Study: Climate Models can Predict Life in the Year 2500

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to the authors of a study, if we don’t mend our wicked ways, in 500 years people in India will have to wear space suits when they want to go outside to work the fields.

Our climate projections for 2500 show an Earth that is alien to humans

September 26, 2021 10.19pm AEST

Christopher Lyon Postdoctoral researcher, Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University
Alex Dunhill Research Fellow in Palaeobiology, University of Leeds
Andrew P. Beckerman Professor in Evolutionary Ecology, University of Sheffield
Ariane Burke Professor, Anthropology, Université de Montréal
Bethany Allen PhD Student, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds
Chris Smith NERC-IIASA Collaborative Research Fellow, University of Leeds
Daniel J. Hill Lecturer, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds
Erin Saupe Associate Professor, Palaeobiology, University of Oxford
James McKay Manager, Centre for Doctoral Training, University of Leeds
Julien Riel-Salvatore Professor, Anthropology, Université de Montréal
Lindsay C. Stringer Professor, Environment and Geography, University of York
Rob Marchant Professor of Tropical Ecology, University of York
Tracy Aze Associate Professor, Earth and Environment, University of Leeds

There are many reports based on scientific research that talk about the long-term impacts of climate change — such as rising levels of greenhouse gases, temperatures and sea levels — by the year 2100. The Paris Agreement, for example, requires us to limit warming to under 2.0 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.

While some climate projections do look past 2100, these longer-term projections aren’t being factored into mainstream climate adaptation and environmental decision-making today. This is surprising because people born now will only be in their 70s by 2100. What will the world look like for their children and grandchildren?

Further, we found heat stress may reach fatal levels for humans in tropical regions which are currently highly populated. Such areas might become uninhabitable. Even under high-mitigation scenarios, we found that sea level keeps rising due to expanding and mixing water in warming oceans. 

Although our findings are based on one climate model, they fall within the range of projections from others, and help to reveal the potential magnitude of climate upheaval on longer time scales.

The Earth of our high-end projections is alien to humans. The choice we face is to urgently reduce emissions, while continuing to adapt to the warming we cannot escape as a result of emissions up to now, or begin to consider life on an Earth very different to this one.

Read more: https://theconversation.com/our-climate-projections-for-2500-show-an-earth-that-is-alien-to-humans-167744

The abstract of the study;

Climate change research and action must look beyond 2100

Christopher LyonErin E. SaupeChristopher J. SmithDaniel J. HillAndrew P. BeckermanLindsay C. StringerRobert MarchantJames McKayAriane BurkePaul O’HigginsAlexander M. DunhillBethany J. AllenJulien Riel-SalvatoreTracy Aze

Anthropogenic activity is changing Earth’s climate and ecosystems in ways that are potentially dangerous and disruptive to humans. Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere continue to rise, ensuring that these changes will be felt for centuries beyond 2100, the current benchmark for projection. Estimating the effects of past, current, and potential future emissions to only 2100 is therefore short-sighted. Critical problems for food production and climate-forced human migration are projected to arise well before 2100, raising questions regarding the habitability of some regions of the Earth after the turn of the century. To highlight the need for more distant horizon scanning, we model climate change to 2500 under a suite of emission scenarios and quantify associated projections of crop viability and heat stress. Together, our projections show global climate impacts increase significantly after 2100 without rapid mitigation. As a result, we argue that projections of climate and its effects on human well-being and associated governance and policy must be framed beyond 2100.

Read more: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/gcb.15871

What can I say – arguably a space suit is advisable for Summer in India in today’s climate.

Their projection for the American Midwest is fun – all tropical and warm. Click the original article to see all nine paintings depicting life in the past, present and future.

Back in the real world, NASA GISS director Gavin Schmidt recently stated climate models are running hot, and admitted they have to figure out why.

… But as climate scientists face this alarming reality, the climate models that help them project the future have grown a little too alarmist. Many of the world’s leading models are now projecting warming rates that most scientists, including the modelmakers themselves, believe are implausibly fast. In advance of the U.N. report, scientists have scrambled to understand what went wrong and how to turn the models, which in other respects are more powerful and trustworthy than their predecessors, into useful guidance for policymakers. “It’s become clear over the last year or so that we can’t avoid this,” says Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Read more: https://www.science.org/news/2021/07/un-climate-panel-confronts-implausibly-hot-forecasts-future-warming

Given climate modellers are struggling to get a timespan of a few decades right, I’m not going to lose any sleep over what some of them think might happen 500 years from now.

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September 30, 2021 at 12:20PM

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