Earth will remain habitable for at least another 1.75 billion years, a new study suggests.
After this point, our planet will be in the ‘hot zone’ of the Sun, with temperatures so high that the seas would evaporate, causing a catastrophic and terminal extinction event for all life, researchers said.
Using recently discovered planets outside our solar system (exoplanets) as examples, researchers investigated the potential for these planets to host life.
“We used the ‘habitable zone’ concept to make these estimates — this is the distance from a planet’s star at which temperatures are conducive to having liquid water on the surface,” said Andrew Rushby, from University of East Anglia’s school of Environmental Sciences.
Rushby said conditions for humans will become impossible much sooner — and this is being accelerated by anthropogenic climate change.“Humans would be in trouble with even a small increase in temperature, and near the end only microbes in niche environments would be able to endure the heat,” said Rushby.
“Of course, much of evolution is down to luck, so this isn’t concrete, but we know that complex, intelligent species like humans could not emerge after only a few million years because it took us 75% of the entire habitable lifetime of this planet to evolve. We think it will probably be a similar story elsewhere,” said Rushby.