Global warming and the Fermi paradox

According to The Fermi Paradoxthe inability to date to achieve radio communications between Earth and extraterrestrial civilizations can be attributed to their inevitable short-term self-destruction, a consequence of the uncontrolled dispersal of toxic substances, the contamination of air, water and land, and the construction of deadly weapons. On Earth, this includes the saturation of the atmosphere by greenhouse gases and the production of nuclear weapons.

Figure 1. Enrico Fermi . Physicist, 1901-1953

The most extensive mass extinction event in Earth’s history, represented by the Permian-Triassic boundary 251 million years ago, involved the warming, acidification and oxygen depletion of oceans, with consequent emanations of H2S and toxic CH4, causing a loss of about 57% of biological families, 83% of genera and 81% of marine species.

If the history of the 21st century is never written he would report that, as large parts of the planet became uninhabitable, the extreme rate and extent of global warming and the migration of climatic zones (~100 km per decade), the scale of melting polar ice, warming and acidifying oceans, and the release of methane from permafrost threatened to become one of the most significant mass extinction events in history. geology of planet Earth.

When concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere exceed 500ppm CO2-equivalentscompatible with global warming of more than >4oC

(Figure 2a), pushing temperatures well above 4oC (Figure 2b) and threatening to rise at a rate greater than those of large mass extinctions.

Figure 2. A. The increase in CO2 since 1700, from 280 ppm to nearly 500 ppm total CO2 equivalent;  B. The Earth system transitions to a new state (after W. Steffen).

Figure 2. A. The increase in CO2 since 1700, from 280 ppm to almost 500 ppm total CO equivalent2; B. The Earth system transitions to a new state (after W.Steffen).

Climatologists have been either silenced or replaced by an army of economists and politicians mostly ignorant of the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere, but quantifying the cost-benefit savings of mitigation like local grocers . Proposed mitigation measures focused primarily on reducing emissions, neglecting amplifying feedbacks and tipping points projected by leading climatologists like James Hansen (Figure 3).

Figure 3. James Edward Hansen, climatologist.

Picture 3. James Edward Hansen climatologist.

But climate change was not the only threat hanging over the heads of humanity and nature. As nations continued to proliferate atomic weapons, over time the likelihood of nuclear war grew exponentially. At the root of FURIOUS (mutually assured destruction), or omnicidelies the deep tribalism and herd mentality of the species, hinging on race, religion, ideology, territorial claims and the concept of a “enemyperpetrated by demagogues and warmongers, leading to a Orwellian 1984 world whereOceania has always been at war with East Asia“, as in the current “wars forever“. Before the First World War, two social forces collided, fascism and socialism. While the first changed in appearance, the second grew weaker. At the heart of the superpower conflict between the Anglo-Saxon world and the Slavic or Chinese worlds are claims of moral superiority, but in reality naked power grabs.

At the center of human consciousness is its mythological nature, a state of mind closely related to mastery of fire where, for more than a million years, homo erectusperched at the campfire, watching the flickering flames, developed his insight and imagination, developing a fear of death, dreaming of omniscience and omnipotence, yearning for eternal life.

As civilization developed in the Neolithic, these feelings drove humans to build pyramids to enshrine immortality, to undertake human sacrifice, to perpetrate death to appease the gods, expressed in modern times through the world wars, as indicated by Albert Einstein: “The splitting of the atom has changed everything except the way of thinking of man and we are thus drifting towards unprecedented catastrophes.

For an intelligent species to be able to explore the planets of the solar system but not protect its own home planet defies explanation. For a species to amplify its entropic effect on nature by orders of magnitude, developing brain powers that allow it to become the intelligent eyes through which the Universe explores itself (Figure 5), alludes to yet unknown natural laws that underlie life, consciousness, and complexity.

Figure 5. The Universe looking at itself through human eyes according to John Wheeler.

Figure 5. The Universe looking at itself through human eyes according to John Wheeler.

We entered the age of consequences, masked by the 24-hour news cycle that can only portray passing events but rarely exposes the Orwellian misconceptions that underpin the complicity of the powers that be. For just as individuals can be tormented by madness, so groups of people, as in the The Jonestown Massacreor in Nazi Germanywhere a nation or species slides blindly toward mass suicide, creating systems that saturate the atmosphere with carbon dioxide and proliferate nuclear weapons in an earthly confirmation of The Fermi Paradox.


Teresa H. Sadler