Earth May Be Close to ‘Threshold of Catastrophe’

Oct 2, 2017

By Tia Ghose

The amount of carbon dioxide that humans will have released into the atmosphere by 2100 may be enough to trigger a sixth mass extinction, a new study suggests.

The huge spike in CO2 levels over the past century may put the world dangerously close to a “threshold of catastrophe,” after which environmental instability and mass die-offs become inevitable, the new mathematical analysis finds.

Even if a mass extinction is in the cards, however, it likely wouldn’t be evident immediately. Rather, the process could take 10,000 years to play out, said study co-author Daniel Rothman, a geophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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8 comments on “Earth May Be Close to ‘Threshold of Catastrophe’

  • @OP – Even if a mass extinction is in the cards, however, it likely wouldn’t be evident immediately. Rather, the process could take 10,000 years to play out, said study co-author Daniel Rothman, a geophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    There are however signs that some places will soon start to be uninhabitable for humans!

    Australia’s two biggest cities could swelter through 50C (122F) days within a few decades, a study has found.

    Sydney and Melbourne are likely to endure such summers even if global warming is contained to the Paris accord limit of a 2C rise above pre-industrial levels, scientists said.

    Limiting warming to below that would make 50C days less likely, they said.

    Sydney reached a record 45.8C in 2013 while Melbourne hit 46.4C in 2009, the nation’s Bureau of Meteorology said.

    The study examined only forecasts for Victoria and New South Wales, but researchers said the rest of Australia could also expect rises.

    “One of the hottest years on record globally – in 2015 – could be an average year by 2025,” said lead researcher Dr Sophie Lewis from the Australian National University.

    The research, also involving the University of Melbourne and published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, drew on observational data and climate modelling to predict future temperatures.

    Dr Lewis said the cities could experience 50C days between 2040 and 2050, a forecast based on global temperatures being at 2C above pre-industrial times.

    Australia’s most recent summer broke 205 weather records while its winter was the warmest on record, according to the nation’s independent Climate Council.

    Last month, Australians were warned to prepare for a dangerous bushfire season in 2017-18.

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  • Talking of disasters, I wonder if know-it-all Trump listens to ANY world leaders who propose settling disputes by negotiation? – or even retaining those agreements already in place, which have been negotiated for him?

    Prime Minister Theresa May has urged the US to recertify the nuclear deal with Iran because it is “vitally important for regional security”.

    In a phone call with President Trump, Mrs May stressed the importance of the deal being “carefully monitored and properly enforced”.

    The US President had been expected to scrap the agreement, as he said it did not serve US security interests.

    Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called the deal “an historic achievement”.

    He is to meet Iranian Vice President Dr Ali Akhbar Salehi in London on Wednesday.

    Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Johnson said: “We have made no bones about our deep concern at Iran’s destabilising regional activity… but I remain steadfast in my view that the nuclear deal was an historic achievement that has undoubtedly made the world a safer place.”

    In 2015, Iran agreed to reduce much of its nuclear programme and in return economic sanctions on the region were lifted.

    Last month, Mr Trump denounced the deal at the United Nations General Assembly as “an embarrassment to the United States”.

    North Korea and others, are undoubtedly watching, to see if any US agreements are worth the paper they are written on!

    It is somewhat ironical, that even brexiteers who a busy throwing away their own valuable agreements with Europe, are urging the USA to retain theirs!
    Like some Republican congressmen, even those blinded by their own right-wing biased ideologies, can see the stupidity of Trump!

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  • I see the same old science illiterates or disreputable propagandists, are still getting media access to babble their fictitious nonsense!

    However, in the UK there are processes for making complaints about liars being allow to assert unchallenged falsehoods on air!

    The BBC should have challenged the views of climate sceptic Lord Lawson in an interview in August, the complaints unit for the corporation has ruled.

    The ex-chancellor claimed in an interview with the Today programme that “official figures” showed average world temperatures had “slightly declined”.

    This view, shown to be false by the Met Office, was not challenged on air.

    The BBC admitted it had breached its “guidelines on accuracy and impartiality”.

    Conservative peer Lord Lawson’s appearance on Radio 4’s flagship Today programme sparked a number of complaints from listeners.

    He had been invited on to discuss the latest film on climate change by former US Vice President Al Gore.

    During the interview, Lord Lawson said “official figures” showed that “during this past 10 years, if anything… average world temperature has slightly declined”.

    He also claimed the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had confirmed there had not been an increase in extreme weather events for the last 10 years.

    Dr Peter Stott, of the Met Office came on the programme the following day to confirm that Lord Lawson’s statistics, which he did not cite at the time, were incorrect.

    Dr Stott also said the IPCC has clearly indicated an increase in extreme weather events across the globe were linked to human use of fossil fuels.

    The Global Warming Policy Foundation, a campaign group chaired by Lord Lawson, later confirmed his statistics were “erroneous”.

    So Lawson just persists as a loony Tory climate change denier – blustering on with the same old lies he has been spouting for years! – But apparently being a lying Lord, gives him media access as someone purported to have an opinion of substance! – at least in the view of the science-duffer program editor, who for some strange reason feels qualified to comment on the climate-change issue!

    The BBC’s media editor Amol Rajan said the Today programme had a remit to offer dissenting opinions, aimed at challenging lazy thinking and consensus views.

    So – just another editorial gossiping, clueless, sensationalist, media air-head, “debating the (pseudo-)controversy”, as a false balance of opposing views, while abysmally FAILING to challenge Lawson’s unevidenced lazy thinking and false assertions!

    But he said the BBC’s complaints department ruled that a lack of scrutiny of Lord Lawson’s claims meant the interview fell short of editorial standards.

    It ruled that the peer’s statements “were, at the least, contestable and should have been challenged”.

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  • Alan

    Apart from James O’Brien and Newsnight, the BBC and reporting in general has gone to pot in the UK. Aljazeera is where it’s at.

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  • Ollie.

    Al Jazeera is moral. Perhaps more than any other news source.

    A real force for good…perhaps a major instigator (and certainly a steady champion) of the Arab Spring.

    Not too many tech reports but all spot on.

    I’ve pointed Dan at it a couple of times now, which seems counterproductive….

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  • Olgun #4
    Oct 26, 2017 at 10:49 am

    Apart from James O’Brien and Newsnight, the BBC and reporting in general has gone to pot in the UK.

    They do seem to have filled their air-time with a lot of superficial fluff lately, so I have to be very selective both in what I watch, and what I quote!

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  • Alan

    My cousins daughter was upgraded to reporter status for Sky not long ago. She is so exited by it and made a statement on her FB page about the honesty of reporting in UK. I really don’t know how to handle it without taking the wind out of her sails.

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