Science Scope

Will humans go extinct in 100 years?

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Frank Fenner, the scientist who eradicated small pox, predicts humans will undergo a mass extinction within the next century. Here's why.

The Australian scientist, who eradicated small pox, thinks so. Frank Fenner, a professor at the Australian National University, knows a thing or two about extinction. He wiped out the variola virus, the cause of small pox, after all!

Now the 95-year-old, Fenner is preoccupied with human extinction. In an exclusive interview with The Australian, Fenner gave a sobering interview in his Canberra suburb home:

"Homo sapiens will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years," he says. "A lot of other animals will, too. It's an irreversible situation. I think it's too late. I try not to express that because people are trying to do something, but they keep putting it off.

"Mitigation would slow things down a bit, but there are too many people here already."

When the population increases to 8 or 9 billion, Fenner imagines people will fight over food. Besides overpopulation issues, blame ecological destruction and over-consumption for diminishing our chance at survival.

Look what happened on Easter Island. NOVA paints a gloomy picture:

In the world at large, we are deforesting our land, overfishing our oceans, causing the extinction of large numbers of species. We are watching our topsoil disappear by the millions of tons each year. We are starting to fight over ever-scarcer freshwater. We are overconsuming our resources as if there were no tomorrow, or future generations. One would have to be in denial not to see those "chillingly obvious" parallels to Easter Island.

Hopefully what happened on Easter Island, won't happen to us. I can't help but feel this impeding doom, as I watch the oil gush into the Gulf and destroy any life it touches.

Which begs the question: Can the earth survive a disaster?

Yes, says Livescience. After humans are extinct, the earth will bounce back. As far as the oil spill and its impact, journalist Alan Weisman thinks:

That "horrifying" event may register as just a blip on the Earth's radar. But it still seems like a very long-term mess for the humans who have to live with it, Weisman noted.

Which seems optimistic, until you realize that Weisman wrote the book, "The World Without Us."

Boonsri Dickinson

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Boonsri Dickinson is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has written for Discover, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Nature Biotech, Technewsdaily.com, Techstartups.com and AOL. She's currently a reporter for Business Insider. She holds degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure