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Feb 08, 2016 03:13 PM EST

Earth's Temperature, Sea Level Face Grave Consequences from Fossil Fuel Usage

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A team of researchers paint a bleak picture for planet Earth if its inhabitants continue burning fossil fuels the way humans have done.

Published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the new study projected the globe's temperature, sea level, and ice cover over the next 10,000 years.

"The impression that human-caused climate change is a twenty-first-century problem, and that post-2100 changes are of secondary importance, or may be reversed with emissions reductions at that time [is a falsified perception]," the researchers wrote.

By their projections, the Earth will reduce its carbon emissions to zero by the year 2,300, though the Earth will only have cooled off by one degree Celsius in the year 12,300. But in the same time period, the Earth's sea level projects to continue to rise.

"The amount of sea level rise was startling and chilling," study co-author Peter Clarke, of Oregon State University, told Gizmodo. "To avoid the worst impacts [of climate change], we need to start decarbonizing now and get to zero or negative emissions as soon as possible.

"Reducing emissions alone is not enough."

The researchers hope their study can influence action.

"Sea level rise may not seem like such a big deal today, but we are making choices that will affect our grandchildren's grandchildren - and beyond," Study co-author Daniel Schrag, the Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology at Harvard University, said in a press release. "We need to think carefully about the long time-scales of what we are unleashing."

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