Confusing planetary news today. We recently reported on the discovery of Gliese 581g, an Earthlike planet, 20.5 light-years away, in the Constellation of Libra. It was claimed by two US astronomers. Now colleague astronomers from a Swiss observatory say they can’t find a trace of the possibly life-bearing planet when they zoom in on the same planetary system.
Also today, WWF presented its Living Planet Report, a science-based analysis on the ecological health of planet Earth. Quantifying nature’s productivity vs. human’s grazing habits, they reach the conclusion – under continuation of the present overconsumption (trees don’t grow as fast as we destroy forests, fish birthrates can’t compensate fish catch and pollution losses) – by 2050 we would need 3 Earths.
Perhaps the astronomers would have to try a little harder. Gliese 581g may have been a floater. But Earthlike planets are presumed not to be rare at all. They are just very hard to spot. And of course impossibly distant.
Perhaps it is indeed the actual uncontrolled race for resources we need to tackle.
(c) Rolf Schuttenhelm | www.bitsofscience.org