Scientists predict that continued burning of fossil fuels could return CO2 levels and temperatures to heights not seen in hundreds of millions of years.
If humans burn all the fossil fuels at their disposal – and this could happen in the next two centuries – researchers predict that the planetary atmosphere would match the one that witnessed the days of the dinosaurs at the dawn of the Jurassic period, around 200 million years ago.
By the 23rd century, planetary temperatures would be as high as those at the end of the Silurian, 420 million years ago. In this baking environment, plants had yet to begin to colonize the land, and almost all life was concentrated in the oceans.
This torrid forecast is not based on any one piece of research: it is the outcome of an analysis of 1,200 estimates of ancient atmospheres, based on evidence of fossilized plants and shells, over a time span of almost half a billion years.
The consequence is that, if humans exhaust the resources of coal, oil and natural gas, conditions will follow that have no precedent in 420 million years of evolution.
Read more at CO2 Levels Heading Back to Days of Dinosaurs