Extreme heat likely to wipe out humans and mammals in distant future, Research finds

Asha Bajaj
4 min readOct 16, 2023
Climate Change. Photo Courtesy: Unsplash

#ClimateChange, #Environment, #mammals

IBNS: A new study shows unprecedented heat is likely to lead to the next mass extinction since the dinosaurs died out, eliminating nearly all mammals in some 250 million years time.

The research, published today in Nature Geoscience and led by the University of Bristol, presents the first-ever supercomputer climate models of the distant future and demonstrates how climate extremes will dramatically intensify when the world’s continents eventually merge to form one hot, dry and largely uninhabitable supercontinent.

The findings project how these high temperatures are set to further increase, as the sun becomes brighter, emitting more energy and warming the Earth. Tectonic processes, occurring in the Earth’s crust and resulting in supercontinent formation would also lead to more frequent volcanic eruptions which produce huge releases of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, further warming the planet.

Mammals, including humans, have survived historically thanks to their ability to adjust to weather extremes, especially through adaptations such as fur and hibernating in the cold, as well as short spells of warm weather hibernation.

While mammals have evolved to lower their cold temperature survivable limit, their upper temperature tolerance has generally remained constant. This makes exposure to prolonged excessive heat much harder to overcome and the climate simulations, if realised, would ultimately prove unsurvivable.

Lead author Dr Alexander Farnsworth, Senior Research Associate at the University of Bristol, said: “The newly-emerged supercontinent would effectively create a triple whammy, comprising the continentality effect, hotter sun and more CO2 in the atmosphere, of increasing heat for much of the planet. The result is a mostly hostile environment devoid of food and water sources for mammals.

“Widespread temperatures of between 40 to 50 degrees Celsius, and even greater daily extremes, compounded by high levels of humidity would ultimately seal our fate. Humans — along with many other species — would expire due to their inability to shed this heat through sweat, cooling their bodies.”

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Asha Bajaj

I write on national and international Health, Politics, Business, Education, Environment, Biodiversity, Science, First Nations, Humanitarian, gender, women