Summary of On the Future

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Rating

8

Qualities

  • Scientific
  • Hot Topic
  • Engaging

Recommendation

Astrophysicist Martin Rees offers a comprehensive guide to the prospects and options before the human race. Human beings still pose the greatest obstacle to their own survival. Yet Rees believes the world can feel positive about technology and its benefits. Humanity will need technology to combat threats, but people must apply moral values to govern and shape future research. Because Rees strives to explain and illuminate, he leaves the reader with a balanced sense of optimism. This report will prove particularly useful to corporate planners, government officials and analysts.

About the Author

The United Kingdom’s Astronomer Royal Martin Rees is one of the world’s most prominent astrophysicists and an influential scientific voice in the UK.

 

Summary

Slow Evolution

Imagine that extraterrestrial beings watched the evolution of life on Earth. In the “45 million centuries” of its existence, they would have seen slow change. Then, during the last 10,000 years, they would have seen the nature of vegetation on Earth change more rapidly than in the past. Alien observers would ascribe these changes to two factors: Humans started cultivating plants and then built cities.

Since the 1970s, extraterrestrial watchers would have noted an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere and the launch of rockets. Some of these circled the Earth; others set out to explore the moon and beyond. If extraterrestrials continue their vigil over the upcoming 100 years, what they might see in Earth’s future remains unclear. Would they watch the extinction of life or an improvement of ecological conditions? Could a fleet of rockets set out from the Earth to other parts of the universe? Would this fleet seek to create new human colonies on other worlds?

Human beings could alter the Earth’s climate with hazardous consequences. They could leave a less-hospitable...


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