Outlook for humans appears 'very bleak’ as new study reveals when humanity could be wiped from Earth

25 September 2023, 19:31 | Updated: 25 September 2023, 19:37

A new study has estimated the date humans could go extinct.
A new study has estimated the date humans could go extinct. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Jenny Medlicott

A new study has revealed when humans could go extinct by - and only if we stop burning fossil fuels now.

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Experts from the University of Bristol have revealed that all mammals on Earth could face mass extinction in 250 million years, according to new computer simulations.

While the mammals could remain on the Earth until this date, scientists added that any remaining lifeforms would need to be able to cope with temperatures of between 40C and 70C.

The study was led by Dr Alexander Farnsworth, a senior research associate at the University of Bristol’s School of Geographical Sciences, and was published in Nature Geoscience.

“The outlook in the distant future appears very bleak,” Dr Farnsworth said.

“Carbon dioxide levels could be double current levels.

“Humans – along with many other species – would expire due to their inability to shed this heat through sweat, cooling their bodies.”

And the news only gets worse, as these estimations do not factor in the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, meaning the extinction date for humans could roll around even sooner after accounting for climate change.

The simulation shows that in 250 million years all of the planet’s continents could combine to form a supercontinent known as Pangea Ultima.

Humans could go extinct in 250 million years.
Humans could go extinct in 250 million years. Picture: Alamy

Earth would then form a doughnut shape with an inland sea in the middle, or rather the remnants of the Atlantic Ocean, and the Pacific Ocean forming the majority of the earth’s surface.

But Pangea Ultima is just one possible prediction about what the supercontinent could look like. However, scientists remain in agreement about one thing - and that's that the Earth will eventually become a single hot, dry and mostly uninhabitable space.

“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,” Dr Farnsworth added.

“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.”

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The new study shows a supercontinent called the Pangea Ultima could form.
The new study shows a supercontinent called the Pangea Ultima could form. Picture: Alamy

The study shows that the tectonic events that would cause the supercontinent to form would result in more frequent volcanic eruptions, which would lead to the increased production of CO2 in the atmosphere and therefore further warm the Earth.

Scientists used computerised climate models to simulate the weather trends for the Pangea Ultima and to estimate the future level of CO2.

CO2 could rise from about 400 parts per million (ppm) today to 600 ppm millions of years in the future, according to their estimates.

Co-author Professor Benjamin Mills at the University of Leeds added: “Of course, this assumes that humans will stop burning fossil fuels, otherwise we will see those numbers much, much sooner.”

They believe by this point only between 8% and 16% of land would be habitable - but all mammals will probably have already been made extinct by this point.

Speaking to MailOnline, Dr Farnsworth said that mammals might be able to survive if we build “environmentally-controlled shelters with air conditioning”.

“But we would likely have to build other facilities to house food production as well,” he added.