What is 'Hothouse Earth'? Runaway climate change tipping point warning

Rodiano Bonacci
Agosto 7, 2018

One of the big things the leaders agreed was to take steps to stop the global temperature increasing by more than 2°C, and to try to limit it to 1.5°C.

Watch the video below to find out why stopping the planet's temperature rising by 2°C is felt to be so important.

How realistic is "Hothouse Earth"?

They have warned that the world is at risk of tipping into extremely risky levels of climate change called Hothouse Earth conditions.

Sea levels could also rise between 10 and 60 metres, threatening coastal areas.

"Such action entails stewardship of the entire Earth System - biosphere, climate, and societies - and could include decarbonization of the global economy, enhancement of biosphere carbon sinks, behavioral changes, technological innovations, new governance arrangements, and transformed social values", the study says.

"Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years and to sea levels significantly higher than at any time in the Holocene".

This "feedback cascade" could trigger the uncontrollable release into the atmosphere of carbon that had been previously stored in the Earth. These feedbacks could turn from being a "friend" that stores carbon to a "foe" that emits it uncontrollably in a warmer world.

"These tipping elements can potentially act like a row of dominoes", said University of Stockholm professor Johan Rockstrom. Stopping this alleged tipping point requires people to immediately change their lifestyle according to the scientists.

America, Greece and the United Kingdom - just some of the places where wildfires have been burning over the last few weeks.

These two factors combined with the tipping points means that we will have increases in temperatures in the years and decades ahead, he said.

With Arctic ice and glaciers melting away; increasingly powerful and frequent storms in the Atlantic and Pacific; coral reefs dying from warming oceans; record-setting wildfires in the USA; unprecedented heatwaves in Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere-climate researchers have been at the forefront of sounding the alarms about the frightening path humanity is now following.

Global scientists wrote in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that we could soon cross a threshold leading to boiling hot temperatures and towering seas in the centuries to come.

An global team of scientists made the claim in a manuscript published Monday by the National Academy of Sciences.

The research, according to its abstract, explores "the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a "Hothouse Earth" pathway even as human emissions are reduced". Many other scientists say their conclusions are sound but some experts say that the picture being painted by the authors of this report is too extreme.

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