A study analyzing the skeletons of living creatures from the depths of the Caribbean Sea shows that the earth's temperature has risen by 1.7 degrees Celsius (3.06 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times.
In a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, an analysis of six marine sponges (centenarians) with an internal chemistry that holds secrets about climate history suggests that global temperatures have already risen by 1.7 degrees Celsius due to human activities.
If the findings confirming a 1.7-degree Celsius rise since pre-industrial times are validated, it would mean that the internationally accepted threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius has already been surpassed.
"The big picture is that the global warming clock for emissions reductions to minimize the risk of dangerous climate changes has been brought forward by at least a decade," Malcolm McCulloch, a marine geochemist at the University of Western Australia and lead author of the study, told the Associated Press (AP). "Basically, time is running out. This is really – how do you say – a diary of impending disaster."
Marine sponges are seen as natural recorders of human history, recording carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the temperature of the water and the pH of the water. Since sponge skeletons are not easy to find, the study is limited to six sea sponges for now.
"I am extremely skeptical of the idea that we can invalidate the instrumental global surface temperature record based on paleo-sponges from a single region," Michael Mann, a climate scientist at the University of Pennsylvania who was not involved in the study, told the Guardian's Graham Readfearn.
Still, the study's warning that global temperature rise is worsening is supported by those who disagree with the framing of its conclusions.