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

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
What's Next
Trending Today
The Myth of Positivity: Why Your Pain Holds a Mighty Purpose
umair haque · 15,768 views today · Of all the great myths of contemporary life, one of the most toxic is positivity. It says: there are negative and positive emotions, and only the positive ones are worth...
Stunning Summary of US Imperialism and Native Resistance... on MSNBC!
4 min · 11,959 views today · On The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC, Lawrence explains why a protest by Native Americans in North Dakota reminds us of the history American always tries to forget.
Standing Rock Wisdom: How Sacred, Nonviolent Activism Has the Power to Succeed
Charles Eisenstein · 6,654 views today · I am told by Native American friends active at Standing Rock that the elders are counseling the Water Protectors to undertake each action prayerfully and to stay off the...
Seven Must-Have Skills for the 21st Century
Tommy Lehe · 4,899 views today · We live in a world that moves faster than we do. Trying to keep up can be an overwhelming task that at times feels hopeless, like we are falling further and further behind—but...
Veterans at Standing Rock Ask Forgiveness for War Crimes Against Tribal Nations
Jen Hayden · 4,392 views today · Jon Eagle Sr., Tribal Historic Preservation Officer at Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has reported something wholly unexpected happened at the Standing Rock Reservation today. The...
Why People Cling to Old Beliefs
1 min · 4,038 views today · Cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist at McGill University, Daniel Levitin, explains why people can be so stubborn when it comes to false beliefs. This behavior is...
The Other Way of Knowing
Lilian Na’ia Alessa · 3,477 views today · Western science and Indigenous worldviews are often seen as incompatible, with the Indigenous view usually being far less valued by society at large. But an inside look at...
DREAM: A Spoken Word Meditation For When Life Is Kicking Your Ass
4 min · 3,129 views today · If life is kicking your ass and the general un-coolness of everybody on planet erf is making you want to off yourself, TALK to someone: 800-273-8255 (national suicide...
Forget Air Force One, Pentagon Wastes Billions and Billions Every Month
Nadia Prupis · 3,115 views today · President-elect Donald Trump's focus on single Boeing contract ignores enormous waste of bloated Pentagon budget
Solar is Already Producing More Energy Than Oil, Says Major Scientific Review
Nafeez Ahmed · 2,996 views today · And is twice as powerful than previously thought
13 Crises That We All Must Face
George Monbiot · 2,515 views today · We face (at least) 13 major crises, some of which are immediate. It’s time for some hard thinking about how we confront them.
Dear Activists, Maybe It's Time to Admit That We've Got It All Wrong
Mickey Z. · 2,322 views today · “The first step in the revolution is eye contact.” - Alicen Grey
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 2,232 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
How a White Supremacist Became a Civil Rights Activist
Araz Hachadourian · 2,141 views today · The story of a KKK leader’s transformation shows us that we need not live forever with the kind of violence we saw in Charleston this month.
Andy Goes In - Working Undercover in a Factory Farm
10 min · 2,066 views today · He's a $10/hr farmhand, and his name isn't Andy. Andy Goes In is a compelling 10-minute documentary short about a Mercy For Animals undercover investigator. The vast majority...
15 Films Inspiring and Illuminating the 'New Story' Revolution
Tim Hjersted · 1,531 views today · Charles Eisenstein is one of the first people I heard talk about the "new story," synthesizing a diverse movement that has been emerging for the last several decades. When I go...
Sean Carroll - The Meaning of Life
7 min · 1,459 views today · The world keeps happening in accordance with its rules; it's up to us to make sense of it and give it value. Sean Carroll Music: Moby - God Moving Over the Face of the Waters
Satish Kumar on "What Is a Sacred Place?"
3 min · 1,372 views today · Satish Kumar brings a Hindu, Buddhist and Jain perspective to the definition of "sacred place." We found his explanation so compelling that we edited a three-minute piece...
Amanda Abbington Introduces iAnimal - 42 Days in the Life of Chickens
4 min · 1,319 views today · Shot undercover in British factory farms and slaughterhouses, this immersive 360° video gives you a birds-eye view of what happens to chicken from farm to plate.
Sky Roosevelt-Morris: The Secret of Indigenous Resiliency
2 min · 1,235 views today · Activist Sky Roosevelt-Morris is of the Shawnee and White Mountain Apache Nations. She is a member of the Leadership Council of the American Indian Movement of Colorado. In...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Act Now, Urges Study, or Planet Faces 10,000+ Years of Adverse Climate Change