In the news: “Hothouse Earth”
Across news channels, social streams and media bulletins this morning, the term “Hothouse Earth” is hard to escape. In a recent report (detailed below) scientists have stated that keeping global warming to within 1.5-2°C may be more difficult than previously assessed. The report also stated that higher temperatures in the UK cannot be immediately associated with the risk of the “Hothouse Earth” scenario. Although this may be true, we still need to act – it’s time to start caring for our planet even more.
Taken from Stockholm Resilience Centre article:
‘An international team of scientists has published a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) showing that even if the carbon emission reductions called for in the Paris Agreement are met, there is a risk of Earth entering what the scientists call “Hothouse Earth” conditions.
A “Hothouse Earth” climate will in the long term stabilize at a global average of 4-5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures with sea level 10-60 m higher than today, the paper says.
The authors conclude it is now urgent to greatly accelerate the transition towards an emission-free world economy.
“Human emissions of greenhouse gas are not the sole determinant of temperature on Earth. Our study suggests that human-induced global warming of 2°C may trigger other Earth system processes, often called “feedbacks”, that can drive further warming – even if we stop emitting greenhouse gases,” says lead author Will Steffen from the Australian National University and Stockholm Resilience Centre.
“Avoiding this scenario requires a redirection of human actions from exploitation to stewardship of the Earth system.”
Currently, global average temperatures are just over 1°C above pre-industrial and rising at 0.17°C per decade.’
An extract below taken from BBC Online, shows that it’s not all bad news:
‘We can avoid the hothouse scenario but it’s going to take a fundamental re-adjustment of our relationship with the planet.
“Climate and other global changes show us that we humans are impacting the Earth system at the global level. This means that we as a global community can also manage our relationship with the system to influence future planetary conditions.
“This study identifies some of the levers that can be used to do so,” says co-author Katherine Richardson from the University of Copenhagen.
So not only are we going to have to stop burning fossil fuels by the middle of this century, we are going to have to get very busy with planting trees, protecting forests, working out how to block the Sun’s rays and developing machines to suck carbon out of the air.
Removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, as in this model, will be necessary, say the authors. The authors say a total re-orientation of human values, equity, behaviour and technologies is required. We must all become stewards of the Earth.’