From Chapter 11 Dying Earth
A small team of humans laboriously put on their protective suits and goggles. The suits were insulated and the goggles shielded their eyes and trapped moisture, so they could see. Once ready, they left the shelter of their vehicles and walked across the searing hot sand to the distant craters. Around them the sand, in surreal dunes, stretched everywhere to the far horizon, as beautiful as it was desolate, beneath an eternally sapphire sky.
The craters were large and poked out the sand dunes. The meteors that centuries before had created them had struck with such violence that the sand had fused to glass as if at a nuclear weapon test site. The air waved and shimmered the scenery in the heat, its temperature a blazing 52 °C. As much as they wanted to study the site after all, they had come so far to visit this forsaken place the humans could not look for long. The suits did not work well and before long they hurried back to their air-conditioned vehicles. One of the party, overcome by heat exhaustion, began babbling incoherently in a mixture of English and Arabic.
The place where this occurred was not on some distant planet but on our own. This is a description of the ArRab Al Kahli, the empty quarter of Saudi Arabia. There is only the most hardy of vegetation there, and no water. The air temperatures will kill even camels. It used to be bad there, but conditions are much worse now. This is one of many zones on this planet that are uninhabitable because of heat. And they are spreading.
We are Mars-a-forming the Earth. While we were busy exploring our nearest neighbor, looking for life and finding disaster, we were tolerating the Marsification of our own planet. Evidently we still arent getting the picture. Yet, it is so simple, really. Look to the night sky and find the red planet. Mars is Exhibit A. Observe.
Mars once had an ocean, larger than the Pacific.
Mars once had an atmosphere.
Mars once had life.
They are all gone.
Mars died. The Lyot impact appears to have killed it. If so, then the Lyot impact transmogrified Mars changing its former greenhouse-warmed state into its present one, a frozen husk. This is why Mars liquid water erosion stopped after the Late Hesperian age. Water stopped flowing after the meteor at Lyot in the Early Amazonian age. Mars died, just like the dinosaurs. The exact time is difficult to ascertain because the Hesperian and Amazonian epochs are distinctions based on relative crater counts and we dont know the exact cratering rate at Mars, so absolute gauges arent available. However, if it was four times the lunar rate, the Amazonian transition was 1.5 billion years ago.
The death of Mars by asteroid impact coincided roughly with a period of immense importance on Earth: the Precambrian explosion. It was during the Precambrian period that life suddenly became multi-cellular and began to evolve rapidly. Could advanced multi-cellular life have arrived from Mars aboard meteorites after Lyot and jump-started biology on Earth? Could extinguished Mars life have arisen phoenix-like on Earth? Could Arrhenius support of the theory of panspermia be accurate? Herein lies a story.
It isnt easy for a modern theorist to be beholden to a scientist from a hundred years ago for our current findings, but it appears that Svante August Arrhenius ideas about the biological processes of the cosmos, which seemed so entirely absurd for so long, may have more validity than we ever before considered. Could this same brilliant mind have been equally prophetic when alerting us, nearly a century ago, that by burning fossil fuels we were creating a greenhouse effect that was changing the thermal balance of the planet? Indeed, it seems now that he was and his warnings were unheeded.
Copyright 2000 Dr. John Brandenburg and Monica Rix Paxson. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher - The Crossing Press.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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