Climate Change is a dangerous phenomenon mankind has ignored for far too long.
According to a new study, we need to start paying more attention towards Global Warming as it could turn Antarctica green, as the icy continent’s think ice sheets shrink, and plants are colonizing the land underneath it again.
Experts have revealed that worrying conditions of Carbon dioxide in our atmosphere could catapult our planet’s climate to a similar scenario that existed in the Pliocene period, around three million years ago.
In fact, experts have revealed that the last time the carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere were as high as today, around 400 parts per million (ppm) was precise during the Pliocene Era.
Our atmosphere’s CO2 levels have reached 400 ppm on average for the first time in 2015, according to the World Meteorological Organization.
According to historic records, before the industrial revolution in 1850, carbon dioxide levels were about 280 ppm. Since then, they have been rising abruptly. Since then, our planet’s temperature has risen one degree Celsius.
To understand how life is affected by higher temperatures and how the planet and its environment behaved millions of years ago is crucial to understand what we can expect in the near future.
That’s why scientist say we need to look to the past and study the Pliocene to know what to expect, and the pressure humans may face not far into the far.
The worrying conditions we are facing right now will be discussed by the Royal Meteorological Society and the Grantham Institute for Climate Change.
But this drastic change in Antarctica will not be felt immediately, warns Professor Martin Siegert, co-director of the Grantham Institute, Imperial College.
Instead, we have time to prepare and possibly avert a catastrophe.
To understand what to expect, we need to take a look at the Pliocene, where sea level was around 15 meters higher than today, and average temperatures on earth were as much as 3.5 degrees Celsius warmer.
“(If) you put your oven on at home, and set it to 200C, the temperature doesn’t get to that immediately,” Professor Martin Siegert explained.
“It takes a bit of time, and it’s the same with the climate.”
And we know that Antarctica was much different in the distant past. In fact, we have already discovered traces of vast forests beneath the icy layers of the continent.
These ‘Antarctic forests’ most likely date back to the Pliocene, explains Professor Dame Jane Francis, director of the British Antarctic Survey.
“The really important significance of this is that we’ve got 400 ppm now, and if we had 400 ppm in the past, this is maybe where we are going back to,” she explained.
“Which is the ice sheets are going to shrink at times, not all the time but at times… which may allow plants to colonize in Antarctic land again.”
Scientists warn that by the end of this century, global temperature on Earth could see an increase of around one degree Celsius.
If carbon dioxide emissions continue at current rates, and we don’t intervene, levels could soar to catastrophic 1000 ppm by 2100, Professor Siegert warned.
In comparison, this would mean Earth would again experience the climate that ruled on Earth some 100 million years ago when Dinosaurs called Antarctica their home.
“If our mission was to put that carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere and recreate the Cretaceous period, 100 million years ago – if that was our mission, we are doing a pretty good job,” Professor Siegert warned.
The solution is rather simple.
Reduce the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, and understand that climate change and global warming are not to be taken lightly.