The Earth’s population and the use of resources have reached a point when we have to carefully consider sustainability of the society and life — How to maximise habitability of the Earth and go beyond its limits? Our near-term challenges are: changing environment, overconsumption of resources, overpopulation, socio-geopolitical issues, the emergence of the useless class, global pandemic, and nuclear weapons. In distant future — large asteroid impact and solar evolution, shifting the habitable zone and leaving the Earth behind. Eventually, the Sun will stop producing the light and heat.
Life is rare — It might be that within a detectable distance it has occurred once, on the Earth or in the Solar System.
Life is precious — It is in our hands to preserve it, preferably life that knows its ignorance and is working towards reducing it.
Tackling these challenges will indeed require global cooperation among all existing and not yet existing fields.
We can take multiple simultaneous steps towards sustainable society and life:
• Make sure that the Earth is habitable for as long as possible;
• Research formation of life;
• Explore life, conditions and habitability outside the Earth;
• Prepare for the expanse outside the Earth.
Content credit: In-person discussions with Mihkel Pajusalu and Tartu Observatory's Research Priorities 2016–2020.
Photo: Milky Way as seen from Cena Moorland, Latvia.