Human-initiated carbon emission into the atmosphere is 10 times faster than at any point in the past 66 million years, according to new research. The report warns that humans may have ventured into perilously unfamiliar territory with consequences for life on the planet more devastating than at any time since the disappearance of the dinosaurs. For years, the scientific community had repeatedly warned against the enormous perils of excessive industrialization and its ensuing irreversible consequences on the natural world.
The new study has now predicted the precise record-shattering implications of this problem. Published in the journal, Nature Geoscience, the study’s authors delved into the planet’s climate change history and unearthed an immensely massive ancient carbon-expulsion event called Palaeocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM occurring some 56 million years ago. This unexplained event is believed to have sparked a massive purge of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at an astoundingly high rate. The planet subsequently experienced rapid planetary warming, following which, wiping out large swathes of sea life owing to an excessive acidification of the oceans.
WMO World Meteorological Organization secretary-general Petteri Taalas made some chilling projections for the planet
“The future is happening now. The alarming rate of change we are now witnessing in our climate as a result of greenhouse gas emission is unprecedented in modern records.”
According to contributing researcher, Richard Zeebe of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the gravest repercussions of human initiated carbon emissions rates that have no known parallel in Earth’s history can be deeply confounding.
“If you look over the entire Cenozoic, the last 66 million years, the only event that we know of at the moment, that has a massive carbon release, and happens over a relatively short period of time, is the PETM. We actually have to go back to relatively old periods, because in the more recent past, we don’t see anything comparable to what humans are currently doing. Because our carbon release rate is unprecedented over such a long time period in Earth’s history, it also means that we have effectively entered a ‘no-analogue’ state. This represents a big challenge for projecting future climate change because we have no good comparison from the past.”
The findings suggest that humans are responsible for releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere about 10 times faster than during any period in the last 66 million years. What is even more frightening is that the rate of carbon release during the PETM was much smaller than the current rate of CO2 ejection from human activities. The findings offer no less than a terrifying reminder of the disasters of excessive carbon emission and the foreseeable repercussions of it on the future of the planet.
Earlier this year, University of Bristol Cabot Institute researchers and their colleagues published research that further documents the unprecedented rate of environmental change occurring today, compared to that which occurred during erstwhile natural events during the Earth’s lifespan. A few years ago, climate researchers from the University had warned that the rate of ocean acidification is unparalleled in Earth’s history. They concluded that while the phenomenon of increased Ocean acidification was not new to the planet’s marine ecosystems, the planet’s last 300 million years had not experienced anything close to the rate of ocean acidification comparable to the current one.
Carbon dioxide is the principal greenhouse gas emitted through human-initiated industrialization. While Carbon dioxide emissions could be an outcome of a variety of other natural phenomena, human-related emissions are responsible for the massive increase that has occurred in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution. The foremost human activity contributing to the emission of greenhouse gases is the combustion of fossil fuels primarily needed for energy and transportation.
China currently ranks as world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, followed by the United States, the European Union, the Russian Federation, and India, according to statistics, with nearly half of these emissions coming from the first four nations.
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