Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene

I realize most readers of Our Gallant Ship may not want to read all of the following scientific paper, but they may want to read the introduction and conclusion. I offer three quotes from Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene, PNAS, 2018, Will Steffen, Johan Rockström, Katherine Richardson, Timothy M. Lenton, et al:

“We explore 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. 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 suggests that the risk of tipping cascades could be significant at a 2 °C temperature rise and could increase sharply beyond that point. We argue that a planetary threshold in the Earth System could exist at a temperature rise as low as 2 °C above preindustrial.” (my emphasis)

“We suggest that a deep transformation based on a fundamental reorientation of human values, equity, behavior, institutions, economies, and technologies is required. Even so, the pathway toward Stabilized Earth will involve considerable changes to the structure and functioning of the Earth System, suggesting that resilience-building strategies be given much higher priority than at present in decision making.”

This paper was published by PNAS, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. PNAS strives to publish only the highest quality scientific research, and papers undergo rigorous peer review and approval by an NAS member before publication.

Thanks to Nick Garland for pointing me to this paper.

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