In the latest chapter of the saga titled "Humanity Can't Get Its Sh-t Together," scientists have now posited that greenhouse gas emissions might have postponed the next ice age about 100,000 years.
To reiterate, we've released so much carbon dioxide and garbage into the atmosphere that it has CANCELED A GLACIAL PERIOD. Just wanted to make sure that sunk in.
To be fair, it's not entirely our fault. According to new research featured in Nature, scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research found that the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s kicked off the greenhouse gas overload.
"If we had maintained planetary carbon dioxide levels at about 280 parts per million — the pre-industrial level that apparently averted ice age onset — then the research suggests that we may then have enjoyed a relatively stable climatic optimum, conditions that were friendly for civilization for about 50,000 years, without tipping into glaciation or experiencing extreme warming," the Washington Post reports.
In case you needed a refresher, carbon dioxide (one of the most notorious greenhouse gases), gets released into the earth as a result of deforestation or fossil fuels being burned. In the atmosphere, CO2 absorbs heat from the earth and only releases some of it, creating an unusual heat blanket around the Earth. You know this as the "greenhouse effect."
Now do you wish you paid attention in 8th grade Earth Science?
"Our analysis suggests that even in the absence of human perturbations no substantial build-up of ice sheets would occur within the next several thousand years and that the current interglacial would probably last for another 50,000 years," the report reads. But our incessant dumping of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere "will postpone the next glacial inception by at least 100,000 years."
While avoiding an ice age might sound like a reason to celebrate, let's not forget that global climate change is already melting glaciers, which has caused sea levels to rise rapidly. This puts people's lives at risk: For example, if the planet warms just 2 degrees, The Mashall Islands -- a place that roughly 70,000 people call home -- could be plunged underwater.
And that's just the beginning -- unless we make drastic changes now, scientists predict that several places, including Greenland, much of Southeast Asia and more could be submerged in the next 100 years.
"The bottom line is that we are basically skipping a whole glacial cycle, which is unprecedented," Andrey Ganopolski, the lead author of the research, told Bloomberg.