Mark The Date: Scientists Find 1.75 Billion Expiration Date On Earth

earth-screensaver_largeFor those who are fastidious in scheduling on their iPhone planners, you might want to set one of those ten-minute alerts for 1.75 billion years to address any remaining items on your to-do list. Scientists have determined that, absent a nuclear holocaust, catastrophic asteroid or new William Shatner album, the Earth could continue to support life for at least another 1.75 billion years.

Indeed, the calculation is not exactly precise. With a strong wind at our planetary back, we could go as long as 3.25 billion years before the Earth will travel out of the solar system’s habitable zone and into the “hot zone.” We have only been around for 200,000 years, that is still a fairly generous amount of time.

The research can be found in the journal Astrobiology where the total time for the Earth in the habitable zone is calculated at 7.79 billion years. (Earth is estimated to be about 4.5 billion years old unless you are a creationist where you still believe we are only a few thousand years old.)

119 thoughts on “Mark The Date: Scientists Find 1.75 Billion Expiration Date On Earth”

  1. Maybe we will last a long time seeing how we aren’t burning up the planet as fast as the models said we would. NO GLOBAL WARMING for the last 15 years.

    Finally, the IPCC has toned down its climate change alarm. Can rational discussion now begin?

    Next week, those who made dire predictions of ruinous climate change face their own inconvenient truth. The summary of the fifth assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will be published, showing that global temperatures are refusing to follow the path which was predicted for them by almost all climatic models. Since its first report in 1990

  2. The Sun is in a bad slump. NOAA predicted very active hurricane season and NASA predicted very active sun spots. Neither has come to fruition.

    Solar activity drops to 100-year low, puzzling scientists
    LONDON: Predictions that 2013 would see an upsurge in solar activity and geomagnetic storms disrupting power grids and communications systems have proved to be a false alarm. Instead, the current peak in the solar cycle is the weakest for a century.

    Subdued solar activity has prompted controversial comparisons with the Maunder Minimum, which occurred between 1645 and 1715, when a prolonged absence of sunspots and other indicators of solar activity coincided with the coldest period in the last millennium.

    Longest period in the written hurricane record to go without a CAT3-CAT5 hurricane strike on the U.S. Coast. Almost 8 years.

  3. rafflaw: Without math: Even if our Sun became a Red Giant and turned Earth into a cinder, there is plenty of room and plenty of space and plenty of materials to escape to space, within our own solar system, using what we already know, applied over the course of a thousand generations or so. More than enough to support far more life than currently exists on this planet.

    If humanity fails to survive, it will not be because of a lack of engineering solutions or a lack of technology or know-how. It will be a failure of will, an inability to cooperate for the time required. At this point in our history, the only thing that should destroy humanity (barring extra-terrestrials if they exist) is politics. Even if an asteroid hits us tomorrow and wipes us out, I blame politics; we have had half a century to work on protections against that and because of politics we have dithered it away. The moment we knew asteroid strikes could be an extinction level event we should have been working to spot them, survive them and ultimately deflect them.

    Once we knew it was possible to colonize space itself, we should have worked toward accomplishing a self-sustaining off-planet colony; even if just in orbit around the Earth.

    Humanity is collectively mentally ill, so focused upon immediate rewards that we don’t care if it kills us to get them.

  4. Looks like the petition link is broken. Sorry about that, it was WordPress that chewed it up somehow.

  5. Darren: I think cosmic radiation can be “handled” for something that is essentially stable in orbit. There are enormous distances one can work with; and we already have super-conducting magnets.

    The issues about cosmic radiation in a spaceship heading to Mars or something are confounded by the fact that the spaceship is a moving point, so its protection has to be moving with it. That’s what happens with Earth and its magnetic deflector shield, but it is huge, we can’t make a ship that big.

    In an orbital system, however, the protection can be quite far from the protected target, and distance provides leverage, in that a small angle of deflection provided by super-magnets a few thousand kilometers closer to the sun could cast a kind of shadow charged-particle free zone in the orbital system (not a real shadow, light would still get through, just like light makes it through Earth’s magnetic shield). These deflectors would not have to be traveling at the same speed as the orbital system; it is just two rings moving at their own natural orbital speed. That is unlike the problem for a spaceship, where a distant deflector would have to be perfectly synchronized in speed and course with the spaceship to be constantly casting a particle-free zone on it.

    There may be other sources of radiation to worry about, I am not read up on the problem, but I thought virtually all of it was from the Sun.

  6. TOny:

    Interesting project. I wonder would it be survivable by the individual, or over generations from the genetic effects of cosmic radiation?

  7. bettykath,
    Your comment is snagged in the filter. The limit on links is two in a single comment. Do you want me to remove some or all the links and try to free it for you?

  8. My post on the possible acceleration of the end of the world as we know it is lost in cyber space. I tried to eliminate the links but may not have been successful but no moderation message.

  9. I think the calculations missed something…….”We have two months or less to act.”

    Harvey Wasserman

    The Crisis at Fukushima 4 Demands a Global Take-Over September 19, 2013

    We are now within two months of what may be humankind’s most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

    There is no excuse for not acting. All the resources our species can muster must be focussed on the fuel pool at Fukushima Unit 4.

    Fukushima’s owner, Tokyo Electric (Tepco), says that within as few as 60 days it may begin trying to remove more than 1300 spent fuel rods from a badly damaged pool perched 100 feet in the air. The pool rests on a badly damaged building that is tilting, sinking and could easily come down in the next earthquake, if not on its own.

    Some 400 tons of fuel in that pool could spew out more than 15,000 times as much radiation as was released at Hiroshima.

    The one thing certain about this crisis is that Tepco does not have the scientific, engineering or financial resources to handle it. Nor does the Japanese government. The situation demands a coordinated worldwide effort of the best scientists and engineers our species can muster.

    Why is this so serious?

    We already know that thousands of tons of heavily contaminated water are pouring through the Fukushima site, carrying a devil’s brew of long-lived poisonous isotopes into the Pacific. Tuna irradiated with fallout traceable to Fukushima have already been caught off the coast of California. We can expect far worse.

    Tepco continues to pour more water onto the proximate site of three melted reactor cores it must somehow keep cool.Steam plumes indicate fission may still be going on somewhere underground. But nobody knows exactly where those cores actually are.

    Much of that irradiated water now sits in roughly a thousand huge but fragile tanks that have been quickly assembled and strewn around the site. Many are already leaking. All could shatter in the next earthquake, releasing thousands of tons of permanent poisons into the Pacific. Fresh reports show that Tepco has just dumped another thousand tons of contaminated liquids into the sea

    The water flowing through the site is also undermining the remnant structures at Fukushima, including the one supporting the fuel pool at Unit Four.

    More than 6,000 fuel assemblies now sit in a common pool just 50 meters from Unit Four. Some contain plutonium. The pool has no containment over it. It’s vulnerable to loss of coolant, the collapse of a nearby building, another earthquake, another tsunami and more.

    Overall, more than 11,000 fuel assemblies are scattered around the Fukushima site. According to long-time expert and former Department of Energy official Robert Alvarez, there is more than 85 times as much lethal cesium on site as was released at Chernobyl.

    Radioactive hot spots continue to be found around Japan. There are indications of heightened rates of thyroid damage among local children.

    The immediate bottom line is that those fuel rods must somehow come safely out of the Unit Four fuel pool as soon as possible.

    Just prior to the 3/11/11 earthquake and tsunami that shattered the Fukushima site, the core of Unit Four was removed for routine maintenance and refueling. Like some two dozen reactors in the US and too many more around the world, the General Electric-designed pool into which that core now sits is 100 feet in the air.

    Spent fuel must somehow be kept under water. It’s clad in zirconium alloy which will spontaneously ignite when exposed to air. Long used in flash bulbs for cameras, zirconium burns with an extremely bright hot flame.

    Each uncovered rod emits enough radiation to kill someone standing nearby in a matter of minutes. A conflagration could force all personnel to flee the site and render electronic machinery unworkable.

    According to Arnie Gundersen, a nuclear engineer with forty years in an industry for which he once manufactured fuel rods, the ones in the Unit 4 core are bent, damaged and embrittled to the point of crumbling. Cameras have shown troubling quantities of debris in the fuel pool, which itself is damaged.

    The engineering and scientific barriers to emptying the Unit Four fuel pool are unique and daunting, says Gundersen. But it must be done to 100% perfection.

    Should the attempt fail, the rods could be exposed to air and catch fire, releasing horrific quantities of radiation into the atmosphere. The pool could come crashing to the ground, dumping the rods together into a pile that could fission and possibly explode. The resulting radioactive cloud would threaten the health and safety of all us.

    Chernobyl’s first 1986 fallout reached California within ten days. Fukushima’s in 2011 arrived in less than a week. A new fuel fire at Unit 4 would pour out a continuous stream of lethal radioactive poisons for centuries.

    Former Ambassador Mitsuhei Murata says full-scale releases from Fukushima “would destroy the world environment and our civilization. This is not rocket science, nor does it connect to the pugilistic debate over nuclear power plants. This is an issue of human survival.”

    Neither Tokyo Electric nor the government of Japan can go this alone. There is no excuse for deploying anything less than a coordinated team of the planet’s best scientists and engineers.

    We have two months or less to act.

    For now, we are petitioning the United Nations and President Obama to mobilize the global scientific and engineering community to take charge at Fukushima and the job of moving these fuel rods to safety.

    You can sign the petition at: http://www dot nukefree dot org/crisis-fukushima-4-petition-un-us-global-response

    If you have a better idea, please follow it. But do something and do it now.

    The clock is ticking. The hand of global nuclear disaster is painfully close to midnight.


    Harvey Wasserman is Senior Editor of the Columbus Free Press where this was originally published. He edits where the petition for global intervention at Fukushima is linked.

  10. lotta,

    Humor says it best, doesn’t it? I find the The Daily Show and The Colbert Report often provide us with the most astute perspectives on the way things are/what’s going down.

  11. LoL, should be “elements”, on other blawgs I am a big fan of the “Edit” widget.

  12. Gene, beautiful videos. 100+ chemical variables, limitless space, time and opportunity: how majestic and just plain awesome is that? Everything that can happen has and will until time and energy runs out. How people can contemplate that and reject it for a viewpoint more relevant and consistent with a paramecium is a mystery to me. (no offense to the supposed mental development of paramecia in general.) Thanks for the videos.

Comments are closed.