The Sun is turning into a red giant. What does that mean for Earth?
The Earth is warming some now, but no this is not a video about human-caused climate change. It’s about how the Sun is slowly expanding. And how we’re all going to die.
Regardless of how much carbon dioxide we spew in the atmosphere, in a couple of billion years the Earth is going to warm a lot.
Our Sun, Sol, is a G-class star. It is now about 4.5 billion years old, and in about five billion years it will begin rapidly expanding into what’s known as a ‘red giant.’ Clever name, that, because the Sun will in fact become a giant red star and eventually expand beyond the Earth’s orbit.
Everything on the planet will be incinerated. Put another way, when you go to the drive-through lane at KFC all you’ll be able to get is extra, extra, extra, extra crispy.
Alas we don’t even have 5 billion years. In as little as 1.5 billion years the Earth’s average temperature will double to about 104 degrees. The polar regions will be the new tropics. That’s about the limit of human tolerance.
It’ll be even worse in 2 billion years, scientists say. By then rocks will have sucked most of the carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Plants will die and all animals will follow soon afterward.
The last life on Earth, in about 2.8 billion years, will be single-celled, heat-loving organisms in isolated pools of hot, salty water.
Looking for a silver lining? The good news is that we’re beginning to find a lot of planets around a lot of other worlds.
In the last 100 years we’ve gone from a 12-second flight by the Wright brothers to living in space. Given that there are a lot of other worlds, humans should eventually have the capacity to reach them in plenty of time.