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Alarming study. Researchers estimate when humanity could disappear due to global warming

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Materiały Prasowe,
12.12.2023 11:15

A "triple whammy" of carbon dioxide, the sun and a new mega-continent could render the Earth uninhabitable, according to a new study.

Humans could be wiped out by the formation of a "supercontinent" over the next 250 million years, as reported by Euronews, citing a study.

The research, published in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience, provides the first supercomputer climate models of the distant future.

It predicts that as continents converge to form a hot, arid and largely uninhabitable supercontinent, this will likely lead to a "climate tipping point" and to the "mass extinction" of mammals.

A rise in volcanic activity that heats the planet and increased warming from the sun will result in unprecedented heat that will make the Earth unlivable for humans, the study predicts.

"Prospects in the distant future seem very bleak", says the study's lead author, Dr. Alexander Farnsworth, a research associate at the University of Bristol. The level of carbon dioxide could be twice as high as it is now in 250 million years.

"It is also anticipated that the sun will emit about 2.5% more radiation, and the supercontinent will be located mainly in hot and humid tropical areas, so much of the planet could face temperatures ranging from 40 to 70°C", he adds.

Why could the new supercontinent make the Earth uninhabitable?

Adaptations like hibernation and fur helped mammals survive extreme cold in the past. However, our tolerance for high temperatures has remained largely constant, note the researchers.

If the climate simulations modeled in the study were to occur, it is unlikely that most mammals would survive prolonged extreme heat.

Although Earth will still be in the habitable zone in 250 million years, the formation of a supercontinent with high CO2 levels will render most of the world uninhabitable for humans and other mammals. The findings indicate that only 8 to 16% of the land surface would be habitable.

The tectonic processes that cause the fusion of Earth's continents would lead to more frequent volcanic eruptions that release massive amounts of carbon dioxide. This would contribute to extreme heat.

"The newly emerged supercontinent would essentially create a triple whammy, encompassing the continentality effect, a hotter sun and elevated CO2 levels in the atmosphere, leading to a rise in temperatures across a significant portion of the globe", says Dr. Farnsworth.

"As a result, the environment would become largely inhospitable, devoid of sources of food and water for mammals".

Faced with temperatures between 40 and 50°C and high humidity, humans would be unable to cool their bodies through sweating, which would ultimately "seal our fate".

While we are making urgent efforts to reduce emissions, 250 million years seems very distant.

But the fact that some parts of the planet will still be habitable in the distant future does not make our current efforts meaningless.

Human-induced global warming is already a major source of heat stress and death in some regions, and the problem is worsening.

"It is extremely important not to lose sight of the current climate crisis, which is the result of human emissions of greenhouse gases", says study co-author Dr. Eunice Lo, a researcher in climate change and health at the University of Bristol.

"While an uninhabitable planet is anticipated in 250 million years, today we are already facing extreme heat that harms human health. Therefore, it is essential to achieve net-zero emissions as soon as possible", she urges.

UK Met Office climate models and a supercomputer from the University of Bristol were used to simulate temperature, wind, rain and humidity trends for the supercontinent expected to form over the next 250 million years.

The international team of scientists also used models of tectonic plate movement, ocean chemistry and biology to estimate future CO2 levels.

The research was part of a funded project, supported by the UK Research and Innovation Natural Environment Research Council (UKRI NERC), which examines supercontinent climates and mass extinctions.

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