How long can Earth's technological civilization last?
A new study has provided a deeper insight into what could be the average lifetime of species like humans, who are extremely technologically advanced.
Washington: A new study has provided a deeper insight into what could be the average lifetime of species like humans, who are extremely technologically advanced.
Homo sapiens and their energy-gobbling technologies are changing the very ecology of the Earth. But even as these human-caused changes unfold, some wonder whether humans have doomed themselves to extinction.
University of Washington astronomer Woodruff Sullivan and Adam Frank, a University of Rochester astrophysicist and a UW alumnus, suggested that this might not be the first time where the primary agent of causation is knowingly watching it all happen and pondering options for its own future.
The authors revisited the famous 1961 Drake Equation, created to estimate the number of intelligent civilizations in the universe. Focusing on the average lifetime of a "species with energy-intensive technology," they conclude that even with the odds of evolving (such a civilization) on a given habitable planet being one in one million billion, within our local region of the cosmos at least 1,000 species will still have passed through the transition humanity faces today.
The research suggested that the combination of earth-based science of sustainability and the space-oriented field of astrobiology can shed light on the future of technological civilization on Earth.
The authors explained that the point would be to see that Earth's current situation might, in some sense, be natural or at least a natural and generic consequence of certain evolutionary pathways.
Sullivan mentioned that by broadening the issue to think about other possible planets with other possible technical civilizations, we can perhaps gain some insights into our own situation.
On one thing, however, astrobiology and sustainability science already agree, Frank and Sullivan concluded that Earth will be fine in the long run, but the prospects are, however, less clear for Homo sapiens.
The study is published in the journal Anthropocene.