With scant media attention, climate scientists from Stanford University have concluded that climate change is occurring 10 times faster than at any time in the past 65 million years, and the current pace of change will lead to a 5-6 degree (Celsius) spike by the end of this century.
The findings come from a review of climate research by Noah Diffenbaugh, an associate professor of environmental Earth system science, and Chris Field, a professor of biology and of environmental Earth system science and the director of the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution. Both scientists are senior fellows at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. Their work is part of a special report on climate change in the current issue of Science.
Without human intervention to reduce additional greenhouse gas emissions in the near-term, the report says, the ensuing rise in global temperature will place significant stress on terrestrial ecosystems around the world.
The report pointed to historical precedents in naturally occurring temperature rise. While similar climate change has occurred in specific periods of Earth’s history, said the authors, the rate of such rise during today’s crisis is unprecedented – and attributable to human influences not present in previous epochs.