Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Life and the living Environment

There are various talks about 'Save the Environment', and this one attempts to present this concept in a different light, albeit maybe a bit radical :)

Most people strive to survive everyday, or for the lucky ones - busy themselves in earning more money to live a 'better life'. :) Not many seem to feel the need to do something about preserving what's around us.

A few live a life campaigning for conservation, or things about protecting or preserving our environment. But why does it really matter, or what does that really mean?

Universe & the Galaxies

Allow me with this introductory slide :) Where or what are we in the whole scheme of things?

This is Milky Way - our Home galaxy. 13+ billion years old! It's a huge barred spiral galaxy (as seen on right pix); with ~100,000 light years in diameter and 1000 light years in width. It has 200-400 billion stars (our Sun is just 1 of them), and countless planets.

The picture on the left hand side is an actual picture of our galaxy, as seen from Earth. This is sometimes visible in a lightless, moonless night - i think better viewed in the southern hemisphere. I recall from History channel, that during Einstein's time - they thought that THIS IS the universe. Over time, somebody realized that one of the bright shining stars in the picture - is actually another giant galaxy - Andromeda! Our twin galaxy sister, which by the way is approaching us, and is expected to collide with Milky in 3-4 billion yrs time.

Now to put things in perspective; Milky Way and Adromeda are part of a 50-galaxy group (small ones include Magellanic cloud- galaxies which are visible from Earth), which in turn is part of an even larger Virgo Super-cluster, which is just one of the billions of millions of galaxy clusters in the universe.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Our Stellar system

Now let me zoom in on that little star system called Solar System - this is where Earth is.
It's a rather simple stellar system with 1 giant star we call Sun, & has 8 planets, a few dwarf planets, asteroids, among others. Solar system is about 4.5 billions years old (formed from a collapsed giant hydrogen molecular cloud), between 2 to 3 light years in diameter; and our own star is currently on "main-sequence" stage, and when the hydrogen supply runs out about 5+ bn yrs from now- it will tranform into a Red Giant star (increasing its size by 260x overlapping Earth's orbit), then transforms yet again into a white dwarf star after it 'ejects' its outer layer. (No, it doesn't have enough mass/size to form a supernova).

Our system has 4 terrestial planets (the 4 nearest from the Sun, including Earth), the rest are just giant gaseous bodies. So far, we have not discovered any "carbon-based life form" (similar to Earth's life) outside our own planet. :)

Now, does this techy stuff has anything to do w/ 'Save the Environment' thing - NADA! hahaha!
for now...

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Now zooming in further, we have this, our home planet - Earth! Madre Tierra, but which is actually a water-planet, the only one known to have stable, liquid water on its surface.

Earth is around 4.5 bn yrs old, and life evolved slowly and started some 3.5 bn yrs ago (based on bacterial fossils). Earth's condition has changed drastically from eons to eons, supporting different life forms. Its CO2 filled atmosphere was replaced by O2 due to bacterial activity (causing the 'Oxygen catastrophe') but w/c allowed new forms of species to emerge, and to thrive.

Earth had seen at least 5 major extinction events; the most famous is the land dinosaur extinction era (65mn yrs ago) which annihilated 50% of life forms, but an even greater extinction event happened some 250mya, excessive volcanic activity (as prime suspect) annihilated 90% of Earth's life forms. Today, life continue to flourish on Earth, but all species that are living today is less than 1% of the total number of species that ever lived on this planet. We're just one of those countless species that made a mark on this world.

Now, humans - the first homonids came about some 3million yrs ago, and the first modern man w/in the last 1 million years. Several thousands of years ago, man had colonized this planet and proved to be the dominant species. Some hundred years back - we didn't just colonize, with the start of industrial revolution - we started abusing, and even killing our habitable environment. It has grown exponentially ever since. =(

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Beautiful Planet

If you've watched enough National Geographic, or Discovery Channel films - you'll be amazed and awed by the beauty of this planet, especially as you see the different wonderful living species in our forest, mountains, rivers and seas!

We have thousands of creatures that live and thrive in almost any kind of natural environment, or eco-system.

It's a collection of beautiful life forms that cannot be found anywhere in the known bodies of the Solar system, or the entire Milky Way, or the entire Virgo Supercluster - or the known observable universe. Earth may not just be THE jewel of the Milky Way - but the entire universe! ;) Well, until we discover other spectacular life forms, that is. ;)

Friday, September 18, 2009

But a Threatened Planet

Sadly, over the past century - man's demand for various resources has grown exponentially and brought havoc to all eco systems. Humans - as a special creation of God, has become the very reason why a once beautiful planet is slowly 'dying' and fast deteriorating...
The top 4 environmental threats today, which are all anthropological (human-caused) are summed up as these;
- Over population (OR - high density, or high number of people over carrying capacity). Imagine, we've grown from 3bn in the early 1960's, to about 6.7 bn today (more than double in around 50yrs). Today, our rate of resource consumption is at 140% mark (over by 40% on 100 ceiling) - w/c means we're eating up above the supply line and IN THE PROCESS of collapsing our supply system.
- Global Warming (leading to climate change) - increasing our global temperature to a few degrees w/in the next 20-50yrs will surely mean killing some eco-systems; decreasing basic supply for the ever-increasing demand for food, water, other things. A +6 degrees C in global temperature w/in the next 100-200 yrs will probably wipe out humanity. Good for other surviving species - but bad news for all of us.
- Monstrous amount of trash! Not just in our rivers, mountains - but the oceans. Did you know about the North Pacific Garbage patch? The eastern side has a floating garbage (mostly plastics) more than double the size of Texas? That's a continent of trash! Eventually - this will impact our ecosystem and severly affect, if not end our basic supply system.
- Destruction of eco-system and extinction of some species. We live in a complex web of interconnected living eco-systems. Each species in each eco-system plays a role in maintaining a healthy & habitable biosphere. Think biosphere as your own human body, with complex processes ranging from digestion, nutrition & O2 supply thru blood system, protein repair and maintenance, etc. If one area is affected (ex. introduce a venom in your blood) - all systems will eventually crash!
There are many more sad news happening around the world today. Awareness is just one thing, action is also another thing - QUICK MASS ACTION is something else...& it could save us.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Chronology of Events

In time dimension, the history of man is negligible compared to the history Earth (let alone the universe). What are we in the whole scheme of things; and what is our future...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The End of Days

The hard truth is that, no matter how infinite this universe may seem to be, all of its known elements today have finite lives - and everything will eventually end. From galaxies, to stars, to planets...
Our Sun, just like any other star, goes thru a life cycle. It is relatively young, but in 5.4 billion years it will eventually consume its Hydrogen fuel and will begin a drastic transformation affecting the Solar System. Because of its (naturally) increasing luminosity (which can be 'felt' every millions of years), there will be significant global warming and some or most of Earth's eco-system & species will dissappear in 500million yrs time. By 2 bn yrs, max - our oceans will completely evaporate, and with it - all life forms on Earth will also die out.
Scientists predict that after humans (a few thousand yrs from now if we're lucky) - Earth's life will continue to flourish and human existence (in time scale) will just be a mere 'blink of an eye' in geological terms. Human Earth time is short-lived. We just started our history, but sad to say - we're ending it so soon.
But that is NOT THE ISSUE at hand. The issue is we're ending it quite rapidly... as we're currently killing our own livable environment.
The single goal of conservationists (or environmentalists) is really just to slow down the "end process", to buy time and hope for a bit of extended future for humanity... and who knows, maybe an extended time will bring us some miracle that will allow us to outlive our Sun.

Monday, September 14, 2009

What do we do? Find another habitable planet?

It will take probably a hundred more years before we find a candidate planet within our galaxy, and a few hundreds more before we can even launch a space mission. If, at all...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Go to the moon?

There are talks about building a moon-base, and like big fictional space-ships, it will have an Earth-like living conditions. Maybe harness some minerals in the moon as energy source, and build a 'home' outside our planet using recycled water, algae-sourced O2, etc.

Could this be done in the next 50 or 100 years? Can we really create 100% artificial and completely functioning eco-system? Even if we could, how long will we be able to sustain life outside Earth?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Finding an Earth-like home

Scientists are speculating (or hoping) that life could exist in Saturn's Titan moon. Its unique features could support some forms of life, or if not - its 'pre-biotic soup' could be a starting point of life. It's bigger than our moon (but smaller than Earth) - it's terrestial, it has stable liquid hydrocarbon surface -> and as scientists know, an ingredient to forming, if not supporting life.
Titan is like Earth a billion years back. Can we expedite its transformation process? Can we wait for another million or even billion years?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Colonize Mars?

Mars was once geologically active (if not presently) and has traces or hints of once-flowing liquid in its surface. Scientists speculate that underneath Mars' surface, there could be life-supporting substance which may be tapped to transform Mars into a living environment.

Manned mission to Mars before 2020? Well, the cost of Iraq war was just about the same cost as this space mission, so why not. Transform Mars environment, the size of 1/3 of Earth? Maybe not in the next 500yrs? or a thousand, if that's even possible...

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Save our current HOME

Well - we don't need to look for other habitable space bodies in order to survive the next 1 thousand years or so - we just need to take good care of our planet. This is our only jewel in the galaxy, and our only sure hope.
But we have to act quickly as we may not have the luxury of time. If we over-over-populate in the next 50yrs, we'll probably wipe out our supply (and supply system) and hence - ourselves.
If we increase our global temperature to 6C or beyond w/in the next 100 or 150 years - our habitable environment will collapse and we'll probably be all gone.
If we continue trashing our ecosystems and reach an irreversible saturation point w/in the next 100 or 200 years- killing the very source of our basic needs - we'll just run out of supply and simply die out.
We may not exist forever, or humans may not rule Earth for another million years - what we want is a little more time in this planet... a few hundred if not a few thousand years more.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

What we do NOW, counts!

We need better technologies and better supply systems. We need to cut demand by controlling over population. Earth is a finite space, its resources are finite - like cancer cells, we can't multiply forever without killing our own host! With 140% consumption today, it's obvious we need to do better in our farming, aquaculture, general harvesting, etc. We're already eating up above the supply system, and eventually it will collapse. Each of us carries this 'population responsibility', we can start by limiting our family size. Or, do what famous celebrities do - adopt a child!

We direly need to change our lifestyle and mindset, and cut our carbon footprint by more than 50% EACH, now! The goal is to go for carbon-neutral living. We may not wait for a futuristic technology to transform our atmosphere (and reduce GHG) or wait for government and institutions to ban Coal, Petrol other fossil fuels in energy production. We just need to act individually, TODAY!
To save energy every way we can... every single day!

Go for zero-waste. 1. Eliminate or reduce the need/consumption, 2. re-use when possible, 3. then recycle when possible, compost biodegradables (or at least segragate them), etc.
Eliminate the need for disposable plastics / non-biodegradables! We know what to do, what's lacking is the will...

Preserve, conserve or rehabilitate the remaining eco-systems and species. One missing link in the chain could produce devastating results for us. Wildlife and habitat conservation campaigns are all around us. We're simply not listening. Still slurping that shark's fin soup? Still buying that 100yr-old-wood furniture? Proud of your rare leather-skin branded goods? Entertained by those caged rare & threatened animals? Do we still use the alibi of 'not knowing what is wrong?' - we already have internet & google to learn just about anything! Are we really that innocent, think again...

Value change >> Lifestyle change. Mass action could lead to positive results. And may extend our time in this planet... :)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

To infinity?

Maybe with our collective conservation effort, we'll extend our Earth time by a few hundreds or thousands of years.
Who knows, maybe if a future Earth trully becomes uninhabitable for us - future technologies may allow us to colonize other habitable space bodies. :)
But taking a day at a time, let's save this living planet first - starting NOW! =)