Earth at Risk of Heading Toward Irreversible “Hothouse Earth” State

Contact: Diana Liverman
liverman@email.arizona.edu

Diana Liverman, a Regents’ Professor in the School of Geography and Development, is part of an international team of scientists that found that keeping global warming to within 1.5-2°C may be more difficult than previously assessed.

The team published a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) showing that even if the carbon emission reductions called for in the Paris Agreement are met, there is a risk of Earth entering what the scientists call “Hothouse Earth” conditions. A “Hothouse Earth” climate will in the long term stabilize at a global average of 4-5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures with sea level 10-60 m higher than today, the paper says. The authors conclude it is now urgent to greatly accelerate the transition towards an emission-free world economy.

The paper states: “Collective human action is required to steer the Earth System away from a potential threshold and stabilize it in a habitable interglacial-like state. 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.”

You can read the article “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene.”

The research findings are being covered by media outlets all over the world, including in the Guardian, CNN, and Vice.

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Note: Text excerpted from press release

Published Date: 

08/06/2018 - 4:24pm