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The Planet’s Response to Human Activity. Thermodynamic Approach

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Document pages: 10 pages

Abstract: The applicability of the laws of thermodynamics to processes on Earth is discussed and it is shown that the chemical thermodynamics provides the reasonable basis for predicting probable changes. The historical evolution of the planet is considered in the framework of the Harari approach; a civilization’s level is estimated by the Kardashev scale based on the amount of energy it is able to use. During a short historical interval (≈500 years), when the effect of biological evolution is imperceptible and the main changes on the planet are caused by human activity, two systems are considered: 1) a nonequilibrium inhabited planet and 2) a quasi-equilibrium hypothetical planet without people, which is accepted as a comparison system. It is shown that in response to the energy impact, the equilibrium of the hypothetical system with the primordial nature is disturbed and processes are initiated aimed to prevent further growth of energy production. In the case of a real planet, this implements changes preventing the uncontrolled activities of humans—the energy producers. Climate change, an increase in the number of natural disasters and epidemics can be recognized as a direct response of the planet, while changes in socio-economic relations, morality, demographic situation, new threats etc. can be considered as an indirect reaction to changing conditions of human beings. The latter results from the mutual correlation between the progress of society, on the one hand, and humanitarian and political processes, on the other. The role of renewable and non-renewable energy sources in evolution is taken into account. Obviously, it is better to take meaningful measures to achieve an acceptable balance now than to wait for the blind and extremely painful action of the laws of nature, which would lead to a reduction in the population.

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