What will the earth look like in 500 years? Unrecognizable if the person doesn’t change

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PRI ESPL INT .NEWYORK FES23 THE FUTURE OF THE EARTH What will the earth look like in 500 years? By Michael A Little, Binghamton University and William D MacDonald, Binghamton University New York, Aug. 3 (The Conversation) Scientists can make fairly accurate predictions about the future. But predicting what the earth will look like 500 years from now is a difficult task as many factors play a role. Imagine Christopher Columbus in 1492 trying to predict today’s America! We know that two main types of processes change our planet: one involves natural cycles, such as the way the planet rotates and moves around the sun, and the other is caused by life forms, especially humans. The earth itself is in motion. The earth is constantly changing. It wobbles, the angle of inclination changes, and even its orbit changes to bring the earth closer to or further away from the sun. These changes happen over tens of thousands of years and are responsible for the ice ages. Five hundred years is not very long in terms of geology. Humans are changing the planet The second major influence on the planet is living beings. The effects of life on the planet are harder to predict. Disturbing part of an ecosystem can upset many other things. Above all, humans change the earth in many ways. They clear forests and destroy vital wildlife habitats to build cities and grow crops. They move invasive species around the planet and disrupt ecosystems. They also contribute to global warming. Humans are causing climate change, mainly through the burning of fossil fuels, which release more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the planet and atmosphere can handle. Usually greenhouse gases trap the sun’s heat like the glass in a greenhouse and keep the earth warmer than usual. This can be useful until we get too much. Too much carbon dioxide causes temperatures to rise, which can lead to dangerously hot summer days and melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica. Melting ice sheets are lifting the oceans and flooding coastal areas. This is exactly what the earth is facing. These changes could lead to an entirely different planet in 500 years, depending in large part on how willing people are to change their ways. A warming planet can also contribute to extreme weather conditions such as heat waves, storms, and droughts that can transform the country. All living forms on earth are at risk. Learning from the past 500 years Looking back over the past 500 years, the living part of the earth, the so-called biosphere, has changed dramatically. The number of people has increased from around 500 million people to over 7.5 billion today. More than 800 plant and animal species became extinct due to human activities during this time. As the human population grows, other species have less room to roam. The rise in sea level means even less land, and rising temperatures will move many species to better climates. Not all changes in the earth are caused by humans, but humans have made some of them worse. A big challenge today is getting people to stop doing things that are causing problems, such as burning fossil fuels that contribute to climate change. This is a global problem that requires countries around the world and the people in them to work towards the same goal. Back to Christopher Columbus: He probably couldn’t have imagined a motorway full of cars or a cell phone. Technology will undoubtedly continue to improve over the next 500 years. But so far, technical solutions have not developed fast enough to solve climate change. It would be a risky, costly gamble to keep doing the same things and expect someone else to clean up the mess later. So the earth in 500 years will not be recognizable. Or, if people are willing to change their behavior, with its living forests, oceans, fields and cities, it can exist for many centuries with its most successful inhabitants, humanity. (The conversation) IND 08031202 NNNN

(Only the headline and image of this report may have been revised by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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