Sustainable Living & Sustainable Lifestyle

When Will Earth Get Too Hot For Humans?

When Will Earth Get Too Hot For Humans?

Here’s a stark thought as we roll into 2018: Are we reaching a point with global warming that the Earth could quickly become too hot for humans?


When Will Earth Get Too Hot For Humans

Some say it’s possible. Others call that position alarmist. For people who are interested in environmental issues, it’s certainly one worth considering.

Much of this debate, at least lately, sprang from a New York magazine article from earlier this year. The magazine laid out a sobering scenario in which Earth becomes uninhabitable for humans sooner than people think.

“It is, I promise you, worse than you think,” David Wallace-Wells wrote in the article.

The Doomsday Scenario For Humans

The magazine article raised some of the following issues.

  • A series of warm days in the North Pole ended up melting ice that flooded the Svalbard seed bank in Norway, which is meant to keep agriculture going in the case of a global catastrophe. It flooded just 10 years after being built.
  • The carbon contained in Arctic permafrost contains twice as much carbon as that currently in the Earth’s atmosphere – and warmer temperatures keep moving up the date when it will thaw and get released.
  • Few people realize that four of the five previous mass extinctions were caused by greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. The only exception seems to be the asteroid strike that led to the demise of the dinosaurs.
  • Most scientists interviewed for the article assume that coastal cities such as Miami and Bangladesh will be gone by the end of the century.

The article goes on to speculate that rising temperatures could make some tropical areas uninhabitable by the end of the century, and food production could seriously be impacted by drought.

It’s a harrowing read.

Push Back

Some scientists took issue with the article. Michael Mann, at Penn State University, said the article painted an “overly bleak picture by overstating some of the science.” He specifically took issue with the idea of catastrophic amounts of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere from melted Arctic permafrost. He said current science does not support that view.

Richard Betts, a professor at the University of Exeter, said the article goes beyond what is supported by current science in speculating on climate threats. He said the time frames for issues such as heat making the Earth uninhabitable are “pure hyperbole.”

Alexis Berg at Princeton said the article takes the most extreme scenarios available in scientific research, which doesn’t mean that is what is going to happen. He also said the article makes it clear that scientists need to do a better job communicating their findings on global warming.

So, the answer to the question remains: no one knows for sure. However, even among those who discredited the New York magazine article, the point was made that changes need to be made in how humans live to maintain habitable conditions around the planet.

While it might not become too hot for humans as fast as the worst-case scenario predicts, it will eventually happen if changes are not made.

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