Act Now, Urges Study, or Planet Faces 10,000+ Years of Adverse Climate Change
"The next few decades offer a brief window of opportunity to minimize large-scale and potentially catastrophic climate change that will extend longer than the entire history of human civilization thus far."
Act Now, Urges Study, or Planet Faces 10,000+ Years of Adverse Climate Change
By Lauren McCauley / commondreams.org
Feb 9, 2016

The actions that policymakers take in the next couple of years will have "profound impacts on global climate, ecosystems and human societies" for the next 10,000 years and beyond, warns a new report that examines the long-term consequences of the so called "fossil fuel era."

The agreement hashed out at the COP21 Paris climate talks "leaves a lot of leeway" for countries to postpone making critical cuts to their emission outputs—"more than the climate system allows," said report co-author Patrik Pfister from the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Bern.

The study, published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change and last month in the open-access journal Environmental Research Letters, warns that delaying global carbon emission reductions by even ten years will have a profound impact on long-term "Earth system variables," such as peak atmospheric warming, sea level rise (SSLR), and ocean acidification.

"Most of the policy debate surrounding the actions needed to mitigate and adapt to anthropogenic climate change has been framed by observations of the past 150 years as well as climate and sea-level projections for the twenty-first century," the report states. "The focus on this 250-year window, however, obscures some of the most profound problems associated with climate change."

For example, if global carbon emissions continue to increase at their current rate, peak committed temperatures will rise 3–7.5 times as fast as the global average. Or as Pfister explains, "In 10 years without global reductions, a 2.5°C target will have become about as ambitious as the 2°C target is today."

The long-term impact on the world's oceans is equally grim.

Even if climate change is limited to 2°C, sea levels will still rise by 25 meters over the next 2,000 years—and stay at those levels for at least 10,000 years—significantly impacting the current global landscape, thus driving mass migrations of humans and animals. However, if the burning of fossil fuels continues unabated, the sea could rise as much as 50 meters, "changing the map of the world," as the Guardian notes.

"For islands and coastal cities, the timing and rate of global emission reductions is therefore of existential importance," says Pfister.

What's more, ongoing emissions will only worsen ocean acidification. The study's climate models found that a "near-complete loss" of healthy marine ecosystems such as coral reefs "becomes imminent if emission reductions are delayed by few years to decades...depending on the achievable reduction rate."

"The long-term view sends the chilling message of what the real risks and consequences are of the fossil fuel era," said climate physicist Thomas Stocker, also with the University of Bern, who helped conduct the study. "It will commit us to massive adaptation efforts so that for many, dislocation and migration becomes the only option."

The authors conclude: "The next few decades offer a brief window of opportunity to minimize large-scale and potentially catastrophic climate change that will extend longer than the entire history of human civilization thus far."


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

4.2 ·
2
Trending Today
Why It's Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound
Bethany Webster · 15,679 views today · The issue at the core of women’s empowerment is the mother wound
Before He Was Assassinated, MLK Jr. Was Advocating For An End To Income Inequality
10 min · 14,332 views today · We can honor MLK Jr. by pursuing the causes he was advocating for before he was killed.  ​​ Part 2: The Basic Income, A New Human Right (3 minutes) MLK's idea of a basic...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 6,167 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
One "Piece of the Oppressor" That I Have Discovered Within Myself
Tim Hjersted · 4,039 views today · One "piece of the oppressor" that I have found in myself during my inner activist journeys is my use of shame as a method of engaging with the world's problems. Having learned...
Watch How Europeans Carved Up African Land They Never Owned
56 min · 3,592 views today · Watch how Europeans gave away African land they never owned, then expressed anger when Africans resisted. The film is called Africa: A Voyage of Discovery, Episode 6: The...
Looking Forward to the Day That Nationalism Is as Reviled as Racism
Tim Hjersted · 2,920 views today · Nationalism is a form of geographical racism that makes some lives matter more than others, and explicitly justifies that logic without apology. While today, not even lying...
#ReclaimMLK Seeks to Combat the Sanitizing of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Legacy
Danielle C. Belton · 2,705 views today · Martin Luther King Jr. had more than “a dream,” but you might not notice that on Monday during observances for his birthday. Somewhere between his assassination and today...
What Martin Luther King Jr. Can Teach Us about Nonviolence
John Dear · 2,628 views today · I've been reflecting on the principles of nonviolence that Martin Luther King Jr. learned during the historic yearlong bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala. After Rosa Parks refused...
The Corporation (2003)
145 min · 1,614 views today · The Corporation is today's dominant institution, creating great wealth but also great harm. This 26 award-winning documentary examines the nature, evolution, impacts and future...
Coping With Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the White House
N Ziehl · 1,201 views today · I want to talk a little about narcissistic personality disorder. I’ve unfortunately had a great deal of experience with it, and I’m feeling badly for those of you who are...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 1,022 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 989 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Positive Thinking in a Dark Age: A Guide to Gracefully Losing Faith in a Collapsing Dominant Culture
Jim Tull · 391 views today · I recall a Buddhist parable involving a stick that appears from a distance to be a snake, causing fear to rise in the perceiver. As the perception shifts upon closer...
The Invention of Capitalism: How a Self-Sufficient Peasantry was Whipped Into Industrial Wage Slaves
Yasha Levine · 359 views today · “…everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.” —Arthur Young; 1771 Our popular economic wisdom says that...
The Comprehensive Activist Guide to Dismantling Neoliberalism
Drew Serres · 346 views today · “The creation of today’s market society was not the result of a sequence of spontaneous events but rather of state interference and violence.” – Naomi Klein in The Shock...
This Woman Gets No Applause...Why? They Are Too Creeped Out...
7 min · 343 views today · Think you aren't being fooled by advertising tricks? Take a look at this so-called expert revealing food marketing's secret weapon. No amount of marketing makes factory farming...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 327 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
22 Documentaries That Tell the Truth About How Government Really Works
Tim Hjersted · 321 views today · And 6 that show how people are responding.
90 Inspiring and Visionary Films That Will Change How You See the World in Profound Ways
Tim Hjersted · 308 views today · The world today is in crisis. Everybody knows that. But what is driving this crisis? It's a story, a story that is destroying the world. It's a story about our relationship to...
Stunning Photos By Alexander Semenov Showcase The Alien Beauty Of Jellyfish
Earth Porm · 292 views today · Jellyfish appear like beautiful aliens in Alexander Semenov’s photography, calling a new attraction to a magical species of marine life. Alexander Semenov is a marine...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Act Now, Urges Study, or Planet Faces 10,000+ Years of Adverse Climate Change