This weeks “Cosmos“, featured an interesting segment on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. On the show they explained how the moon is the only other celestial body known to have rain and oceans, although these aren’t water based; instead they consist of ethane, methane and other hydrocarbons.
In another story a few days ago we see that scientists have detected what may be evidence of ripples on the hydrocarbon oceans on Titan, the first time that a liquid surface has been directly detected on another celestial body – a remarkable discovery.
Recently U.S. scientists also announced they have created a way to convert natural gas into useable fuels that could, for example, replace traditional gas and diesel.
The connection? Simple; natural gas is comprised mostly of ethane and methane.
If natural gas can be converted to fuel more cost effectively, it will be and the end result will be that we simply pump more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and poison the planet even quicker. And you can also bet that if the oil companies could find a way of exploiting the oceans on Titan (unlikely as that is), they’d be shipping those hydrocarbons to Earth to do even more damage.
We can’t tackle climate change by consuming more, no matter how efficiently. We need to moderate our demands and reduce the impact we have on a global scale. Anything else is just a very slow form of suicide.
Cosmos also discussed the five different cataclysmic extinction events that have impacted Earth since life began. From what we know, the normal rate of extinction is around 10 to 25 species per year. Current rates are estimated at 100 to 1000 and possibly as high as 1000 to 10,000 extinctions per year – rates higher than the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs and thirty percent of all life on the planet.
With our abject failure to control our emissions and deal with this problem, now known for forty years, I think we already know the name of the next extinction. Could we prevent this? Possibly, through a lot of global cooperation and hard work. Will we? Given the selfish bickering, posturing, political games and vested interests of big business evident it’s difficult to see a positive outcome.