Irreversible 'hothouse' state causing drought and wildfires, says study

Part of the Wayoh Reservoir near Bolton has been left parched by the UK heatwave

It found the earth was heading for a tipping point, known as a "hothouse" climate, which could lead to average temperatures up to 5C higher than pre-industrial temperatures and rises in sea level of between 10 and 60 metres. This could all happen in a few decades.

The planet at risk of entering an irreversible "hothouse" climate, scientists say.

This would make several regions of the planet unfit for the humans.

"Hothouse Earth is likely to be uncontrollable and risky to many", stated the article.

The report says that if the "threshold" - a theoretical point-of-no-return - is crossed, this "would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years and to sea levels significantly higher than at any time in the Holocene", referring to the geological age which began at the end of the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago.

Scientists believe if global temperatures exceed that level, climate change will become "dangerous", threatening to existence of some nations with rising sea levels.

Essentially, parts of the earth would become uninhabitable, sea levels would rise dramatically and a whole host of other problems would emerge in a domino effect. According to the researchers, keeping global warming to within 1.5-2 degrees Celsius may be more hard than previously assessed.

Earth is warming at a rate of about 0.17°C, every decade, and is already warmer by 1°C compared to pre-industrial times.

The report notes that a 2 C temperature gain for the Earth could activate "important tipping elements" that would raise the temperature of the planet even higher creating a domino effect that could take the Earth to even higher temperatures.

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Speaking about the impact of climate change, Chris Rapley, Professor of Climate Science at University College London said: "Previous research has shown that an increase in the mean global temperature of 11-12C would make more than half of the land area now occupied by humans uninhabitable".

Phenomena such as wildfires are equally worrisome to experts.

The scientist who compiled the "Perspective" article based their conclusions on previously examined conditions the Earth has experienced and previously published studies on tipping points for our planet.

During the Cretaceous period, the era of the dinosaurs some 100 million years ago, Carbon dioxide levels were even higher at 1,000 ppm, largely due to volcanic activity. Currently, Earth is at 400 ppm. Some admit that while the new work is "rather selective" the results of the study aren't "outlandish". This threshold might be enough to trigger other processes that, in turn, will keep driving up temperatures even in the absence of new emissions, the authors report.

Fossil fuels must be replaced with low or zero emissions energy sources, and there should be more strategies for absorbing carbon emissions such as ending deforestation and planting trees to absorb carbon dioxide.

Land and coastal conservation alongside soil management with improved farming practices were also among the suggestions.

In 2015, nearly 200 countries agreed to only allow the temperature to rise "well below" 2 degrees above levels from the pre-industrial period - a limit that was estimated to be the tipping point.

Even if we stop emitting greenhouse gases today, an increase of only one degree Celcius from where we are at now will likely send the Earth into a "natural" cycle of warming itself.

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