A new “supercontinent” could wipe out humans and make Earth uninhabitable, a study suggests

University of Bristol

The image shows the warmest monthly average temperature (°C) of Earth and the projected supercontinent (Pangaea Ultima) 250 million years ago, when almost any mammals would have been difficult to survive.


Researchers have predicted that the formation of a new “supercontinent” could wipe out humans and all other mammals still alive within 250 million years.

Using the first supercomputer climate models of the far future, scientists from the University of Bristol in the UK have predicted how extreme climate events will intensify after the world’s continents merge to form a single supercontinent, Pangea Ultima, in about 250 million years.

They found that the atmosphere would be extremely hot, dry and almost uninhabitable for humans and mammals, who have not evolved to handle prolonged exposure to extreme heat.

The researchers simulated temperature, wind, rainfall and humidity trends on the supercontinent, and used models of tectonic plate movement, ocean chemistry and biology to calculate carbon dioxide levels.

They found that the formation of Pangea Ultima would not only lead to more regular volcanic eruptions, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and warming the planet, but the Sun would also become brighter, emitting more energy and causing the Earth to warm even more. As pointed out by experts in the study. The paper was published Monday in the journal Natural earth sciences.

“A newly emerging supercontinent would effectively create a triple whammy including a continental effect, a hotter sun, and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” Alexander Farnsworth, senior research associate at the University of Bristol and lead author of the paper, said in a statement on Monday. .

See also  Scientists baffled by mysterious cyclones at Jupiter's poles

“Wide-ranging temperatures of 40 to 50 degrees Celsius (104 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit) and up to daily extremes, combined with high humidity levels, will ultimately determine our fate,” Farnsworth added. “Humans — along with many other species “They will die because they cannot get rid of this heat through sweat and cool their bodies.”

Farnsworth noted that the increasing heat will create an environment devoid of food or water sources for mammals.

University of Bristol

This image shows the geography of the Earth today and the expected geography of the Earth in 250 million years, when all the continents will converge into one supercontinent.

While there are significant uncertainties when making predictions so far into the future, scientists said the picture looked “very bleak”, with only about 8% to 16% of the land on the supercontinent being habitable for mammals.

Carbon dioxide could be double current levels, according to the report, although that calculation was made on the assumption that humans would stop burning fossil fuels now, “otherwise we would see these numbers much sooner,” said Benjamin Mills, an Earth system professor. . Development at the University of Leeds and co-author of the report, said in the statement.

This bleak outlook is no excuse for complacency when it comes to treatment Climate crisis todayThe report’s authors warned. Human-caused climate change has already caused this to happen Millions of deaths Around the world every year.

“It is extremely important that we do not lose sight of the current climate crisis we face, which is a result of human emissions of greenhouse gases,” co-author Eunice Lu, a research fellow in climate change and health at the University of Bristol, said in the statement. .

See also  Orangutans may not be into beatboxing but they sure are doing something

“While we expect the planet to be uninhabitable in 250 million years, today we are already seeing extreme heat that is detrimental to human health. This is why it is important to reach net-zero emissions as soon as possible,” Lu added.

Climate change is on track to transform life on Earth, with billions of people and other species set to reach points where they can no longer adapt unless global warming is dramatically slowed, according to a major study. A UN-backed report was published last year.

Scientists have warned for decades that temperature rises need to remain less than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels A window to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels And avoid catastrophic changes that would quickly bring life as we know it to an end.

the last Mass extinction It happened about 66 million years ago, when an asteroid collided with Earth and killed off the dinosaurs and most life on the planet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *