Could climate change turn Earth into Venus?
It's getting (not that) hot in here!
Asked by: Andrew Kemp, Cheshire
Venus’s atmosphere is 96 per cent carbon dioxide, driving a powerful greenhouse effect that creates surface temperatures of up to 450°C. Earth’s atmosphere, on the other hand, currently contains 0.04 per cent carbon dioxide, with trace amounts of other greenhouse gases. While greenhouse gas concentrations have been rising as we burn fossil fuels, they are still far from Venus’s levels. Even if we were to burn all available fossil fuels, the likely impact on our planet’s temperature would be a 10°C rise. This may seem modest by Venus’s standards, but it would be enough to cause a sea level rise of more than 50 metres.
Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun facts.
- Try your first 6 issues for just £9.99 when you subscribe to BBC Science Focus Magazine.
- Risk - free offer! Cancel at any time when you subscribe via Direct Debit.
- FREE UK delivery.
- Stay up to date with the latest developments in the worlds of science and technology.