Planet 2.0 ?
Feb 21, 2016
On the search for planets with the capability to support life in the galaxy and how we may find them but the human race will go extinct before we can ever develop space faring capabilities.
I watched the new documentary "Telescope" last night on the Discovery channel. Watched it twice, and enjoyed it very much, but I had serious reservations about viewpoints expressed near the end of the program about the possibilities of humans migrating to new worlds.
The documentary was about the James Webb Space Telescope which is due to be launched into orbit in October 2018. I am personally as excited about the launch of the JWST as I was the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990. The HST provided the human race with a revolution in astronomy over ground based astronomy, and changed our view of the universe. The HST operated in the visual wavelengths, with some capability in the near infrared, and the near ultraviolet. The famous Hubble Deep Field showing 10,000 galaxies in a drinking straw sized field of view was imagined almost entirely in visible wavelengths of light.
The JWST will have a collecting area of 270 sq ft versus the 50 sq ft of the HST. The JWST will be parked in a Lagrange point one million miles from Earth rather then low earth orbit like the HST has been operating in. Finally, and most importantly, the Web Telescope will operate in the infrared.
The famous Hubble Deep Field ten day image of the most distant observable galaxies, was limited by the HST's inability to image in the infrared. Because of the increasing expansion rate of the Universe, the further out we look, the light of the most distant galaxies have been red shifted into the infrared. The JWST will not only be able to observe further because of this infrared capability, but also because it also gathers five times more light.
This increase in resolution, light gathering power, and the ability to image in the infrared by this telescope will be critically important in the search for exoplanets. As you can imagine, earth like planets being small, distant, and radiating in the infrared will be ripe subjects for exploration by the Webb Telescope. I was excited to actually see a exoplanet recently imaged by the Gemini Telescope in Hawaii for the first time to my to my knowledge. Now we are finally getting somewhere in our exoplanet searching was my first response.
However, I have lots of problems when I listen to Astronomers waxing poetic about finding life capable planets in the galaxy, how this means when that when the Sun increases in brightness, and threatens life on Earth, we will then be able to migrate. There are plenty of rationales for the explanation of the Cosmos, and the quest for knowledge that do not require postulating them to be a safe refuge for humanity to migrate to when life becomes impossible on Earth
The reason I am complaining about these misdirected sentiments is that the human race is facing Near Term Human Extinction (NTHE) right now, due to Abrupt Climate Change, and apparently some people have just not gotten the memo yet? It looks like we fired the Clathrate Gun releasing sequestered methane in the land and ocean permafrost in 2007. The shallow ocean continental shelves are most concerning because it will not take much in the way of a warming ocean to release them.
People may argue about the effectiveness of methane to cause further warming, but I would remind folks that methane breaks down into CO2 so it is a double wammie as far as I can tell. This could take carbon mitigation directly out of our hands.
If you want a near term check on indications of if Abrupt climate Change have been initiated or not, look the the average temperature rise for the planet by 2020. The average temperature rise has been quoted as 0.85 C for some time now, but all indications are we went over 1.0 C in 2015. If you start seeing reported average temperatures for the planet of 2.0 C by the end of 2020 you will know we are on exponential temperature track rise. That and if we go to a Blue Ocean Event in the Arctic before 2020 this will be the nail in proverbial collective coffins.
So yes, I am a science nerd and I can not wait until the launch the JWST. I think it will need servicing missions, and they are way too optimistic in thinking they can get away without planning for them. I also think we will be capable of servicing the Webb with the new Orion Space Craft.
But, give me a break, telling people we will be able discover life bearing planets in the galaxy (true) and that these worlds will be our escape hatch for a potentially doomed humanity in the distant future is just beyond the pale of cheeky. We just don't have to look that far. NASA would be better off speculating about what we are going to do by 2030 to save our collective skins.
If we go 2C by 2020 and then on to 4C by 2030, we are fucked. Sorry for the French, but there is no better succinct way to sum it up. We could lose habitat for humans on this planet in the near future, if what the science tells us is happening is true, and I think it is. If we can not grow food outdoors, it is game over, for the human race.
On a lighter note my wife and I have started storing food that can be kept for long periods of time. Our goal is to build up a cache of food that could last us as much as year. If industrial civilization collapses all this could do is buy us some time, but time to think rationally, and plan may be in short supply then. In any lead up to the a civilization collapse, things will get intermittent.
By that I mean food in the store one week, no food the next, no transportation or no electricity, or any number of disruptions. Anyone planning ahead will do better in these coming hard times with reserves of food, is all I am willing to claim. People used to keep food stores all the time, and it is a good idea. I will leave it there.
Gardens or trees on Mars are not going to save the human race if we screw up the only serviceable abode for life in our corner of the galaxy. It is long past time for the human race to grow up and start looking to update Earth 1.0. Buckle up folks, it is going to be a wild ride into the event horizon of Near Term Human Extinction.
P.S. There is a support Group on Face book for NTHE if any of you are interested. Also Sam Carana, Paul Beckwith, and Guy McPherson have Face Book pages, so you might want to send then friends request if you want to keep up on the Abrupt Climate Change news.
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