Report Shows Earth Risks Entering Irreversible “Hothouse” Conditions


To avoid the “hothouse” conditions, humans must do more than reduce emissions of greenhouse gas. The planet is close to reaching these conditions, and we’ll experience a rise in global temperatures by 4-5 degrees Celsius – even if we reduce emissions to reach the target previously set at the global climate deal.

Scientists have published their report on 6 August, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, right while the world was struggling to face the heatwaves.

In 2015, almost 200 countries agreed to only allow the temperature to rise “well below” 2 degrees above levels from the pre-industrial period – a limit that was estimated to be the tipping point.

The research explains that it’s not clear if this deal will affect climate change. At the moment, temperatures have globally risen with 1 C above the pre-industrial level. Each decade, the temperature is thought to rise at 0.17 C.

According to scientists from the Australian National University, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research Stockholm Resilience Centre, and the University of Copenhagen, if we cross a critical stage, we’ll experience more tipping points, followed by abrupt change.

Dead Zones on Earth

Some of the tipping points are thawing of the permafrost, the ocean floor losing methane hydrates, ocean carbon skins and weak land, the loss of Arctic summer sea ice along with the reduction of the sea ice from Antarctica and polar ice sheets. Together, they could “act like a row of dominoes,” explains the co-author of the report, Johan Rockström (the director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre).

Rockström added that stopping the “whole row of dominoes from tumbling over” will be either difficult, or impossible, and that “if Hothouse Earth becomes the reality,” some places on Earth will be uninhabitable.

The report argues that to avoid the Hothouse state of the Earth, reducing greenhouse gas emissions is not enough. They recommend improving forest and agricultural management, conserving biodiversity and creating technology that will remove CO2 from the atmosphere.


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