Climate Change and the Cosmic Perspective:

The View from 10,000 light-years


How to Change Your Climate Denying UncleÕs Point of View






The Takeaways

á      Of course we changed the climate.

o   The laws of thermodynamics demand there has to be planetary feedback from using all the energy required for civilization building.

á      Climate models work on Mars!

o   The climate models we for the Earth have been tested for other planets like Venus, Mars and Titan.

á      YouÕre breathing Oxygen arenÕt you?

o   Life has changed the atmosphere before in the Great Oxygenation Event (GOE)

á      Hey, habitability ainÕt forever.

o   Mars used to be habitable but isnÕt any more.  The same could be true for planets and civilization.

á      The planet will be fine thank you.

o   Climate change is not about saving the planet. ItÕs about saving our project of civilization.

á      We ainÕt the first to run into this wall.

o   With so many planets in the cosmos its possible and even likely weÕre not the first civilization to drive its planet into climate change. Sustainability will be a challenge for any planetary civilization

á      Climate Change shows human beings are awesome.  But can we be smart too?

o   Human beings are not a virus on the planet.  We triggered climate change by mistake as part of our success as species. But are we smart enough now to make the right choices?


Adam Frank (U of Rochester)

David Grinspoon (SWRI)

Ellen Stofan (formerly NASA)

The Planet and the Project

The cosmic perspective on climate change shows us whatÕs happening to Earth is not a mystery. 

WeÕve been exploring the other worlds in our solar system via robot probes for more than 50 years.  These missions have given us laboratories for how climate works on all planets!

We have also unpacked the whole of EarthÕs history going back 4.5 billion years to see how life and the planet have co-evolved.  The biosphere has been a major force in shaping the planet in ways we now understand.

Finally we have seen how the universe is rich with planets.  Every star you see in the sky hosts its own worlds and one star out of every five has a planet in the right place for life to form.  For humans to be the only civilization that evolved over all cosmic history the odds of forming life on a habitable planet must be less than 1 in a hundred billion trillion. 

We are probably not the first civilization to exist and probably not the first to trigger climate change either.