According to a recent study, carried out by a group of astrobiologists, our planet is not only alive but could also be an intelligent being. Not only that, but they also believe that other planets are capable of developing intelligence as well.
Now, of course, when we say intelligent beings, we don’t mean intelligent beings as in our planet could read a book or carry on a conversation, but instead mean that the planet has intelligence associated with the interconnectedness of the life that inhabits them.
And while Earth could be considered an intelligent being, scientists say that we are still a major step away from developing true planetary intelligence, which if obtained, could prevent us from the impending doom of climate change.
The study was published back in February of this year, in the journal International Journal of Astrobiology. In this study, the researchers explain that if our planet demonstrated cognition, or the capacity to understand what is happening and act accordingly, it could be considered intelligent.
“To be clear, cognition is not consciousness,” the researchers explain in an article published by The Atlantic. “We don’t imagine some kind of planetary super-being making self-aware decisions for the world.” What they do assert is that cognition is a product of the relationship between life and the planet life inhabits.
But, our planet has not yet reached cognition. “Even though Earth might be full of intelligent life, at this point in its cosmic history, it certainly doesn’t seem very smart,” they wrote.
Their study is built around the concept of the Gaia hypothesis, which asserts that the evolution of the life forms on our planet affects everything around them. We are all connected to a living, breathing Earth. In turn, every action that we make for the good or the worse affects this planet.
They set out to find if the interconnectedness between life and the planet could become so linked that the planet could be referred to as intelligent. “The biosphere tells us that once life appears in the world, the world can take on a life of its own.” They explain in the Atlantic. “But if a planet with life has a life of its own, can it also have a mind of its own?”
In their study, they use examples of the interconnectedness on our planet, such as networks of fungi, which can communicate. The researchers believe that this shows there is unseen intelligence as work on our planet that affects the condition of the rest. Because of this, they worry that we may be causing changes to our planet that likely are altering the balance of our environment.
However, as more research is done, we could see this belief of Earth being an intelligent being becoming widely understood. And if we understood that nature was an intelligent network, we might start thinking differently about how we are treating our planet.