A large group of climate scientists issued a statement reinforcing the journal Nature Climate Change, arguing that we are wrong if we think that global warming is just a matter of the next 100 years or so – in fact, they say we are closing in on changes that are going to play along as many as 10,000 years.
“In the decades to offer a brief window of opportunity to minimize large-scale and potentially catastrophic climate change that will last longer than the entire history of human civilization so far,” write the 22 climate researchers, led by Peter Clark, from Oregon state University.
The names of the authors include not only a number of highly influential climate scientists at major general but several leaders behind the main reports of the Intergovernmental Panel of the United Nations on Climate Change, including Susan Solomon of MIT and Thomas Stocker, University of Bern in Switzerland.
the key assertion is that researchers have been thinking about too narrowly by only projecting outward 2100 climate change, which research says “was originally driven by the computational capabilities of the past.” Rather, we must consider the long-term consequences of human emissions of temperature and sea level will play over many millennia.
“It is a statement of concern,” said Raymond Pierrehumbert, a geoscientist at the University of Oxford and one of the study authors. “And in fact, most of us who have worked in both paleoclimate and future have been terrorized by the idea of doubling or quadrupling CO2 from the outset.”
“In a hundred years from now, people will look back and say, ‘Yes, sea level is rising, which will continue to increase, we live with a constant increase in sea level due to these people 200 years ago using coal, and oil and gas, ‘ “said Anders Levermann, an expert on sea level rise at the Potsdam Institute for climate Impact Research and co-author of the article. “If you just look at this, it’s impressive that can make such a lasting impact as great as the ice ages.”
The main reason for this is that the carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for a long time before being slowly removed again by natural processes. “A considerable fraction of carbon emissions to date and for the next 100 years will remain in the atmosphere for tens to hundreds of thousands of years,” the study said. Meanwhile, sea levels planet gradually adjust your temperature rise for thousands of years.
So what will the world look like in 10,000 years, thanks to us? That really depends on what we do in the next hundred years to fossil fuels that have relatively easy access. It also depends on whether or not we develop technologies that are capable of pulling carbon dioxide in the air in one, comparable to the amount we are currently running a massive scale.
But assuming that we do not develop these technologies, here are the key factors to consider – as stated in the new role – about how we are shaping a distant planet future.
From 1750 to the present, human activities put about 580 billion metric tons, or gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere – it becomes more than 2,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide (which has a higher molecular weight).
We are currently issuing about 10 gigatons of carbon per year – a figure that is expected to rise still further in the future. Therefore, the study takes into account if we are to deliver somewhere around 700 gigatons other in this century (which, with 70 years in 10 gigatons per year, could easily happen), bringing the total cumulative emissions of 1,280 gigatons – or if we go beyond that, reaching cumulative total levels up to 5,120 gigatons.
In 10,000 years, if it is allowed to work fully, ultimately, the planet could be a surprising 7 degrees Celsius warmer on average seas and have 52 meters higher than they are now (170 feet). There would be almost no remaining mountain glaciers in temperate latitudes, Greenland would give up its entire Antarctic ice would give up almost 45 meters worth of sea level rise, the study suggests.
However, anyone observing recent global mobilization to address climate change in Paris in late 2015 reasonably question whether humanity will emit as much carbon this fact. With the efforts now under way to restrict emissions and develop clean energy worldwide, it stands to reason that we will not go that far.
Still, what is striking is that when the document a more modest scenario outlined gigaton 1,280 – one that does not seem reasonable, and that only push the world a little way beyond an increase of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperature levels – impacts more than 10,000 years are still quite dramatic.
In this scenario, only it lose 70 percent of glaciers outside Greenland and Antarctica. Greenland gives up to four meters of sea level rise (of a potential seven), while Antarctica could give up to 24. In combination with the thermal expansion of the oceans, this scenario could mean sea levels rise about 25 meters (or 82 feet) above 10,000 years. There are undoubtedly “a great deal of uncertainty in the prediction,” Pierrehumbert said by email.
Again, a key factor that could mitigate this grave prognosis is the potential development of technologies that could remove carbon dioxide from the air and thus cool the planet faster than the Earth on its own boat through natural processes. “If we have any replacement technology to avoid this, you really should be putting more money into the removal of carbon dioxide,” Pierrehumbert said.
Pierrehumbert said he believes will achieve develop a technology of this type in the coming centuries, as long as human societies are still rich enough – but added that it is still uncertain about how affordable it will be.
The new study is part of a growing body of scientific analysis suggests that human alteration of the planet has actually launched a new geological era, which has been dubbed the “Anthropocene”. From the perspective of 10,000 years, certainly reinforces the geological scale of what is currently happening.
The ability to perform an analysis so far in the future, Levermann said, is actually the result in recent years of several key scientific developments. One is that “we are now in a better position to model the ice sheets, really,” he said.
At the same time, scientists have recently begun to calculate also called carbon budgets that describe how much we can issue and still maintain the planet to a variety of temperature thresholds.
All this means that a conversation about expectations increasingly bind long term, and the consequences of the millennium scale emissions of greenhouse gases today, is growing in the scientific world. The question is whether a similar conversation eventually take hold in public and political.