'Many parts of Earth could become uninhabitable': Study's grim warning

07 Août, 2018, 20:35 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Scientists say humanity may only have a few years to save itself from disaster

Professor Johan Rockstrom, a leading member of the team from the University of Stockholm, Sweden, said: "These tipping elements can potentially act like a row of dominoes".

Currently, global average temperatures are just over 1°C above the pre-industrial period and rising at 0.17°C each decade.

The worry is that if one of these systems tips over and starts pushing large amounts of Carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the rest could follow like a row of dominoes.

"Climate and other global changes show us that we humans are impacting the Earth system at the global level", co-author, Katherine Richardson, of the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate at the University of Copenhagen, said in a statement.

The planet at risk of entering an irreversible "hothouse" climate, scientists say.

"A Hothouse Earth trajectory would nearly certainly flood deltaic environments, increase the risk of damage from coastal storms, and eliminate coral reefs.by the end of this century or earlier", the study says. This would cause flooding in the coastal land where hundreds of millions of people live.

The Earth's global temperature is 1C away from a climatic tipping point that threatens the future of humanity, scientists have warned. "We show how industrial-age greenhouse gas emissions force our climate, and ultimately the Earth system, out of balance", said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

The "Perspective" article is based on previously published studies on tipping points for the Earth.

Dr Rockstrom added that the floods, forest fires and droughts the world sees today would be "small" compared to what would hit us then.

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During the Cretaceous period, the era of the dinosaurs some 100 million years ago, Carbon dioxide levels were even higher at 1,000 ppm, largely due to volcanic activity. The stated 2 C no-return threshold is new according to scientists.

It was a huge global deal back in 2015, where leaders from 195 countries promised to do something about climate change.

Fossil fuels should be replaced with alternative energy sources with low or zero emission.

"Even if the Paris Accord [Agreement] target of a 1.5C to 2C rise in temperature is met, we cannot exclude the risk that a cascade of feedbacks could push the Earth system irreversibly onto a "hothouse Earth" pathway", the study says.

Soil management, better farming practices, land and coastal conservation and carbon capture technologies are also on the list of actions.

These include permafrost thaw, loss of methane hydrates from the ocean floor and the loss of Arctic summer sea ice.

Researchers say it's not certain that the Earth can remain stable.

However, it is not clear whether the world's climate can be safely "parked" near 2°C above pre-industrial levels or whether this might trigger other processes which drive further warming even if the world stops emitting greenhouse gases, the research said.

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