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CARBON PARADOX

posted by Marcus, January 23, 2017 @ 6:04 am

THE CARBON PARADOX:
Why are we here?
Why are we alone?
And how long have we got to live?


Explanatory notes and references for the YouTube video ‘Carbon Paradox’:

The Fermi Paradox:

In 1950 Italian physicist Enrico Fermi asked several of his colleagues at Los Alamos: “Where is everybody”? There are various accounts of the question possibly indicating the conversation with Emil Konopinski, Edward Teller and Herbert York – compiled by Eric M. Jones – occurred separately to a conversation with Leo Szilard wherein Szilard quipped that aliens were already here, and they were called Hungarians. (There were a number of Hungarians working at Los Alamos, joking nicknamed the ‘Martians’.)

“… he went on to conclude that the reason that we hadn’t been visited might be that interstellar flight is impossible, or, if it is possible, always judged to be not worth the effort, or technological civilization doesn’t last long enough for it to happen.” – E. M. Jones (1985) “Where is everybody?” An account of Fermi’s question, Los Alamos National Laboratory

Read more: ‘The Fermi Paradox Is Not Fermi’s, and It Is Not a Paradox’ – Scientific American

The (Modified) Drake Equation:

Around this time several scientists – many with links to Los Alamos such as professor of physics at MIT Phillip Morrison – published theories regarding the search for extraterrestrial life.
In 1961 astronomer Frank Drake helped convene a meeting at the Green Bank Observatory where he created the ‘Drake Equation’ as a form of agenda for the meeting, to estimate the number of intelligent civilizations in our galaxy. Original estimates by Drake and his colleagues deduced that somewhere between 1000 and 100 million extraterrestrial civilizations existed in the Milky Way alone.

In 2016, Dr. Adam Frank from the University of Rochester and Dr. Woodruff “Woody” Sullivan from the University of Washington modified the Drake Equation to consider the number of alien civilisation ‘ever’. They concluded the probability that humans are alone in the Milky Way to be 1-in-60 billion.

Read more: ‘The Odds That We’re the Only Advanced Species in the Galaxy Are One in 60 Billion’ – Air&Space Magazine

Bracewell-von Neumann Probes:

Mathematician John von Neumann worked on the concept of self-replicating ‘automata’ throughout the 40s and 50s. Oddly, he did not comment specifically on their use in space exploration – he was also was also one of the Hungarian ‘Martians’ at Los Alamos joked about by Leo Szilard (above).
It was in 1960 that professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, Ronald N. Bracewell, proposed their use in space exploration.
It was mathematical physicist and cosmologist Frank Tipler who calculated (in his 1981 paper titled ‘Extraterrestrial Beings Do Not Exist’ in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, volume 21, pages 267-281) who calculated it would take a period of 4 million years.

These concepts are introduced to illuminate Fermi’s original statement. They are considered conservative estimates in view of the following factors:
– Tipler was rebutted by Carl Sagan and William Newman 2 years later. Published in the same journal, Sagan and Newman showed Bracewell-von Neumann Probes would replicate exponentially and therefore universal exploration could occur in half the time estimated by Tipler. (See ‘The Solipsist Approach to Extraterrestrial Intelligence’, volume 24, page 113). In other words, the Universe could have been explored 7000 times over since the Big Bang.
– When Frank and Sullivan ran their modified Drake calculation for the entire Universe the result was a 1-in-10-billion-trillion probability that we are the first technological life form.

If you multiply the calculations by Sagan and Frank/Sullivan it is possible to demonstrate that we should have encountered evidence of billions of other life forms, with additional Bracewell-von Neumann Probes being encountered almost constantly.

The Gaian Bottleneck Hypothesis:

Astrobiologists Aditya Chopra and Charley Lineweaver at the Australian National University proposed the ‘Gaian Bottleneck Hypothesis’ in their January 2016 paper ‘The Case for a Gaian Bottleneck: The Biology of Habitability’ published in volume 16, issue 1 of Astrobiology, pages 7-22.

Chopra and Lineweaver specifically state that: ‘If life emerges on a planet, it only rarely evolves quickly enough to regulate greenhouse gases and albedo, thereby maintaining surface temperatures compatible with liquid water and habitability.’

The Great Filter:

Where the previous hypothesis relates specifically to extinction, the ‘Great Filter’ does not specify the nature of the limiting factor(s). As such, there is some overlap between the two concepts. While it is likely humans have already passed one of more ‘Gaian Bottlenecks’, it is less likely we have already survived the ‘Great Filter.’
Geophysicist James Kasting – who was among those cited by Chopra and Lineweaver in their paper – was interviewed on the question of ‘Gaian Bottlenecks’ by online magazine www.inverse.com where he stated: “I think climate change could be a Great Filter for us.”

Read more: ‘Failure to Find Aliens Means We’re in Safe Space’ – Inverse Science

The references above lay the foundations for discussing the original three questions:

Why are we here?
Why are we alone?
And how long have we got to live?

Chemistry and Carbon:

The periodic table maps the structures and properties of all 118 known elements. Carbon in particular is special in that its existence answers our biggest questions.
We use carbon a thousand different ways every day. It’s in rubber, asphalt, diamonds, sugar, wax, oil, plastic, coal, limestone, carbohydrates, household gas in your cooktop, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, charcoal, methane, marble, graphite, chlorofluorocarbons hydrochlorofluorocarbons used in cosmetics, packing foam, aerosols, glue, paint, air conditioners, as well as all the plants and animals we use to build homes, and make clothing and food. Even the radioactive dating of fossils is based on measuring carbon in organic matter. Our entire civilisation, life as we know it, is based on the properties of carbon.

There are more than ten million different organic compounds known by chemists. Carbon is the only element that can form so many compounds – because each atom can form four bonds to other atoms, and because the carbon atom is small enough to fit into very large molecules. It’s also the fourth most common element in the universe and has the highest melting point – meaning it is least likely to change properties based on different temperatures as planets cool, oceans liquefy and atmospheres form.
If we think about these properties, carbon is a stand-out among all elements.

Let’s rank all elements in the Universe by:
– Availability of multiple electrons to form bonds, being their valency,
– Ability to bond with other elements using the ‘Pauling Scale’ of electronegativity (you can also use bond length but the results are the same),
– Atomic radius, as its ability to fit into compact, complex molecules,
– It’s thermal stability, being its melting point, and
– Abundance in the Universe

Carbon is:
– 33rd on valency
– 10th on radius
– 12th on electronegativity
– 1st on melting point
– 4th on abundance

If you combine all these properties, no other element comes close.

PROPERTIES

 

 

 

 

 

 

RANKS

 

 

 

 

 

No.

Sym

Name

v

r

e(X)

mp

a

 

v

r

e(X)

mp

a

SUM

6

C

carbon

4

67

2.55

3500

0.005

 

33

10

12

1

4

60

16

S

sulfur

6

88

2.58

113

0.0005

 

6

15

11

83

10

125

14

Si

silicon

4

111

1.9

1410

0.0007

 

33

22

38

33

8

134

44

Ru

ruthenium

6

178

2.2

2250

4E-09

 

6

63

19

10

37

135

76

Os

osmium

6

185

2.2

3045

3E-09

 

6

67

19

4

39

135

78

Pt

platinum

6

177

2.28

1772

5E-09

 

6

61

17

17

34

135

34

Se

selenium

6

103

2.55

217

0.00000003

 

6

20

12

79

20

137

77

Ir

iridium

6

180

2.2

2410

2E-09

 

6

64

19

8

40

137

42

Mo

molybdenum

6

190

2.16

2617

5E-09

 

6

69

27

6

34

142

35

Br

bromine

7

94

2.96

-7

7E-09

 

1

18

8

90

31

148

45

Rh

rhodium

6

173

2.28

1966

6E-10

 

6

58

17

13

57

151

54

Xe

xenon

6

108

2.6

-112

0.00000001

 

6

21

10

94

22

153

74

W

tungsten

6

193

2.36

3410

5E-10

 

6

71

15

2

60

154

5

B

boron

3

87

2.04

2300

1E-09

 

52

14

30

9

51

156

52

Te

tellurium

6

123

2.1

449

9E-09

 

6

29

28

69

29

161

33

As

arsenic

5

114

2.18

816.8

8E-09

 

23

24

26

60

30

163

53

I

iodine

7

115

2.66

114

1E-09

 

1

25

9

82

51

168

46

Pd

palladium

4

169

2.2

1552

2E-09

 

33

55

19

22

40

169

7

N

nitrogen

3

56

3.04

-210

0.001

 

52

8

6

97

7

170

26

Fe

iron

3

156

1.83

1535

0.0011

 

52

44

43

25

6

170

75

Re

rhenium

7

188

1.9

3180

2E-10

 

1

68

38

3

68

178

82

Pb

lead

4

154

2.33

327

0.00000001

 

33

43

16

71

22

185

13

Al

aluminium

3

118

1.61

1050

0.00005

 

52

26

51

45

14

188

43

Tc

technetium

7

183

1.9

2200

0

 

1

65

38

11

73

188

8

O

oxygen

2

48

3.44

-218

0.01

 

79

6

3

98

3

189

24

Cr

chromium

6

166

1.66

1857

0

 

6

53

47

15

73

194

41

Nb

niobium

5

198

1.6

2468

2E-09

 

23

75

52

7

40

197

79

Au

gold

5

174

2.54

1064

6E-10

 

23

59

14

44

57

197

85

At

astatine

7

127

2.2

302

0

 

1

31

19

75

73

199

28

Ni

nickel

2

149

1.91

1453

0.00006

 

79

41

37

31

13

201

93

Np

neptunium

6

38

1.36

640

0

 

6

2

59

65

73

205

17

Cl

chlorine

5

79

3.16

-101

0

 

23

13

5

93

73

207

10

Ne

neon

0

38

3.98

-249

0.0013

 

100

2

1

100

5

208

40

Zr

zirconium

4

206

1.33

1852

0.00000005

 

33

81

61

16

17

208

58

Ce

cerium

4

67

1.12

795

0.00000001

 

33

10

84

61

22

210

29

Cu

copper

2

145

1.9

1083

0.00000006

 

79

37

38

42

16

212

36

Kr

krypton

2

88

3

-157

0.00000004

 

79

15

7

95

18

214

23

V

vanadium

5

171

1.63

1890

0

 

23

56

49

14

73

215

51

Sb

antimony

5

133

2.05

630

4E-10

 

23

32

29

68

65

217

27

Co

cobalt

4

152

1.88

1495

0

 

33

42

42

29

73

219

32

Ge

germanium

4

125

2.01

937

0

 

33

30

32

51

73

219

50

Sn

tin

4

145

1.96

232

4E-09

 

33

37

35

78

37

220

21

Sc

scandium

3

184

1.36

1539

0.00000003

 

52

66

59

24

20

221

83

Bi

bismuth

5

143

2.02

271

7E-10

 

23

36

31

76

55

221

1

H

hydrogen

1

53

2.2

-259

0.75

 

94

7

19

101

1

222

84

Po

polonium

6

135

2

254

0

 

6

33

33

77

73

222

18

Ar

argon

0

71

3.19

-189

0.0002

 

100

12

4

96

11

223

90

Th

thorium

4

156

1.3

1750

4E-10

 

33

44

63

18

65

223

15

P

phosphorus

5

98

2.19

44

0

 

23

19

25

86

73

226

73

Ta

tantalum

5

200

1.5

2996

8E-11

 

23

76

56

5

72

232

22

Ti

titanium

4

176

1.54

1660

0

 

33

60

55

19

73

240

31

Ga

gallium

3

136

1.81

30

0.00000001

 

52

34

44

88

22

240

96

Cm

curium

4

145

1.3

1340

0

 

33

37

63

35

73

241

4

Be

beryllium

2

112

1.57

1278

1E-09

 

79

23

53

37

51

243

92

U

uranium

6

193

1.38

1132

2E-10

 

6

71

58

40

68

243

95

Am

americium

4

118

1.3

994

0

 

33

26

63

48

73

243

57

La

lanthanum

3

88

1.1

920

2E-09

 

52

15

85

53

40

245

25

Mn

manganese

4

161

1.55

1245

0

 

33

48

54

38

73

246

72

Hf

hafnium

4

208

1.3

2150

7E-10

 

33

83

63

12

55

246

91

Pa

protactinium

5

205

1.5

1568

0

 

23

78

56

21

73

251

102

No

nobelium

3

56

1.3

827

0

 

52

8

63

57

73

253

12

Mg

magnesium

2

145

1.31

639

0.0006

 

79

37

62

67

9

254

9

F

fluorine

1

42

3.98

-220

0

 

94

4

1

99

73

271

39

Y

yttrium

3

212

1.22

1523

7E-09

 

52

84

78

27

31

272

47

Ag

silver

2

165

1.93

962

6E-10

 

79

52

36

50

57

274

101

Md

mendelevium

3

161

1.3

1245

0

 

52

48

63

38

73

274

94

Pu

plutonium

6

177

1.28

640

0

 

6

61

73

65

73

278

81

Tl

thallium

3

156

1.62

303

5E-10

 

52

44

50

74

60

280

60

Nd

neodymium

3

206

1.14

1010

0.00000001

 

52

81

82

47

22

284

48

Cd

cadmium

2

161

1.69

321

2E-09

 

79

48

46

72

40

285

68

Er

erbium

3

226

1.24

1522

2E-09

 

52

90

76

28

40

286

49

In

indium

3

156

1.78

157

3E-10

 

52

44

45

81

67

289

66

Dy

dysprosium

3

228

1.22

1412

2E-09

 

52

92

78

32

40

294

86

Rn

radon

6

120

0

-71

0

 

6

28

96

92

73

295

98

Cf

californium

4

194

1.3

900

0

 

33

73

63

54

73

296

2

He

helium

0

31

0

-272

0.23

 

100

1

96

102

2

301

71

Lu

lutetium

3

217

1.27

1656

1E-10

 

52

85

74

20

70

301

64

Gd

gadolinium

3

233

1.2

1311

2E-09

 

52

96

80

36

40

304

30

Zn

zinc

2

142

1.65

420

0

 

79

35

48

70

73

305

20

Ca

calcium

2

194

1

839

0.00007

 

79

73

87

56

12

307

59

Pr

praseodymium

4

247

1.13

935

2E-09

 

33

99

83

52

40

307

62

Sm

samarium

3

238

1.17

1072

5E-09

 

52

97

81

43

34

307

69

Tm

thulium

3

222

1.25

1545

1E-10

 

52

87

75

23

70

307

100

Fm

fermium

3

231

1.3

1527

0

 

52

94

63

26

73

308

67

Ho

holmium

3

226

1.23

1470

5E-10

 

52

90

77

30

60

309

80

Hg

mercury

2

171

2

-39

1E-09

 

79

56

33

91

51

310

87

Fr

francium

3

42

0

27

0

 

52

4

96

89

73

314

99

Es

einsteinium

4

228

1.3

860

0

 

33

92

63

55

73

316

97

Bk

berkelium

4

253

1.3

986

0

 

33

100

63

49

73

318

65

Tb

terbium

3

225

0

1360

5E-10

 

52

89

96

34

60

331

89

Ac

actinium

3

200

1.1

1050

0

 

52

76

85

45

73

331

70

Yb

ytterbium

3

222

0

824

2E-09

 

52

87

96

58

40

333

38

Sr

strontium

2

219

0.95

769

0.00000004

 

79

86

89

62

18

334

55

Cs

caesium

2

161

0.79

321

2E-09

 

79

48

95

72

40

334

61

Pm

promethium

3

205

0

1100

0

 

52

78

96

41

73

340

3

Li

lithium

1

167

0.98

180

6E-09

 

94

54

88

80

33

349

11

Na

sodium

1

190

0.93

98

0.00002

 

94

69

90

84

15

352

56

Ba

barium

2

253

0.89

725

0.00000001

 

79

100

92

63

22

356

63

Eu

europium

3

231

0

822

5E-10

 

52

94

96

59

60

361

88

Ra

radium

2

205

0.9

700

0

 

79

78

91

64

73

385

37

Rb

rubidium

1

265

0.82

39

0.00000001

 

94

102

93

87

22

398

19

K

potassium

1

243

0.82

64

0

 

94

98

93

85

73

443

Carbon loves to bond with other elements, is capable of forming complex proteins, is abundant, and thermally stable.

Also:
(a) Heavier elements than those in the periodic table may exist (i.e.: having more than 118 protons) in the core of some stars, however they are highly unstable outside of stars.
(b) Carbon is marginally too heavy to have formed immediately during the Big Bang. Rather, carbon atoms are formed inside stars in a process called ‘stellar nucleosynthesis.’ More precisely, the rules that govern matter – the arrangement of electrons in shells around similar numbers of protons and neutrons – were defined during the Big Bang. Carbon is a product of this structure.
(c) Another reason carbon is able to form so many organic compounds is ‘catenation’ – its ability to bond with itself in long chains. Owing to its valency of +/- 4 carbon – being a ‘Group 14’ element – will give or take electrons with other atoms and form multiple strong covalent bonds. It could be argued that this ‘tetravalence’ is even more important than total valency here. This would seem to be the case based on structures in terrestrial organic chemistry and greenhouse gases. However, replacing valence with tetravalence only serves to further exaggerate carbon’s uniqueness, while excluding sulfur. The existence of sulfur bacteria on earth is the best evidence of an alternative biochemistry. Also, including electronegativity in the ranking compensates somewhat for the use of total valence.
(d) The overall ranking of sulfur and silicon does not confirm their existence as alternative biochemistries given the large delta below carbon. However, it is interesting to note that sulfur bacteria already exist on earth, although still reliant on the presence of carbon. Silicon is also often proposed as a theoretical alternative chemistry due to catenation (above). Other alternatives to these are cosmically rare or exist at narrow temperature ranges. As such, the results of this ranking seem to be supported by other evidence. Ruthenium is also used in anti-cancer medication owing to it’s ability to bond with DNA and in photovoltaic cells to improve sensitivity to solar radiation.
(e) Even in these alternative biochemistries the central principle of the Carbon Paradox may also be upheld as sulfur also forms potent greenhouse gases and silane has similar properties to methane.
(f) The ‘overall rank’ of elements is based on the sum of rankings of individual properties. Experimenting with products and means only serves to further exaggerate carbon’s uniqueness, and using Tuples and Euclidean vectors to derive overall rank – given we are ranking a uniform number of properties in a uniform list of elements – proves redundant.
(g) In the graph shown in the video the sum of rankings of the elements is inverted to create a point system, scoring carbon relative to other elements – where a higher score indicates suitability for the formation of life.

Self-Replication:

Two years ago Jeremy England, a 31-year-old assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, derived a mathematical formula that shows that if you take carbon – in the presence of other key elements, and shine sunlight on it, it will inevitably form complex proteins to dissipate heat, based on the second law of thermodynamics:

England formula

These proteins eventually form cells which eventually evolve the behaviours we know as ‘life.’ In other words, life is an inevitable arrangement of carbon in concert with other light elements.
That’s why we are here.

But there’s a twist.

WHY ARE WE ALONE?

Something has stopped intelligent life from propagating throughout up the universe, even though – statistically – it almost certainly should have happened long ago. So why – if life is inevitable – isn’t it? This brings us back to the ‘Great Filter.’ Something stops life from getting past a certain point. The answer is surprisingly simple.

Carbon, for the same reasons it is the only source of life, is also deadly. We don’t have to look very far for an example.

Our twin planet Venus – right next door – has similar properties as Earth, is roughly the same size, shares a similar chemical composition and orbits the same sun. By any logic, life should have evolved there as well. But the atmosphere on Venus is 96.5% carbon dioxide.

 

VENUS

EARTH

RATIO

RADIUS:

6,052 km

6,371 km

95%

MASS:

4,867,500,000 Tt

5,972,370,000 Tt

82%

AV. ORBIT:

108,208,000 km

149,598,023 km

72%

YEAR:

224.7 days

365 days

62%

GRAVITY:

8.87 m/s²

9.8 m/s²

91%

AGE:

4.6 bn yrs

4.543 bn yrs

101%

PLANETARY TEMP:

232 K

255 K

91%

TOTAL CO2:

4.1 x 10e23 gm

=

v

 

 

 

– ATMOSPHERE:

4.1 x 10e23 gm

1.4 x 10e20 gm

292857%

– FOSSIL FUELS:

0

7 x 10e22 gm

0%

– CARBONATE ROCKS:

0

3 x 10e23 gm

0%

– BIOSPHERE:

0

10e19 gm

0%

– ATMOSPHERE:

0

2.4 x 10e18 gm

0%

– OCEANS

0

1.3 x 10e20 gm

0%

 

 

 

 

OBSERVED TEMP:

735 K

288 K

255%

As shown in the above table, all of Venus’ surface carbon is trapped in the atmosphere rather than in organic matter, oceans, rocks or soils. The greenhouse effect of so much CO2 in the atmosphere gives Venus an average atmospheric temperature of 462 degrees Celsius (864 degrees Fahrenheit) not only making it inhospitable to life but also evaporating its oceans and streams.

Graphing Life vs CO2:

Several near-miss mass extinction events have occurred in earth’s history. One event in particular very nearly ended life on earth. To map the inverse correlation between the number of surface organisms and atmospheric carbon, total genera was used from ‘Cycles in fossil diversity’ by Robert A. Rohde and Richard A. Muller of the Department of Physics and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, University of California – published in March 2005 in ‘Nature’ issue 434 (7030), pages 208–210. This chart shows fluctuations in diversity of marine fossil by genera for the past 542 million years, and has a high correlation with ‘A Kinetic Model of Phanerozoic Taxonomic Diversity. III. Post-Paleozoic Families and Mass Extinctions’ by J. John Sepkoski, Jr. first published in ‘Paleobiology’ Vol. 10, No. 2 (Spring, 1984), pp. 246-267

To illustrate the inverse correlation, and combining multiple references, I plotted the 30 million year filtered average of:
– Peter Ward’s ‘Atmospheric CO2 550 million years ago to the present’ from ‘Under a Green Sky’ published by Harper Collins in 2007,
– data from GEOCARB III by Robert A. Berner And Zavareth Kothavala, published in the American Journal of Science, Vol. 301, February, 2001, P. 182–204,
– ‘COPSE: A new model of biogeochemical cycling over Phanerozoic time’ by Noam M. Bergman, Timothy M. Lenton and Andrew J. Watson published in the American Journal of Science in May 2004, vol. 304 no. 5, pages 397-437,
– 2001 data from Daniel H. Rothman in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA vol. 98 no. 8, pages 4305–4310, and
– ‘CO2 as a primary driver of Phanerozoic climate’ by Dana L. Royer, Robert A. Berner, Isabel P. Montañez, Neil J. Tabor and David J. Beerling published in GSA Today, volume 14 no. 3, p. 4-10.

Carbon not only inevitably forms life, but it also forms the most common greenhouse gases – CO2 and Methane – heating planets to the point where life is inevitably destroyed. This data also demonstrates the feedback loop between extinction and the creation of fossil fuels. For intelligent life to form, it must evolve over hundreds of millions of years.

(As I described in my article ‘Elon Mustn’t: Why We Shouldn’t Go To Mars‘, you can trace the origins of humans back to cynodonts that survived the End Permian Mass Extinction 235 million years ago.)

All of those millions of generations of billions of species, when they died, became coal, natural gas, and oil. Now, for human civilisation to develop to the point we are at now, we had to harness primitive energy sources. We first discovered and mastered fire about 125,000 years ago. But the minute we began burning wood, the minute that first whiff of greenhouse gas was sent into the atmosphere, we started a doomsday clock ticking.
With time, we went from wood to coal, coal to oil, and oil to natural gas – burning up the same carbon that once formed life. And in increasing volumes. We can now trace the isotopes of carbon, namely carbon 13, in the atmosphere, to prove that the carbon we have burned is causing global warming. Every lifeform that ever existed anywhere in the Universe would have faced exactly the same challenge.
Once CO2 levels in the atmosphere reach a tipping point around +5 degrees – as we saw during the End Permian Mass Extinction 260 million years ago – the rising ocean temperatures trigger the release of deep ocean sediments, called ‘Clathrates’. These kick the temperature up another 20 degrees. Last time this happened, 95% of life on Earth went extinct. The only way the temperature ever came back down is that enough algae survived in the oceans to slowly reabsorb that carbon, otherwise Earth would now look like Venus – hundreds of degrees hotter, and devoid of life.

That is why we are alone.

Just as inevitable as life, is it’s extinction – all thanks to the same properties of one element.

And that is the ‘Carbon Paradox.’ Carbon is cause of life while also being the reason we haven’t encountered any other life in the Universe.
Which brings us to the third question…

HOW LONG HAVE WE GOT TO LIVE?

In 1964, the Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev developed what is now called the Kardashev scale, classifying humans as being at the very beginning of the scale – emerging ‘Type I’ – based on our energy sources. For any life form to survive long enough to travel the stars, it would have to achieve ‘Type 2’ – harnessing the energy of its sun. As such, our species is now at a pivotal turning point.
In the very same instant we have come to realise our predicament, it is almost too late. Our current rate of releasing carbon into the atmosphere is the fastest it has been in 66 million years, and faster than the period leading into the End-Permian mass extinction. Temperatures are predicted to rise in the next Century 20 times faster than at any other time in the past 2 million years.

Human civilisation is presented with a unique opportunity: will we learn to manage the atmosphere of our planet, and harness the Great Filter? Based on the work of Fermi, Drake, Frank, Sullivan, Bracewell, von Neumann, Tipler, Sagan, Newman and hundreds of other scientists, it is evident that no other species has successfully navigated this transition.

If we succeed, we may well be the species that explored the entire Universe in the next 4 million years.
If we do not, we will vanish without a trace taking all known life in the Universe with us.

PLEASE COMMENT

2 Responses to “CARBON PARADOX”

  1. Sensational article (and video)!
    I haven’t seen `the Carbon Paradox’ framed up and summarized this well anywhere before! – Truly terrific stuff.

    (And, as a rural firefighter, I hope Trump and his climate-science-deniers all read and watch it… preferably on a continuous loop, until it sinks in for them 🙂

  2. Marcus Marcus says:

    Thanks JT! It may be a little too long for certain people.


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