We often hear about the dangers of the CO2 that has been accumulating in our atmosphere in the last 150 years. A quick primer for those completely unaware: we’re all f*cked. What we tend to not think about as much is the lingering effects of the CO2 we’re currently putting in the atmosphere at a rate that can only be described as “hand over fist.” We all know the CO2 we’re pumping now is dangerous to us, but what about people living on the planet for the next 10,000 years? I mean, assuming we don’t burn the place to a crisp in a zealot-infused nuclear tantrum.
“Much of the carbon we are putting in the air from burning fossil fuels will stay there for thousands of years—and some of it will be there for more than 100,000 years,” said Peter Clark in a press release. He’s the lead author on a new study released this week by OSU, where he’s a paleoclimatologist. He elaborated, “People need to understand that the effects of climate change on the planet won’t go away, at least not for thousands of generations.”
For instance, the sea level changes that people are so scared of, they’re going to be a lot scarier a thousand years from now. Like Waterworld Dennis Hopper scary.
Which basically means that the results of this analysis are that we need to be at zero net emissions, or even net negative CO2 emissions, as a planet, and we need to do it now. Some would argue this is just another reason we should focus more on adaptation to the changes which are inevitable than resisting them.
But Thomas Stocker from the University of Bern in Switzerland, co-author of the new article, disagrees.
“Because we do not know to what extent adaptation will be possible for humans and ecosystems, all our efforts must focus on a rapid and complete decarbonization—the only option to limit climate change,” said Stocker in the press release.
So… yeah, we’re all f*cked.