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The Climate Change We Have Caused Is Here For At Least 50,000 Years

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

A little more than two decades on, the future has arrived. By 2022, global temperature had climbed another half a degree, the past nine years being the hottest since records began. And 2023 has seen climate records being not just broken, but smashed.


Leicester, UK: In February 2000, Paul Crutzen addressed the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme in Mexico, capturing global attention as a Nobel laureate tackling significant issues like the ozone hole and nuclear winter effects.


Crutzen's improvised term, the Anthropocene, denoting a proposed geological epoch shaped by humanity's industrial impact on Earth, gained widespread acceptance. This concept sets a sobering context for COP28, the current UN climate summit, where decisions may reverberate not only in our and our children's lives but potentially alter the course of human society.


The Anthropocene, once a novel idea, gained traction as Crutzen highlighted planetary symptoms like deforestation, dam proliferation, overfishing, and escalating greenhouse gases. While climate change warnings were sounded in the early 2000s, the present reality is alarming, with 2022 experiencing a half-degree temperature increase and 2023 breaking climate records. Record-breaking heatwaves, wildfires, and floods, intensified by local human actions, underscore climate's pivotal role in the Anthropocene.


The temperature surge results from rising greenhouse gases, cleaner skies due to regulatory changes, diminishing ice mirrors, and apparent climate feedbacks. This unprecedented warming has thrust Earth into climate conditions not witnessed in 120,000 years. Even under optimistic scenarios for reducing carbon emissions, a recent study suggests policymakers must prepare for substantial sea-level rise.


Looking through the Anthropocene lens, Earth's climatic machinery, finely tuned over millennia, is disrupted by a trillion tons of carbon dioxide injected into the atmosphere, likely impacting the climate for at least 50,000 years. While COP28 addresses fossil fuel concerns, achieving "net zero" emissions is just a crucial initial step.


To restore an optimal climate for humanity and overall thriving life, negative emissions are imperative, removing carbon from the atmosphere and oceans. The stakes are high for future generations.


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