What does it mean to enter a “Hothouse Earth” state?
We are currently hurtling toward a tipping point of irreversible damage to our planet. A “Hothouse Earth” state occurs when global temperatures reach 7 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit (4 to 5 degrees Celsius) higher than preindustrial temperatures (other sources have suggested just 2 degrees Celsius will do the trick) and sea levels reach 33 to 200 feet (10 to 60 meters) higher than they are today.
What are the scientists saying?
They want to be clear that this is not yet a theory but is still an extension of existing scientific studies. We can all hope that they’re wrong, I’m sure they are hoping the same thing. Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre and one of the study authors, has stated “We need to know now. It’s so urgent. This is one of the most existential questions in science.”
What does this mean for humans?
It means that we either continue exploiting the Earth for it’s resources and deal with the biggest refugee crisis the world has ever seen, or we change our relationship with the Earth to one of stewardship.
What do I think?
I think we can’t wait for scientists to confirm or dismiss this potential outcome. I think that regardless of where we’re from, what gender we identify with or what cultures we celebrate, we are all from Earth. Everyone who went before us and everyone we hope to have come after us. We owe it to them to realign our priorities and fight to alter our behavior before we cause irreversible damage to the land we call home.
Michael Pollan writes about the places where nature and culture intersect: on our plates, in our farms and gardens, and in the built environment.
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