Humanity lived thousands of years in the environment without any source of electric power, but in the environment with radiation they will be dead in a few days.

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    I think it should be 'it'. – WS2 Aug 23 '14 at 20:46
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    If you replaced humanity with the human race, would that help you see your way to clear to a good pronoun choice? – tchrist Aug 23 '14 at 22:45
  • I'm with tchrist. There are many colors, languages, nationalities, religions, cultures, subcultures, tribes, and all other kinds of words that divide us into various people groups (and sometimes into "us versus them"). There is, however, one race, and that's the human race. Don – rhetorician Aug 24 '14 at 3:13

Use it for humanity:

“Humanity lived thousands of years in an environment without any source of electric power, but in an environment with radiation it will be dead in a few days.

However, to my ears, “Humanity” sounds more like “the state of being human” . She showed her humanity when she cared for the wounded.

For the sentence in the question, I would suggest:

  • "Humans" - they, their (Humans are highly social beings, and they have their own...)
  • "Mankind" - it, its (Mankind has been around for over a million years.)
  • "Humankind" - it, its (for those who dislike the term "mankind") (How long has humankind been around ? It has….)
  • "People" - they, their (People will be dead in a few days if they are exposed to…)

The word refers to us. We, each, are part of humanity, so we is the best fit. In the particular sentence, the problem is not with the pronoun, but with the noun humanity itself. What's wrong with just people?

  • 'Humanity' is not incorrect here, but 'Humanity lived thousands of years' involves a figure of speech (probably best considered metonymy). An organism, not a society of separate organisms, 'lives'. WS2 argues that the figure be maintained, you [Brett] that a reversion to what is actually being referred to (people) be made. I'd agree it's messy either way. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 23 '14 at 21:41

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