Wednesday, April 05, 2017

The Climate Could Hit a State Unseen in 50 Million Years

Weekly carbon dioxide levels at Mauna Loa Observatory are already nearing last year's peak. (Credit: Greenhouse Gas Reference Network) Click to Enlarge.
No, the headline is not a typo.  Current carbon dioxide levels are unprecedented in human history and are on track to climb to even more ominous heights in just a few decades.

If carbon emissions continue on their current trajectory, new findings show that by mid-century, the atmosphere could reach a state unseen in 50 million years.  Back then, temperatures were up to 18°F (10°C) warmer, ice was almost nowhere to be seen, and oceans were dramatically higher than they are now.

The implications of the research, published on Tuesday in Nature Communications, are some of the starkest reminders yet that humanity faces a major choice to curtail carbon pollution or risk pushing the climate outside the bounds that have allowed civilization to thrive.

Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have varied for millennia, fluctuating largely on natural cycles.  Humans have added dramatically more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution, though, raising carbon dioxide from 280 parts per million to nearly 410 parts per million.  That has turned the thermostat up about 1.8°F (1°C) and caused a host of other impacts.

Read more at The Climate Could Hit a State Unseen in 50 Million Years

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