How Scientists Predict the Amount of Time Left for Planet Earth

Based on radiometric dating of meteorites and lunar samples, our planet Earth is an estimated 4.6 billion years old; however as the big blue marble rounds the great yellow ball, scientists are always trying to find ways to predict how much longer the earth will sustain life. While religious and philosophical thought may vary about the end of the world, scientific views on the Earth’s last days are dependent on several different factors.

The Theories

Some scientists, including astronomer Robert Smith, believe that about 7.6 billions years from now that the sun will slowly expand into a red giant, and the Earth, snagged by the sun’s outer atmosphere,  will plunge to its fiery doom. While this may mean that we have time for one last weekend at the beach or time to draft our bucket list, scientists predict the end of life on Earth will end long before this. 

Many predict that in about a billion years the slowly expanding sun will boil off our ocens and make the planet uninhabitable.  While scientists devise ways of saving our precious planet fro its cosmic hell, many continue to consider other factors which may alter common views on how much time the Earth has left.

The Factors

Space Weather

Scientists have long been aware that disturbances on the sun can impact the Earth.  Magnetic storms have sent shock waves that have crippled power systems on our planet and sent dangerous radiation through our atmosphere.  Monitoring space weather can aid in monitoring solar activity and determining threats to our planet and our people. Ultimately, as time expands, scientists may be able to warn the public about coming disasters and develop high tech interventions.

The Earth’s Atmosphere

The atmosphere is more than a blanket of air, but a protective shield that surrounds the Earth. Five layers deep and anchored to the Earth by gravity, our atmosphere also supports living things and alters weather conditions on the planet. As humans and other living things consume the planet’s resources, the atmosphere is altered.  More cosmic radiation has been penetrating the atmosphere and pollution has compromised the quality of air and precipitation.  The risk that the Earth’s atmosphere may transform into the caustic soup that surrounds sister Venus or be torn from the planet like brother Mars is real considering human consumption, diminishing amounts of carbon, and cosmic uncertainty.

Impact Events

The life and sustainability on earth depends on the movement of many of our cosmic friends and neighbors.  One of the most common celestial occurrences has been asteroid and space debris impacts on Earth,  Impact events are very real. The Kaali and barring Craters are proof of this.  About once per year, asteroids enter the Earth’s atmosphere.  However, the more increasingly significant impacts occur in intervals of every 1000 to 500,000 to ten million years. The existence of our Moon is believed to be a related impact event.  NASA predicts that over the next 500 years more than 1000 small asteroids will crash into the Earth. Catastrophic changes to the Earth and mass extinction of species have been linked to impact events.

Other Considerations

Just like the human body, the Earth can be affected by internal and surface changes. Over the past several years, seismic events have altered the Earth’s velocity and axis.   The magnetic poles are migrating at almost 40 miles per year and our moon is inching away literally.

While many consider the quatrains of Nostradamus and the Mayan predictions for the Transformation of Consciousness, scientists consider and attempt to predict the amount of time left for the Earth.  Using measurements that include gravity, cosmic orbits, star formation and space weather, there are many theories about the fate of our planet, but in truth, only time will tell.