Earth could be alien to humans by 2500, study

Climate projections should not stop at the year 2100.

A team of international scientists suggests that global warming by 2500 will make the Amazon barren, the American Midwest tropical, and India too hot to live in unless there is a significant drop in CO2 emissions.

The study was conducted using global climate model projections. These projections were based on time-dependent projections of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations for low, medium, and high mitigation scenarios up to the year 2500.

The results reveal an Earth that is alien to humans.

Christopher Lyon, a Postdoctoral Researcher under the supervision of Professor Elena Bennett at McGill University, said, “These projections point to the potential magnitude of climate upheaval on longer time scales and fall within the range of assessments made by others.”

Midwest US
Midwest US: The top painting is based on pre-colonisation Indigenous cities and communities with buildings and diverse maize-based agriculture. The second is the same area today, with a grain monoculture and large harvesters. The last image, however, shows agricultural adaptation to a hot and humid subtropical climate, with imagined subtropical agroforestry based on oil palms and arid zone succulents. The crops are tended by AI drones, with a reduced human presence. Credit: James McKay, CC BY-ND, The Conv

Under low and medium mitigation scenarios, vegetation and the best crop-growing areas may move towards the poles. The arable lands- the area suitable for crops- would also be reduced. Places with long histories of cultural and ecosystem richness, like the Amazon Basin, may go barren.

What’s more, the model suggests that heat stress will reach fatal levels for humans in tropical regions that are highly populated. Even under mitigation scenarios, the sea level keeps rising due to expanding and mixing water in warming oceans.

The Indian Continent
The Indian subcontinent: The top image is a busy agrarian village scene of rice planting, livestock use, and social life. The second is a present-day scene showing the mix of traditional rice farming and modern infrastructure present in many areas of the Global South. The bottom image shows a future of heat-adaptive technologies including robotic agriculture and green buildings with minimal human presence due to the need for personal protective equipment. Credit: James McKay, CC BY-ND, The Conversation

Scientists said“Although many reports based on scientific research talk about the long-term impacts of climate change – such as rising levels of greenhouse gases, temperatures, and sea levels – most of them don’t look beyond the 2100 horizon. To fully grasp and plan for climate impacts under any scenario, researchers and policymakers must look well beyond the 2100 benchmark.”

Lyon said, The Paris Agreement, the United Nations, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s scientific assessment reports all show us what we need to do before 2100 to meet our goals, and what could happen if we don’t. But this benchmark, which has been used for over 30 years, is short-sighted because people born now will only be in their 70s by 2100.”

Journal Reference:
  1. Christopher Lyon, Erin E. Saupe et al. Climate change research and action must look beyond 2100. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.15871

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