We are following the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the first week of August 2018. During this time, eminent scientists came up with the term “hothouse earth”. This environmental disaster will follow if we lose control of warming. They warn we may be already losing our grip.
The Earth System Tips If We Lose Control of Warming
Earth systems, including carbon sinks, are mitigating the worst impacts of warming by storing carbon dioxide. They are helping forests and arctic ice survive. However, their resistance could collapse like a row of dominoes, if average global temperatures exceed pre-industrial levels by 2º C.
A hothouse earth scenario could spin out fairly rapidly if we lose control of warming. The ice sheets would melt, raising sea levels by 32 feet at least. We would have to abandon some parts of Earth before the average global temperature stabilized at 4º to 5º C above pre-industrial levels. However, we may not feel these “massive, sometimes abrupt events” for a century or more.
What Will It Be Like Living on Hothouse Earth?
The current extreme weather is a sample of what will happen if we lose control of warming. “One should learn from these extreme events. And take them as evidence that we should be even more cautious,” says Prof Rockström of Stockholm Resilience Center.
“It may support the conclusion that if this can happen at one degree, then we should at least not be surprised or too dismissive of conclusions that things can happen more abruptly than we previously thought.”
The National Academy of Science is warning we’ve underestimated the sensitivity and power of natural earth systems. They believe there is a significant risk of these systems becoming massive sources of carbon dioxide and accelerating climate change. We are on track for this happening in 60 years’ time, unless we do something about it soon.
Preview Image: Extreme Weather in Holland