Climate Change

What the world could look like in 2500 if we don't stop global warming

The Amazon could be left unrecognisable. Image: REUTERS/Lucas Landau

Christopher Lyon
Postdoctoral researcher, Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University
Alex Dunhill
Research Fellow in Palaeobiology, University of Leeds
Andrew P. Beckerman
Professor in Evolutionary Ecology, University of Sheffield
Ariane Burke
Professor, Anthropology, Université de Montréal
Bethany Allen
PhD Student, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds
Daniel J. Hill
Lecturer, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds
Erin Saupe
Associate Professor, Palaeobiology, University of Oxford
James McKay
Manager, Centre for Doctoral Training, University of Leeds
Julien Riel-Salvatore
Professor, Anthropology, Université de Montréal
Lindsay C. Stringer
Professor, Environment and Geography, University of York
Rob Marchant
Professor of Tropical Ecology, University of York
Tracy Aze
Associate Professor, Earth and Environment, University of Leeds
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Global mean near-surface air temperature
Global mean near-surface air temperature (solid lines) and thermosteric sea level rise (dotted lines) anomalies relative to the 2000-19 mean for the RCP6.0, RCP4.5 and RCP2.6 scenarios. Shaded regions highlight the time horizons of interest and their nominal reference years. The bottom panel shows spatial anomalies relative to 2000-19 mean for the 2100, 2200 and 2500 climates under the three RCPs. Image: (Lyon et al., 2021)
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The Amazon in 1500, 2020, and 2500 CE.
The top image shows a traditional pre-contact Indigenous village (1500 CE) with access to the river and crops planted in the rainforest. The middle image is a present-day landscape. The bottom image, considers the year 2500 and shows a barren landscape and low water level resulting from vegetation decline, with sparse or degraded infrastructure and minimal human activity. Image: (Lyon et al., 2021), CC BY-ND

The midwest in 1500, 2020, and 2500 CE.
The top painting is based on pre-colonisation Indigenous cities and communities with buildings and a diverse maize-based agriculture. The second is the same area today, with a grain monoculture and large harvesters. The last image, however, shows agricultural adaptation to a hot and humid subtropical climate, with imagined subtropical agroforestry based on oil palms and arid zone succulents. The crops are tended by AI drones, with a reduced human presence. Image: (Lyon et al., 2021), CC BY-ND

Indian subcontinent in 1500, 2020, and 2500 CE.
The top image is a busy agrarian village scene of rice planting, livestock use and social life. The second is a present-day scene showing the mix of traditional rice farming and modern infrastructure present in many areas of the Global South. The bottom image shows a future of heat-adaptive technologies including robotic agriculture and green buildings with minimal human presence due to the need for personal protective equipment. Image: (Lyon et al., 2021), CC BY-ND

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