The human species has a long history of overcoming tremendous obstacles, often coming out stronger than before. Indeed, some anthropologists argue that human intelligence emerged as the consequence of the last major ice age, a period of enormous environmental stress demanding flexibility, foresight and creativity on the part of the small numbers of early Homo sapiens. Historically, those who have prophesied doom for human civilization have been proven wrong, time and again, by the capacity of our species to both adapt to and transform our conditions.
It is in this context that the Global Extinction Awareness System (GEAS) offers its forecast of the likely extinction of humankind within the next quarter-century.
The GEAS forecast differs from earlier doomsday predictions in three significant ways:
The first is that GEAS does not link this extinction to a single factor. No one disease or war or environmental hazard poses a sufficient danger to draw us to this conclusion. Instead, it is the combination of factors, each below the threshold necessary to put our survival at risk. These factors--which we are calling "super-threats"--reinforce each other in substantive ways, creating a set of conditions that we believe capable of ending the human experiment.
The second difference is that the GEAS forecast relies on the WorldRun simulation system. Adapted from the GEAS ecosystem simulations that successfully predicted the unexpected extinctions of red squirrels in 2015, WorldRun draws on a multi-petabyte information base and a massively-parallel computing cloud. Running for nearly 50 days, the first WorldRun simulation offered a likely human extinction date sometime in the early 2040s. Subsequent modeling and confirmation tests have narrowed that likely extinction date to 2042 --just 23 years from now.
The third difference is that GEAS does not argue or believe that this future is unavoidable. This is perhaps the most important element of our forecast. This is not fate. If we act now--and act with intelligence, flexibility, foresight and creativity--we can avoid the final threat. We may even come out of this period far stronger than we were before.