We are witnessing unprecedented climate change incomparable to anything from the past 2,000 years.
Two new studies published in Nature and Nature Geoscience suggest that we are witnessing unprecedented climate change at a global scale incomparable to anything from the past 2,000 years. And this time the science is as certain as ever about the human origins of climate change.
Published as companion pieces, the articles offer complementary insights, emphasizing the global scope of unprecedented warming trends over the same period. Both teams based their insights on 700 sources of data, including ancient ice cores, age-old trees, coral reefs, and marine sediments.
Overall, 98% of the planet surface has so far been affected by abrupt climate change. The findings also allow us to better understand the evidence about our planet experiencing the hottest years in recorded history and the Arctic melting six times faster than just 40 years ago.
The researchers who were involved in the first study found that parts of Earth warmed rapidly before but it has never happened to the planet as a whole so quickly over an entire period. Meanwhile, the second paper adds to this finding with evidence that most of the temperature fluctuations over the last two millennia were consequences of volcanic activity.
Nicholas McKay, a co-author of the study from Northern Arizona University, suggests that the studies have been published just in time to strengthen a new edition of the IPCC’s report which brings together the best global evidence on the topic. Scott St. George, a climate researcher from the University of Minnesota, agrees about the need for urgency. “Not only is the global temperature on average hotter than before, but the current warming is also exceptional in terms of its geography,” the scientist says. “There really is nowhere on Earth where you can escape the grip of this ongoing warming.”
Mark Maslin, a professor of climatology from the University College London, summed up the relevance of some of the findings, arguing that they “should finally stop climate change deniers claiming that the recent observed coherent global warming is part of a natural climate cycle.”
The new papers add extra weight to the already copious evidence about the human origins of climate change, as well as its unprecedented rate and global impacts. Hopefully, with the amount of attention the studies are getting in the media, they can act as further reminders for policymakers, companies, and citizens that the time to act is now.