When we think of humanity as a species we should consider it as halfway through its life cycle. Why? Any species that had now disappeared lived half of its cycle in the middle and during that time it got along well without changing much. We have no way of knowing how long our species will last, but at some distant time, it could probably be said that we were in the middle of our physical development in 2020. That’s twenty-twenty hindsight.
Our species is estimated to have hit a population low of about 10,000 humans 70,000 years ago. Our population is now about 7,700,000,000. Just to round it out, because no one can ever know more than approximately, let’s say there were 7,700 humans back at the population crunch. Thus, 7,700,000,000 divided by 7,700 equals 1,000,000 times as many people now as there were then. So, if we were living as they did, then our population would be having a million times more impact on the environment than those people. But most of us are living in a high-technology way and thus we are having a thousand times greater impact than that. A simple multiple makes us having a billion times more impact than they did, and that is unsustainable for very long. Most species went extinct without ever having the kind of impact on the environment that we are presently having.
The big question then becomes how do we as a species behave in such a way that we can live out our species’ life expectancy of 72,000 years? Coal, oil, and air are the one-time-use fossil energy sources that power our civilization, and only air is renewable although it may be the one that fails us first. Our population may drop off the bottom of this chart before it hits ten billion.
We are willfully not addressing the sustainability problem in a way that will save our species from near extinction.