Does Planet Earth Have a Mind of Its Own?

Earth Copernicus Sentinel-2

This image of Earth was compiled using tens of thousands of images from the Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission. Thanks to the satellite era, we are better placed to understand the complexities of our planet, particularly with respect to global change. Today’s satellites are used to answer important to understand how Earth works as a system and how natural processes are changing under the pressure of human activity. Satellites also provide essential information for everyday applications such as to improve agricultural practices, for maritime safety and to help when natural disasters strike. Credit: Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019–20), processed by ESA and cloud layer from NASA

What is humanity? Do our minds set us apart from the rest of nature and from the rest of Earth? Or does Earth have a collective mind of its own, and we’re simply part of that mind? On the literal face of it, that last question might sound ridiculous.

But a new thought experiment explores it more deeply, and while there’s no firm conclusion about humanity and a planetary mind, just thinking about it invites minds to reconsider their relationship with nature.

Overcoming our challenges requires a better understanding of ourselves and nature, and the same is true for any other civilizations that make it past the Great Filter.

Four Stages of Planets

In a self-described “thought experiment,” University of Rochester astrophysicist Adam Frank and colleagues David Grinspoon at the Planetary Science Institute and Sara Walker at Arizona State University use scientific theory and broader questions about how life alters a planet, to posit four stages to describe Earth’s past and possible future. Credit: University of Rochester illustration / Michael Osadciw

Humanity is pretty proud of itself sometimes. We’ve built a more-or-less global civilization, we’ve wiped out deadly diseases, and we’ve traveled to the Moon. We’re so smart we’re taking steps to protect Earth from the type of calamitous impact that wiped out Earth’s previous tenants, the dinosaurs. But that’s just one perspective.

Another perspective says that we’re still primitive. That billions of us are in the grip of ancient superstitions. That nuclear war haunts us like a specter. That tribalism still drives us to do horrible animalistic things to one another. That we’re not wise enough to manage our own technological advancement.

Both perspectives are equally valid. All that can really be said is that we’re not as primitive as we used to be, but we’re nowhere near as mature as we need to be if we hope to persist beyond the Great Filter.

Earth Juno Flyby 2013

The Juno spacecraft took this image of Earth during a gravity assist flyby of our planet in 2013. The fact that we can make a spacecraft take a picture of our home planet is a sign of intelligence. But how intelligent are we really? Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill

Can we come up with a way to explain what stage we’re at in our development? The authors of a new article think they can. And they think we can only do that if we take into account Earth’s planetary history, the collective mind, and the state of our technology.

This trio of scientists wrote the new article in the International Journal of Astrobiology. It’s titled “Intelligence as a planetary scale process.” The authors are Adam Frank from the University of Rochester, David Grinspoon from the Planetary Science Institute, and Sara Walker from Arizona State University. The article is a thought experiment based on our scientific understanding of Earth alongside questions about how life has altered and continues to alter the planet.

Humans tend to think of intelligence as a property belonging to individuals. But it’s also a property belonging to collectives. Social insects use their collective intelligence to make decisions. The authors take the idea of intelligence even further: from individual intelligence to collective intelligence, to planetary intelligence. “Here, we broaden the idea of intelligence as a collective property and extend it to the planetary scale,” the authors write. “We consider the ways in which the appearance of technological intelligence may represent a kind of planetary-scale transition, and thus might be seen not as something which happens on a planet but to a planet, much as some models propose the origin of life itself was a planetary phenomenon.”

We’ve divided Earth’s life forms into species. We recognize that evolution drove the development of all these species. But are we missing something in our urge to classify? Is it more correct to view life as planetary rather than as individual species? After all, species didn’t suddenly appear; each one appeared in an ongoing chain of evolution. (Except for the original species, whose origins remain clouded in mystery.) And all species are linked together in the biosphere. It’s often pointed out that Earth is a bacterial world and the rest of us are only here because of bacteria.

It’s worthwhile to recall the work of Vladimir Vernadsky. Vernadsky was an important founder of biogeochemistry. Wikipedia defines biogeochemistry as “… the scientific discipline that involves the study of the chemical, physical, geological, and biological processes and reactions that govern the composition of the natural environment (including the biosphere, the cryosphere, the hydrosphere, the pedosphere, the atmosphere, and the lithosphere).

Vernadsky saw that the biosphere system is strongly linked to the Earth’s non-living systems. It’s difficult to understand the biosphere without looking at how it’s linked with other systems like the atmosphere. The linkage allows the biosphere to shape Earth’s other “spheres.”

Vernadsky wrote: “Activated by radiation, the matter of the biosphere collects and redistributes solar energy and converts it ultimately into free energy capable of doing work on Earth. A new character is imparted to the planet by this powerful cosmic force. The radiations that pour upon the Earth cause the biosphere to take on properties unknown to lifeless planetary surfaces, and thus transform the face of the Earth.”

In their article, the authors point out how organisms changed Earth’s biosphere. When the ability to photosynthesize appeared in lifeforms, individual lifeforms used it to great benefit. But collectively, they oxygenated Earth’s atmosphere in the Great Oxygenation Event (GOE.) The photosynthesizers opened a pathway for their own continuation and for more complex life to develop. It not only changed the course of evolution, but it also changed the very geology and geochemistry of the planet. The authors liken the collective activity of photosynthetic organisms to collective intelligence.

Geosphere Biosphere Technosphere

This figure from the article illustrates multi-level networks as a property of planetary-scale operation of intelligence. Each layer of the coupled planetary systems constitutes its own network of chemical and physical interactions. Specific nodes in each layer represent links connecting the layers. Thus, the geosphere contains chemical/physical networks associated with processes such as atmospheric circulation, evaporation, condensation, and weathering. These are modified by the biosphere via additional networks of processes such as microbial chemical processing and leaf transpiration. The technosphere adds an additional layer of networked processes such as industrial-scale agriculture, manufacturing byproducts and energy generation. Credit: Frank et al. 2022

“Making sense of how a planet’s intelligence might be defined and understood helps shine a little light on humanity’s future on this planet—or lack thereof,” they write. “If we ever hope to survive as a species, we must use our intelligence for the greater good of the planet,” said Adam Frank.

That won’t come as a shock to Universe Today readers.

The authors point out how collective activity changes the planet. They base their experiment partly on the Gaia hypothesis, which says that the Earth’s non-biological systems—geochemistry, plate tectonics, the atmosphere, the oceans—interact with living systems to maintain the entire planet in a habitable state. Without the “collective intelligence” of the biological world, the Earth wouldn’t be habitable.

The authors use an example from forests to illustrate the point.

Earth’s great forests couldn’t exist without the network of mycorrhizal fungi that live below ground. Tree roots interact with the network and the network moves nutrients around in the forest. The fungi get carbon in return. Without this network, the trees couldn’t survive, and no great forests would emerge.

Mycorrhizal Network

Mycorrhizal fungi are in a symbiotic relationship with plants. The relationship is usually mutualistic, the fungus providing the plant with water and minerals from the soil and the plants providing the fungus with photosynthesis products. Parasitic organisms are also part of the network. Image Credit: By Charlotte Roy, Salsero35, Nefronus – CC BY-SA 4.0

As schoolchildren, we learn that plants produce the oxygen we need to breathe. Without photosynthetic organisms, we couldn’t survive. So the collective activity of the plant world (and algae, etc.) changes the planet to a place hospitable for humanity and other complex life. But now in our short time on Earth, we’ve developed technology, which is the most powerful expression of our collective planetary intelligence. What does that mean for Earth?

The authors talk about four stages of Earth’s development and how we can understand the idea of collective planetary intelligence as those stages evolve.

“Planets evolve through immature and mature stages, and planetary intelligence is indicative of when you get to a mature planet.”
Adam Frank, co-author, “Intelligence as a planetary scale process.”

The first stage is an immature biosphere. Billions of years ago the Earth was an immature biosphere. The only lifeform was bacteria, which couldn’t exert much force on Earth’s planetary systems. Because of this, there was no important global feedback between life and the planet. There was no collective intelligence.

The second stage was a mature biosphere. This was about 2.5 billion to 540 million years ago. Photosynthesis appeared and then plants. Photosynthesis oxygenated Earth’s atmosphere and an ozone layer developed. Life was making the Earth more stable and hospitable for itself. This is the collective planetary intelligence the authors are talking about.

Immature Mature Biosphere

Earth’s immature biosphere and mature biosphere stages. The mature biosphere stage was only possible once photosynthetic organisms created feedback with Earth’s non-biological processes, oxygenating the atmosphere and creating an ozone layer. Credit: University of Rochester illustration / Michael Osadciw

The third stage is where we’re at now, according to the authors. We live in an immature technosphere of our own creation. Our communication, transportation, electrical, and governmental networks are increasingly linked into a technosphere. A quick scan of headlines in consumer tech media shows how we can get a little excited about what we’ve created as a species (Meta, anyone?) But it’s wise not to get too excited. Why?

Because our technosphere is not linked with natural systems. Our immature technosphere largely ignores its impact on the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and the biosphere in general. We extract fossil fuels and push carbon into the atmosphere in an unregulated way. The danger is that this technological immaturity will force the Earth’s systems into a state that imperils the technosphere itself. The immature technosphere is working against itself and the biosphere that supports it.

The fourth stage represents a workable future. It’s the mature technosphere, and in a mature technosphere, our technological intelligence benefits the Earth. For example, renewable energy sources like solar energy will displace fossil fuels and help the climate regulate itself and maintain its habitability. Technological agriculture will strengthen the Earth’s soil systems rather than degrade them. We’ll use our technology to build cities that co-exist with natural systems rather than dominating them. But there are a lot of unknowns.

Immature Mature Technosphere

Earth’s immature technosphere and mature technosphere stages. The mature technosphere stage will be possible when we use our technology to maintain Earth’s life-supporting systems rather than to degrade them. Credit: University of Rochester illustration / Michael Osadciw

“Planets evolve through immature and mature stages, and planetary intelligence is indicative of when you get to a mature planet,” Frank says in a press release. “The million-dollar question is figuring out what planetary intelligence looks like and means for us in practice because we don’t know how to move to a mature technosphere yet.”

In a mature technosphere, systems would interact in mutually beneficial ways, like the trees and the mycorrhizal network in forests. A network of feedback loops both technological and natural would work intelligently to maintain habitability. This would be an entirely new arrangement, and the complexity would allow new capabilities to emerge. The emerging capabilities are one hallmark of a mature technosphere. Another is self-maintenance.

Evolution of Coupled Planetary Systems

This figure from the article is a schematic representation of the evolution of coupled planetary systems in terms of degrees of planetary intelligence. The authors propose five possible properties required for a world to show cognitive activity operating across planetary scales (i.e. planetary intelligence). These are: (1) emergence, (2) dynamics of networks, (3) networks of semantic information, (4) appearance of complex adaptive systems, (5) autopoiesis. Different degrees of these properties appear as a world evolves from abiotic (geosphere) to biotic (biosphere) to technologic (technosphere). Credit: Frank et al. 2022.

“The biosphere figured out how to host life by itself billions of years ago by creating systems for moving around nitrogen and transporting carbon,” Frank says. “Now we have to figure out how to have the same kind of self-maintaining characteristics with the technosphere.”

There are some signs that we’re groping towards a mature technosphere, but they’re mostly crisis-driven. In 1987, we banned the ozone-harming class of chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) after scientists found a hole in the ozone layer. Acid rain is caused by sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide and we’ve developed international agreements to limit them after scientists found that acid rain damages soil, trees, fish, and other aquatic animals. DDT was used to kill pests and malarial mosquitoes but many countries banned their use when scientists found that it persisted in the environment and led to population declines in birds of prey, among other biosphere-harming effects.

Planetary Intelligence Interventions

This figure from the article shows timescales for interventions at different proposed levels of planetary intelligence. For so-called ‘mature biospheres’, feedbacks or interventions occur across a range of timescales from decades (DMS ((dimethyl sulphide) ocean temperature regulation) to millions of years for CH4 climate regulation. For ‘immature technospheres’ where the feedbacks or interventions are inadvertent, timescales occur on decades to century timescales. For ‘mature technospheres’ interventions are intentional and designed to maintain the sustainability of both the biosphere and the technosphere as a coupled system. Ozone replenishment and climate mitigation would occur on decades to century timescales while intentional changes in stellar evolution (if possible) would define the longest timescales at tens to hundreds of millions of years. Credit: Frank et al. 2022.

So there’s been some progress towards planetary intelligence. But those successes are mostly corrections to previous bad behavior. Can we be more proactive?

We might be starting to. We’re developing systems to detect, catalog, and deflect dangerous asteroids that pose a collision hazard with Earth. If we can do that, we can protect the entire biosphere from calamity, along with our own civilization. NASA and the ESA are working on planetary defense, and NASA launched a technology demonstration mission in 2021. If we can use technology to protect the entire planet, that must constitute a step toward a mature technosphere.

Some of these efforts are heartening, but we have a long ways to go, and this thought experiment can help us think more clearly about it. “We don’t have planetary intelligence or a mature technosphere yet,” Frank said. “But the whole purpose of this research is to point out where we should be headed.”

Are the development of planetary intelligence and a mature technosphere hallmarks of civilizations that make it past a “Great Filter?” Maybe. That idea dovetails with Frank’s other work in the search for alien technosignatures on distant exoplanets.

“We’re saying the only technological civilizations we may ever see—the ones we should expect to see—are the ones that didn’t kill themselves, meaning they must have reached the stage of a true planetary intelligence,” he says. “That’s the power of this line of inquiry: it unites what we need to know to survive the climate crisis with what might happen on any planet where life and intelligence evolve.”

For we lifeforms on Earth at this time, Anthropogenic Global Warming is the biggest threat to a sustainable biosphere. While we can debate what it is about our species that drives us to want more stuff, consume more stuff and create more pollution, the debate about AGW itself is over. It’s happening and we’re causing it.

There are some glimmers of planetary intelligence flickering on the horizon. But we’ve got a long way to go yet. Will we become intelligent enough to make it past the climatic Great Filter?

Originally published on Universe Today.

For more on this topic, read Planetary Intelligence: Can a Planet Have a Mind of Its Own?

12 Comments on "Does Planet Earth Have a Mind of Its Own?"

  1. Biscuit Creek | March 6, 2022 at 5:46 am | Reply

    James Lovelock – Gaia Hypothesis

  2. Clyde Spencer | March 6, 2022 at 9:36 am | Reply

    This strikes me a being speculation not much different from pre-technological tribes sitting around a camp fire, trying to explain fire, thunder and lightning, stars, and their position in their known universe. They were short on facts, had the viewpoint of someone living on a flat Earth, and had not developed a methodology for testing and rejecting hypotheses, what we call the ‘Scientific Method.’

    A question that the author doesn’t raise, let alone answer, is whether life has some sort of ‘Prime Directive,’ such as to propagate its particular ‘tribe,’ even at the expense of other ‘tribes.’ It would appear that evolution is a response to a changing environment, to make the evolving organisms better adapted to new environments, all the while tending toward greater complexity. These would seem to create an antagonistic relationship between living, carbon-based organisms, and synthetic life made of metals and plastic — particularly if the synthetic organisms should become sentient and compete with humans. The author presents a fanciful, subjective interpretation of his limited facts.

    He then boldly goes where few intelligent Men have gone before and asserts that, “… the debate about AGW itself is over. It’s happening and we’re causing it.” On the contrary, the debate still goes on, albeit suppressed by the mainstream Media to try to convince the public that the “science is settled.” Science is NEVER settled. Physicists are still trying to prove Einstein was wrong. When was the last time you saw or heard about a panel discussion that allowed the presentation of both sides of the issue? Are you surprised to hear that there ARE two side? In theory, anthropogenic CO2 can cause some warming. However the climate system is part of a very complex Bio-Geosphere with a multitude of feedback loops that seem to largely counterbalance each other. Basically, there is little objective evidence that anthropogenic CO2 has a causative-correlation with even the annual increase in atmospheric CO2, let alone the temperature increase. CO2 has been increasing steadily for at least several decades. However, there has most recently been a period of over 7 years with no statistically significant increase in the temperature trend; there was previously a period of about 19 years with no increase! If anthropogenic CO2 is driving global warming, why does the temperature not faithfully follow the CO2 increase when we can measure seasonal CO2 variations that are not erased by random variations? Do an online search for “spurious correlation of time-series.”

    • Torbjörn Larsson | March 6, 2022 at 4:06 pm | Reply

      This response is all over the place.

      Evolution is the process of life, and it is not goal directed anymore than other natural processes. Most life is still unicellular and half the complex eukaryotes have been parasitic evolution simplified.

      The article last paragraph on AGW – which could as well have been on cyanobacteria oxygenating the atmosphere and killing off 99.9 % of all life with the poison – is bloviated in the response. But as everyone that can access Wikipedia or other reputable encyclopedias knows it is an observed fact, The signal is now so strong that we can take the observations through a spreadsheet and test it at 3 sigma without needing models: humans are causing the observed problematic global warning.

      The cherry picking of specific years is of course telling everyone else that there is no support for contrary claims.

      The same is apparent if not as obvious when claiming science is never settled. We know for a fact that water is one atom oxygen and two hydrogen and this will never change as long as the universe supports water. It is naive to go from the observation that the strength of science is that it is revisable and so can learn the facts, to claim that the weakness of science is that it can never learn robust facts.

      • Clyde Spencer | March 7, 2022 at 8:45 am | Reply

        To quote YOU, “What is your evidence?” I’m surprised that you consider Wikipedia to be reputable. It does a good job on topics like mathematics and physics, but is considered by many to be partisan on other topics such as the climate.

        All over the place? Basically, three main points: An opinion, an implied conjecture posed as a question, and a challenge to the reigning paradigm — all nested in their own paragraphs. I must confess I’m having some difficulty understanding your response, precisely because it is “All over the place.”

        The biosphere is distinctly different from the geosphere. Rocks don’t ‘care’ what kind of rock are next to them. However, plants compete for resources. In some instances, such as with creosote, they make the area around them toxic to other plants. Living organisms grow and spread. Rocks shrink with time when exposed to air and rain. The point I was raising was whether there is some universal trait shared with other organisms that has predictive value as to how future interactions might play out with the ‘technosphere.’

        Pat Frank has demonstrated that the complex Global Circulation Models can be reduced to a linear form, thus being amenable to a simple spreadsheet implementation. Is that what you are referring to?

        You assert, without any real supporting evidence other than appeal to authority, that “… humans are causing the observed problematic global warning.” It is a widely held opinion, but with a shaky foundation. Since you appear to be familiar with spreadsheets, locate and download the data for monthly (or annual) net CO2 emission flux (not net cumulative) and similarly download the global monthly flux of anthropogenic emissions. To avoid spurious correlations, de-trend both time-series, and plot the residual global atmospheric flux against the residual anthropogenic CO2 flux. Do an OLS regression to obtain the correlation (spoiler alert: nil!) and run the statistics routine to obtain the p-value. I find that more convincing than someone simply asserting that the signal is strong and it IS anthropogenic. That sounds more like opening your prayer book to a particular page and reciting the words.

        You complained, “The cherry picking of specific years is of course telling everyone else that there is no support for contrary claims.” I never mentioned specific years. I did point out that recently there have been at least two periods of several years with no increase in temperature, unlike CO2. That is usually rationalized by claiming that the variance is lost in natural variability, without explaining how then the seasonal signal comes through clearly every year.

        You unconvincingly remark, “… water is one atom oxygen and two hydrogen and this will never change …” The concept of an atom is a convenient mental model where most people think of a solid nucleus surrounded by one or more electrons. As time has gone on, that has been refined to where protons and neutrons were added to the nucleus. Then, these ‘fundamental particles’ were shown to consist of even more ‘particles.’ Then there is the duality. Have you not heard of the wave function for particles? The thing is, your example of acknowledging that the “strength of science is that it is revisable,” but not that the ‘facts’ of science are revisable is what is naive and myopic. So-called ‘facts’ are susceptible to subjective interpretation, usually guided by the reigning paradigm.

        It would seem that you keep up on the technical literature. That serves you well in providing new ‘dance routines’ for your cheer-leading. However, that doesn’t mean that you see the big picture.

  3. Does earth have a natural intelligence
    4,200,000,000
    over the next billions of years 3.6 billion years the magnesium dioxide transported itself away from the centre liquid core 3000 kilometres diameter and found itself at the surface another 9000 kilometres distance into the earth mantle this movement of magnesium generated movement in the liquid core that created earths early magnetic field
    the old magnesium dioxide magnet creating a shield and the zircon crystal from Australia is saying boy o boy o boy whats suffusing the planet magnetic field
    it’s a magnesium electro magnetic field that don’t support what and creates a habitable electro magnetic magnesium based proto earth world what the heck is that like
    why did the earth evolve as it did with a magnesium electro magnetic shield and a lifeless blue ball planet earth and this evidence tells us magnesium magnetic shielding aint for us over the next 3.6 billion years
    when solar winds were most intense it the magnesium oxide shielded the atmosphere and water removal in the early days of the baby proto planet earth
    then the magnesium oxide ran out in 3.6 billion years time approximate
    You mean to say the temperature Celsius is so hot that solid iron or nickel cant exist in a solid form
    at the deepest level at the heart of the earth is believed to be a solid inner core two thirds of the size of the moon made mainly of iron/magnesium oxide at 5,700 degrees centigrade as hot as the suns surface but the crushing pressure caused by gravity prevents it from becoming liquid and this produces earths magnesium oxide magnetic field and protects us from cosmic radiation
    the mantle may be
    the team measured the isotopes of Helium, Neon, and Argon,
    but with a magnesium oxide core
    what life forms can you produce
    microbes and bacteria slime mould weeds
    4,000,000,000 4,567,000,000 do planets have a natural intelligence
    The solar system is a harsh place our life giving sun can also take life away
    Billions of years ago mars too had a strong magnetic field
    Simulation iron fe sulfur s and hydrogen h believed to be present in the core of mars
    If and only if fe s h core is liquid heated becomes two distinct liquids
    Iron fe and sulfur s
    Iron fe and hydrogen h less dense rises to the top and as liquids separated convection currents formed forming a protective magnetic current around the planet
    Chemical changes inside mars core caused mars to lose its magnetic field
    As soon as the two liquids fully separated the current would stop 4,000,000,000 years ago and the magnetic current field would vanish
    Mars core of iron sulfur at centre and iron hydrogen at outer core stratified as temperatures are low
    In turn without this protection that a magnetic field offered
    The atmosphere was stripped
    Mars lost its atmosphere billions of years ago the atmosphere of mars may have been denser and the air slightly warmer
    In turn
    The oceans evaporated as water vapour in the atmosphere was lost to space the oceans would disappear
    2,700,000,000 years ago the earth core was magnesium oxide
    the mantle may be
    the team measured the isotopes of Helium, Neon, and Argon,
    but with a magnesium oxide core
    what life forms can you produce
    565,000,000 to 500,000,000 million years ago does the earth have a change in intelligence or what
    its the event of the billenium 565,000,000
    the core changes to iron
    is it the same as mars
    Iron fe and sulfur s
    Iron fe and hydrogen h less dense rises to the top and as liquids separated
    1,300 radius kilometres earth inner solid state hot as the molten sun surface iron nickle core 1,300 kilometres generates powerful dynamic forces 1221 kilometres 759 miles thick the stove or cooker plate the dynamo of the geoterra firma
    3,550 radius kilometres earth outer molten iron nickle liquid fluid semisoft hard core 2250 kilometres 1,400 miles
    and so we get
    iron fe and sulfur
    iron fe and hydrogen
    or
    iron nickel and sulfur
    iron nickel and hydrogen
    drivers of life as we know it jim
    fungi plants flowers trees birds of the air fishes of the sea insects of the winds beasts of the fields creepy crawlies of the ground and under the ground and bipedal humans does the earth and its life forms have intelligence or not

  4. Frosted Flake | March 6, 2022 at 12:38 pm | Reply

    No, no, no. I can explain.

    The Earth is painted on the back of an enormous turtle. And he, or she, is standing on the back of an even bigger turtle. And under that turtle, yet another even bigger turtle. And so on in like manner all the way down to the goat.

    Got it?

  5. ross mcgeachy | March 6, 2022 at 2:36 pm | Reply

    We are Earthlings, We spring from the loins of the Earth. Whose idea was that? Ours or the planets’?
    The core is cooling. When the magnetosphere is gone the Earth will enter the next planetary state. If we manage to thrive here and through the Great Filter will we humanity, as a planetary device, protect the planet from gigantic asteroids or rogue planetary collisions, it only delays the inevitable.
    Will the Sun dwarf before our magnetosphere is lost? More likely our planet will proceed to its next state prior to the Solar systems darkening.
    What then? Could an intergalactic collision ignite our failed star Jupiter? Creating more planets? We are an infinitesimal speck of time in the Universe.
    Entropy will prevail.

    • Torbjörn Larsson | March 6, 2022 at 4:21 pm | Reply

      What is your evidence?

      The magnetic field may protect the atmosphere if that is what you are reaching for. But that is still an open issue and in any case the leak time is long. Currently Earth leaks water faster than Venus or Mars, and the leak is at the poles where the geodynamo field concentrates the solar wind – we don’t know if the leak is as large with or without field yet. Conversely, give Mars an Earth pressure atmosphere and even that runt will keep it for a billion years – plenty of time.

      The “Great Filter” is an untested hypothesis. In the form of “Rare Earth” it is not really an hypothesis since you can pick your factors to get the result you want. More likely, ours is an anthropic multiverse as the cosmological constant tests well for (and nothing else), and there is no specific filter. Evolving life is easy (common), but the outcome of language capable life is very rare (hard).

  6. Torbjörn Larsson | March 6, 2022 at 3:47 pm | Reply

    Adam Frank and David Grinspoon has written papers traipsing into global ecology before. But the Gaia hypothesis or the related Great Filter are heavily problematic. “The Gaia hypothesis was initially criticized for being teleological … the Gaia hypothesis continues to attract criticism, and today many scientists consider it to be only weakly supported by, or at odds with, the available evidence.” [“Gaia hypothesis”, Wikipedia]. It was, perhaps relatedly, Frank’s many articles on spiritualism and agnosticism that put me off from reading the NPR site.

    Specifically problematic is that we don’t know how cognition or intelligence works, assuming we can define and measure them in organisms – intelligence tests measures have problems and self awareness is hard to observe as well. In the end, organisms have evolved development stages, planets have not and their history shouldn’t be mistaken for it.

  7. Just maybe the Egyptians, Myans, Native Americans were on to something. They worshipped everything as a God or Spirit that would give respect for respect in return. I 100% believe everything is connected and serves a purpose in our lives…We can either be beneficial to life or a virus…sadly it looks to be the latter. Wake up people!
    Mush ❤
    MycoMitch

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