Scientists conducted a study to determine what exactly would happen in the catastrophic event that all the remaining fossil fuels on Earth were to burn up at the exact same time.
According to the results, the event would be devastating. Sea levels would supposedly rise by more than 160 feet, while the ice sheet covering Antarctica would disappear entirely.
The study utilized a model of how ice sheets flow and move in order to uncover what would take place with an input of 10,000 gigatons of carbon. Such an amount of carbon represents an estimate of currently attainable carbon fuel resources.
The scientists conducting the study stated that such an input of carbon would be enough to eliminate the Antarctic Ice Sheet. However, the scientists warn that it would only take a much smaller amount to threaten large portions of the sheet.
While it would take thousands of years in order to destroy the entire ice sheet permanently, the scientists hypothesize that the burning all of Earth’s fossil fuels that currently takes place could lead to a 100 foot rise in sea level within the next 1,000 years, starting about 100 years from now.
Scientists also remarked that a major thaw could destroy the ice sheet of Greenland. Such an event would flood cities from New York to Shanghai. As a result, the map of the world would change, and much of the Netherlands, Bangladesh, and Florida would be underwater.
Although the study is more of an experiment rather than a real prediction, it does serve as a reminder of the long term consequences that could come about from the short term decisions of humans.
Whether or not the Earth’s current fossil fuels could melt the entire ice sheet has been a question on the minds of the study’s authors for a long time. Study co-author Ken Caldeira says, “It was a great pleasure to finally get to address this question.”
While answering the question may have been pleasurable, the results are decidedly troubling for a world enamoured with fossil fuels.