Alien Apocalypse: what other civilization would have done with climate change?

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2018-06-11 14:30:13

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Alien Apocalypse: what other civilization would have done with climate change?

In the face of climate change, deforestation and biodiversity loss, the creation of a stable civilization — the most important and necessary task of mankind. But as we approach the solution of this problem, we rarely ask ourselves an important question: how do we know that a stable civilization? Astronomers have catalogued quite a lot of stars, galaxies, comets and black holes. But among the heavenly bodies there can be planets with civilizations. Whether we find them or any civilization, who got the chance to development is doomed to face the inevitable climate change and to perish in a few centuries after you start this avalanche?

Astrophysicist Adam Frank, Professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, together with other researchers looking for the answers to these questions. In a new study published in the journal Astrobiology, Frank, Jonathan Carroll, Nellenbach, Martina Alberti and Alex Claydon consider them "astrobiology" point of view.

"Astrobiology is the study of life and its opportunities in a global context," says Frank, who is also the author of the book "Light of the stars: alien worlds and the fate of the Earth." "This, in particular, the study of activeresize or so-called aliens."

Frank and his colleagues point out that discussions about climate change rarely take place in such a broad context which addresses the possibility that not for the first time in the cosmic history of the planet and its biosphere are facing the same thing we face on Earth. "If we are not the first civilization in the Universe," says Frank, "this means that there must be certain rules for the development of young civilizations like ours."

As the population growth of civilization, it uses more and more of the planet's resources. Using the resources of the planet, civilization is changing the environment. In short, civilization and the planet are not developing separately from each other; they are inter-connected, and the fate of our own civilization depends on how we use the Earth's resources.

To illustrate how interconnected systems are developing civilization and the planet, Frank and his colleagues have developed a mathematical model showing the way, which may leave the joint development of technologically advanced population and the planet. Introducing the civilization and the planet — even alien — as a whole, scientists can better predict what may be necessary for human survival and human civilization as a whole.

"the point is to recognize that climate change is likely to be a common phenomenon," says Frank. "The laws of physics require that any young population that built this energy-intensive civilization, like ours, received a response from the planet. Observation of climate change in the context of space can provide us a better idea of what is happening to us now and what to do about it".

Using mathematical modelling, scientists have identified four potential scenarios that can develop in the system «civilization — the planet»

Extinction: the population and the state of the planet (labeled something like its average temperature) is rapidly growing. Eventually the population reaches a peak and then quickly decreases as the increasing planetary temperature creates a difficult survival conditions. Sustainable population level is reached, but will be far from peak. "Imagine that, seven out of ten people you know die," says Frank. "It is not clear whether a complex technological civilization to survive such a change."

Sustainability: a population and temperature grow, but eventually reach a stable value without any catastrophic effects. This scenario arises in models in which the population is aware of that has a negative impact on the planet, and switches from the use of harmful climate resources such as oil, on resources with low-impact, such as solar power.

Failure with no changes to the resource: population and temperature skyrocketed, while the population reaches a peak and falls to zero. In such a scenario, civilization is failing, but it is not clear, terminate the existence of the view itself.

Collapse with the change of the resource population and the temperature rising, however, people perceive that creates the problem, and switched from harmful resources on environmentally friendly. All slightly balanced, but it's late, so civilization collapses.

"the Last scenario is the most terrible," says Frank. "Even if you do everything right, if you are late, the population will collapse".

The Researchers created their models, partly based on studies of extinct civilizations such as the inhabitants of Easter island. People began to colonize the island between 400 and 700 ad and grew to a peak population of 10 000 people between 1200 and 1500 years BC To the 18th century, however, the people have completely exhausted their sources, and the population fell to 2,000 people.

The extinction of the population of Easter island is related to the concept of bandwidth, or the maximum number of species that can support the environment. The reaction of the Earth on the construction of civilization — that is climate change, says Frank. "If the climate will change a lot, will fall and throughput because, for example, large-scale agriculture will be severely disturbed. Imagine if climate change led to the fact that the Midwest will stop raining. We will not be able to grow food, and our population will decrease".

Now the researchers are unable to render a final verdict on the fate of the Earth. The next steps would be the use of more detailed models of the behavior of the planet, when a civilization consumes energy in any form for growth. But warning, they still endure:

"If you change the climate strongly enough, perhaps, to change it back does not work. Even if you refuse burning fossil fuels and switch to solar energy sources, it may be too late, because the planet is beginning to change. These models show that we can't just talk about the development of civilization in isolation from the world. We need to talk about how planets and civilizations, and develop together".

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