Earth Ark for the Earth’s plants. Even if we survive we need a self-sustaining Earth Ark near the South Pole, where seeds would be in a deep freeze that doesn’t need human maintenance; that would be a seed bank to replenish many extinct species.

Human extinction is possible so we should prepare to avoid it.

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