Humans on the verge of causing Earth’s fastest climate change in 50m years

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A new study published in Nature Communications looks at changes in solar activity and carbon dioxide levels over the past 420 million years. The authors found that on our current path, by mid-century humans will be causing the fastest climate change in approximately 50 million years, and if we burn all available fossil fuels, we’ll cause the fastest change in the entire 420 million year record.

The study relates to a scientific conundrum known as the faint young sun paradox – that early in Earth’s history, solar output was 30% less intense than it is today, and yet the planet was warm enough to have a liquid ocean. A stronger greenhouse effect due to higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere may be one explanation.

Over time, solar output has grown stronger, and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have fallen due to an effect known as “weathering” of rocks and an increase in plant life. The authors of this study found that over the past 420 million years, the slow heating of the sun and slow decline of the greenhouse effect have roughly offset each other, leading to a fairly stable long-term global climate.

Follow the link to learn more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2017/apr/17/humans-on-the-verge-of-causing-earths-fastest-climate-change-in-50m-years

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