State of Earth pushes boundaries of science

astronaut focus page

by Akina Nishi

graphic by Emily Duong & Alan Guardado

 

With the planet Earth and its valuable resources deteriorating, we must realize the revolutionary implications of space science and encourage interest among our generation.

Combined with rising global population and human-caused climate change, our natural resources have dwindled. According to an article on opendemocracy.net, “our civilization is running at 40 percent above its sustainable capacity.”

As nature.com defines, a planetary boundary is “the safe operating space for humanity with respect to the Earth system and are associated with the planet’s biophysical subsystems or processes.” Three out of nine of these boundaries have been overstepped.

These subsystems include the carbon cycle, monsoon system and ocean acidification. Resources, such as soil, water and trees, are being exhausted by humans.

There has been a 35 percent increase in the population since 1992, and it continues to rise. Even twenty years ago, scientists were projecting a sharp population increase, and had warned that Earth was pushing its natural limits, as reported by American Institute of Biological Sciences.

Although the solution to this problem would be to work towards an eco-friendly lifestyle and end wasteful expenditures, these problems do not look to be ending anytime soon. According to an editorial, “We’re on Mission Impossible to Solve Global Warming,” by Robert J. Samuelson, humanity does not have enough technological, political or market power to cut the minimum of 30 percent of emissions necessary to permanently distinguish them from our atmosphere by 2050.

Our technology, such as cars and machinery, still emit toxic chemicals. According to the article, “solar and wind power have made advances, but they still provide only a tiny share of the world’s total energy, about 4 percent.”

We lack political and economic power because of increasing living standards. Samuelson uses air conditioners as an example. He claims that air conditioning units “By 2050… could triple to 5.6 billion units. People in advanced societies won’t abandon air conditioning, and people in poorer countries won’t surrender the chance to enjoy it.”

Space exploration would be the key to figuring out how to solve resource depletion, as the late Stephen Hawking advocated. He stated in a conference in Norway, “we are running out of space, and the only places to go to are other worlds. It is time to explore other solar systems.”

Published shortly after his death, the book written by Hawking, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, breaks down humanity’s most pressing and concerning problems. Among them is the impending expiration of Earth’s resources.

Hawking claims the answer lies in space exploration. As he wrote in his book, “If humanity is to continue for another million years, our future lies in going boldly where no one else has gone before.”

His views have been adopted by scientists and researchers. According to TechTimes.com, U.S. Geological Survey is aiming to mine for resources in other planets. This company, which is in charge of creating geological maps of natural resources, hopes to attain minerals, energy and water from space.

Recently, we are seeing educators putting more efforts into this field of science. At University of California Davis (UCD), researchers have been studying gravitational biology and life in space for more than five decades.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) financially supports their research, especially their findings of hyper-gravity, according to the UC Davis website.

Using fruit flies, Deborah Kimbrell, researcher at UC Davis, had recognized the effects hyper-gravity (increased gravity) and micro-gravity (decreased gravity) have on the immune system.

Fortified scholars who research space science, such as Kimbrell, have furthered field studies. According to an article on NASA.gov, these projects will “deliver advanced tools for long-duration spaceflight experiment.”

Venturing outside of our planet proves to be a vital step forward in order to sustain and advance the future of humanity.

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