Scientists have studied the ancient history of the Earth and found that it will take serious action to reduce fossil fuel emissions so that our climate does not reach prehistoric levels of warming.
An international team of researchers has looked back in time to piece together the most complete history of carbon dioxide (CO2) levels on Earth over the past 66 million years to date in a new study. In this work, they sought to strengthen our understanding of the relationship between CO2 and climate, show how things have really changed since dinosaurs last walked planet Earth, and look at the future of Earth as changing of the climate continues to threaten our planets and their inhabitants.
Through this study, the team showed how, without significant reductions in fossil fuel emissions, the Earth will soon reach the same high CO2 levels as it did about 50 million years ago.
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“If we let the burning of fossil fuels continue to grow, our grandchildren could face CO2 levels that weren’t on Earth for about 50 million years when crocodiles roamed the Arctic,” says lead researcher James Ray, researcher at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences University of St Andrews in Scotland, said in a statement…
“CO2 has changed the face of our planet before,” Ray said, “and if we don’t cut emissions as quickly as possible, it will do it again.”
In this study, which was published on Monday (May 31) In the Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, the team analyzed data from the past 15 years. This data was obtained as a result of a previous study, during which samples of ancient mud were taken from the bottom of the sea.
These ancient mud cores contained microscopic fossils and molecules that accumulated over time. These samples contain stored information about CO2 levels and climatic conditions from the past.
So by examining these records of ancient climate history, the team was able to map CO2 levels over time. This allowed them to compare current CO2 levels with prehistoric levels and get an idea of what our world might look like if we return to these extreme climatic conditions.
“For example,” said Ray, “the last time CO2 was as high as it is today, enough ice melted to raise sea levels by 20 meters. [66 feet]and it was warm enough for beeches to grow in Antarctica. “
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