With the rapid, unprecedented pace of climate change, it is time to start seriously considering the worst-case scenarios, warns Washington State University archaeologist Tim Kohler.
Kohler, an emeritus WSU professor of archaeology and evolutionary anthropology, is part of an international team of climate experts that argue that although unlikely, climate change catastrophes, including human extinction, should be more heavily considered by scientists.
He and his collaborators discuss how climate change could drive mass extinction events and propose a research agenda to investigate bad- to worst-case scenarios in a new commentary article published Aug. 1 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“It’s a topic that is too scary for most people to contemplate but that needs to change because the risks we face are very real,” said Kohler, who holds the distinction of being the first archaeologist to contribute to an IPCC report as a lead author. “We are entering a period where the climate dynamics are going to be completely outside the norm of what we have experienced in the last 12,000 years.”