Global Extinction Event Coming In 2100, MIT Professor Says

24 September, 2017, 02:43 | Author: Oscar Goodwin
  • Earth's sixth mass extinction may begin by 2100 a MIT

"In the past this type of behaviour is associated with mass extinction".

The formula was based on basic principles that related the critical rate and magnitude of change in the carbon cycle to the timescale that separates fast from slow changes.

Researchers proposed that mass extinction occurs if one of two thresholds are crossed.

Now Daniel Rothman, professor of geophysics in the MIT Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences and co-director of MIT's Lorenz Center, has analyzed significant changes in the carbon cycle over the last 540 million years, including the five mass extinction events.

Another round of mass extinction could be set into motion by 2100, if a mathematical study of five previous events is to be believed.

"This is not saying that disaster occurs the next day", Rothman told MIT News.

Five times, a vast majority of the world's life has been snuffed out in what have been called mass extinctions.

Professor Rothman emphasised that dramatic changes to the carbon cycle wasn't a necessary occurrence for a mass extinction to take place - as shown by the absence of this during the Late Devonian extinction more than 360 million years ago. Of course, this is only one view of how the global scenario may be realized, and Rothman pretends that he has all the answers, but he hopes that even this will force humanity to think.

Rothman goes on to explain that the tipping point of "unknown territory" won't take that long - he predicts it will come as soon as 2100, or sooner. As per a report in Phys.org, Rothman says it would take some time-about 10,000 years-for such ecological disasters to play out. "It's saying that, if left unchecked, the carbon cycle would move into a realm which would be no longer stable, and would behave in a way that would be hard to predict. (Danny Lawson/PA) "In the geologic past, this type of behaviour is associated with mass extinction".

He defined "Thresholds of catastrophe" as the limit in the Earth's carbon cycle which is capable of telling how stable the environment is.

Dinosaurs first appeared in the Early Triassic, but large amphibians and mammal-like reptiles were the dominant land animals. In most of these episodes, the carbon volume stayed under a certain threshold.

"It became evident that there was a characteristic rate of change that the system basically didn't like to go past", as Rothman puts it.

What Rothman's analysis doesn't mean is that everything on Earth will die immediately the day after we reach that threshold.

He added: 'There should be ways of pulling back emissions of carbon dioxide.

The CO2 emission has drastically increased since the industrial revolution in today's world. Thus, there is a rise in the level of carbon at least 10 times faster as half of the emitted carbon has remained in the atmosphere.

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