Published: Tue, August 07, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Earth Is Heading Towards Irreversible 'Hothouse' Conditions

Earth Is Heading Towards Irreversible 'Hothouse' Conditions

This could all happen in a few decades.

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

Researchers fear that even if we meet our climate objectives with the Paris Agreement, a "hothouse Earth" might still be inevitable.

"Hothouse Earth is likely to be uncontrollable and risky to many", stated the article.

Rivers would flood, storms would wreak havoc on coastal communities, and coral reefs would be eliminated - all by century's end or even earlier.

The team also claims that sea levels in such a climate change would be 30-200-feet higher than today. This would cause flooding in the coastal land where hundreds of millions of people live.

Mr Curtain said it does not really change the imperative that we need to manage the situation we are in; we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions dramatically as soon as we possibly can. That's higher than "pre-industrial temperatures" with sea level higher by 10-60 metres than it is today.

Earth is warming at a rate of about 0.17°C, every decade, and is already warmer by 1°C compared to pre-industrial times. "Places on Earth will become uninhabitable if "Hothouse Earth" becomes the reality", co-author Johan Rockström, former executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, said in a statement.

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The scientist who compiled the "Perspective" article based their conclusions on previously examined conditions the Earth has experienced and previously published studies on tipping points for our planet.

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. Currently, Earth is at 400 ppm.

"It's rather selective, but not outlandish". The stated 2 C no-return threshold is new according to scientists.

Experts strongly suggest humans change their lifestyles in order to preserve the planet.

Fossil fuels must be replaced with low or zero emissions energy sources, and there should be more strategies for absorbing carbon emissions such as ending deforestation and planting trees to absorb carbon dioxide.

"What we do not know yet is whether the climate system can be safely "parked" near 2ºC above pre-industrial levels, as the Paris Agreement envisages", shared Schellnhuber.

The research, according to its abstract, explores "the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a "Hothouse Earth" pathway even as human emissions are reduced".

These feedbacks include permafrost thaw, loss of methane hydrates from the ocean floor, weakening land and ocean carbon sinks, increasing bacterial respiration in the oceans, Amazon rainforest dieback, boreal forest dieback, reduction of northern hemisphere snow cover, loss of Arctic summer sea ice, and reduction of Antarctic sea ice and polar ice sheets.

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