Within A Decade, Earth Could Look As It Did 3 Million Years Ago


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Earth’s near future may not be so bright.

In fact, according to a recent study, our future planet Earth could be extremely similar to our ancient planet Earth.

And that’s not necessarily a very good thing.

British and American Scientists warn that in around 10 to 12 years, our planet’s climate could resemble that of the middle Pliocene, a period that began more than 3 million years ago.

The study (published Monday Dec. 10, 2018 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) further warns that if mankind does not reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by the year 2150, the climate on Earth could be compared with that of the Eocene period, 50 million years ago, when the temperature was 13 degrees higher and there was almost no ice anywhere on Earth.

Future climate analogs for the years 2020, 2050, 2100 and 2200 according to three well-established models. Image Credit: University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“If we think about the future in terms of the past, where we are going is uncharted territory for human society,” explains the study’s authors, Kevin Burke, and John “Jack” Williams, professor of geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“We are moving toward very dramatic changes over an extremely rapid time frame, reversing a planetary cooling trend in a matter of centuries.”

And while 3 to 50 million years ago life did flourish on Earth, it remains to be seen who modern humans, as well as countless other animals, would cope with such a different climate.

In fact, scientists warn that the rapid change is faster than anything life on Earth has experienced before.

Scientists explain that in our planet’s 4-billion-year history climate conditions are defined by cyclic warming and cooling periods. However, these cycles normally take place over the course of tens of millions of years.

But as Burke and fellow scientists report, mankind most likely managed to effectively reverse a 50-million-year cooling trend within a matter of only a few centuries.

Of course, these are all predictions and we will have to (regrettably) wait to see. But their study is based on two different climate scenarios, with three state-of-the-art climate simulations. 

One scenario is the Representative Concentration Pathway 9.5 (RCP8.5.). This is the worst-case scenario that shows what happens if we do nothing, and leave the greenhouse emission as they are today.

The other scenario, known as RCP4.5 illustrates a future in which we moderately reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The result? Bad news. In both of these scenarios, all three models have shown that our planet’s climate could be nearly identical to the climate Earth experienced some 3 million years ago by either 2030 (RCP8.5 scenario) or 2040 (RCP4.5 scenario.)

With the RCP4.5 scenario, our planet’s climate stabilized at these conditions but was characterized having temperatures from 3 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit higher than what we have today.

The RCP8.5 scenario, however, showed that Earth’s climate was similar to conditions that existed on Earth 50 million years ago, and we could experience this by either 2100 or 2150.

Based on fossil evidence recovered around the world, the temperature on Earth was 23 degrees Fahrenheit warmer on average in the Eocene.

“Many species will be lost and we live on this planet,” Williams warned in a statement.

“These are things to be concerned about, so this work points us to how we can use our history and Earth’s history to understand changes today and how we can best adapt.”


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3 Comments

  1. Yes, i really feel it will really be a very bad state the Earth will be in a decades time. Looking at the present state of pollution we have and the very slow pace of world governments in doing their part to stop causes of climate change, life will be very chaotic. Many will die of hunger since no crops will grow and marine life will slowly die due to warming of sea water. Many lands will be under water due to rising sea water levels – which is mow happening. I’m really sad. Why can’t others see things that slowly unfolding?

  2. In the two scerios mentioned above. I think some factors may not have been taken into account as certainly not mentioned. You mentioned pollution by man. I take it to be in all it’s forms and includes average
    number natural disasters man made disasters such as volcanoes, wildfires fossil fuel burning, including home gas cookers worldwide campfires, emergency fires, cow dung fires by over billion population for cooking and heat twice daily. Armed conflict all types,m Nuclear waste and Toxic waste, also not all tobacco is sold in packs of 10 or 20. With nearly 3 billion population buying roll ups world wide in th poorer nations but also population explosion and emittance of CO2 and deforestation worldwide during this time period. None of which will remain the same if we do nothing. But will continue to worsen at an ever faster rate than at anytime in the last 200 years. also consider melting world glaciers and polar ice exposing more bare rock and dark ocean along with depleting ozone layer enlarging the holes allowing more UV rays to enter and speeding up climate change. From what I have seen heard an experienced in lifetime of over 50 years your models do not tally.. I feel the scenario is far worse than your prodictions. Especially when you look at rate of deforestation around the world and the effect it has on climate. Especially South American Rainforest, which recycles 20% of world’s O2 and has a stabilizing effect on world weather patterns being destroyed at a rate of 4% per year. or the area the size of Switzerland. around 30% a;ready destroyed and leaving a precious 20% to be destroyed before it collapses
    irrecoverably having reached 50% destructioin according to experts. similar stories are SE Asian and Central African Countries. Which I feel when the South American Rainforest collapses in 5 to 7 years time will result in major spike in cllmate change and pollution. Wth Pollution according to WHO directly killing over 9,000,000 per year.and increasing. At current rate of excellaration in 10 years all things being equal and no
    spike in 5 to 7 years. so by 10 years We could well be back to 3 million years BC but with one difference pollution would have killed off most human and animal life.

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