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Extinctions & Climate Change

Date: 05-17-09
Host: Art Bell
Guests: Peter Ward

Live from Manila, Art Bell returned for a discussion with Prof. Peter Ward about his latest work on mass extinctions and the self destructive nature of our planet, as well as the possibility for life in our solar system and beyond. Saturn's moon Titan may harbor life, he said, but it's so cold there that life forms might be silicon rather carbon-based, and move at an extremely slow pace. Interestingly, he noted that gravity from Earth's moon slows us to our 24-hours in-a-day cycle. If the moon was gone, the Earth would have four-hour days and a never ending series of storms, he detailed.

"Life is ultimately its own worst enemy," said Ward, who noted that out of 14 mass extinctions on Earth, only one-- the extinction of the dinosaurs, was related to an asteroid. The rest were due to bacteria that took over and created toxic hydrogen sulfide gas. With the current scenario of greenhouse gases and global warming, we're heading into a future where conditions for this bacteria to proliferate will return, he warned. And, as in the deep past, we'd see the ocean turn purple and skies turn green.

Ward commented that the Gaia Hypothesis, that Earth is a living being that sustains itself, leads to wishful thinking and that we must use technology and engineering to avoid the disastrous effects of climate change. He argued for increasing alternative forms of energy, curbing pollution, and practicing conservation.

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