Although the litany of dangers facing our species seems daunting, none is an unambiguous death sentence. Each can be dealt with if our species shows foresight. These dangers must confront any race that climbs the evolutionary ladder to intelligence. As Carl Sagan says in his book Pale Blue Dot: "Some planetary civilizations see their way through, place limits on what may and what must not be done, and safely pass through the time of perils. Others, not so lucky or so prudent, perish."

My own view is that we will successfully negotiate the hazards threatening our species. We will not kill ourselves off. We will not die off from disease. We will wax and wane in numbers as the long roll of time still facing this planet buffets our species with all manner of climate changes, asteroid impacts, runaway technology, and evil robots. We will persevere. But the animals and plants along for the ride on this planet that we have so cockily co-opted will not be so fortunate.

Perhaps this view that we are unkillable—at least as a species—is naive. But even if we are to live as long as an average mammalian species—between 1 and 3 million years—we still have huge stretches of time left, for our species is barely a quarter of a million years old. And who says we are average? My bet is that we will stick around until the very end of planetary habitability for this already old Earth.

Survivors at the twilight of the planet.

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