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After 50,000 years: What will the earth look like?

Predicting the future of the planet is a bit like predicting the weather: the farther you look, the worse your accuracy. Based on this logic, it seems impossible for us to have any possibility to be correct after 50,000 years. However, we have learned more than 4 billion years of history. When you consider the history of the Earth from a geological perspective, you can count on some unstoppable processes—evolution, extinction, plate tectonics, climate change—to continue to shape our planet for the foreseeable future. Let’s take a look at some of these processes to predict how the Earth will look after 50,000 years.

First of all, the earth is a planet that rotates around the axis, just as it orbits the sun. These movements have an impact on organisms that attempt to survive on the planet’s surface. For example, the Earth not only rotates around the axis, but also sways like a gyro. Astronomers call this precession a precession, which causes the Earth’s axis to point to different parts of the sky with a 26,000-year cycle. Now, the North Pole points to the North Star. After 12,991, Vega will become the new Polaris. After 50,000 years, the Earth will complete two precession cycles, which means that we will be in today’s position, at least from our view of the night sky.

More important is the change due to Earth’s orbital distortion and tilt. During the 97,000-year cycle, the Earth’s orbit changed from a basic circle to a slightly elliptical shape. At the same time, the inclination of the earth axis changes by a few degrees, from 22.1 degrees at one end to 24.5 degrees at the other end. The combined effects of these movements have a profound impact on how much solar energy is on Earth. When the Earth’s position in space is just right, the Earth will experience an ice age, during which the polar ice caps will thicken and cover more continents. Historically, the Ice Age lasted for about 100,000 years, during which the interglacial period was warmer (a relatively warm period during the Great Ice Age), which lasted for about 10,000 years. The Earth is currently in the interglacial period, but will eventually enter another deep ice age. Many scientists believe that the next ice age will reach its peak after about 80,000 years. Therefore, after 50,000 years, the Earth is likely to become colder, and the ice sheet will extend southward to New York City.

So what about global warming?

How does global warming affect our future ice age? Not too much in the long run. However, in the short term, global warming may completely change our world. The full impact of global warming in the next 200 years will be inside feel, say, 2200. By then, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will exceed any time in the past 650,000 years. Carbon dioxide will prevent solar radiation from returning to space and warming the planet. As the average temperature rises, even if only a few degrees, the glaciers will melt, the sea level will rise, and floods will occur in the coastal areas. The ocean will also become warmer and more acidic, which will lead to the collapse of large areas of coral reefs. Many marine species will face extinction, and on land, one quarter of the flora and fauna will disappear forever.

This will be a critical moment for our home planet, and it seems that things will not get worse. Unfortunately, if the history of the Earth’s 4 billion years only tells us one thing, it is that if the time is long enough, the end of the world will indeed happen. After 50,000 years, we will almost certainly face an epic disaster that will change the earth forever. This disaster may occur in the form of an asteroid or a comet. Once it hits the earth, the life we ​​know will end. Astronomers estimate that such an impact occurs on average every one million years, so even in the next 50,000 years, this possibility is still in our favor. The more likely disaster will come from the Earth itself. The same tectonic forces that cause the continent to drift to the world also power super volcanoes, which can spur enough volcanic ash and smog into the atmosphere to block the sun’s rays for 10 to 15 years. Geologists believe that such an eruption occurs every 50,000 years, so the possibility of happening here is not good for us.

In the face of the devastating events of super volcanoes, a faltering planet is bound to experience a mass extinction that rivals the extinction of other species recorded in fossil records. The most famous one was the extinction of the dinosaurs of the late Cretaceous. However, compared with an extinction event that occurred about 251 million years ago at the end of the Permian period, the mass extinction of dinosaurs appeared pale and weak. At the end of the death, 95% of marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrates disappeared. Can you guess what caused the killing frenzy? Yes, it was a super volcano – more precisely, the Siberian volcano erupted, affecting the global climate.

So, after 50,000 years, what is the chance of human beings living on the earth? When you consider that our species only existed for 100,000 years, and the longest-lived civilization of human beings only existed for more than 3,000 years, then in the distant future We seem unlikely to be the dominant species.

However, humans have evolved and continue to evolve today. Some scientists estimate that in the past 10,000 years, humans have evolved 100 times faster than ever. Therefore, we are very likely to accumulate the necessary changes to adapt to the future conditions of the Earth. Microsoft National Broadcasting Corporation (MSNBC) has an interesting feature called “Before and After Humans,” which depicts what humans might look like in the next 1 million to 4 million years.

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