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Andrew Gilkson, ANU: Earth May Become a Radioactive, Warmer Environment


The carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and the dangerous man-made technologies – nuclear weapons, industrial revolution – that are destroying our world may lead to a more hostile era than we are currently experiencing, according to Andrew Gilkson, an earth and paleoclimate scientist from the Australian National University.

In this new era, the earth is predicted to have a plutonium-rich sedimentary layer in the oceans, a warmer temperature of 2 to 4 degrees Celsius, and sea levels that are 20 to 40 meters higher.

With these environmental conditions, low coastal zones will be drowned and in order to survive, people will be compelled to pursue higher and higher land levels. Consequently, inhabitable lands will significantly decrease that may lead to more political conflicts. “The most extreme scenario,” Gilkson said, “is that evolution takes a new turn – one that favors animals best equipped to withstand heat and radiation.”

There are three general factors that will dictate our future climate, according to Gilkson. The first factor is the trends in solar cycles, which are “readily predicted, and indeed can be seen in the geological record.” The second factor is the intermittent events – volcanic eruptions, asteroid impacts, etc. – which are more difficult to represent. Last but not the least, is the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which we can control the most.

Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the chief climate advisor to the German government, has advised that if earth warming hits 4 degrees Celsius, the amplified changes on climate would ultimately end up with an existential danger to nature and human civilization. With this increase in global temperature, water evaporation from the vast bodies of water will also increase, leading to super cyclones, extreme flooding, and super-tropical terrestrial environments.

“Defending ourselves from global warming and nuclear disaster requires us to do two things: stop fighting destructive wars, and start fighting to save our planet,” Gilkson advised. “…if we don’t take urgent action to defend our planet, life as we know it will not be able to continue.”

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