Climate change scenarios: could the end of humanity be imminent?

Author: Mona Wenisch from dpa | Category: Recreation and technology | August 1, 2022

Photo: John Locher / AP / dpa

Can humanity die from climate change? According to some experts, insufficient attention is paid to such end-of-time scenarios. They want more research – everything else is “dead stupid”.

Climate change can, in the worst case scenario, lead to the extinction of humans, experts say. An international team writes in the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Proceedings that so far too little has been known about such end-time scenarios and their probabilities.

Under the heading “Climate Endgame: Exploring Catastrophic Climate Change Scenarios”, the authors convince more careful risk management and more research to the worst possible consequences of global warming. The world needs to start preparing for the final scenarios caused by climate change.

Expected temperature rise to 3.9 degrees

“There is ample evidence to show that climate change catastrophic proportions suppose, ”write scientists, including former and current director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), Hans Joachim Schellnhuber and Johan Rockström.

Despite 30 years of efforts, man-made greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. “Even in the worst-case scenario of climate change, the world is on track to experience a temperature rise of 2.1-3.9 degrees by 2100.”

Drought and heat are a problem today.  We will probably feel the effects of climate change more and more in the future.

Drought and heat are a problem today. We will probably feel the effects of climate change more and more in the future. (Photo: alvarobueno / Shutterstock)

Entire countries may become uninhabitable anymore

Nevertheless, the consequences of a 3-degree warming have not yet been sufficiently investigated. Research focuses on scenarios where the consequences of climate change are moderate. “Tackling the future of accelerated climate change without considering worst-case scenarios is at least naive risk management and deadly stupid“Or this[theso-called[tzw

For climate researcher Niklas Höhne of Wageningen University the worst case scenario of extinction is still “relatively far away”. “But there are gradations before that,” said the expert who was not involved in the article. “It is quite likely that whole parts of the country and countries are no longer habitable.”

Extreme heat can be as high as two billion people meeting

In their article, scientists write about the expansion of areas with extreme heat – that is, annual average temperature With over 29 degrees Celsius. Today, about 30 million people are affected in the Sahara desert and on the coast of the Persian Gulf. According to the team’s modeling, they could: two billion people by 2070 they live in such areas.

This shows how complex the climate impact can be. “By 2070, these temperatures and social and political ramifications will have a direct impact on two nuclear power plants and seven high-security laboratories that contain the most dangerous pathogens,” says Chi Xu co-author of Nanjing University, China. “There is serious potential for catastrophic consequences.”

Experts warn of the “cascade of risk”

Therefore, scientists advocate incorporating more complex relationships into future risk assessments. They warn of a “risk cascade” where the individual consequences of climate change are causing further problems. For example, heat and uninhabitable areas may increase migration, social unrest and international conflicts to lead.

“We are increasingly understanding the interactions and interactions between climate change and other areas such as biodiversity, the economy and food production,” says Daniela Jacob, director of the German Institute for Climate Services (GERICS), who was not involved in the article.

“Now we are so far away that we can gather this knowledge and thus generate important insights for the survival of the earth system.”

Unstoppable ice melts above a certain point

Scientists write that the consequences of climate change are especially dangerous at tipping points. These thresholds are comparable to a cup on a table: if you move it to the edge, nothing happens at first – until it reaches a tipping point where it will break.

In the case of climate change, it means something like this: Melting in the ice region is reaching a point where it can no longer be stopped. When the icy areas melt, the ice disappears for the time being. This is especially dangerous when one tipping point leads to another.

The deadly climate change has not yet been covered in any special report

According to the authors, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has not yet sufficiently addressed the possible catastrophic effects of climate change. None of 14 special reports IPCC to cope with extreme or catastrophic climate change. According to the authors, they should be included in the next report.

Jacob, who herself was the lead author of the IPCC Special Report, also supports him. “I think that’s true because it does two things: On the one hand, a special report collects the state of the art on the subject. It shows whether we know enough, whether we have gaps, ”he says. “And on the other hand triggers this analysis Tests“.

It is questionable whether such scenarios should be discussed outside of science. “It’s a step too soon for me,” he says. “In dialogue with the public, you won’t go any further with these end-of-time scenarios if you don’t already know exactly what might happen, when might happen, and what you need to do to prevent the worst from happening.”

“We still have it in our hands”

On the other hand, Höhne believes it is important to educate people about worst-case scenarios. “We have to communicate clearlywhat are the risks. On the other hand, say: we still have it in our hands – says the researcher. – We know how to do it, we have it technologies and get to know them political measures. It’s not even expensive, in the long run it’s even cheaper to do something about climate change. ‘

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