#EN­VI­RON­MENT

Focus-Science and Technology - - DISCOVERIES TRENDING -

EARTH AT RISK OF REACH­ING ‘HOT­HOUSE’ STATE Re­searchers in Stock­holm have pub­lished a study show­ing that there is a risk of the Earth en­ter­ing a ‘hot­house’ state, even if in­ter­na­tion­ally agreed car­bon emis­sion tar­gets are met. In this state, the long-term cli­mate could sta­bilise at up to 5°C higher than pre-in­dus­trial tem­per­a­tures, with sea lev­els ris­ing up to 60m higher than to­day. These ex­treme changes are due to en­vi­ron­men­tal feed­back loops such as per­mafrost thaw, for­est dieback and the in­creas­ing loss of meth­ane from ocean floors all com­bin­ing to­gether, say the re­searchers.

‘EARTH OVERSHOOT DAY’ EAR­LIER THAN EVER Earth Overshoot Day, the point in the year at which the hu­man race has con­sumed more nat­u­ral re­sources than the Earth is ca­pa­ble of pro­vid­ing in 12 months, fell on 1 Au­gust this year – the ear­li­est date ever. Ac­cord­ing to cal­cu­la­tions by the Global Foot­print Net­work, a Cal­i­for­nia-based think tank whose mem­bers in­clude the World Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion, we are us­ing 1.7 Earths’ worth of re­sources each year. We first started over­shoot­ing in 1970, but the ef­fect has be­come pro­gres­sively more pro­nounced as time has gone by.

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