In case you didn’t notice, last week we inched closer to the apocalypse. So proclaimed the curators of the Doomsday Clock. The clock was set one minute closer to “Doomsday”. The clock was originally conceived as a barometer of how close the world was to nuclear war. Now that total global nuclear war is such a small threat, the Doomsday clock represent the overall threat of man-made disaster from widely varying things such as bio-terrorism and anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Personally, I am not too worried about AGW because even if it is as big a threat as some people theorize, the effect are many years away and will happen gradually. Put it this way, the world is not going to end this year because of AGW. Some gradual things that are theorized to happen during AGW are the continued break-up of the arctic ice shelf, continued pressure on animals to adapt or die, radically shifting ecosystems, and more plant and animal extinction than currently expected,
In contrast, the threat of bio-terrorism (or biotechnology in general) is much larger and could end the world as we know it this year. The chance is very low (this year), but the technology is advancing fast. Not only is biotechnology advancing fast, but other types of technology could also disrupt things in a very negative way. Some of the best thought on future threats and how to deal with them are not from the keepers of the Doomsday Clock, but from the LifeBoat Foundation. One key theme from the people who think about how to keep our species safe into the far future is to get off this planet. Not having self-sustaining space colonies means that all of our eggs are in one basket – called earth. If we screw it up here with some powerful new technology, it is all over. If people move into space, then there will be a chance that humans survive.
It is a shame then that not as many people are as thrilled about space exploration and colonization as they used to be. Public space budgets in the west have been cut. Thankfully, many of the people who are driving private space exploration are doing so – in part – with self (and human) preservation in mind. Let us hope they succeed soon. Not only could space exploration prove to be fun and thrilling, but it could also help put our minds at ease.
Have a pleasant Monday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.