10,000 Years of Chaos: Study Calls For Urgent Steps on Climate Change

© REUTERS / Stephane Mahe A woman walks past a map showing the elevation of the sea in the last 22 years during the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, December 11, 2015
A woman walks past a map showing the elevation of the sea in the last 22 years during the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, December 11, 2015 - Sputnik International
Humanity has only a few decades left to take decisive measures on preventing a “catastrophic” climate change that could last for over 10,000 years and destroy civilization, a new environmental study asserts.

The procrastination of governments, businesses and civilization, in quickly reducing global carbon emissions, will adversely impact climate, ecosystems and human society for tens of thousands years, according to a study conducted by University of Bern scientists.

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Commenting on the outcome of the latest climate talks in Paris, a co-author of the study, Patrik Pfister, said that governments have now more freedom in making crucial moves on emission reductions “than the climate system allows."

The researchers suggest that the absence of a political will to make significant moves toward mitigating the causes of climate change will result in an unprecedented warming of the planet’s atmosphere.

​Pfister explained that as global powers mull over emission reduction statistics, and how those numbers will affect an economic bottom line, the process of global warming speeds up, and will soon get out of control, leading to dangerous consequences, including a dramatic rise in sea levels and poisonous ocean acidification.

"In 10 years without global reductions, a 2.5°C target will have become about as ambitious as the 2°C target is today," he said.

​But even if humans manage to preserve a temperature increase at or below a 2°C level, the long-term effects will be disastrous, Pfister stated.

Under this scenario, ocean levels will rise by some 25 meters over the next two millennia, forcing billions of people to leave coastal areas and islands, and move to higher ground.

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The Guardian wrote earlier that sea levels could rise even more dramatically – by 50 meters – if people keep burning coal, oil and gas, the result of which is “completely changing the map of the world.”

Another scenario to motivate those with a vested interest in their national sovereignty, or their long term corporate bottom line, to make those changes that could make a difference, according to the researchers, is the accelerating acidification of the ocean.

The study assumes that under the current pace of the acidification, people will face "near-complete loss" of a number of maritime ecosystems, including coral reefs.

"The long-term view sends the chilling message of what the real risks and consequences are of the fossil fuel era," Thomas Stocker, a climate physicist and co-author of the study, said. He added that, with no actual steps taken to immediately stop the use of fossil fuels, humanity will learn that “dislocation and migration” is “the only option" for survival.

The study held out some hope for the future, suggesting that industrial petrochemical dependency could be reversed in the upcoming decades, and “offer a brief window of opportunity” to mitigate climate change.

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