Starting things off with Chris Hedges and climate chaos:
“We’re probably not the first time there’s been a civilization in the universe,” Adam Frank, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Rochester and the author of “Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth,” told me when we met in New York.
“The idea that we’re destroying the planet gives us way too much credit,” he went on. “Certainly, we’re pushing the earth into a new era. If we look at the history of the biosphere, the history of life on earth, in the long run, the earth is just going to pick that up and do what is interesting for it. It will run new evolutionary experiments. We, on the other hand, may not be a part of that experiment.”
Civilizations probably have risen elsewhere in the universe, developed complex societies and then died because of their own technological advances. Every star in the night sky is believed to be circled by planets, some 10 billion trillion of which astronomers such as Frank Drake estimate are hospitable to life.
“If you develop an industrial civilization like ours, the route is going to be the same,” Adam Frank said. “You’re going to have a hard time not triggering climate change.”
Astronomers call the inevitable death of advanced civilizations across the universe “the great filter.” Robin Hanson in the essay, “The Great Filter—Are We Almost Past It?” argues that advanced civilizations hit a wall or a barrier that makes continued existence impossible. The more that human societies evolve, according to Hanson, the more they become “energy intensive” and ensure their own obliteration. This is why, many astronomers theorize, we have not encountered other advanced civilizations in the universe. They destroyed themselves. …
“We will either evolve those group behaviors quickly or the earth will take what we’ve given it, in terms of new climate states, and move on and create new species,” he said.
Frank said the mathematical models for the future of the planet have three trajectories. One is a massive die-off of perhaps 70 percent of the human population and then an uneasy stabilization. The second is complete collapse and extinction. The third is a dramatic reconfiguration of human society to protect the biosphere and make it more diverse and productive not for human beings but for the health of the planet. This would include halting our consumption of fossil fuels, converting to a plant-based diet and dismantling the animal agriculture industry as well as greening deserts and restoring rainforests.
There is, Frank warned, a tipping point when the biosphere becomes so degraded no human activity will halt runaway climate change. He cites Venus again.
“The water on Venus got lost slowly,” he said. “The CO2 built up. There was no way to take it out of the atmosphere. It gets hotter. The fact that it gets hotter makes it even hotter. Which makes it even hotter. That’s what would happen in the collapse model. Planets have minds of their own. They are super-complex systems. Once you get the ball rolling down the hill. … This is the greatest fear. This is why we don’t want to go past 2 degrees [Celsius] of climate change. We’re scared that once you get past 2 degrees, the planet’s own internal mechanisms kick in. The population comes down like a stone. A complete collapse. You lose the civilization entirely.”
A place to hang your hat. :O) (I like the idea that civilizations have risen and fallen on other planets. I’m sorry they had to fall, but there must be some still around….)