Three hundred years ago, the Age of Enlightenment spread notions of reason, democracy, and scientific progress throughout much of the world. From that time, our global civilization has come a long way, through many -isms and revolutions on to the challenges of today--but peering three centuries into the future, the picture for all life on Earth is looking rather bleak. In fact, new research projects that in three hundred years, half of our planet will "simply become too hot" for humans, if that's the legacy we choose to leave behind.According to The Telegraph, researchers from the Universities of New South Wales and Purdue based their study on a number of worst-case scenarios produced from climate models--and what they've concluded it quite troubling: If mankind fails to curb greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures could rise from 10 to 12 percent by the year 2300, making much of the world uninhabitable.
Many similar projections just estimate the state of the planet's climate by the end of this century, but to some scientists that's too short-sighted. Professor Tony McMichael of Australian National University tells The Telegraph:
Much of the climate change debate has been about whether the world will succeed in keeping global warming to the relatively safe level of only two degrees Celsius by 2100. But climate change will not stop in 2100, and under realistic scenarios out to 2300, we may be faced with temperature increases of 12 degrees or even more. If this happens, our current worries about sea level rise, occasional heat waves and bushfires, biodiversity loss and agricultural difficulties will pale into insignificance beside a major threat - as much as half the currently inhabited globe may simply become too hot for people to live there.
The study, which was published in the latest edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that considering long-term consequences of global warming may be more practical than merely thinking of the decades to come. So, instead of trying to dramatically cut today's CO2 emissions, which they see as unsuccessful, the researchers argue that developing clean energy technologies is a more important investment to make.
With our understanding of science and the vast technological advancement we've made as beneficiaries of the Enlightenment from centuries prior, it's a wonder why our future could be so bleak. But indeed, one day we will be remembered by those who must reside on the planet we've handed them centuries from now--and it's up to us today to decide what sort of world that will be.