Two Paths Forward

2022 CE

"The Earth System may be approaching a planetary threshold that could lock in a continuing rapid pathway toward much hotter conditions—Hothouse Earth. This pathway would be propelled by strong, intrinsic, biogeophysical feedbacks difficult to influence by human actions, a pathway that could not be reversed, steered, or substantially slowed. Where such a threshold might be is uncertain, but it could be only decades ahead at a temperature rise of ∼2.0 °C above pre-industrial, and thus, it could be within the range of the Paris Accord temperature targets. The impacts of a Hothouse Earth pathway on human societies would likely be massive, sometimes abrupt, and undoubtedly disruptive. Avoiding this threshold by creating a Stabilized Earth pathway can only be achieved and maintained by a coordinated, deliberate effort by human societies to manage our relationship with the rest of the Earth System, recognizing that humanity is an integral, interacting component of the system. Humanity is now facing the need for critical decisions and actions that could influence our future for centuries, if not millennia..."

image source: NASA

Stefen et al. 2018. Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).