Climate is an irritable beast. At 47 degrees, life stops

Climate change is a cascade of phenomena that are sometimes called “feedbacks”. They are poorly measured and explained, making them incomprehensible to laymen. Basically, the heat is accumulated in the oceans through the greenhouse effect, they evaporate more and form clouds, which further retain the heat. The reflection of glaciers reduces the reflection of energy into space, the melted water forms dark masses that, like asphalt, absorb even more heat and contribute to the melting of the ice sheet. Warm oceans and clouds are like an amplifier, melting ice is like feedback – climate change acts like a malfunctioning machine at a sound check before a concert.

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That’s not all – the paleoclimatic evidence screams that the climate does not behave stably at all, on the contrary, it is an irritable beast. “It overreacts to the slightest nudge,” says climatologist Wallace Broeker. In addition, recent reports indicate that it is warming about five times faster than previously thought. Beneath the permafrost in the Arctic are methane reservoirs that explode, create craters, and the leaked gas remains in the atmosphere. Methane is about nineteen times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

At what temperature can you still live?

In the 1940s, James Lovelock, the famous author of the Gaia theory, experimented on himself to see what temperatures a person could still tolerate (on that occasion, his university colleague and physician Dr. Hawking let him bury his baby, which later grew up to be Stephen Hawking). Lovelock found that the contact of a human hand with a copper rod at a temperature of 50 degrees will cause a first-degree burn in about one minute. The sixty-degree pole burned him in just a second.

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On the contrary, when the rod was below fifty degrees, no burns appeared. In the latest book “Novacene” Lovelock writes that 47 degrees can be considered as a kind of borderline value, below which a person is still able to function. After all, this is also confirmed by experiences from Baghdad, Pakistan or Western Australia, when life practically stops at a temperature above 47 degrees.

However, the Earth’s biosphere is fragile, it can only maintain stability within a narrow range of roughly 200 to 500 ppm CO2. We’re in the middle of an interglacial, and all it takes is a natural disaster of the kind that has happened routinely in the past—an asteroid impact or a supervolcano eruption—and the average temperature on Earth may soon hit 47 degrees. At that moment, Gaia would have embarked on a one-way journey, which Venus, for example, had made before her.

What would the apocalypse look like?

We would no longer be able to observe the last phase of this climate change: the atmosphere would turn into a supercritical steam capable of melting rocks. First, oxygen would disappear from it, then hydrogen would be released into the oxygen-free atmosphere and waft into outer space (the Earth’s gravity is not strong enough to keep hydrogen atoms near the surface – hydrogen is found on Earth in larger quantities only as H2O, where O acts as a kind of personal security H). After crossing the threshold of 47 degrees, life ceases irretrievably, according to Lovelock, who went to the market with his skin, so to speak, for this particular finding.

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