October 25, 2021

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What will our planet look like in 2500 due to climate change?

What will our planet look like in 2500 due to climate change?

There are many reports based on scientific research that talk about the long-term effects of climate change – such as rising greenhouse gases, temperatures and sea levels – by the year 2100. But then what? Climate projections beyond the year 2100 are not included in normal climate adaptation and environmental decision-making. A bit strange, because people born now won’t be in their 70s until the year 2100. What does the world look like for their children and grandchildren?

Why is this important?

Even if humans immediately stop using fossil fuels that release greenhouse gases into the atmospheres of planets, the world will continue to warm for the next five centuries and the oceans will continue to rise.

For example, the Paris Agreement requires that we limit warming to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. Every few years since 1990, we have taken stock of our progress through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Scientific Assessment Reports and related special reports. The IPCC reports assess current research to show us where we stand and what we need to do before 2100 to achieve our goals, and what could happen if we don’t.

A recently published assessment of United Nations Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) warns that current government climate promises set us up for a very dangerous 2.7°C rise by 2100: that means unprecedented fires, storms, droughts, floods, heat, and deep soil and aquatic ecosystem changes.

While some climate projections look beyond the year 2100, these long-term projections are not factored into today’s climate adaptation and environmental decision-making. This is surprising because people born now will not be in their 70s until the year 2100. What will the world look like for their children and grandchildren?

To understand, plan and communicate the full range of climate impacts under any scenario, even those committed to the Paris Agreement, researchers and policy makers must look beyond the 2100 horizon. Will the climate stop warming by 2100? If not, what does this mean for humans now and in the future? In a newly accessed open article in Global Change Biology They began to answer these questions.

Nine paintings

Their projections were modeled on the low (RCP6.0), medium (RCP4.5) and high (RCP2.6) CO2 scenarios up to the year 2500. The latter is consistent with the target of “well below 2°C” of the Paris Agreement. They also modeled the distribution of vegetation cover, heat stress, and growing conditions for our current major crops, to get an idea of ​​what kind of environmental challenges today’s children and their grandchildren from the 22nd century might adapt.

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They find that global average temperatures continue to rise beyond RCP4.5 and 6.0 after 2100. In these scenarios, vegetation cover and best growing areas move toward the poles and the area suitable for some crops becomes smaller. Places with a long history of cultural riches and ecosystems, such as the Amazon Basin, can become barren. Furthermore, they found that heat stress can reach levels that are lethal for people in the currently densely populated tropics. These areas can become uninhabitable. Even in high mitigation scenarios, they find that sea levels continue to rise due to the expansion and mixing of water in warming oceans.

To show what a world with fewer carbon dioxide emissions and higher temperatures might look like than what we’ve seen so far, nine plates spanning a thousand years (1500, 2020 and 2500 AD) have been created. In three main landscape regions (Amazon, Midwest of the United States and Indian subcontinent). The 2500 images are based on the RCP6.0 forecast and contain slightly advanced but recognizable versions of today’s technologies.

from amazon

The top photo shows a traditional indigenous village (1500) with an outlet to the river and crops planted in the rainforest. Middle image is a contemporary landscape. The bottom image looks back to the year 2500 and shows arid landscapes and low water levels due to deteriorating vegetation, with sparse or degraded infrastructure and little human activity.

American Midwest

The top panel is based on indigenous towns and communities with buildings and diversified corn-based agriculture prior to the arrival of the Europeans. The second is the same area today, where mono-grains and large combine harvesters are grown. However, the last image shows the adaptation of agriculture to a hot and humid subtropical climate, with the imagination of planting subtropical forests based on palm trees and succulents in the dry area. Crops are taken care of by AI-powered drones, with less human presence.

India

The top photo is a busy agricultural countryside view of rice farms and a busy social life. The second is a contemporary scene showing the combination of traditional rice cultivation and modern infrastructure. The bottom image shows the future of heat adaptation technologies including mechanized farming and green buildings with minimal human presence due to the need for personal protective equipment.

uncomfortable conclusion

Norwegian scientists have reached a conclusion that was not easy before Global warming will likely continue until 2,500. Even if humans immediately stop using fossil fuels that release greenhouse gases into the planet’s atmosphere, temperatures will continue to rise over the next five centuries.

According to their calculations, in a best-case scenario – moving to zero emissions now – global temperatures in the year 2500 would still be at least 3 degrees Celsius higher and sea levels three meters higher. Even with a dramatic halt in the emissions fueling global warming, they warn that Arctic ice will continue to melt, water vapor will continue to accumulate in the atmosphere, permafrost will continue to melt and huge reservoirs of ancient carbon will continue to be trapped in the once-frozen ground. escape into the atmosphere.

They also calculated that humans had to start reducing greenhouse gas emissions six decades ago to maintain continental temperatures and sea levels as they have been for most of human history. To slow global warming, countries must band together to remove 33 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) – an almost unimaginable volume – from the atmosphere each year from now on.

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Even if the world acts aggressively, the oceans will continue to rise

Just as with temperatures, sea level rise will also be a long story. Unlike many other sea level studies, a A study conducted by glaciologists from Copenhagen Predict how high the sea will rise, not by 2100, but until it reaches 2,500.

If we go to zero now, the sea level will rise on average a little more than 2 meters by 2,500. If we keep doing what we’re doing, it will be 6 to 8 metres. Some locations could experience greater sea level rise than this, due to differences in ocean currents and other factors.

So, even if the world acted aggressively to reduce the burning of fossil fuels, the oceans would still rise. The reason is that every gram of carbon dioxide (CO2) we pump into the atmosphere stays there for decades, trapping heat from the sun and heating up the planet. Most of the carbon dioxide floating above us now has been around for many decades, and every ton of coal and gallons of gasoline we burn today is stacked on top of that.

The heat retained by greenhouse gases raises sea levels in three ways. First, it raises ocean temperature and expands sea water. Second, the ice on Earth is melting in places like Greenland and Antarctica. Third, it can make land ice flow faster toward the sea, even if it hasn’t melted.

However, these things take time. It takes years for the trapped heat to make its way into the oceans, leaving expanding seawater lagging behind rising temperatures. Snowmelt depends not only on how hot the ice is, but also on how long it stays that way. After all, an ice cube can survive in a 260-degree oven if you leave it on for a few seconds. Leave it in the oven at 35 degrees for 20 minutes and it will completely melt.

The big question is whether we upgrade to a Type I civilization

Perhaps our twenty-sixth century grandchildren will look at their ancestors and see that we started before the Flood. Perhaps they will see that we have made the kinds of technological, cultural, and political changes needed to prevent mass extinctions, political upheaval, environmental destruction, and even the collapse of civilization. Or perhaps they look back at the people who willingly led the world to ruin.

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However, our descendants will gradually see the advancement of their technology – and while technology has created the risks of anthropogenic climate change and nuclear war, it also offers us the potential to change course and improve. Theoretical physicist and futurist Michio Kaku predicts that humanity will leap from a Type 0 civilization to a Type I civilization on the Kardashev scale in just 100 years. In other words, we will become a species that can harness the entire sum of the planet’s energy.

With this power, people in the twenty-sixth century could have improved clean energy technologies such as nuclear fusion and solar power. In addition, they can manipulate planetary energy to control the global climate. However, futurists do not agree on the timing of such a hypothetical update to our technological prowess – and the upgrade itself is by no means certain. Skeptics point to the path the world has begun to take more and more over the past decade, noting that political and economic forces can prevent us from making that great leap.

Our technology has improved greatly since the 16th century and this pace is likely to continue in the centuries to come. Physicist Stephen Hawking has suggested that by the year 2600, this growth will mean we will publish 10 new theoretical physics articles every 10 seconds. If Moore’s Law continues and computing speed and complexity double every 18 months, some of these studies may be the work of highly intelligent machines. On the other hand, Hawking also predicted that overpopulation and energy consumption would make the Earth uninhabitable by the year 2600.

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