Earth in 2500 might be completely uninhabitable. Credit: Shutterstock

In 500 Years Earth Could Turn Into an “Alien World”

A recent analysis has shown that none of the G20 countries are prepared with a plan for climate change. Scientists have predicted that if nothing changes soon, Earth might be completely uninhabitable in less than 500 years.

An international team of climatologists, anthropologists, paleontologists, and ecologists has stated that if the average temperature doesn’t stop rising until the year 2500, the Earth may become unfit for human life. In their work, they considered three possible scenarios, in the worst of which the regions that have long been centers of culture and species development will become barren.

They also presented illustrations that show how life will change under different scenarios in three regions: the Amazon, India, and the Midwest.


Earth in 2500 – an uninhabitable “alien world”? 

Predictions

The traditional predictions about climate change usually stop at around 2100 since predicting further ahead in time is more or less unnecessary. There are 80 years until the end of this century and although scientists have ideas about the general changes that will occur, it is hard to predict what will happen before the 22nd century begins.

What will happen before 2100?

Scientists note that the latest UN report suggests that by 2100 the temperature could rise to a very dangerous 2.7 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This will lead to unprecedented fires, droughts, hurricanes, floods, and heat. In addition, it will cause profound changes in marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

This image illustrates the way the Amazon region looked like around the 1500s, present-day, and 500 years from now. Credit: Lyon et al., 2021/CC BY-ND
This image illustrates the way the Amazon region looked like around the 1500s, present-day, and 500 years from now. Credit: Lyon et al., 2021/CC BY-ND

What about Earth in 2500?

In their new study, researchers decided to look at the possible state of our planet 500 years from now. The results of the latest simulations show that Earth in 2500 could in fact become almost or entirely uninhabitable. Our home planet could become “alien” to us unless the whole world changes its lifestyle.

Scenarios

Scientists looked at three scenarios for the events up to 2500: low mitigation, global warming, medium and high, which corresponds to the goals of the Paris Agreement (raising the average temperature below 2 degrees Celsius).

Temperatures will continue to rise

Scientists have also simulated the spread of plants, crops, and heat stress. The simulation showed that in the worst and middle scenarios, the temperature will continue to rise after 2100.

This image illustrates how the Midwest could look like in the simulated Earth in 2500. The first image shows the pre-colonization period, then we see the present-day state. The third image shows the agricultural adaptation at a time when humans might not be able to live in this part of the globe. We see that the crops are tended by drones, thus, suggesting that harvesting crops will be possible with limited human presence. Credit: Lyon et al., 2021/CC BY-ND
This image illustrates how the Midwest could look like in the simulated Earth in 2500. The first image shows the pre-colonization period, then we see the present-day state. The third image shows the agricultural adaptation at a time when humans might not be able to live in this part of the globe. We see that the crops are tended by drones, thus, suggesting that harvesting crops will be possible with limited human presence. Credit: Lyon et al., 2021/CC BY-ND

Vegetation

As a result, vegetation and acreage will shift closer to the poles, and regions such as the Amazon Basin will become barren.

Heat stress

In tropical regions, which are now overcrowded, heat stress levels can be fatal to humans. These regions may become uninhabitable. Even in the best-case scenario, sea levels will continue to rise due to the expansion and mixing of water in warming oceans.

Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement was signed in 2015 and has one main goal – to reduce the rise of the global average temperature to less than 2 degrees before the beginning of the 22nd century. Unfortunately, the latest climate change analysis revealed that none of the largest economies in the world are prepared to make the necessary changes.

The third and final image shows the Indian subcontinent on Earth in 2500, if the envisioned climate changes continue. Once again, we see an illustration from the 1500s, a present-day version, and how it might look 500 years from now. Credit: Lyon et al., 2021/CC BY-ND
The third and final image shows the Indian subcontinent on Earth in 2500, if the envisioned climate changes continue. Once again, we see an illustration from the 1500s, a present-day version, and how it might look 500 years from now. Credit: Lyon et al., 2021/CC BY-ND

No plan for action

The analysis we mentioned included 36 countries and the countries from G20. Results showed that not a single nation had an efficient plan for action to match the aim of the Paris Agreement. In a previous study from this year, it was revealed that humanity needs to decrease the use of coal by 90% and leave 60% of the unextracted oil and natural gas. And this is the bare minimum which, unfortunately, would not even be enough to help us fulfill the aim of the agreement.

Humans in space or a barren Earth in 2500?

Who knows, perhaps humanity will be living in space by 2500 and our kind will not perish on its home planet. Yet, there is no certainty in this scenario and by all means, none of us will be alive to see whether it will happen or not. With this said, it is our duty to change our lifestyle because if we do not act now, there could be no later. When you think about it, our grandchildren will live to see the 22nd century and the state of the planet then depends on us now.

Obviously, the global efforts to minimize climate change began a few centuries too late but it is not too late to limit our current impact. All in all, climate change and global warming are inevitable and a repeating process on Earth. With or without us, it will happen but it is a fact that our actions are what speeds it up.


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Sources:

Christopher Lyon. (2021, September 26). Our climate projections for 2500 show an earth that is alien to humans. The Conversation.
Christopher Lyon. (n.d.). By 2500, Earth will be alien to humans if we don’t act now, SCIENTISTS Warn. ScienceAlert.
Lyon, C. (2021, September 28). Earth could be alien to humans by 2500. Scientific American.
Republic World. (2021, September 20). UN asserts world’s adherence to Paris agreement amid ONGOING ‘catastrophic’ trajectory.

Written by Vladislav Tchakarov

Hello, my name is Vladislav and I am glad to have you here on Curiosmos. My experience as a freelance writer began in 2018 but I have been part of the Curiosmos family since mid-2020. As a history student, I have a strong passion for history and science, and the opportunity to research and write in this field on a daily basis is a dream come true.

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