A new “supercontinent” could wipe out humans and make Earth uninhabitable, a study suggests

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BRISTOL, UK – Researchers predict that the formation of a new “supercontinent” could wipe out humans and all other mammals still alive within 250 million years.

Using the first supercomputer climate models of the far future, scientists from the University of Bristol in the UK have predicted how extreme climate events will intensify after the world’s continents merge to form a single supercontinent, Pangea Ultima, in about 250 million years.

They found that the atmosphere would be extremely hot, dry and almost uninhabitable for humans and mammals, who have not evolved to handle prolonged exposure to extreme heat.

The researchers simulated temperature, wind, rainfall and humidity trends on the supercontinent, and used models of tectonic plate movement, ocean chemistry and biology to calculate carbon dioxide levels.

They found that the formation of Pangea Ultima would not only lead to more regular volcanic eruptions, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and warming the planet, but the Sun would also become brighter, emitting more energy and causing the Earth to warm even more. As pointed out by experts in the study. The paper was published Monday in the journal Natural Earth Sciences.

“A newly emerging supercontinent would effectively create a triple whammy including a continental effect, a hotter sun, and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” Alexander Farnsworth, senior research associate at the University of Bristol and lead author of the paper, said in a statement on Monday. .

“Widespread temperatures of 40 to 50 degrees Celsius (104 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit) and up to daily extremes, combined with high humidity levels, will ultimately determine our fate. Humans will die — along with many species.” The other – due to their inability to get rid of this heat through sweat, and cool their bodies, Farnsworth added.

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Farnsworth noted that the increasing heat will create an environment devoid of food or water sources for mammals.

While there are significant uncertainties when making predictions so far into the future, scientists said the picture looked “very bleak”, with only about 8% to 16% of the land on the supercontinent being habitable for mammals.

Carbon dioxide could be double current levels, according to the report, although that calculation was made on the assumption that humans would stop burning fossil fuels by now, “otherwise we would see these numbers much sooner,” said Benjamin Mills, a professor of carbon dioxide at the time. the earth. The development at the University of Leeds is that we are already witnessing extreme heat that is harmful to human health. “That is why it is important to reach net zero emissions as soon as possible,” Lu added.

Climate change is on track to transform life on Earth, with billions of people and other species set to reach points where they can no longer adapt unless global warming is dramatically slowed, according to a major UN-backed report published last year.

Scientists have warned for decades that temperature rises need to remain below 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels, with any chance of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and avoiding catastrophic changes that would rapidly alter life as we know it.

The last mass extinction occurred about 66 million years ago, when an asteroid collided with Earth and killed off the dinosaurs and most life on the planet.

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