Okay, now this is a cause of global warming on a scale that makes burning fossil fuels irrelevant. When the sun expands to its red giant stage there will be no blaming our petroleum powered cars and big business for that one. For once, the excess heat will not be their fault.
The predicted time for the Earth’s eventual destruction has been pushed forward into the future a bit over two billion years, but the date for things getting too hot for life on earth has actually been bush closer… we only have about a billion years left here on the Earth.
A billion years may seem like a long time, but it really is not. Consider how long it took life to get to this stage of evolution, where humans develop and invent advanced technologies. The Earth is estimated to be about four and a half billion years old today. This means the Earth’s habitability stage is more than four-fifths over.
With only a billion years of life on Earth left, do you really think we have time to convince the governments and big business to do something before it is too late? I mean, they are waiting to pretty much the last second to switch to alternative fuels now that the oil supplies are running low. This lack of foresight and good planning has our world civilization on the brink of collapse and there is no guarantee that a collapse can be prevented at this stage. Things are going to be rough for a while… at the very least.
We need our governments, and big business, to start planning further ahead and taking actions well ahead of imminent disaster, not waiting to the last second so they can milk the public of every last cent possible with the old system before trying out something new! In this case, we need to get civilization out into the deep solar system and to other nearby stars long before the sun gets too big and makes things too hot for life on Earth. We need time to prove ourselves out there. We need to be self-sufficient out among the outer planets and around other stars so that when the Earth’s habitability stage is finally over, we can still survive.
There is pretty much no way that humanity will survive if we wait until the very last second to leave the Earth behind. Too many things could go wrong if we leave in a mad dash. It has to be a slow but sure build up of technologies and techniques for surviving on alien planets and on, or in, moons of gas giants. All this could take a very long time to master. We best be getting started now, not in 999 million years from now.
Earth’s final sunset predicted
New calculation predicts planet’s destruction in 7.6 billion years
By Clara Moskowitz
updated 10:19 a.m. PT, Tues., Feb. 26, 2008
"Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice," wrote the poet Robert Frost. Astronomers, it turns out, are in the former camp.
A new calculation predicts that Earth will be swallowed up by the sun in 7.6 billion years, capping off a longstanding debate over whether the sun's gravitational pull will have weakened enough for Earth to escape final destruction or not.
Other theorists have predicted that our planet will fry as the sun expands in its old age. But the time estimates have varied by a couple billion years.
"Although people have looked at these problems before, we would claim this is the best attempt that's been made to date, and probably the most reliable," said astronomer Robert Smith, emeritus reader at Britain's University of Sussex, who made the new calculations with astronomer Klaus-Peter Schroeder of the University of Guanajuato in Mexico. "What we've done is to refine existing models and to put the best calculations we can at each point in the model."
If 7.6 billion years doesn't sound like an urgent death sentence, don't relax yet. Regardless of whether Earth will ultimately be vaporized, as the sun heats up, our planet will become too hot to live on before then.
"After a billion years or so you've got an Earth with no atmosphere, no water and a surface temperature of hundreds of degrees, way above the boiling point of water," Smith told Space.com. "The Earth will become dry basically. It will become completely impossible for life of any kind to exist. It's a pretty gloomy forecast."
Nonetheless, scientists are curious about the ultimate fate of our planet after we are gone (like all previous hominids and more than 99 percent of all species that have lived on Earth, humans will probably go extinct, and it will likely happen sooner than a billion years).
Smith's earlier studies found that Earth would narrowly escape being engorged. As the sun ages and expands into a red giant star, it will shed its outer gaseous layers, thus losing mass and weakening its gravitational pull. Previous calculations found that this let-up would allow the Earth's orbit to shift outward, enabling the planet to slip free of the smoldering sun.
But this scenario doesn't account for tidal forces, and the drag of the sun's outer layers. As the Earth orbits the sun, its smaller gravitational pull isn't completely negligible — it actually causes the side of the sun closest to our planet to hoard more mass and bulge out toward us.
"Just as the Earth is pulling on the sun's bulge, it's pulling on the earth, and that causes the earth to slow in its orbit," Smith said. "It will spiral back and finally end up inside the sun."
In addition, the gas that the sun expels will also drag Earth inward toward its demise.
Smith's previous calculations had ignored these effects.
"We didn't think it mattered, but it turns out it does," he said. "You might say our previous models had a gap."
There may even be hope for Earth. Some scientists have proposed a scheme for down the road to use the gravity of a passing asteroid to budge Earth out of the way of the sun toward cooler territory, assuming there is life around at the time that is intelligent enough to engineer this solution.
"It sounds like science fiction, but there's a group of people who have quite seriously suggested that it might be possible," Smith said. "If it's done right, that would just keep the Earth moving fast enough to keep it out of harm's way. Maybe life could go on for as much as 7 billion years."
Smith's findings have been accepted for publication in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
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