Matthew Rozsa in Salon:
Earlier this month, a 3-mile wide asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon passed by earth. It didn't strike us (obviously), and if it had it's not clear whether its impact would have completely obliterated humanity or merely been devastating. But scientists believe it could hit us in the future — and even if it doesn't, there are plenty of other celestial bodies out there which are large enough to wipe out all life on this planet and which could very well strike us. This raises an important question: If humanity were to go extinct, would we as a species be collectively ready for it? I don't mean would we be able to avoid it somehow. Are we able to make peace with our own death as a species, much as specific human beings often try to make peace with their own deaths as individuals?
There are many compelling reasons for us to ask this question right now. Global warming is reaching a crisis point, and while it's impossible to predict how exactly that will end, humanity's extinction is certainly within the realm of plausibility. The threat of nuclear war has loomed over our species since that fateful day in 1945 when Harry Truman dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and today could come about either through the actions of Islamist extremists or the dueling man-children Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. Epidemics have become increasingly likely, as diseases evolve into antibiotic-resistant superbugs. There are even dropping sperm countsamong men in the Western world which, if mirrored by men everywhere else on the planet, could wipe us out while leaving most other species intact.