Watch out for the hot flushes (a few billion years away): Earth enters its mid-life crisis

The far-future Earth will be very hostile to life, says expert

Oliver Duggan@OliDuggan
Friday 05 July 2013 12:49
Getting on: the Earth from space
Getting on: the Earth from space

Don’t be surprised if the Earth buys a Ferrari, dons a leather jacket and starts bulk buying ‘Just for Men’ in the next few years as according to scientists our planet as entered middle age.

Astrobiologists from Scotland’s St Andrew’s University have predicted a death date for the Earth, which is 4.54 billion-years-old, as 2000002013, making our home a relative 50 in human years.

According to leading scientist Jack O’Malley-James, life on Earth will perish in more than a billion years when a warming sun boils oceans and forces out CO2, damning plants and subsequently animals.

Most life will have died by the planet reaches 70s (or 6.5 billion-years-old), he says, with any microorganisms confined to pools of residual water.

“The far-future Earth will be very hostile to life,” Mr O’Malley-James said. “It will be restricted to pockets of liquid water, perhaps at cooler higher altitudes or in caves.

Researchers used a computer model to assess our planet's fate billions of years from now, finding that as the Sun becomes hotter and brighter, only microbes would be able cope with the extreme conditions.

"Once you get to this tipping point [of evaporating oceans], you get a lot more water in the atmosphere and because water vapour is a greenhouse gas, that sets this runaway greenhouse effect,” the PhD student explained. “You end up with the Earth heating up to 100C or more plus what we experience today.”

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