World at risk of heading towards irreversible 'hothouse' state

Part of the Wayoh Reservoir near Bolton has been left parched by the UK heatwave

Image Part of the Wayoh Reservoir near Bolton has been left parched by the UK heatwave

"This would be a planet that is not recognisable for us... as we know it", he told Shelagh Fogarty.

A new study out Monday warns of the possibility of out-of-control global warming if humans fail to band together to fight the worst effects of climate change.

A Hothouse Earth would pose "severe risks for health, economies, political stability, and ultimately, the habitability of the planet for humans", the worldwide scientists wrote in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Climate scientists have known about and been deeply concerned about "self-reinforcing feedbacks" or "positive feedbacks" for years. Eventually, the rainforest turns into a savanna and releases the carbon stored in its biomass.

Natural feedback mechanisms work to amplify themselves. Once one is pushed over, it pushes Earth toward another", said Johan Rockström, co-author of the report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. And so on it goes.

The study describes a set of interconnected mechanisms, including the melting of the ice caps, the dieback of forests, and the risk of permafrost thaw in Russian Federation and Canada releasing 15 years of human emissions of CO 2 and methane at once.

The team also claims that sea levels in such a climate change would be 30-200-feet higher than today. Everything is inter-connected.

"Our study indicates that human-caused global warming of two degrees Celsius may trigger other Earth System processes, often called feedbacks, that can trigger further warming - even if we stop emitting greenhouse gases".

The current average temperature is over one degree above pre-industrial levels and rises at 0.17 degree each decade.

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They warn that "If the threshold is crossed, the resulting trajectory would likely cause serious disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies".

The paper said that a hothouse Earth trajectory would nearly certainly cause widespread river flooding, increase the risk of damage from coastal storms, and eliminate coral reefs (and all of the benefits they provide for societies) by the end of this century or earlier. "Avoiding this scenario requires a redirection of human actions from exploitation to stewardship of the Earth system".

"These tipping elements can potentially act like a row of dominoes".

". Sitting on our hands means we are at risk of driving the Earth - and human wellbeing - beyond an irreversible point of no return". "We totally hand over our fate to an Earth system that starts rolling out of equilibrium", he added. "Places on Earth will become uninhabitable if "hothouse Earth" becomes the reality", he said.

A 2015 Paris climate agreement aimed to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celcius, compared with pre-industrial levels.

The report hit the presses amid a record-shattering heatwave that gripped Europe, with temperatures recorded in excess of 40°C (104°F). Our societies could not continue the way they are now with an average temperature increase of 4°C to 5°C (and) 10 to 60-meter sea level rises.

"What this is all about is humanity is recognizing the fact that we need to manage our resources at a global level".

"In the context of the summer of 2018, this is definitely not a case of crying wolf, raising a false alarm: the wolves are now in sight", said Phil Williamson, climate researcher at the University of East Anglia.

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