When it comes to understanding the impact of climate change, with the use of various models, scientists and policymakers usually go as far as 2100 for their projections.
The Woman Post | Catalina Mejía Pizano
Listen to this article
The reason for this is that it may not be easy to accurately predict the greenhouse emissions of the coming centuries. But does this mean that humanity shouldn’t worry when thinking about the years beyond the climate forecasts?
According to a team of international scientists, if CO2 emissions are not significantly reduced, global warming by 2500 will make the Amazon barren, the American Midwest tropical, and India too hot to live in. As mentioned by scientist David Archer, whose research is constantly featured in the renowned Nature Magazine, the CO2 that we are emitting from fossil fuels today will still be affecting the climate many years from now. More specifically, he states that even though the majority of CO2 that is emitted from burning a single tonne of coal or oil today will be absorbed over a few centuries by the oceans and vegetation, but 25% of it will still be lingering in the atmosphere in 1000 years and 10% will still be having an impact on climate in 100,000 years.
Scientists that have created climate model projections based on time-dependent projections of atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations for low, medium, and mitigation scenarios up to the year 2500, published their findings in Global Change Biology, revealing an Earth that today is very difficult to envision:
-Tropical regions will become uninhabitable: Heat stress may become severe and fatal for the survival of humans. It may also surprise you to find out that even under high-mitigation scenarios, sea levels will continue to rise because of expanding and mixing waters in warming oceans.
-Vegetation will shift to the poles: According to a paper published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography, researchers revealed evidence that indicates that over the past century, vegetation has been shifting towards the poles, to cooler places as well as near the equator, where there is more abundant rainfall.
But what if we look beyond the projections of 2100? It is clear that there have been many published reports which address the impacts of climate change, such as the increasing levels of greenhouse gases, temperatures, and sea levels, but most of these projections don’t look further than 2100. However, to understand well the climate impact under different scenarios, scientists must look beyond 2100. According to the recent article in Global Change Biology, global average temperatures will keep increasing beyond 2100 under RCP4.5 and 6.0. Under those scenarios, vegetation will be displaced towards the poles and the optimal area for some crops will be reduced. Places that had long histories of rich ecosystems, such as the Amazon Basin, may become barren.
While research has confirmed that the Earth as we know it, will be hard to recognize if we fail to mitigate the effects of climate change. What worries them most, is that those changes will challenge our ability to maintain the conditions that help us survive. We have no choice, but to direct all efforts towards reducing emissions!