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It's a bug's life: Microbes to inherit the Earth

Published on Jul 2, 2013 7:16 AM
 
This image obtained on May 9, 2013 shows the sun as it is about to come up over the South Pacific Ocean in this colorful scene photographed by one of the Expedition 35 crew members aboard the Earth-orbiting International Space Station between 4 and 5 a.m. local time, on May 5, 2013. Two billion years from now, an ever-hotter Sun will have cooked the Earth, leaving microbes confined to pockets of water in mountains or caves as the last survivors, a study said on Monday. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - Two billion years from now, an ever-hotter Sun will have cooked the Earth, leaving microbes confined to pockets of water in mountains or caves as the last survivors, a study said on Monday.

The bleak scenario is proposed by astrobiologist Jack O'Malley-James of the University of St. Andrews, Edinburgh.

As the Sun ages over the next billion years, it will become more luminous, cranking up the thermostat on the Earth, Dr O'Malley-James suggests in a computer model presented at a meeting of Britain's Royal Astronomical Society (RAS).

Increased evaporation rates and chemical reactions with rainwater will cause a dramatic fall in levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), on which plants depend for photosynthesis. Animals, in turn, depend on plants.

 
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