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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

"Cosmos" Explains How Global Warming Threatens Civilization as We Know It | Mother Jones

"The show had already enraged climate deniers by explaining just how big a problem global warming is. But clearly, it wasn't done. On the latest episode, entitled "The Immortals," host Neil deGrasse Tyson explores a grandiose theme if ever there was one: What it would take for our species to get off-world, as well as whether we'll ever be able to successfully contact alien life. Both are, in effect, chances at immortality, since either our species—or at least the information we create and transmit into space—would thereby live on, perhaps even beyond the death of our sun.

But guess what: Both forms of immortality, according to the show, are threatened by factors that can disrupt the stability and the longevity of human civilization—and that includes human-caused climate change.

To understand how that could be so, you need to first understand something that loomed very large in the thoughts of Tyson's predecessor, Carl Sagan, and that underlies this latest Cosmos episode: The Drake Equation. Derived by the astrophysicist Frank Drake, the equation is basically a formula for trying to determine how many technologically advanced civilizations there might be in the Milky Way galaxy, and how likely it is that our own civilization would be able to contact them. It looks like this (for much more detail, visit the SETI Institute):"

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