In 500 years, Earth could turn into an ‘alien world’

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A recent analysis has shown that none of the G20 countries is ready to put in place a plan to fight climate change. Scientists have predicted that if nothing changes soon, Earth could be completely uninhabitable in less than 500 years.

An international team of climatologists, anthropologists, paleontologists and ecologists have said that if the average temperature does not stop rising before the year 2500, Earth could become unsuitable for human life – an alien world for its own inhabitants. In their work, they considered three possible scenarios, in the worst of which regions that have long been centers of cultivation and development of species will become barren.

They also presented illustrations that show how life will change under different scenarios in three regions: the Amazon, India and the Midwest.

Earth in 2500 – an uninhabitable “alien world”?

Predictions

Traditional predictions about climate change usually stop around 2100, because it is more or less useless to forecast any further in advance. There are 80 years to go until the end of this century, and although scientists have some ideas about the general changes that will occur, it is difficult to predict what will happen before the start of the 22nd century.

What will happen before 2100?

Scientists note that the latest UN report suggests that by 2100 the temperature could reach a very dangerous 2.7 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This will bring unprecedented fires, droughts, hurricanes, floods and heat. In addition, it will cause profound changes in marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

This image illustrates what the Amazon region would look like in the 1500s today and 500 years from now. Credit: Lyon et al. 2021/CC BY-ND

Will Earth be “alien” to us in 2500?

In their new study, the researchers decided to examine the possible state of our planet in 500 years. The results of the latest simulations show that the Earth in 2500 could in fact become almost or entirely uninhabitable. Our home planet could become “alien” to us, unless the whole world changes its way of life.

Scenarios

Scientists looked at three scenarios for events that will unfold until the year 2500: low mitigation, global warming, a medium scenario and a high scenario, which corresponds to the objectives of the Paris agreement (to raise the temperature average below 2 degrees Celsius).

Temperatures will continue to rise

Scientists also simulated the spread of plants, crops and heat stress. The simulation showed that in the worst and medium scenarios, the temperature will continue to rise after 2100.

This image illustrates what the Midwest might look like in the simulated Earth in 2500. The first image shows the pre-colonial period, then we see the current state. The third image shows agricultural adaptation at a time when humans might not be able to live in this part of the globe. We see crops being tended by drones, suggesting crop harvesting will be possible with limited human presence. Credit: Lyon et al. 2021/CC BY-ND

Vegetation

Consequently, vegetation and land areas will move closer to the poles, and regions like the Amazon Basin will become barren.

Thermal stress

In tropical regions, which are now overpopulated, heat stress levels can be fatal to humans. These areas could become uninhabitable. Even in the best of times, sea levels will continue to rise due to the expansion and mixing of waters in the warming oceans.

How to prevent Earth from becoming a barren alien world – Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement was signed in 2015 and has one main objective: to reduce the rise in global average temperature to less than 2 degrees before the start of the 22nd century. Unfortunately, the latest climate change analysis has revealed that none of the world’s largest economies are ready to make the necessary changes.

The third and final image shows the Indian subcontinent on Earth in 2500, if the predicted climate changes continue. Once again we see an illustration from the 1500s, a current version and what it might look like in 500 years. Credit: Lyon et al. 2021/CC BY-ND

No action plan

The analysis we mentioned looked at 36 countries and the G20 countries. The results showed that no nation had an effective action plan to achieve the goals of the Paris agreement. In a previous study this year, it was revealed that humanity must reduce the use of coal by 90% and leave 60% of oil and natural gas unextracted. This is the bare minimum which, unfortunately, would not even be enough to help us achieve the objective of the agreement.

Humans in space or a barren Earth in 2500?

Who knows, maybe humanity will live in space in 2500 and our species will not perish on its home planet. Yet there is no certainty in this scenario, and none of us will be alive to see whether or not it will happen anyway. That said, it is our duty to change our way of life because if we don’t act now, there may be no later. When you think about it, our grandchildren will live to see the 22nd century, and the state of the planet then depends on us now.

Clearly, global efforts to minimize climate change started a few centuries too late, but it’s not too late to limit our current impact. Overall, climate change and global warming are inevitable and a repeating process on Earth. With or without us, it will happen, but it is a fact that it is our actions that accelerate it.

Sources:

  • Christopher Lyons. (2021, September 26). Our climate projections for 2500 show an extraterrestrial earth to humans. The Conversation.
  • Christopher Lyons. (nd). In the year 2500, Earth will be alien to humans if we don’t act now, scientists warn. ScienceAlert.
  • Lyon, C. (2021, September 28). Earth could be extraterrestrial to humans by 2500. Scientific American.
  • RepublicWorld . (2021, September 20). The UN affirms the world’s adherence to the Paris Agreement amid an ongoing “catastrophic” trajectory.

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