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Deadly Touch: Humans Force Climate to Change 170 Times Faster Than Nature Intends, Study Says

Feb 14, 2017 11:10 AM EST
Reports Indicate 2016 Was Hottest Year On Record
OBERHAUSEN, GERMANY - JANUARY 06: Steam and exhaust rise from the chemical company Oxea (front) and the coking plant KBS Kokereibetriebsgesellschaft Schwelgern GmbH (behind) on a cold winter day on January 6, 2017 in Oberhausen, Germany. According to a report released by the European Copernicus Climate Change Service, 2016 is likely to have been the hottest year since global temperatures were recorded in the 19th century. According to the report the average global surface temperature was 14.8 degrees Celsius, which is 1.3 degrees higher than estimates for before the Industrial Revolution. Greenhouse gases are among the chief causes of global warming and climates change.
(Photo : Lukas Schulze / Stringer)

Climate change might have been coming either way, but humans are taking the fast-track to get there. A study published in the journal The Anthropocene Review revealed that impact of humans on the environment is astronomical, driving changes in the climate at a rate 170 times faster than natural forces.

In a report penned by co-researcher Owen Gaffney in New Scientist, he explained that the Anthropocene Equation he drew up with Professor Will Steffen focused on the rate of change of Earth's life support system that included the atmosphere, oceans, forests and wetlands, waterways and ice sheets, and the fabulous diversity of life.

In the past four billion years, the primary driving forces of the Earth's system have been astronomical and geophysical, as well as internal dynamics. In the past 7,000 years, these natural forces resulted in a global temperature decrease of 0.01 degrees Celcius per century.

As human activities and greenhouse gases increased and came into play, the temperature began to tip dramatically in the opposite direction. The last 45 years have seen a global temperature increase of 1.7 degrees Celcius per century. The researchers concluded that the rate of changes can be attributed to the modern industrialized societies.

"We are not saying the astronomical forces of our solar system or geological processes have disappeared, but in terms of their impact in such a short period of time they are now negligible compared with our own influence," Steffen pointed out in a report in Phys Org.

The human factor have such a great impact on the environment that the natural forces are rendered nearly negligible.

"Crystallising this evidence in the form of a simple equation gives the current situation a clarity that the wealth of data often dilutes," Steffen added. "It also places the contemporary human impact in the context of the great forces of nature that have driven Earth system dynamics over billions of years."

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