“Planet Earth Report” provides descriptive links to headline news by leading science journalists about the extraordinary discoveries, technology, people, and events changing our knowledge of Planet Earth and the future of the human species.
Among its many findings, Dawn helped scientists discover organics on Ceres and evidence that dwarf planets could have hosted oceans over a significant part of their history—and possibly still do. The Kepler Mission, meanwhile, launched in 2009 and revealed that there is statistically at least one planet around every star in our galaxy.
“If this were a community of humans, it would be as if a whole town of 47,000 had only 85-year-olds in it,” says Paul Rogers, an ecologist at Utah State University and Director of the Western Aspen Alliance. “It’s been thriving for thousands of years, and now it’s coming apart on our watch. Where is the next generation?”
There is a 700-million year gap in Earth’s history, and in that time one of the most transformative events happened: life appeared. This missing epoch could hold not just the secret of humanity’s first ancestor, but could guide our search for life on other planets.
Our Blue Planet is in the grips of the Sixth Mass Extinction: The best-case scenario projects that humans will add 300 gigatons of carbon to the oceans by 2100, while more than 500 gigatons will be added under the worst-case scenario, far exceeding the critical threshold. In all scenarios, says Daniel Rothman professor of geophysics and co-director of MIT’s Lorenz Center, by 2100, the carbon cycle will either be close to or well beyond Earth’s threshold for catastrophe.