Runaway global warming only 1 degree away?

New Scientist writes:

"Further global warming of 1 °C defines a critical threshold. Beyond that we will likely see changes that make Earth a different planet than the one we know."

Earth is already as warm as at any time in the last 10,000 years, and is within 1 °C of being its hottest for a million years, says Hansen's team. Another decade of business-as-usual carbon emissions will probably make it too late to prevent the ecosystems of the north from triggering runaway climate change, the study concludes.

Well, at least the global warming will kill most of the humankind, which will finally put an end to pollution. So the world will correct itself eventually. We'll just all be dead, and suffer horribly while dying.

Considering that humans have already exploited most of readily available resources, how likely it is that a new high-tech culture could form after we're all gone?

If we're alone in the universe, we're making very sure that we'll also be the only ones ever.




Comments

<i>Well, at least the global warming will kill most of the humankind, which will finally put an end to pollution. So the world will correct itself eventually. We'll just all be dead, and suffer horribly while dying.</i>

Are you assuming that runaway global warming will turn the Earth into another Venus or something? There have been large variations in the average temperature of the Earths atmosphere in the relatively recent geological past (the last 100 million years or so). Runaway global warming could mean a jump to a higher but entirely survivable steady state, like that which the planet was 55 million years ago during the last temperature peak, some 10 C warmer than the current state.

<i>Considering that humans have already exploited most of readily available resources, how likely it is that a new high-tech culture could form after we're all gone?</i>

There is a hell of a lot of coal, uranium, and thorium left. Natural gas resources are also quite far from being exhausted. A trillion barrels of conventional crude oil still remains in the oil fields, discounting those hundreds of billions of barrels considered unrecoverable with current methods. Also, nanotechnology is in the process of reducing the price of solar power considerably. Technical difficulty in large-scale storage of electricity is the main obstacle of utilizing off-shore wind energy on a globally signifigant scale.

<i>If we're alone in the universe, we're making very sure that we'll also be the only ones ever. </i>

We are very likely to be the first civilization in the universe (Fermi paradox). Any life-form intelligent enough to develop civilization will within very short time, astronomically speaking, either destroy itself or reach technological singularity whereby harnessing the entire universe for it's uses would probably not be such a big deal.

--Markku Jantunen, 03-Oct-2006


The point was that humans have exploited most of the _readily_ available resources. Oil has been long gone from fields, where it is easily found and used. If humans f**k this thing up now, the next civilisation is in deep trouble when they reach the level where humans started to use oil as their main source of energy. It took humans, what, 50 or 60 years of oil powered society to develop the skills to be able to use uranium.

And now it's been over 100 years of oil rich civilization, and nanotechnology hasn't still done much.

I think Janne's point was that we have used most of the resources on the planet and if we screw things up, the next culture has much harder task to make it to high tech (from 19th century level tech to 20th or 21st tech). It might me difficult to make planes that uses coal or gas.

Although I don't think that global warming is gonna end the human culture as we know it. Problem might be, that it will change the use of resources to the direction, where it takes too much time to reach singularity. And in the mean time some existential crisis might wipe us out.

--soopa, 04-Oct-2006


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