In my latest simulation of a world most like ours, which I call “Green,” the human population peaks in 2025 and crashes to zero by 2041. This year the systems that maintain remaining habitat begin to degrade significantly and inexorably, with the effect of waste pumped into the system of life that is in addition to the immense amount that humanity is annually creating. The trigger for the degradation is the elimination of a critical amount of the life that supports those systems.
As I write, those who care about other life and stopping our own global drive toward extinction are cele-brating Earth Day, calculated to be the day that humans are consuming all of the renewable resources that Earth’s ecosystems can furnish annually. Beyond that, we are in overshoot, consuming the producers of those resources in addition to what they produce.
Inhabitants of simulated planet Green would have marked crossing that threshold three weeks ago, noting that annually a full two-thirds of the world’s total resources are being consumed. The citizens of their United States will be feeling several impacts of that excess consumption, among them passing maximum population in 2017 and peak per capita GDP last year. By the end of the decade, the nation will be func-tionally extinct.
Avoiding extinction for as long as possible is the goal of simulated world Hikeyay, named after a fictional community on a mountain in Colorado that nurtured a key character in my fictional blog SimulatedNews. As part of my effort to understand and help solve the extinction crisis, Hikeyay is a both a simulation and a mind experiment to explore what a solution might look and feel like. That solution involves decreasing total consumption starting in 2019, enabling the amount of healthy habitat to grow in the process. The good news is that extinction is delayed; the bad news is that global average temperature continues to climb.