Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day Wishes

Amongst the remarkable scientific breakthroughs of the 21st century is the detection of planets beyond our solar system.  Pluto may have been relegated to dwarf-planet status, but the list of exoplanets (i.e., planets outside our solar system) discovered by clever astronomers using the capabilities of the Kepler spacecraft is growing rapidly.  

Earth-like planets that could support life as we know it are harder to find, but NASA recently announced the discovery of two so-called habitable zone planets in the Kepler-62 system, Kepler-62-e and Kepler-62-f, as well as a third orbiting Kepler-69.  

Source: NASA AMES/JPL-Cal Tech
Perhaps could start getting ready now for a Battlestar Gallactica like exodus to one of these planets (preferably without the cylons).  They are only a short 1,200 light year journey.  It's tough to say at that sort of distance whether or not one of these planets is teeming with life and a breathable atmosphere.  It took a while for the Earth to get to that point.  But maybe it would be worth a shot?  

Alternatively, we could make our home here, on a planet that seems generally well suited for human life.  In general, I find this planet quite hospitable, although there are a few rough neighborhoods (South Pole and the Empty Quarter you know who you are).  

Nevertheless, challenges lie ahead to make this a home for 9 billion given that zoning regulations will not allow for an addition.  In many ways, Earth Day is as much about humans as it is about the environment.  My wish on this Earth Day is that my generation, and those that follow, will find a way to lift the human condition while ensuring that Earth will remain a suitable home for those who follow. Young Thomas Edisons rise up and show us the way.  

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