A recent fear-mongering report that claimed humanity is ‘beyond the point of no return’ when it comes to climate change has been debunked by a group of scientists. The study claims that the Arctic Permafrost, which is rich in carbon, is melting irreversibly and that the process will continue, thus heating up the planet over many centuries. The research, done by Jørgen Randers & Ulrich Golüke, was published in the Nature magazine.
According to the report, burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, gas, etc., releases greenhouse gases that heat up global temperatures and eventually cause a surge in sea levels. The researchers of the study created models of the impact of rising temperatures and concluded that we won’t be able to stop the melting of the permafrost if we focus solely on cutting down greenhouse gas emissions.
The study posits that by 2500, Earth’s temperature will be around 5.4°F higher than it was in 1850, while sea levels will rise by 8 feet. To prevent such a catastrophe, the world would have to capture 33 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere every year starting starting in 2020. This is the same amount of CO2 that was released by the fossil fuel industry in 2018.
The report has been criticized by many scientists who raise questions about its methodology and analysis. “To be frank, the paper is crap that should not have passed any competent peer review… It’s an interesting thought experiment, but its results should be taken with extreme skepticism until more complex Earth System Models produce similar results,” Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist and energy systems analyst, said to Gizmodo.
According to ecologist Merritt Turetsky, the study’s assumption of ‘melting’ permafrost itself is a problem since permafrost does not melt but thaws. The fact that the researchers failed to differentiate between the two makes her believe that they do not know what permafrost actually is. Plus, the climate change models used in the study seems too simplistic. Complex models can more accurately show things like the circulation patterns of oceans, the water vapor in the atmosphere, and so on, which will contribute to warming.
Even the large-scale movement of water and air in the oceans and atmosphere is not included in the researchers’ study. Plus, the study has another huge flaw — it overestimates the warming potential of methane emissions. According to the researchers, methane will be the main driver of rising temperatures in the future. However, this ends up making them exaggerate the potential temperature increase that their model’s methane concentrations produce.
Temperature and health
Rising temperature is also a threat to human health. More people die from heat every year than from health complications. Plus, heat can worsen the symptoms of some diseases like kidney disease, diabetes, and asthma. In the U.S., heat waves kill a large number of people in places like Seattle, Nebraska, New York City, Los Angeles, and so on.
Change in temperatures can also foster infectious diseases. In the United States, infections like Lyme disease are already becoming a major headache in regions where they were not seen previously. Since 1995, the number of Lyme cases in America has tripled.