The current pace of global warming is unmatched in the past 65 million years
Stanford University recently published a report in the journal Science pointing but the extent to which the climate change rate — so much heat absorbed in very little time —is overtaking any other eras of warming or cooling in the Earth’s 65 million years history. If present estimates are precise, the researchers state, that pace will speed up to 50 or even 100 times quicker than anything we have observed in the past.
Scientific American explains:
They observed climate occurrences or primary transitions that have transpired on Earth from the time of the dinosaurs’ extinction. Those include the time when the Earth came out of an ice age. Temperatures then went up between 3 and 5 degrees Celsius, similar to the amount scientists predict is possible with the prevailing climate change. But that change occurred within about 20,000 years, the scientists pointed out, and not mere decades as it is now the case.
Another study conducted by University of Texas and put out in the journal Nature, has discovered that the Antarctic permafrost is also melting at a rate 10 times faster compared to anything measured previously, that is, in the last 11,000 years. The scientists explain that the dramatic shift is not due to higher temperatures but to altering weather patterns in which the region is experiencing more sunlight than before. The researchers of the Antarctic case are not overly worried at their findings, explaining that for the Arctic polar ice to melt at this rate would be much more problematic.
The findings of the Stanford study are not as hopeful. To keep up with the present rate of global warming, says study author Christopher Field, we have to begin adjusting accordingly on a significantly faster timetable. The chances of reducing its effects now, in his calculation, is not so bright:
To keep the temperature rise to about 1.5 degrees, the Earth would have to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, and then attain negative emissions, that is, “the total amount of all human activities is a net elimination of CO2 from the atmosphere,” the study says. If we achieve that, climate changes by the final years of the century will not be as disastrous, Field said.