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Arthanari Chandrasekaran

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Finding a second planet that can support life will be Good or Bad for the Earth?

There has been billions of dollars being invested in outer space exploration and finding life out of the planet earth. What do you think the impact will be on Earth if we really found another planet were humans can live. What do you think the course of action will be and the upcoming consequences.

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  • Jul 3 2012: Like many questions, the answer to this one must start with "it depends."

    It depends on just what we find, and how far away it is. For the sake of discussion, let us suppose that we have the technology to study this planet from earth, and we can definitely establish that it is almost identical to earth with respect to size, mass, rotational speed and temperature, that it has continents and oceans of water and seasons, and that its ample atmosphere is not being continually diminished by stellar wind. If we found a planet that was this similar to earth, I think we could not leave it alone. This is the kind of discovery that sets the human imagination on fire. Everyone on the planet would be coming up with ideas for interstellar travel, and eventually we would find one that would work. I doubt very much that we could send humans to another star system, but we could send robots, and we could send seeds; and we all know what happens when DNA gets started.

    I think this would be good for Earth, not necessarily for the other planet.
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    Jul 3 2012: Global warming, urbanization, overpopulation, increasing energy needs... I think the answer is quite obvious. BTW, I'm not trying to be cocky about this.
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    Jul 3 2012: It is a false argument that emigrating to another world will solve our over-population problems. No species on Earth can avoid the glass ceiling of carrying capacity. Mankind has only done so through industrial agriculture but the energy source we rely upon to maintain such a system has limits. There are also limits on how many people can enter into space every year since frequent rocket launches are likely to degrade the atmosphere, which means there will likely be an annual quota.

    Every one in history who has made predictions of the future later regret doing so but I would hazard to guess that our limit would be between 10,000 to 1,000,000 people per year. Sadly this is well below the annual replacement level. The best way to think of these people is that they are the backup for our human civilization should we fail to manage things here on Earth. However I would predict that it would take at least until 2050, possibly 2100, before these people can truly live independently of Earth, and therefore serve as a genuine backup plan. That's still a long time for our political environment to deteriorate into a global nuclear war.
  • Jul 2 2012: It depends on why people need to colonize another planet.
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    Jul 2 2012: Another planet that supports life will be good for earth.
    This will help in solving the problem of overpopulation that is affecting food security and straining national resources in some countries, because some people may choose to 'migrate'.
    The new planet will also have its resources, and possibly something that this one doesn't have.

    It will also provide another home for humans if our dangerous industrial practices makes earth unsafe for living.

    But there will always be that one thing that a change of habitation will not change: and that is human nature.

    We will go to this new planet with the best of us, the worst of us, and everything between.
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    Jul 2 2012: Thanks for your comments.

    My intention is to kindle the imagination inside us and understand what consequences we foresee in a scenario where we have identified such a planet and made it accessible for humans to live there.

    Any kind of sci-fi thoughts are invited.
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      Jul 2 2012: Hello Arthanari,

      as earth was batteled for ground control pretty much ever since, which nation or group of nations discovered this planet, and who provides the transport to it? Or has mankind already developed further and merged into only one nation in your sci-fi scenario?

      The reason why I am asking is, that this determines the fictitious outcome on the effect on earth.
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    Jul 2 2012: I feel it's rather beyond our imagination. We've heard speculations of space agencies discovering earth-like planets that can 'potentially' accommodate humans. But it takes unimaginable number of years to find it, then work on it and develop it to a bare-minium extent so that humans can try living in it and then start living in it.
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    Jul 2 2012: People in the future will have a list of famous human beings who'd lived on Earth. (Beethoven, Tom Cruise and Hemmingway). It'll become a place for pilgrimage.
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    Jul 2 2012: Hello Arthanari,

    thank you for this interesting question!

    My view on this is, that it would not have any effect on earth, neither good, nor bad, as such a planet was out of our reach. Statistically we already proofed that earth-like planets exist in large numbers and the universe is explored (by sight) to confirm this. And as long no sophisticated 'long distance space travel' technology is on hand, a finding of such a planed would not change the status of earth.