Talk:Future of Earth

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Good article Future of Earth has been listed as one of the Natural sciences good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
November 6, 2009 Peer review Reviewed
January 15, 2010 Good article nominee Listed
August 30, 2011 Featured article candidate Not promoted
Current status: Good article

Stevenson citation[edit]

I searched the book Fenomeni Ad Alte Pressioni, and couldn't find Stevenson mentioning that the magnetosphere will vanish in 10,000 years. (talk) 19:47, 23 May 2015 (UTC)

End of the third paragraph on p. 605: "For Earth's core, the time scale is ten thousand years or so". Praemonitus (talk) 21:13, 26 May 2015 (UTC)

Plate Tectonics and the Hydrosphere?[edit]

Continental drift is facilitated by two factors: the energy generation within the planet and the presence of a hydrosphere. Exactly how? What are the sources for the hydrosphere as a source for continental drift? This is incredibly confusing to the naive reader and some clarification might be in order. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:20, 29 July 2013 (UTC)


I'm not exactly clear on why the biosphere has been completely excluded from this article. Viriditas (talk) 12:14, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

The "Climate impact" section has several topics related to the habitability of the planet. What else would you like to see?—RJH (talk) 16:07, 15 October 2009 (UTC)
You write, "in four billion years from the present, a runaway greenhouse effect will occur. By that point, most if not all of the life on the surface will be extinct." So, you've skipped a discussion of four billion years of life. I'm curious why this has been excluded from the article. Are you assuming that "the present rate of extinction is sufficient to eliminate most species on the planet within 100 years" (see biodiversity) and therefore, it is a foregone conclusion that life as we know it will not play a significant role in a discussion about the future of the Earth? This topic is represented in the literature, and as of 2009, requires an interdisciplinary approach. You are discussing an Earth devoid of life. I'm curious why the most important aspect of the future of the Earth is absent from this article. There is also a speculative, but relevant discussion about planetary engineering which could change the "future of the Earth" with Dyson spheres built around the sun, the alteration of Earth's orbit, and the wholesale manipulation of the solar system to serve the needs and requirements of life. In some ways, you are taking the position (by omission) that the future of the Earth is already determined, and life is neither important enough to discuss or is incapable of changing the outcome. Viriditas (talk) 10:46, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

I'm confident one could find good sources to supplement the discussion of the loss of life on Earth with something like "six billion years after life becomes inhospitable on Earth, Saturn's moon Titan will become warm and stable enough to sustain life." It would be interesting to place the future of life on Earth in relation to planetary habitability in the rest of the Solar System. Viriditas (talk) 11:58, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

I'm not sure whether the habitable zone will ever reach that far before the Sun enters the red giant phase. Saturn is a long way out.—RJH (talk) 23:41, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
I was musing on this, as in whether a few notes on Mars' temperature and possible habitability were worth including in a section where more longer term heating up of earth was mentioned. Casliber (talk · contribs) 02:21, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
My concern is that we already have a well-developed article on Planetary habitability that covers much of the topic, and adding such information would be getting away from the subject of the Earth. I'd just like to keep the article focused. But I will go ahead and add the above article to the See also section.—RJH (talk) 18:32, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

Citation 44 refers to Titan as an analog of Earth's past and future (2009), which also states, "Chemically, Titan's surface and atmosphere provide perhaps the best stage in the solar system for reactions that might replicate the chemistry that led to the origin of life on Earth billions of years ago." This article only discusses the similarity to Titan now and the future of the Earth. However, since the comparison has already been made between the two worlds, we can continue this line of thought. For example, in Titan_(moon)#Prebiotic_conditions_and_possible_life, we have the following:

Conditions on Titan could become far more habitable in the future. Six billion years from now, as the Sun becomes a red giant, surface temperatures could rise to ~200 K (−70 °C), high enough for stable oceans of water/ammonia mixture to exist on the surface. As the Sun's ultraviolet output decreases, the haze in Titan's upper atmosphere will deplete, lessening the anti-greenhouse effect on the surface and enabling the greenhouse created by atmospheric methane to play a far greater role. These conditions together could create an environment agreeable to exotic forms of life, and will subsist for several hundred million years, long enough for at least primitive life to form.[1]

So life may find a way without the Earth. This is interesting and important. Viriditas (talk) 05:05, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

That information did not quite match what was found in the source, so I modified it in the Titan article. I think this is much too far off topic to be included in this article. It should be sufficient to have it mentioned in the Titan article. Sorry.—RJH (talk) 18:09, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
Are you keeping up with the literature, RJHall? "Titan can also be considered as a model for understanding the future of the Earth, and of terrestrial life."[1] Please review. See also "Titan and the Destiny of Life on Earth".[2] Viriditas (talk) 00:11, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
Ye-eah - am I missing something, I didn't see how it discusses future Titan. I did think a note on how Mars might warm up (or what might happen to Jupiter too) might be useful as an analogue and comparison. Do we have a future of the solar system article? Casliber (talk · contribs) 01:44, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I'm familiar with how Titan may serve as a prebiotic model of the Earth. The material about the future is in regards to the loss of atmosphere, which is already covered by this article.—RJH (talk) 16:13, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
I think it is relevant to mention that as life is disappearing from Earth in the future, it may appear elsewhere in the Solar System, such as on Titan. Viriditas (talk) 10:08, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
As this is about the Earth rather than the Solar System, I have to continue to disagree. I think you should ask why the FA'd Solar System article does not discuss this topic.—RJH (talk) 15:29, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
Other stuff exists. What exactly are you disagreeing with here? The future of the Earth is about the future of life, and life as we know it now, exists only on the Earth but is assumed to also exist elsewhere in the Solar System (without evidence at this time). It is entirely on topic and relevant to state that although life may vanish from the Earth in the future, it may still exist elsewhere in the Solar System. What is your objection to this simple statement? Viriditas (talk) 01:13, 23 January 2010 (UTC)

refs for this thread[edit]


  1. ^ Ralph D. Lorenz, Jonathan I. Lunine, Christopher P. McKay (1997). "Titan under a red giant sun: A new kind of "habitable" moon" (PDF). NASA Ames Research Center, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, Department of Planetary Sciences, University of Arizona. Retrieved 2008-03-21. 

Missing elements?[edit]

I just noticed that the article fails to mention the increased probability (or possibility) of impact events, gamma-ray bursts (GRB), and near-Earth supernovae. Viriditas (talk) 11:50, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

Yes, I deliberately left out the random, catastrophic events, believing those are already covered on the Risks to civilization, humans and planet Earth article. Instead this article is focused on the long-term trends.—RJH (talk) 17:06, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
I'd agree with that - the idea of the article is extrapolating from what observations we have at hand. Casliber (talk · contribs) 02:21, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
I think it is ridiculous to keep a link to this in the see also section when it can easily be merged into the body of the article with a sentence or two. Viriditas (talk) 23:37, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
"I don't like it" is not a good reason. Personally I see no value in effectively saying, "the Earth may end tomorrow via a variety of means. See..."—RJH (talk) 23:49, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
I think you misunderstand. None of these things will "end" the Earth, but they are events that will likely occur in Earth's future. It's on-topic. Best practice is to merge see also links into the article. Viriditas (talk) 23:56, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
Well, go for it then. But please cite specific odds and long term effects. I'd rather not just have a sentence or two saying "shit happens". Thanks.—RJH (talk) 23:59, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
Please don't assume I'm going to fuck up your article. Thanks. Viriditas (talk) 00:02, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
I won't, and it's not my article. Thanks.—RJH (talk) 00:05, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree that a short concise segment of prose briefly noting catastrophic events and linking to the second article is preferable than a bare seealso at the bottom - I didn't think it was a deal-breaker as it is a matter of style really. Casliber (talk · contribs) 01:44, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

{de-indent} Well... I believe you'll need a separate section because none of the current components cover random disasters. In that case, it will also need to be more substantial than a couple of lines. To fit in properly with the content I think it needs to include risk, any elements of periodicity and global effects. I also think it should only include factors that have a long term impacts. So that will require several paragraphs to fully explain all the details. In effect, a WP:SS version of Risks to civilization, humans and planet Earth would be needed covering those elements that have significant risk and long-term impact to the planet as a whole. Thanks.—RJH (talk) 16:19, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Rather than a separate section, I suggest that the entire article needs to be rewritten for inclusiveness. Why, for example, have you chosen to divide the article into Human influence, Orbit and rotation, Plate tectonics, and Solar evolution? Do you honestly believe that the events described above are separate topics and should not be mentioned in this article? Could you talk about your vision of the restricted scope of this article and produce an article or two that illustrates your perspective? Viriditas (talk) 01:18, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
The topic of a "planet-saving event" is covered by Fred Adams in the chapter "Long-term astrophysical processes" in the book Global Catastrophic Risks (2008). Viriditas (talk) 13:53, 23 January 2010 (UTC)

Habitable zone[edit]

I just noticed that this article does not discuss the future of Earth's habitable zone in the Solar evolution section. What is the reason for this glaring omission? Viriditas (talk) 10:07, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

It is not the Earth's habitable zone, it is the Solar System's. This change is already covered in detail by the discussion of the increase in Solar luminosity. As this article is about the Earth, rather than the Solar System, I do not see a need to discuss it. But I will add a link to the See also section. I also think you should be complaining about why the Solar System article doesn't discuss the habitable zone.—RJH (talk) 15:31, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
And the new noun degolilockization - yeah, could do with some combining and reorganising - all these articles. hmmm. Casliber (talk · contribs) 17:58, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
RJH, you know perfectly well that "Earth's habitable zone" in this context refers to the "habitable zone for the Sun-Earth system" or the "habitable zone for Earth-like planets". I was clearly referring to Earth's orbit within the habitable zone, a zone which is moving outwards over time due to the increasing luminosity of the Sun. Depending on what sources you are looking at, the habitable zone within which Earth finds itself is currently on the inner edge, a range between 0.95-1.67 AU.[3] Instead of avoiding my question (as you have all my questions) could you explain why this is not discussed in an article about the future of the Earth? For example, Franck and Zavarzin (2004) write that "the inner boundary of the habitable zone will reach the Earth's orbit in about 500 million years from now, at which time the life span of the biosphere (Caldeira and Kasting 1992) will end."[4] The variability and evolution of the future of the Earth in the habitable zone is discussed in many sources. Please add it. Viriditas (talk) 01:10, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
Well you clearly have a strong interest in astrobiology, and I suspect you also enjoy argument. You're always free to add a section comparing the fate of the Earth to the prospects of life elsewhere. But inserting some text about the "habitable zone" between the discussion of the increased solar luminosity and the fate of the Earth's biosphere is unnecessary and perhaps circular logic. I believe the "habitable zone" is defined in terms of the current Earth conditions and thus, to me, is mainly relevant to extraterrestrial life. It is also a topic that has been well-developed in its own set of articles. I see no need to benefit to adding it into the current material, and I'm busy pursuing other projects. So I'll leave it in your hands. Sorry.—RJH (talk)
I guess I would share Viriditas' "interest", enough to support a single line mentioning the departure of Earth from the Sun-Earth system's habitable zone, as that zone moves outward. As conditions on Earth change in the far future, constraints now relevant to extraterrestrial life become relevant to terrestrial life then. Other grounds for support might be that "habitable zone" describes Earth's external environment within the Sun-Earth system. However, despite interest I can see obvious difficulty addressing that without circular logic or a more extended discussion, and consensus for the current text keeps the article from meandering into a POV essay.--Robert Keiden (talk) 17:39, 4 September 2012 (UTC)
Can it be assumed that humanity or its technological successors will not find the means in which to move the Earth's orbit so that it 'rides' the habitable zone?Pbrower2a (talk) 17:19, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
No. With our very limited early spacefaring technology we already have one or two methods of doing so - collisions and the gravitational slingshot effect. If you can change the velocity of a space ship by narrowly missing, or indeed not missing, a planet or moon then given enough time and enough money some dramatic changes are possible. You could even plan for the very longterm shortage of CO2 by modifying the orbits of comets and asteroids to replenish CO2 levels here. However I think that the current article is assuming no human interventions to extend what is already a pretty long lease that life has on this world. ϢereSpielChequers 18:34, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

Climate impact.[edit]

It claims that plants woud die because of lack of CO2 and the animals would probably die off from asphyxiation within a few million years. This is (or at least seem to be) self contradictory. 1. Reduced photosynthesis would mean rise of CO2 levels. 2. Animals dying of asphyxiation necessary mean high CO2 levels, so again enough CO2 for plants.-- (talk) 21:04, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

Sorry but I believe you're mistaken. When the CO2 falls below the threshold, the plant life will die. They won't magically re-appear again millions of years later when the CO2 level rises above the threshold. Most of the animal food chain (that relies on plants for food) will be wiped out as well, leaving but a few scavengers to exhale traces of CO2. Check the sources. The geological weathering effect from the increase in solar energy incrementally overwhelms the biological effect. This is clearly stated in the article. If you see a contradiction, please take it up with the authors of the references. Otherwise you'd be introducing OR.—RJH (talk) 16:00, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
Certainly not. Plants will not grow well and then suddnely die after reaching some threshold. The growth will slow down and that means more CO2. If it hapens despite of that, it should be explained better.-- (talk) 01:12, 1 May 2010 (UTC)
You'll note that I said "incrementally" and not "instantly". The food chain of the animals depends on the plants; if the plants start to diminish in numbers, so too will the animals. This diminishes your aspect of the carbon cycle. If the tectonic output doesn't compensate for the geological weathering, the net result is a steady reduction in CO2. All factors need to be taken into account, not just the plant/animal interdependency.—RJH (talk) 15:05, 2 May 2010 (UTC)

Per Lenton and von Bloh (2001):

The biotic amplification of weathering may be sufficiently strong to maintain the Earth in a habitable state when otherwise it would be uninhabitable to complex life [Schwartzman and Volk, 1989]. If so, the current biosphere will eventually collapse due to catastrophic overheating. However, it should persist for at least another 0.8 Gyr before becoming vulnerable to carbon cycle perturbation. Regardless of whether the Earth exhibits bi-stability, biotic feedback significantly prolongs the survival of the current biosphere up to a maximum of 1.2 Gyr hence. These results add a new dimension to the Gaia theory that the Earth is a self-regulating system [Lenton, 1998; Lovelock, 1995].

I.e. choose your poison: it's either 0.8 Gyr or 1.2 Gyr, depending on the source. Either way the end is in about a billion years. If you have a source that contradicts this, I would like to see it.—RJH (talk) 14:05, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

I still don't see how could animals suffocate without rising the CO2 levels enough to keep photosynthesis running.-- (talk) 21:47, 1 May 2010 (UTC)

As the prior paragraph stated that bacterial life will continue to produce CO2, I can't disagree with you. The asphyxiation scenario was posited by the two authors mentioned by the text. It is one possible scenario, and the text covers both. If you have a disagreement with the authors, I'm sure they would like to hear from you. But the publication exists and the article is reporting their viewpoint, as the text states. I've attempted to further clarify this in the text.—RJH (talk) 15:14, 2 May 2010 (UTC)
I rechecked Ward/Brownlee and they did cover the scenario of threshold levels of carbon dioxide that matches your concern. I've updated the text accordingly.—RJH (talk) 15:17, 3 May 2010 (UTC)


Here are a few ideas, though I'm not sure how they could be worked in .

  • Due to Earth's precession, celestial north will shift toward the star Vega around the year 14,000 and again toward Polaris around the year 27,800.
  • Many future lunar and solar eclipses have been calculated to occur. (See List of solar eclipses in the 21st century.)
  • Also, due to the moon's drift away from Earth, (from Moon#Eclipses) "about 600 million years from now (if the angular diameter of the Sun does not change), the Moon will no longer cover the Sun completely, and only annular eclipses will occur."

— Preceding unsigned comment added by Ruodyssey (talkcontribs)

Thank you for the suggestions. I'm not really clear though how these would have a significant impact on the planet. I guess the steady decrease in lunar tide magnitude would have some impact on the shorelines, and we could probably find a forecast about the length of a day in the distant future.—RJH (talk) 22:14, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

"Before the discovery of global climate change"[edit]

I'm not sure this statement is correct. Svante Arrhenius' 1908 book Worlds in the Making specifically notes that human carbon dioxide emissions may be sufficient to prevent future ice ages. It seems as though this precedes Milankovitch's findings. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:41, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

You may be right, and I'm not sure that sentence clause is necessary for the validity of the statement. Thanks. Regards, RJH (talk) 17:33, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

solar evolution section[edit]

There are a couple of things that may need clarification, but perhaps I am reading too finely. First, the steady build up of helium in the core is not a result of the Sun not having a convective core. Helium in stars with convective cores is distributed more uniformly throughout the star, but the basic process of helium buildup leading to an increase in stellar luminosity still happens. Second, I think the causation may be a bit unclear in why the temperature in the core rises. The core contracts as a result of the decrease in number of particles to provide pressure support, until the combination of increased density and temperature bring the core pressure in to equilibrium with the layers above. James McBride (talk) 06:04, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

Thank you James. Yes you have a good point that those two items should be clarified in the article. Regards, RJH (talk) 14:26, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

Should we add something about the potential of humanity to somehow alter the Sun in the future to preserve it and prevent it from becoming a red giant? ChessA4 (talk) 23:26, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

Yes, someday humanity may find a way to stir up the Sun's interior and thereby delay the onset of the red giant stage. The problem though is that the future impact of human technology is completely unpredictable. It might be better to put such speculative information on the Megascale engineering article. Regards, RJH (talk) 15:32, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

Biotic crisis / technology[edit]

"An uncertain factor in this extrapolation is the ongoing influence of technology introduced by humans, which can cause significant changes to the planet. The current biotic crisis being caused by technology may last for up to five million years. In turn, technology creates a survival risk for humans, which may leave the planet to gradually recover in the aftermath of an extinction of humanity."

This is totally unsourced as it stands now and makes several controversial statements. It really doesn't belong in the first paragraph anyway as the article is about the geological future, not biological one. Miraculouschaos (talk) 19:05, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

No that's not true. It is sourced within the body of the article. The lead should summarize the article body, so it is an appropriate entry. This content was added per the consensus with previous reviewers. Much of the article is about the biosphere, so it's not out of line. Regards, RJH (talk) 22:13, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

"In turn, technology may result in the extinction of humanity, leaving the planet to gradually return to a slow evolution pace only resulting from long-term natural processes."

How are humans not "natural"? Don Williams (talk) 07:59, 1 December 2012 (UTC)
Maybe we're a short-term natural process? Praemonitus (talk) 22:27, 26 May 2013 (UTC)

Lowering of the eustatic sea level[edit]

An anonymous editor inserted the following unsourced claim:

Although virtually unnoticeable, the ocean water is being lost at a rate of approximately one meter of sea level per 1,000 years, but this rate is expected to increase in the future.

I searched the literature but I could find nothing to confirm the rate. What I could find listed the rate in terms of mass interred within the crust. The above statement may well be true, but unless the source of the above statement can be found and reliably sourced, I think it should be left here. Regards, RJH (talk) 00:57, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

This article is not NPOV[edit]

Very difinitely an anti-human, pro-nature bias. Humans and human activity are a natural function of Earth. To infuse the article with the notion that human activity is alien to the 'natural' workings of the Earth is absurd.

Recommend removal from 'good article' status. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:00, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

Mmm, no, the article is just reporting on the situation without making a judgment one way or another. How you perceive it is another matter. Clearly you have a strong filter in this regard, and your remarks are, to me, an example of confirmation bias. The article also reports on possible threats to humanity, so saying that it is "anti-human" is preposterous.
The biotic crisis is relevant and significant to the near term future of the planet, so ignoring it would inappropriate (in terms of comprehensiveness of the article). Whether this crisis is for good or ill will be something that reader has to decide for themselves. To me it is equivalent to a long-term, global geological event, and so important to report from a broad scale perspective. Regards, RJH (talk) 17:38, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, sure, it's non-biased, and all points are sourced. Pull the other one. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:17, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
Your reply is unconstructive and I am unclear where you are coming from. What specifically don't you like about it? What particular wording would you prefer? If there are conflicting predictions, can you produce the reliable citations? Are you clear that this is primarily not a discussion of the impact of global warming? When you get to the details, perhaps we can move forward. RJH (talk) 18:21, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
"An uncertain factor in this extrapolation is the ongoing influence of technology introduced by humans, which can cause significant changes to the planet." There are four variables in that sentence, and none of it is sourced. Plus I see the same source used several times. Was there a vote on this article? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:34, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

208 is correct. This article is biased in nature. I'm sorry, but pointing out a biased POV is inherently biased. This article is uses weasle words and unsupported facts to present a one sided POV. (talk) 18:32, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

Interesting, but too vague. How about one specific example? Point to a single sentence. I'd like to assume good faith here, but these statements are not constructive. RJH (talk) 18:35, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
"The current biotic crisis being caused by technology may last for up to five million years." And extinction events also caused 'biotic crises'--how 'long' did their effects 'last'. This senrtence implies that natural events are Earth's preferred causes of 'crisis'. NPOV. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:40, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm not seeing that meaning in the words, but we clearly have different filters. Would the following re-wording work for you? "The current biotic crisis is being caused by technology and may last for up to five million years." RJH (talk) 18:47, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
Please take a look at WP:WEASEL; you might not be interpreting it the way it is intended. The policy has to do with the wording of the statement, rather than their meaning. Saying "Some authors suggest" is weasel. The entire article is based on "some authors suggest"; it's a scientific extrapolation. This is made clear in the first sentence and the assertions are properly supported by the citations. Hence, pointing out that specific statement seems, well... frankly a bit odd. I've tried to interpret and address the other concerns. If you could go into your specific concerns a bit more, I could try to remedy the issues. Otherwise, this seems unproductive. RJH (talk) 19:50, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
This article is absolutely neutral and scientific. It can hurt the sensitivity of religious people to admit that human civilisation (and indeed all life on Earth and indeed the Earth itself) will go to an end but this is the way it is. Humans are just a part of the history of Earth. However, please be ensured that humans (as the most of higher form of life that populates this planet) will disapper much time before the life will go to a full end on Earth.

--That can't be proven for sure, and you shouldn't talk as if it's a certainty or that other views couldn't possibly be true. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:41, 28 May 2012 (UTC) --Silvio1973 (talk) 07:49, 10 May 2012 (UTC)

I concur with Silvio. To describe this article as breaching POV we'd really need specific examples where current mainstream academic thought differs from this article. ϢereSpielChequers 12:56, 10 May 2012 (UTC)

Future human activity[edit]

There are a couple of issues with this addition:

In absence of significant future human activity releasing sequestered carbon, when the levels of carbon dioxide fall to the limit where photosynthesis is barely sustainable, the proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is expected to oscillate up and down.

First, the segment following the words "sequestered carbon" is true whether the first is true or not. Once CO2 drops to that level, the oscillation will start to occur because it is based on biological behavior. If humans are still around after 1.2 Gyr and they do not raise the level of CO2, then the oscillation will still occur. Hence the proviso is irrelevant. The other situation that might matter is whether any CO2-using photosynthetic life will be left by that time; humans may have found a way to wipe it all out, or it may have evolved into something else entirely. But we can't make speculative assessments about what humans, or life in general, will or will not do that far into the future. Once we start doing that, then there are a myriad other speculations that can be made and it becomes difficult to present, and cite, in a meaningful manner. We need to stick with what has been extrapolated based upon the sources, rather than introducing our own speculative OR. Regards, RJH (talk) 15:34, 31 May 2012 (UTC)

KIC 12557548 b[edit]

I added a link to the "see also" section to KIC 12557548 b, an extrasolar planet being destroyed by its star, but the link was removed. I believe that it should be included because it is a tangentially related topic; Earth will similarly be destroyed by the Sun.

The ablation and vaporization caused by its fall on a decaying trajectory towards the Sun will remove Earth's crust and mantle, then finally destroy it after at most 200 years.

Pseudonymous Rex (talk) 21:22, 26 May 2013 (UTC)

From what I read, the planet is being destroyed by a main sequence star; not a red giant. Hence, the circumstances are different and the link seemed unnecessary per common sense. Praemonitus (talk) 21:48, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
The circumstances are different, but it is still a tangentially related topic. Implying that I lack common sense is a bit rude of you. Pseudonymous Rex (talk) 23:24, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
Err... I'm not sure how to respond to that. This is trivial, silly, and pointless. You clearly need an ego boost, so do as you will. Praemonitus (talk) 03:48, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
WP:BEPOLITE. I'll make that change now. Pseudonymous Rex (talk) 18:40, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
In the future, if you want politeness then WP:Assume good faith and don't assert that I was being insulting when I clearly wasn't. Praemonitus (talk) 02:10, 4 October 2013 (UTC)

End of Life on Earth[edit]

Right now searching for "end of life on earth" redirects to some band's page where there was a rumor they might possibly release an album with that name. It should redirect here. Or it should go to a disambiguation page. This page is what I was looking for when I searched for "end of life on earth." I had to go to google and search "end of life on earth wikipedia" to find this article and it shouldn't be that way. I'd do it myself, but I don't know how. (talk) 17:21, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

There's an End-of-life disambiguation page. Praemonitus (talk) 02:12, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
But searching "end of life on earth" takes you directly to the band's page. I would like to have that search take you to the "end of life" disambiguation page and do not know how to do it. (talk) 14:58, 7 November 2013 (UTC)
I made the revision. When you are redirected, there is a small link at the top of the article preceded by "(Redirected from". Follow that link and it takes you to the redirect page. Praemonitus (talk) 06:05, 9 November 2013 (UTC)

Inserting a source from another page.[edit]

Hi, I want to list the source that supports the idea that the Earth's orbit will decay in 1020 years (from Timeline of the far future), however I dont know how to directly copy the source (it has a author-type thing when I click on that source on that page) onto this article. Can someone help me with that? --MarioProtIV (talk) 01:13, 9 March 2014 (UTC)


First paragraph:

In turn, technology may result in the extinction of humanity, leaving the planet to gradually return to a slower evolutionary pace resulting solely from long-term natural processes.[8][9]

Technology may also result in the extinction of humanity via supplanting and replacing our ecosystem, ie [The_Invincible]... Would such a thing be a natural or unnatural process? Why would evolution slow down with the replacement of humanity? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:48, 14 July 2014 (UTC)

It looks like there should be a comma after 'slower'. Thus: "leaving the planet to gradually return to a slower, evolutionary pace".... Praemonitus (talk) 03:30, 15 July 2014 (UTC)

Unsourced Additions[edit]

I was bold and removed the following additions because they are unsourced speculations and, however probable, seem unlikely to receive suitable references:

  • More on this is discussed below. Alternatively, the cooling of Earth's core due to radioactive decay may also cause plate tectonics to stop. In that case, with no more tectonic activity to replenish the planet with new land, all remaining dry land will erode away into the sea, turning Earth into a waterworld and drowning all remaining land life while at the same time cutting off any nutrients from river runoffs and hence wiping out any remaining sea life.
  • Snow, ice, and ice ages will become impossible, and the greenhouse effect will no longer be needed, as the warming Sun can simply heat the Earth rapidly directly. Soil will erode away by rivers, revealing bare rock and finally be lost to the seas.
  • If humanity is still alive at this point, if rising global temperatures do not drive them to extinction before or until then, then this will be the latest point when they will have to abandon Earth in favor of other planets to colonize before temperatures warm to the point that not even they will survive.
  • Should the Earth have survived these calamities, over a time of about 1020 (100 quintillion) years, the planet's orbit will steadily decay through emission of gravitational radiation, before finally being ripped apart by tidal forces at a distance of around 1-6 radii from the Sun.

See WP:NOR. Praemonitus (talk) 02:47, 16 January 2015 (UTC)

I'm surprised this article is rated as a GA with so many unreferenced informations Tetra quark (don't be shy) 04:37, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
It looks like the GA ranking was granted five years ago. These additions probably happened afterward. Praemonitus (talk) 01:36, 19 January 2015 (UTC)

The article has an extreme POV and needs to be completely rewritten or renamed[edit]

In its current form most of the article is about the geological, biological (etc.) future of the Earth in complete absence of the human factor. Humans are very much part of the Earth, earth systems, nature and the wider solar system. More so with technological advance. And it is no less speculative to outline the future of the Earth, which currently very much includes the human factor, as a long term future in which the human factor and its impact has been completely discounted. This is an extremely one-sided POV premise, not mentioned in the article or in its header, which hiddenly assumes either the extinction or complete and permanent civilizational and technological collapse of mankind. And this categorical jump happens inside the article. In the beginning humans very much have an impact on climate change and biodiversity, and then, for the rest of the article, humans have no impact on anything and disappear as a factor of any significance in the future of the Earth. That is not a neutral premise.

It has been said that we already live in the Anthropocene. In any neutral attempt at outlining the future of the Earth the human factor has to be extrapolated into the future. It is a factor with potentially huge impact. Discounting this factor discounts a crucial part of the future of the Earth picture. The uncertainties are huge, but they are huge either way. The technological advance in the past 200 years has been enormous. And the futures this article considers happen on the timescale of 250 to 8000 million years. Unless mankind becomes extinct or permanently collapses technologically (both highly speculative premises) then a future with giant space mirrors to deflect, filter and disperse the amounts of sunlight the earth receives, and synthetic/artificial (i.e. human controlled) atmospheric levels of CO2 and oxygen (which, e.g., would end the cycle of glacials and interglacials) are far more likely than such future values and developments that completely erase the human factor from the equation. It is highly speculative either way.

We already talk about carbon sequestration as a near future human ability. And space mirrors will become practical with advances in nanomaterials, robotics and space elevators, possibly inside the next 100-200 years. And in longer term, as one example of numerous many, the solar system has countless bodies with frozen water for mankind to use for its purposes, if need be. We already have landed on an asteroid. And we are talking here about hundreds of millions or billions of years. The technological prospects are unimaginable, but that doesn't mean they should not be counted in an outline of the future of the Earth. It is not a neutral premise to discount the human factor just because it is a factor that is hard to estimate. It is still a very real and crucial part of the picture. And an abundance of sources to cite are available in the literature. And cannot be dismissed as "speculation" or "unverifiable", as the impact or lack of the impact of the human factor is speculative and unverifiable either way.

Are humans part of the future of the Earth? That is the question. In its current form this article makes the assumption, and categorically jumps to that premise inside the article, with no mention of the categorical change, that man isn't part of that future. Then what this article is about, for most part, is the Future of the Earth in absence of mankind. It's not about the future of the Earth, which includes the potentially enormous, and very real, human factor and the short and long term crucial human impact on the future of the Earth. All the changes speculated upon in the article, from CO2 and oxygen levels to the evaporation of the oceans can only happen in the absence of mankind, who certainly, if around in some future form and not extinct, would be capable of controlling and stearing such changes and altering developments for life on Earth for billions of years to come.

Either the article has to be completely rewritten to include the difficult to estimate but very real and crucial human factor in all scenarios or the discounting of the human factor has to be made clear. It is not a NPOV to say that "Within the next 600 million years from the present, the concentration of CO2 will fall below the critical threshold needed to sustain C3 photosynthesis" or that "The net result would be a loss of the world's sea water by about 1.1 billion years from the present. This will be a simple dramatic step in annihilating all life on Earth." or ... if the topic is the future of the Earth, including all factors that have an impact on that highly uncertain and speculative future. Now a crucial factor is missing, while the outline is given as a neutral.

So to underline: Either the article has to be completely rewritten to include the human factor in all scenarios or the discounting of the human factor has to be made clear. (talk) 23:34, 11 June 2015 (UTC)

You would have a tremendously difficult time trying to reference such an expansion, leading to policy conflicts such as WP:CRYSTALBALL. I think such a revision would be all but impossible to accomplish, while still sticking to the current mission of Wikipedia. The current article focuses on known physics and readily extrapolatable data, which is fine. The potential impact of the human race is made explicit in the lead, and it basically says the impact of humans is highly uncertain. That is hardly an extreme PoV; it's encyclopedic style.
If this remains an issue for you, then I suggest you start by writing a complementary article on the future survival of the human race. We'll then see if it survives Wikipedia policy reviews. Praemonitus (talk) 15:07, 12 June 2015 (UTC)

Confusing chronology?[edit]

Does anyone else finding the chronology here a bit confusing? Perhaps this needs revising?

"During the next four billion years, the luminosity of the Sun will steadily increase, resulting in a rise in the solar radiation reaching the Earth. This will cause a higher rate of weathering of silicate minerals, which will cause a decrease in the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere."

"The next four billion years..." - so what is the exact time range? +4 billion from now? I suspect it is +4 billion from now, but that seems strangely relative.

"In about 600 million years, the level of CO2 will fall below the level needed to sustain C3 carbon fixation photosynthesis used by trees. Some plants use the C4 carbon fixation method, allowing them to persist at CO2 concentrations as low as 10 parts per million."

Okay now is this 600 million years from now? Or is this + 4 billion + 600 million? - mikey (talk) 06:02, 11 January 2016 (UTC)

"During the next four billion years" seems pretty clear to me, and the second sentence also seems clear as an ongoing process. I modified the "600 million years" by adding "from now", which is the time frame at which point the process becomes critical. Praemonitus (talk) 18:48, 11 January 2016 (UTC)

Loss of oceans[edit]

In the subsection 'Loss of oceans' is says: 'One billion years from now, about 27% of the modern ocean will have been subducted into the mantle. If this process were allowed to continue uninterrupted, it would reach an equilibrium state where 65% of the current surface reservoir would remain at the surface.[50]'

Even though this is referenced (to a 2001 research paper) I don't think it reflects the current mainstream view on the subject. For example, they have more up-to-date estimates on how much water comes out of volcanoes. The larger mantle-plume eruptions can deliver millions of cubic kilometers of lava and ash to the surface, along with steam and other volatiles. There are still unresolved questions about how much water the mantle can hold, how much is down there, and how it got there, e.g., comets, asteroids, hydroxyl from the cosmic dust that formed the Earth.

Zyxwv99 (talk) 00:38, 18 April 2016 (UTC)

Thanks for the feedback. Do you know of a good source that could be used? Praemonitus (talk) 14:25, 20 April 2016 (UTC)
Not exactly, but I'll see what I can do. Zyxwv99 (talk) 18:54, 20 April 2016 (UTC)

Far Future Earth[edit]

I attempted to remove these scientifically misleading and not especially informative images, but this was reverted. The first depicts dead trees on a surface in which has presumably been barren of life for many millions of years. The second shows cracked mud long after all water has evaporated. The author appears to be an anonymous name on Reddit, rather than a scientific illustrator. They appear to be OR, assuming the future Earth will just resemble a modern desert scene. Praemonitus (talk)

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Species evolution[edit]

This was a fascinating read. However, this article, largely about the consequences of long-term change on life on Earth, gives short shrift to the ability of life to evolve in such a long term. For example, the atmosphere eventually loses some carbon dioxide. The text and the Intro mention how this threatens plants using C3 photosynthesis, and both passages note that some plants use C4 photosynthesis and can survive at much lower levels of CO2. But there is no mention of the obvious fact that the latter plants will flourish in such a scenario. There is only a brief mention (at Supercontinent) that biological evolution will hasten "as new niches emerge."

Surely "In the long term, we are all dead." However, the article excessively focuses on extinctions (with a nod to human-caused extinctions) and does not focus enough on the accompanying process of species adaptation. Spike-from-NH (talk) 11:22, 26 April 2017 (UTC)

Are you suggesting that plants will mutate to survive in conditions with no CO2? Otherwise, I'm unclear what you're trying to suggest. Any statement about potential adaptations to the new conditions will need to be backed up with valid citations. We can't just engage in personal speculation as that would violate WP:OR. Praemonitus (talk) 15:48, 26 April 2017 (UTC)
Understood; and I don't have citations in mind; that's why this is here and not in the article. In a future with very low CO2, the notable result is not just the extinction of C3 plants but their replacement worldwide with C4 plants, not just the species that exist now but new species that could adapt to the niches abandoned by the C3 species. I am not suggesting that plants will survive with "no" CO2; and yet, all these processes are gradual, with millions of generations to reward life forms that evolve over those that depend on levels of CO2 that are no longer present.
Again, my only point is that an article that deals with how natural evolution of the planet will affect life should give more prominence to the fact that life itself will also evolve (not just become extinct). Spike-from-NH (talk) 19:16, 26 April 2017 (UTC)
Paragraph 3 of the Climate Impact section does just that. Praemonitus (talk) 19:54, 26 April 2017 (UTC)
Yes, that is a second "brief mention" with the one I noted above. Spike-from-NH (talk) 21:32, 26 April 2017 (UTC)
I think it is just easier to detail conditions under which current life forms would be challenged by the climate changes than it is to speculate rationally about potential evolutionary solutions. That's why most of the focus is inevitably going to be on how current life will fade away. However, if another useful scientific source shows up on far future adaptations, perhaps more can be added. Praemonitus (talk) 00:38, 27 April 2017 (UTC)
Fair enough; thanks. Spike-from-NH (talk) 02:47, 27 April 2017 (UTC)

The Life and Death of Planet Earth[edit]

Should there be information about specific events in the Earth's distant future that were first mentioned in Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee's book The Life and Death of Planet Earth, like how the formation of the next supercontinent may potentially cause another Great Dying-like extinction event, how the Burgess Shale may be used to predict Earth's future climate and hence the final mass extinction, the whole process causing Earth to gradually lose its oceans, etc. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2601:249:1000:3F00:A8F2:1044:C42:B258 (talk) 12:20, 8 September 2017 (UTC)

Sure, why not? As long as it is relevant and properly cited, that type of information will make the article more complete. Praemonitus (talk) 15:40, 8 September 2017 (UTC)