In an essay published in the January issue of Penthouse 1971, of all places, Isaac Asimov made a remarkable estimation of what would be the result of the continued burning of fossil fuels. The title of his essay was The End and in it he tried to estimate when our world civilization would come to an end.
Asimov: “If the present carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere were merely to double, the average temperature of the Earth would increase by 3.6° C.
What of the ice caps on Greenland and Antarctica?
At the higher temperatures, the ice caps would lose more ice in the summer than they would regain in the winter.
They would begin to melt year by year at an accelerating pace and the sea level would inexorably rise.
By the time all the ice caps were melted, the sea level would be at least 200 feet higher than it is and the ocean, at low tide, would lap about the twentieth floor of the Empire State Building.”
Asimov’s estimation for a doubling of CO2 emissions, resulting in 3.6C temperature rise, is still very much in line with today’s assumptions on climate sensitivity. Some even consider it to be even higher. The IPCC report from 2013 (AR5), gives a range of 1.5-4.5ºC, for a doubling of carbon dioxide.