An Astrobiological Perspective on Threats to Humanity
June 23, 2021 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm HST
Pilina Ao Speaker Series
Our Earth is 4.5 billion years old and may live for 12 billion years, but it has not always been hospitable to advanced forms of life. We live in a golden age of mammals that began about 0.5 billion years ago, but for most of its history Earth has had conditions suitable only for microscopic life. In roughly 0.5 billion years our reign will end, and planet Earth will once again be the home of microbes. But, this could happen much sooner. In this fast-paced tour of the past and future Earth we will explore alternate scenarios:
- Death from the skies – Unlike humans, asteroids have been wreaking havoc on the Earth for billions of years. At least one budding civilization, the dinosaurs, was extinguished by an asteroid impact. Are we next?
- Doom from within – We don’t know when the next massive supervolcano will erupt, but when it does, we will all wish we were someplace else.
- Decimated by disease – Viruses and microbes dominate our planet and even make human life possible, but what some giveth, others taketh away. Are we destined to be done in by pandemic?
- Virtual environments – As information technology encompasses more and more of our lives, will there come a point where people prefer it to reality? Are we there already?
- Karen Meech, Astronomer, Interim Director, UHM Institute for Astronomy, IfA
- Grieg Steward, Professor, Oceanography, UHM School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, SOEST
- Larry Denneau, Software Engineer and the Co-PI of the ATLAS, Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System
- Rich Gazan, Professor, Information and Computer Sciences Department, Chair, Library and Information Science Program