Climate Change: More Studies Needed on Human Extinction

This new analysis shows that mainstream scientific research has not been able to provide a direct answer to the question of how climate change can lead to global disaster. Instead, popular science books like The Inhabitable Earth have offered close attempts to understand and address this issue.

Climate scientists have been studying the effects of warming by 1.5°C to 2°C from 1850’s temperatures, before the advent of global industrialization. These studies demonstrate that maintaining temperatures at these levels in the 21st century will put a heavy burden on global economies. However, they don’t envision the end of humankind.

These lower temperatures have been a focus of researchers for a good reason. Nearly every country signed up to the Paris climate agreement, which aims to keep global temperature rises “well below” 2°C by 2025 and to make efforts to keep them under 1.5°C.

It is only natural that governments would expect their scientists to explain exactly what this type of change would look like. This new paper argues that less attention has been paid to the more extreme consequences of climate change.

“I believe it’s sensible to risk management to consider possible worst-case scenarios. We do it when it is about every other situation. It should also be done when it concerns the fate of the planet or species,” Dr. Luke Kemp, a lead author from the University of Cambridge.

Researchers found that the likelihood of a 3°C temperature rise is under-estimated. The report uses climate models to show that this scenario would see around 2 billion people living within the most politically unstable areas of the globe enduring an average temperature of 29°C each year.

Chi Xu, the co-author at Nanjing University, stated that the average annual temperature of 29°C currently affects around 30 million people on the Sahara and Gulf Coast.

“By 2070, these temperatures and their social and political consequences directly affect two nuclear power plants and seven maximum containment labs housing the most-deadly pathogens. He said that there is a serious risk of disastrous knock-on consequences.”

According to the report, high temperatures are not the only problem. The compound and knock-on consequences such as financial or food crises, conflict, or disease outbreaks can lead to disaster.
It is also important to identify potential tipping points.

These are natural events that increase temperatures. For example, methane emissions from melting permafrost and forests emit carbon instead of absorbing it.
The authors call on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to produce a special report about catastrophic climate change to properly assess all the risks.

Researchers stated that it was essential to study the worst-case scenarios carefully, even if it scares people.
According to them, this research would enable scientists to look at emergency options like climate engineering that might involve injecting coolants into the atmosphere. These drastic interventions would allow researchers to analyze risks to determine if they are worth implementing. The public might be more informed if they focus on the worst-case scenario.

Dr. Kemp stated, “Understanding these plausible, but still grim scenarios are something which could galvanize both civil and political opinion. We saw it when it came down to the identification and implementation of the nuclear winter idea that helped compel many public efforts, as well as the disarmament movement through the 1970s and 1980s. And, I hope that if we can find comparable concrete and clear mechanisms for thinking about climate change, it will also have a similar effect.”

Many younger climate activists agree with the call for more serious research into extreme scenarios. They say they are often ignored out of fear of scaring people into inaction.

Laura Young, a 25-year-old climate activist, stated that it is crucial to research all aspects of climate change. This is because we won’t be able to make informed decisions and drive climate action with enough pressure without knowing all the facts.

For many years, climate change has been concealed, misinformed, and avoided. This must stop. This is especially true for younger generations, who will have to face the consequences of decades of pushing the Earth beyond its limits.

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