December 2nd, 2019
According to Avi Loeb, a Harvard scientist, humanity will destroy itself long before the sun will have the opportunity to do so. Humans should be less concerned about what the sun will do and more concerned about the damage we are doing to ourselves.
Loeb warns that humanity will likely bring about its own demise “as a result of self-inflicted wounds long before the sun will pose its predictable threat.” Scientists say that in billions of years, the sun will incinerate our oceans leaving a desolate and dead planet devoid of life. But we are doing enough damage to ourselves, that humanity won’t even make it long enough to witness such an event.
As the star runs out of hydrogen and helium atoms to burn in its core, it glows brighter and brighter. Eventually, the sun will bombard Earth with enough high-energy light to incinerate the world’s oceans, melt the polar ice caps, and strip our atmosphere of all moisture — effectively killing all life. –Business Insider
“I am inclined to believe that our civilization will disappear as a result of self-inflicted wounds long before the sun will pose its predictable threat,” Loeb wrote. “Why do I believe that? Because the dead silence we hear so far from the numerous habitable exoplanets we’ve discovered may indicate that advanced civilizations have much shorter lives than their host stars.”
But is there a solution to humanity’s demise? A BBC reporter recently posed that very question to Loeb, an astronomer. In a recent Scientific American blog post, Loeb stated how imperative it is for our species to relocate to other parts of the universe that are less close to our sun’s vacillating brightness.
The astronomer doesn’t want us to remain shackled to existing planets and moons, either. He said it’d be best if humanity could “manufacture a gigantic structure that will be able [to maneuver] the optimal orbital distance at any given time” from the sun’s deadly energy. Once we successfully colonize both nearby and interstellar space, Loeb added, we can make genetically identical copies of ourselves and “the flora and fauna we hold dear” to seed other planets with life.
However, Loeb is not optimistic that this will happen. Humanity is on track to wipe itself out before the sun can pose a real threat. Obviously, the astronomer’s solution is one that will have to happen in the future and therefore, won’t do much for preserving people alive on Earth today. But to Loeb, it is more important to ensure the longevity of our species as a whole rather than protecting “our own skin.”