How we’re turning Earth into alien planet

Earth at night
Imagery from the NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-Orbiting Partnership satellite shows Earth’s lights at night. In a newly published study, researchers argue that planets could be classified based on the effects of energy on the environment. (NASA Photo / Joshua Stevens / Miguel Roman)

A trio of scientists has just laid out a new classification scheme for planets that would put Earth into a hybrid category, making the transition from a diverse, photosynthetic-based biosphere to a world dominated by an energy-intensive civilization.

The researchers’ analysis meshes with the view that humanity’s influence has spawned a new geological epoch known as the Anthropocene Age.

“Our premise is that Earth’s entry into the Anthropocene represents what might, from an astrobiological perspective, be a predictable planetary transition. … In our perspective, the beginning of the Anthropocene can be seen as the onset of the hybridization of the planet,” they say in a study published by the journal Anthropocene.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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