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Earth inching towards devastating temperature levels by 2100

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Scientists have cautioned that Earth is going to warm up by 5 C by 2100 if we continue to live the lives we are living now and continue to produce the greenhouse gases as a result of that lifestyle.

Researchers have warned in a new study published in journal Science Advances that the increase in temperatures will result in quite a few calamities including drought, flooding, ravaged food supply, and disappearing species. The findings are based on examination of Earth’s history spanning 800,000 years and while our planet is not at its hottest if compared to some previous temperature levels, we are slowly getting there and it won’t be long before we reach devastating levels, scientists have said.

Scientists describe the current phase of Earth as being an interglacial period wherein our planet is warming. The more greenhouse gases we continue to emit, the more there will be interference with Earth’s energy balance and this effectively will translate into stronger warming than previously thought. Scientists are of the opinion that climate change will accelerate at a much faster pace and we could even push past the “temperature envelope” (the comfortable, livable environment suitable for Earth’s inhabitants) that has prevailed for 800,000 years.

For the study, researchers project a warming of about 5.9 C above pre-industrial levels, or in other words another 5 C above present-day temperatures and the repercussions of this are devastating. If the temperature does increase to those levels, we will see massive changes on the planet including increase in sea-levels, rapid melting of ice, coral bleaching, and ocean acidification among others. With changes in our Environment, we will have to take a massive hit as far as food productivity, economy, and livelihood of our planet in general are concerned.

A 5 C warmer global average would result in Canada warming up between 8 – 10 C, predicts Edward A. Parson, faculty co-director at UCLA’s Emmett Center on Climate Change and the Environment.

“It’s a rough rule of thumb, a mid-to-high latitude, big continental area like Canada, it warms one-and-a-half to two times as much as the global average,” Parson said.

While this may sound like a relief for the people living in extremely cold areas, the overall effect will be catastrophic. Drought will strike in some areas and floods in others. Ecosystems will be destroyed, as will the species that can’t move or adapt. Tropical storms will strengthen and the number of tornadoes could increase. The impacts could be felt across the board.

These projections have been made taking into consideration a project at the high end of the warming range. The analysis isn’t void of any challenges and one of the main ones being inability of modern science to pin point the exact temperatures in the past. Uncertainties in paleoclimate data could lead to biased results. The study also doesn’t factor in the work underway to reduce emissions moving forward, Parson said.

“This paper is a small increase in alarm about future climate change relative to a situation where there’s already plenty of grounds for alarm,” Parson said.