I have been told of specific well-respected people who have asserted that "Jim Hansen exaggerates" the magnitude and imminence of the climate threat. If only that were true, I would be happy...CO2, the dominant climate forcing on the long run, will stay in the climate system for millennia...I was recently at a meeting that included many of the top researchers in climate change. There was universal agreement about the urgency of the climate crisis...if we burn all the fossil fuels it is certain that sea level would eventually rise by tens of meters...Venus - like conditions in the sense of 90 bar surface pressure and surface temperature of several hundred degrees are only plausible on billion - year time scales...One implication is that if we should "succeed" in digging up and burning all fossil fuels, some parts of the planet would become literally uninhabitable, with some time in the year having wet bulb temperature exceeding 35 °C. At such temperatures , for reasons of physiology and physics, humans cannot survive , because even under ideal conditions of rest and ventilation, it is physically impossible for the environment to carry away the 100 W of metabolic heat that a human body generates when it is at rest 14 . Thus even a person lying quietly naked in hurricane force winds would be unable to survive...The picture that emerges for Earth sometime in the distant future, if we should dig up and burn every fossil fuel, is thus consistent with that depicted in "Storms" -- an ice-free Antarctica and a desolate planet without human inhabitants. Although temperatures in the Himalayas may have become seductive, it is doubtful that the many would allow the wealthy few to appropriate this territory to themselves or that humans would survive with the extermination of most other species on the planet. At least one sentence in "Storms" will need to be corrected in the next edition: even with burning of all fossil fuels the tropical ocean does not "boil". But it is not an exaggeration to suggest, based on best available scientific evidence, that burning all fossil fuels could result in the planet being not only ice - free but human-free.
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