Researchers Warn of Dire Consequences from Future Supercontinent Formation
Scientists from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom have used cutting-edge supercomputer climate models to predict a grim scenario unfolding in approximately 250 million years – the formation of a new “supercontinent,” known as Pangea Ultima. Their findings suggest that this colossal merger of Earth’s continents would result in catastrophic consequences, potentially wiping out humans and many other mammals.
The research paints a bleak picture of the future, envisioning a world that would become unbearably hot, arid, and inhospitable for species not adapted to extreme heat. Simulations of temperature, wind patterns, precipitation, and humidity trends for the supercontinent indicate that it would lead to widespread temperatures ranging from 40 to 50 degrees Celsius (104 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit) and even more severe daily temperature fluctuations. This, coupled with elevated humidity levels, would make it impossible for humans and numerous other species to regulate their body temperatures through sweat, resulting in their demise.
The formation of Pangea Ultima, the researchers predict, would trigger a series of events contributing to this grim future. It would lead to more frequent volcanic eruptions, releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thereby intensifying global warming. Additionally, the sun itself would become brighter over time, emitting more energy and further warming the Earth.
While there are inherent uncertainties when projecting events so far into the future, the scientists’ outlook is disheartening, with only a small fraction, approximately 8% to 16%, of the supercontinent’s land deemed habitable for mammals.
The study’s calculations also suggest that carbon dioxide levels could reach double their current levels, assuming an immediate cessation of fossil fuel burning. However, the authors emphasize that humanity should not take solace in this distant future scenario, as the ongoing climate crisis is already causing severe harm. They stress the urgency of addressing today’s climate emergency, which results in millions of deaths annually worldwide due to human-caused climate change.
Eunice Lo, a research fellow in climate change and health at the University of Bristol, underlines the importance of immediate action: “While we are predicting an uninhabitable planet in 250 million years, today we are already experiencing extreme heat that is detrimental to human health. This is why it is crucial to reach net-zero emissions as soon as possible.”
This sobering forecast serves as a reminder of the critical need to mitigate the current climate crisis, as climate change continues to pose existential threats to life on Earth. It underscores the importance of limiting global warming to avoid catastrophic consequences for both humanity and the planet’s ecosystems.