Please enjoy this excerpt of Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth by Curt Stager, out now from Thomas Dunne Books. The book takes a realistic look at the effects that current global warming will have for our planet’s long-term climate.
We face a simple choice in the coming century or so; either we’ll switch to nonfossil fuels as soon as possible, or we’ll burn through our remaining reserves and then be forced to switch later on. In either case, green house gas concentrations will probably peak some time before 2400 AD and then level off as our emissions decrease, either through purposely reduced consumption or fossil fuel shortages. The passing of the CO2 pollution peak will trigger a slow climate “whiplash” in which the global warming trend will top out and then flip to a long-term cooling recovery that eventually returns temperatures to those of the preindustrial eighteenth century. But that process will last for tens or even hundreds of thousands of years. The more fossil fuel that we end up burning, the higher the temperatures will rise and the longer the recovery will take.