Now this is really a pretty shocking projection, but one which is by no means certain provided we take action now to change course from our business-as-usual levels of greenhouse gas emissions: New research from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (h/t Yale e360) shows that by 2100 atmospheric CO2 levels could rise to concentrations unseen in 30 million years--that's the Oligocene period. At that time average temperatures were 25-30°F (an average of 16°C) hotter than today.NCAR's Jeffrey Kiehl doesn't say that hitting CO2 concentrations of 900-1000 parts per million by 2100 will raise temperatures that much in just 90 years, however,
If we don't start seriously working toward reduction of carbon emissions, we are putting our planet on a trajectory that the human species has never experienced. We will have committed human civilization to living in a different world for multiple generations.
Furthermore, Kiehl says that Earth's climate system over long periods of time may be at least twice as sensitive to CO2 than is currently assumed by computer models, as even the most sophisticated computer have not been fully able to incorporate critical factors such as the loss of ice sheets, which take place over millennia and can amplify the initial warming effects of CO2.
Read more: Earth's hot past could be prologue to climate future
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More on Global Climate Change:
Copenhagen Accord Commitments Mean 4.2°C Temperature Rise & No More Coral Reefs by 2100
5.2°C Temperature Rise by 2100: New Business-As-Usual Climate Scenario Presented
Royal Society Paints Grim Picture of 4°C Temperature Rise