Scientists describe what a 'hothouse Earth' might look like

Part of the Wayoh Reservoir near Bolton has been left parched by the UK heatwave

The Earth is just 1-degree Celsius from entering the so-called "Hothouse Earth" state that would pose "severe risks for health, economies, political stability, and ultimately, the habitability of the planet for humans", according to an worldwide pool of climate scientists (via Sky News).

But now a report by a group of scientists says keeping global warming to between 1.5-2°C may be more hard than they previously thought.

Essentially, parts of the earth would become uninhabitable, sea levels would rise dramatically and a whole host of other problems would emerge in a domino effect.

"A Hothouse Earth trajectory would nearly certainly flood deltaic environments, increase the risk of damage from coastal storms, and eliminate coral reefs.by the end of this century or earlier", the study says.

If this were to happen, Earth would enter a long, stable period where the global average temperature would be between 4 and 5 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial temperatures. "Places on Earth will become uninhabitable if "Hothouse Earth" becomes the reality", co-author Johan Rockström, former executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, said in a statement.

Earth may be decades away from a climatic tipping point that triggers runaway global warming and threatens the future of humanity, scientists have warned.

The planet has already warmed 1 C over pre-industrial times, and is heating up at a rate of 0.17 C per decade.

"A 2ºC warming could activate important tipping elements, raising the temperature further to activate other tipping elements in a domino-like cascade that could take the Earth System to even higher temperatures", claimed the report.

The world is on the brink of entering a potentially fatal phase of climate change, according to new research.


An Irish climate change academic has warned of "runaway warming" if global temerature increases are not maintained below 2C.

The "Perspective" article is based on previously published studies on tipping points for the Earth.

Drought conditions are seen in Cape Town, South Africa.

During the Cretaceous period, the era of the dinosaurs some 100 million years ago, Carbon dioxide levels were even higher at 1,000 ppm, largely due to volcanic activity. Some admit that while the new work is "rather selective" the results of the study aren't "outlandish".

People must immediately change their lifestyle to be better stewards of the Earth, the researchers said.

Fossil fuels should be replaced with alternative energy sources with low or zero emission.

This is possible through improved forest, agricultural and soil management, biodiversity conservation, and technologies that remove Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it underground.

The research, according to its abstract, explores "the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a "Hothouse Earth" pathway even as human emissions are reduced".

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