Friday, May 6, 2016

Silent Running?

End of the road for the human race?
Where have all the people gone?
Today's post is a sober one. For some time astrophysicists, astronomers and NASA-types have pondered a question: Why have we not heard from extraterrestrial civilizations?

Some simple math and conservative assumptions about the prevalence of planets and intelligent life suggest that the galaxy should be teeming with the signals of other civilizations. Despite decades of searching though all we hear from the cosmos is a deep and profound silence.

This unsettling situation is known as the Fermi paradox. One hypothesis to explain this situation is known as The Great Filter. Simply put, it states that some sort of unknown factor greatly reduces the probability of life developing, or appearing long enough to make its presence known.

If The Great Filter lies behinds us, it means that we have passed the critical threshold and our species will likely continue to survive and even expand into space.

One of the explanations offered up for The Great Filter is that some sort of catastrophe or resource depletion snuffs out advanced civilizations before they reach the point of extensive space travel. If that's the case, then The Great Filter lies ahead of us... and we will become extinct.

So where am I going with this?

For the past few years, there has been a flurry of articles and news items from around the world documenting the accumulating effects of global warming. Global temperature records are now being set annually...heat waves are killing thousands of people... fresh water is becoming increasingly scarce... new diseases are developing and rapidly spreading... food supply sources are disappearing... climate change refugees are already starting to flee to safer zones... ocean eco-systems are collapsing...

Worse is the disturbing news that the effects are accelerating. Climate scientists are now predicting that parts of the planet are going to be uninhabitable due to intolerable heat in as little as 25 years. Some of them have said that we are already past the point of certainty... that the process is unstoppable and that it's anyone's guess as to what will happen.

We've known these days were coming for nearly forty years and we've done nothing significant to prevent it. There is nothing to suggest that we're going to do it in the future either despite some feel-good pacts and declarations.

Some days, I feel very gloomy and I wonder: Are we face to face with our Great Filter?

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