Combining fields of sustainability and astrobiology to probe human civilization longevity

Human-caused climate change, ocean acidification and species extinctions may eventually threaten the collapse of civilization, according to some scientists, while other people argue that for political or economic reasons we should allow industrial development to continue without restrictions.

In a new paper, two astrophysicists argue that these questions may soon be resolvable scientifically, thanks to new data about the Earth and about other planets in our galaxy, and by combining the earth-based science of sustainability with the space-oriented field of astrobiology.

“We have no idea how long a technological civilization like our own can last,” says University of Rochester astrophysicist Adam Frank. “Is it 200 years, 500 years or 50,000 years? Answering this question is at the root of all our concerns about the sustainability of human society.”

“Are we the first and only technologically-intensive civilization in the entire history of the universe?” asks Frank. “If not, shouldn’t we stand to learn something from the past successes and failures of these other species?”

In their paper, which appears in the journal Anthropocene, Frank and co-author Woodruff Sullivan call for creation of a new research program to answer questions about humanity’s future in the broadest astronomical context. The authors explain: “The point is to see Continue Reading…

Via-: Sciworthy News