In this article New Scientist, you can read more about the end of human existence, including: the possibility of a nuclear war, and the rise of artificial intelligence.
But in an essay published on Tuesday, the authors say that if they’re right, the end is already in sight.
And the consequences could be far worse than what we think.
The paper, written by a team of scientists from the University of Oxford, is titled ‘The End of the World Is Near’: What the science says and what it means.
The conclusion: The planet is headed for a major catastrophe, and it could happen very quickly.
The team behind the study included: Dr James W. Anderson, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University at Buffalo; Dr Michael W. Birt, a physicist at Princeton University; and Dr Steven R. Cope, a chemist and evolutionary biologist at the Institute for Advanced Study.
Dr Anderson says the idea of a global climate emergency is unproven, and that his research shows that humans are already affecting climate, as the Earth’s temperature has risen by 1.5 degrees Celsius over the past century.
“The idea that the end has already come is simply not borne out by what we’ve seen,” he told New Scientist.
The researchers looked at the history of climate change, which they believe has started at the end-Permian-Tertiary mass extinction event around 65 million years ago.
The extinction was caused by the loss of the dinosaurs, but its effects were felt for hundreds of millions of years longer.
During that time, the planet cooled and became more acidic, which is now what we see today.
This means the Earth is now losing about half its energy each year.
“It’s like a clock ticking down to the end,” Dr Anderson told New Semiconductor.
“And we’ve been talking about the apocalypse for the past 200 years.”
Dr Anderson and his colleagues found that humans had already changed the climate by adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, which had the effect of warming the planet and making it more acidic.
This had the same effect on the oceans, where temperatures have risen and acidity has increased.
The research shows a rapid global warming scenario, which has already happened, with a possible global extinction at the tail end of this century, could result in a much more severe climate event, Dr Anderson said.
“That’s what the scientists who wrote that paper did,” he said.
And while it’s possible that humans might have already contributed to the planet’s current warming, the paper says it’s highly unlikely.
The authors note that the rate of change is similar to that observed for other animals: a change in one rate of climate over a million years, compared to one rate per million years for plants and animals.
They also point out that there is no evidence that humans have caused climate change.
“We’re not seeing any evidence of human-caused global warming,” Dr Birt said.
Dr Barts’ team is currently working on a paper on the effect that humans may have had on the climate system for the last 200 years, but Dr Anderson is optimistic about the prospects for the future.
“I think that the next 20 years are going to be very exciting,” he explained.
“For the first time in history, we have a lot of science on the horizon that will tell us about what’s happening in the climate.
And that’s a huge opportunity for us.”
He also said the authors of the paper are careful to include references to the fact that it is only possible to predict a global extinction.
“If we’re right about this happening, it will be a very interesting moment in our understanding of our universe and our universe in general,” Dr Cope said.
The scientists are not sure if they have enough evidence to be considered a leading group, but they do believe that the paper’s authors have gone beyond their initial work and have put together a solid case.
They’ve written about their findings in a new paper called The End of Humans: The Impact of Global Warming on the Planet.