Is humanity doomed? Insights from astrobiology

A discussion of several connections between astrobiology (life in the universe) and sustainability: limits to where and when life can exist, observations of extraterrestrials, and the fate of Earth and the universe.

Seth D. Baum, 2010. Is humanity doomed? Insights from astrobiology. Sustainability, vol. 2, no. 2 (February), pages 591-603.

Full article: Available free online at Sustainability * Click here for the full pdf.

Video overview: Available at YouTube, produced by Penn State Geography

* Blog discussions at Brave New Climate, Química Viva (português)

Astrobiology, the study of life in the universe, offers profound insights into human sustainability. However, astrobiology is commonly neglected in sustainability research. This paper develops three topics connecting astrobiology to sustainability: constraints on what zones in the universe are habitable, the absence of observations of extraterrestrial civilizations, and the physical fate of the universe. These topics have major implications for our thinking and action on sustainability. While we may not be doomed, we must take certain actions to sustain ourselves in this universe. The topics also suggest that our current sustainability efforts may be of literally galactic importance.

Created 8 Mar 2010 * Updated 29 Jul 2013