May 29, 2013

Becoming Extinct

An artist rendering of Kepler-62e
I watched the latest SciShow video today from Hank Green where he talked about the history of the earth's climate and how its is rising exceptionally for the past 100 years. And I just watched an episode of Hannah Hart's "Hello, Harto!" in which she visited Drumheller in Canada, a site that has the most dinosaur bones were found in the world.

And of course with my twisted mind doing its thing, it made me think of our own extinction event.

We all read the textbooks and watched documentaries from Discovery Channel: that the sun will one day start to expand and be a red giant and will eat up our home planet and eventually killing every living thing in it. In science fiction novels and movies though, humans are particularly successful in escaping planet earth and colonizing other planets. "After Earth" is an upcoming movie that has that exact same plot.

We all know there's still a long way to go before we can live outside earth. Mars One, a bold project from a private company, is planning to launch a manned space flight in 2022. Of course, Mars as we know it isn't really life-friendly, so if one day we are able to colonize it, we need to make it like earth, a process that was coined "Terraforming." Of course, terraforming is a concept that we don't have any idea on how to actually accomplish.

The Mars mission would take 7 months to travel to Mars, and it maybe way worse than your typical 12 hour flight, but it is still impressive, considering Mars is 34.8 million miles away from Earth at its closest distance. But to put that into perspective, Kepler-62e, an earth-like planet that scientists discovered last month, is 1,200 light-years away from earth. Mars on the other hand is merely just 4 light... minutes. Warp speed travel a la Star Trek is needed for these kinds of distances if ever plan on going there someday. But unfortunately, warp drive technology is still far from becoming a reality.

Going back to the SciShow video, where Hank Green explained that for the past 100 years, our earth's climate has risen exponentially. I can actually support that claim as this year is probably the hottest summer I have experienced here in the Philippines. Since March, temperatures are averaging around 100 degrees during daylight. Two days ago, it rained really hard and probably it was the heaviest rain I have ever experienced.

So that made me think, would it be all too late? Will planet earth eventually be inhospitable by becoming too hot faster than humans can develop a technology to escape or maintain the planet? I sure do hope not, but it really worries me a lot.

how will you survive a mass extinction event?

It really just makes me think how valuable our entire existence is. I mean think of it, hundreds of thousands of years of evolution, millions and millions of knowledge, culture, and technology. To think that one day, if every human on earth will be gone, all that we know and all that we've accomplished as humans will ultimately be worthless and will not matter to any other living being on earth.

Our earth would actually just continue to revolve around the sun as well as any other creature that survived with it -- cockroaches maybe, deep-sea creatures, bacteria, etc. They will continue to evolve for billions of years and adapt to whatever changes that the earth will go into.

I mean that's what happened to the dinosaurs, wasn't it? They dominated the entire earth the time they still existed, until an asteroid wiped them out. Our planet moved on and survived the extinction event, but a mere 65 million years after that, somehow through process of evolution, human beings were born. We were the new occupants of the earth and the new dominant creatures. But unfortunately, our own extinction event may just be lurking around around the corner.

But who knows? Maybe millions or billions of years after our extinction event, one very special species had evolved into super intelligent beings even smarter than us. They would then be able to find our fossils, our skyscraper ruins, and everything that the earth was once was. I bet they might even call us "gods."

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