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Climate change could trigger nuclear war or a deadly pandemic in 2070

 

Temperatures continue to rise and it does not appear that this is a trend that is going to abate . Now, a team of researchers from the University of Cambridge say global warming could trigger a nuclear war, financial crisis or extinction-level pandemic as early as 2070.

“There are many reasons to believe that climate change could become catastrophic, even with modest levels of warming,” explains Luke Kemp, lead author of the study. “ Climate change has played a key role in every mass extinction event . It has helped topple empires and shaped history. Even the modern world seems adapted to a particular climatic niche. Collateral effects, such as financial crises, conflicts and new disease outbreaks, could trigger other calamities and prevent recovery from possible disasters, such as a nuclear war”, continues the expert.

The risk of global social collapse or human extinction has been “dangerously underexplored,” climate scientists warned in their analysis.

The international team of experts argues that the world must start preparing for the possibility of the end of climate change. “Analyzing the mechanisms of these extreme consequences could help drive action, improve resilience and inform policy,” they said.

 

A review of the history

The analysis proposes a research agenda, including what they call the “four horsemen” of the end of climate: famine, extreme weather, war and disease.

By modeling possible bad-to-worst scenarios, the researchers found that areas of extreme heat (with average annual temperatures of more than 29°C) could affect more than two billion people by 2070. The affected regions are not just a few among the most densely populated in the world, but also some of the most politically fragile.

The analysis, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , was reviewed by a dozen scientists. He argues that the consequences of global warming beyond 3ºC have been under-examined , with few quantitative estimates of the total impacts.

The researchers call on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to dedicate a future report to catastrophic climate change, which must include outcomes ranging from the loss of ten percent of the human population to eventual extinction. to promote research and inform the public.

“Average annual temperatures of 29 degrees currently affect about 30 million people in the Sahara and the Gulf Coast,” said Chi Xu, an expert in ecological systems complexity at Nanjing University and a co-author of the paper. “ By 2070, these temperatures and the social and political consequences will directly affect two nuclear powers and seven maximum containment laboratories that harbor the most dangerous pathogens. There is great potential for disastrous side effects.”

The current trend in greenhouse gas emissions would see an increase of 2.1 to 3.9°C by 2100. But if existing action promises are fully implemented, the range would be 1.9 to 3°C . Meeting all the long-term targets set to date would mean 1.7 to 2.6°C of warming.

Facing a future of accelerating climate change while remaining blind to worst-case scenarios is naive risk management at best and fatally foolish at worst.

More research is needed to identify all possible tipping points leading to a “Hothouse Earth.” “The more we learn about how our planet works, the greater the cause for concern,” said Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “We understand more and more that our planet is a more sophisticated and fragile organism. We must make the calculations of the disaster to avoid it”.

Referencia: Climate Endgame: Exploring catastrophic climate change scenarios

Luke Kemp https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7447-4335 [email protected], Chi Xu https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1841-9032, Joanna Depledge, +7 , Kristie L. Ebi https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4746-8236, Goodwin Gibbins, Timothy A. Kohler https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3414-6660, Johan Rockström, Marten Scheffer https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2100-0312, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7453-4935, Will Steffen https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1163-6736, and Timothy M. Lenton https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6725-7498 -7Authors Info & Affiliations

Edited by Kerry Emanuel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA; received May 20, 2021; accepted March 25, 2022 August 1, 2022 119 (34) e2108146119

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2108146119

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